Playing nicely in the Sandbox

When the kids every born, I decided expose them to technology as early as possible. To have them use it day to day and understand that its an everyday part of life, which can be used for education and entertainment; a tool, rather than a privilege. This obviously had, and continues to have its own challenges and requires a patient and hands on approach, especially when playing together in a digital space. Sometimes their own natural curiosity and adaptability when it comes to using technology has not always made that easy.

Gaming was always going to part of how the kids used technology, and Pinky Pie’s desire to explore the world of Minecraft, due largely to interactions with children she attends school with, simplified the issue of finding age appropriate games that would not only let her explore her creative side but also provide an excellent way to help develop problem solving skills in a fun way.

For those that are unfamiliar with the game Minecraft, it s a procedural driven sandbox game, which is available on a variety of different platforms, from Xbox and Windows 10, to Playstation, Android and IOS devices.  (The mobile device version of the game does not have the same features and capabilities of the Desktop and console versions, but the core game modes are present, and its still quite a fun little game.)

It allows it’s players to  explore a world, gather resources and use those resource to build equipment and structures. I’m still learning this crafting skills and while I like to fancy that I built my self a quite a nice little survival bunker, I am reliability informed that what I have essentially built  is a cave with a door on it (children can be so cruel at times).

There are a number of different modes, to suit various tastes, these include Survival and Adventure modes (where you can play through maps created b y the online community). There is also a creative mode, where you have access to all of the possible resources and buildable items, but there is no risk of be eaten or attacked by any of the animals or monsters which roam the game.

As the kids both have iPad mini’s and frankly I got sick of having to share the xbox, I installed Minecraft pocket edition on both devices and gave them a quick tutorial on how to use the mobile version of the game.

Pinky Pie leapt into the world with much excitement and enthusiasm, creating over time, in creative mode, massive structures, citadels, structure of awe and wonderment, and then proceeded to fill these structures pieces modern art, paying homage to that most aloof and ambivalent of household gods…..the cat….MILO !!!! PRAISE BE THE LORD OUR CAT !!!!

Groot, also playing in creative mode, preferring to explore the world, above and below, (In a couple of instances digging through to the bottom of the world and falling into open space….score one for the flat earth society or as we like to call them today…the US Republican Party); also experimenting with the various resources, equipment and wildlife that could be accessed.

There were 2 thing I did not know about the Minecraft pocket edition. First there is TNT, the explosive, which in creative mode was readily available in limitless quantities and secondly it is possible for one table user use to enter and interface with the world of another tablet users when connected to the same WIFI network.  What do these 2 things have in common ?? Well dear reader let me tell you.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon, the kids where entertaining themselves, playing Minecraft in seperate rooms…when suddenly a simultaneous cry of excitement and horror…followed my Pinky pie screaming …….GONE ITS ALL…. ITS ALL GONE…..MILO IS GONE  !!!!!!!!!

It turns out, that Groot had entered Pinky’s world and found her largest set of structures  and had then proceeded to deploy several dozen crates of TNT throughout, placing them close enough together that the explosion caused by one, would cause the dentation off the next and the next and …well you get the idea……….it was, what  Groot confidently assured me was “The Coolest Explosion Ever!!”

After I calmed Pinky Pie down and explained that Groot didn’t understand that he was destroying her world, and everyone had sufficient time in their corners…..we sat down together and figured out what had happened.

During the post-mortem, we collectively decided that we would keep to our seperate sandboxes with out asking permission first, and that if we were going to share a sandbox we would play together and in the same physical space.…I now keep my iPads backup in case of future “incidents” …. Its a brave new world I guess, as a parent I will have problems and challenges that my parents never had to deal with, but the more things change the more they stay the same…..as long as no one desecrates the statues of the household God!

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