Jafta is 8-years-old, and in his mind every single other child his age is playing Minecraft during their free time. He and his friends talk about Minecraft ALL THE TIME, and the funny thing is, I finally asked a couple of the parents about it and their kids aren’t even playing it either. They are just obsessed. Obsessed with talking about it, thinking about it, and dreaming about how much better life would be with access to Minecraft. Jafta has been begging me to let him play at home, and I’m pretty ambivalent about it. First of all, I don’t even totally understand what it is. It sounds like they sort of construct an online world? I’ve had friends who have said it’s good for creativity and logic. I’ve heard that it isn’t necessarily violent. But I have some qualms. I’ve pretty anti video games. We’ve got a Wii system and the only game I’ve ever allowed them to play is Just Dance. I am totally opposed to first person shooter games and while I realize our standards as parents ebb and flow as our children grow, it’s unlikely that is one I will budge on. So there is a part of me that is concerned that Minecraft is a “gateway drug” for Halo and then Grand Theft Auto and then a life of crime. Still, I’ve got friends using Minecraft as an incentive for other things and I’ve not above bribery if it means less complaining about practicing math and guitar every day. And yet . . . I fear that if we introduce it, there is no going back. I hear kids get pretty addicted and obsessed about the game, and  suspect Jafta would be one of those kids. June 2013 262
So . . . parents who’ve gone before me (or adults who play the game) . . . what do I need to know? Is it good clean fun? Am I being paranoid? Or is it wise to avoid it altogether?