Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hunger Games

A little less than a year ago, our kids discovered a computer game named "Minecraft". Really, I don't find the appeal of it, but then again, I haven't found the appeal of a video game since the Atari was popular. That being the case, you would think Minecraft would appeal to me since the graphics look like an antiquated game of virtual blocks or Legos.

Evidently, I'm missing something very important about this game of creating virtual worlds because my kids are, for lack of a better word, obsessed. Obsessed in so much, that they will play or watch each other build worlds for hours and would wither away to nothingness if I did not remind them to eat.

With four equally obsessed children and only two computers you can imagine the fuss over whose turn it is to play. We have had quite the war of words and knock down drag outs over this little virtual playground. It infuriates me to no end, especially, when it gets down to tooth and nail.

That red mark on Dallin's upper arm? That, is a bite mark from his brother, Ben. And yes, it was done in a fit of rage over a dumb video game. How completely insane is that?

At first, I thought I had forgotten to remind them to eat and they were turning into cannibals! But, upon my question laden scolding, Ben's defense was that he has "anger issues".

I promptly told Ben that until he resolved those "issues", he could consider himself and his little button pushing fingers grounded. And, he was for an entire week. Dallin was also grounded for his part in provoking the bite, so we had one week free from fighting to the death over Minecraft. One simply wonderful week.

Maybe I should consider letting them starve more often. ;)


Chastina said...

We have a similar problem. It's called RoadBlocks (or RoadBlox). They build with blocks and there are different areas to fight zombies, build houses, etc.

I try to limit them to 30 minutes each, but I get "Vin played on my time" "No, I didn't I was helping him." and "Isn't his/her time up yet?". It's a pain letting them get their time in and still keeping them from only playing on the computer all day.

Rachel said...

Oh my word! I wonder the same thing! I do have to say though, I find it cute seeing Jadon and Ben's cute little tiny bums sitting perched side by side sharing a stool as they both stare like zombies at the computer screen while playing Minecraft.

I don't get the game at all either...... it's beyond me!

K said...

I would be scared of a game I didn't get but my kids were obsessed with. I'm serious. Children pick up patterns of thinking from these things - conditioning. And again, I'm serious. We have an operating system in our brains - cigarettes and drugs and all kinds of things can affect that system, changing things about the way it works, building in subroutines that change the way our thoughts are processed by changing the chemical interactions. And games can do the same thing by manipulating things like adrenaline responses.

And a game like this trains the brain to analyze in a specific way - and when they play it over and over, they become conditioned in those patterns, and it will change their perspective, the way they see the world and people and the way they deal with these things.

I think this is why the Lord wants us to read the scriptures over and over - it's the pattens of though, expectation, emotional analysis and understanding of cause and effect.

If you don't "get" what your kids do in that game, that means that the game is changing them away from you, brain-wise. If they are so compelled to play, they are learning to think in ways that will be forever un-available to you, and you won't know how to deal with that, how to teach them, how to reason with them.

And for what? Why is playing the game that important?

I just wouldn't cave in on this. I'd pull the dang plug on it. Absolutely. There are so many things to do, to experience, to create with the hands and mind - there's running and interacting with humans and all kinds of stuff - stuff that's real and important and healthy - and interactive (as in, with parents and other humans and physics - real physics, not programmed, made up stuff).

What kind of world is that game really teaching them to create, I wonder?

If you don't like what's happening, stop it. There is no ethical "right" a child has to play some stupid game.