This morning I woke up, opened my eyes and my whole body went rigid, undoing in an instant all the good from that nights sleep. Peeling myself off the ceiling, I may have cussed at the top of my voice.
“Morning, Dad,” grinned Master8, while Miss9 looked on over his shoulder with her best ‘you know how you love me’ smile in place. I had expected to open my eyes to the sun creeping in through the blinds, not these guys silently creeping me out inches from my head. I don’t know how long they’d been standing there watching me sleep but as you can imagine there was a very, very good reason for them to be there. “Can we play Minecraft?”
Minecraft is all the rage here at the moment. We don’t allow any gaming during the school week in this house, and weekends during the semester the kids can only play their iPods until the batteries run out (no recharging until the next weekend) and not much longer on the Xbox, so holidays are very special because they can clock up a few hours a day killing zombies and chickens.
“You kids are evil,” I told them. “Go play your game and stop freaking your poor old man out.”
Eventually I made myself a coffee and joined them in the lounge room, watching them play on the Xbox. Minecraft makes no sense at all to me. They build a house, they destroy it. They find a village, they destroy it. They stumble across a field of square sheep, they destroy them. Worryingly, my kids seem obsessed with building dungeons and locking zombies up – prior to destroying them, of course. I’m not sure they’re even playing it right. Surely there’s more to it than this.
I’m not sure what lessons you can learn from these games but I don’t think I’d necessarily trust even the most successful of Farmville farmers to manage a cattle station. That being said, if there ever is a Zombie Apocalypse, I’m hanging with my kids because they’re the walking dead’s worst nightmare.
As the coffee kicked in and I came out of my morning haze, I reflected on a recent conversation I’d had with the kids and their cousins when I’d noticed them flying high above their burning castles in the game.
“What super power would you like in real life?” I’d asked each of them. I expected them to say flying, just because they were doing it. But they surprised me. Firstly because they didn’t immediately answer the question.
“Why?” Master8 had wanted to know. “Are you going to get them for me?”
“Seriously,” I said to him, “if I could grant superpowers I’d give myself one before anyone else. It would be the ability to have a full nights sleep in just a twenty minute power nap.” Under the current system it’s sort of the opposite – it can sometimes take me two nights to get a full eight hours sleep.
“I’d want to have electricity,” Cousin6 had decided. His logic was sound too. “I wouldn’t have to recharge my DS.” His brother’s answer was just as well considered.
“I’d want to be fast,” said Cousin9. “So I could outrun mum.”
“I’d want to be able to have fire come out my hands,” said Master8.
“Why?” I wanted to know.
He shrugged. He didn’t know.
But his eyes hadn’t left the screen, which seemed a sort of hint. No, it didn’t surprise me one bit he wanted that superpower. Whenever Master8 builds a house in Minecraft it inevitably burns to the ground because he keeps putting a lava waterfall in the middle of it, which quickly gets out of hand. Well, they can’t stay Children of the Corn forever, can they. One day they’ll have to grow up and get a place of their own.
And like every young boy, I suspect he just wants his evil genius lair under a frickin’ volcano, even if he has to melt the rocks to a liquid molten mess with his own two hands.
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