We downloaded Minecraft for the Switch, which has me hooked on solo crafting again when I have time to spare.
Photo of the Day Theme
A light-toned photo of a person or people.
“Dad, can I make a Minecraft video?” She asks.
I sigh. “I guess.” And then I hand over the keys(board) and let her log into the game and start recording. She’s making a YouTube video of herself playing video games. If I’m not careful, she’ll be a success and pulling in a bigger annual salary than me soon.
I opted for an overhead shot. I couldn’t quite get the over-the-shoulder perspective to capture the right glow from the monitor, and besides she wouldn’t stop playing for the two seconds required to look at the camera.
Claire, it seems, has taken up competitive video gaming.
Like I was any different, but at going-on-nine she’s taken a real shining to playing Minecraft… watching Minecraft videos on YouTube… reading books about Minecraft… and now playing competitive building challenges in, yes, Minecraft.
I’m using it as a teaching moment for online safety. She’s logging into a monitored mega-server and participating in timed arena-based construction challenges. The clock starts, the theme flashes on the screen, and the building begins. I’ve been fascinated watching her: she’s got a real knack for taking a broad theme and within four minutes, using nothing but coloured cubes, constructing it into a three-dimensional model of whatever was in her head.
The clock ticks down, the timer flashes up a ten second warning, and blink, they are voting. The other sixteen participants tour-via-instantaneous transportation from arena to arena, casting a vote on a scale from “poor” to “epic” and after a couple minutes of voting, the scores are displayed.
This morning she proudly showed me the model she built on the theme of “MAD SCIENTIST” wherein appeared in her four minutes of frantic construction a wild-haired doc-brownish type figure in a knee length lab coat, buttons and all, sporting a beaker of frothing liquid. The voting progressed through, she voting with confident positivism and bestowing (frankly) undeserved praise upon her fellow competitors: yet as the dust settles she is standing atop the blocky heap in first place.
She can’t throw a ball to save her life, but give her a laptop computer and she’ll sculpt a digital model with top ranks from her fellow gamers. My daughter, everyone. I’ll take whatever pride I can.
My little social media guru has been busily promoting her efforts. She’s been telling all her friends that her and her dad are still making Minecraft YouTube videos.
This means that (a) not lots but SOME people are actually watching these things and (b) this is now officially the most successful YouTube channel I’ve ever been a part of.
And while you may not be inclined to spend your free time hunting down videos of random people playing video games, apparently it’s media catnip for this generation of pre-teens.
So we play.
We recorded our thirteenth episode this past weekend, and –given that it’s spring break and there is no structured extra-curricular this week, no dance, no swimming lessons, no school work to do– my co-star has grand plans for at least a couple more episodes before the week is out.
In the meantime, we had a little (post) Easter fun in episode 13:
A day after our last episode I was feeling well enough to play through some Minecraft Let’s Play.
Sadly, our first attempt –let’s call it episode 9a– was lost to the failures of bad setup: I set something wrong and it was a soundless journey through the deep, dark pits of our little world. The sound didn’t work at all. It was without sound. Quiet. Which was a shame because Claire fell into lava and we had a few minutes of solid gold production going on: screaming and genuine panic, and then a bit of a meltdown. Which is ok, then I suppose for her sake, that there is no record of that.
Instead, we picked up a few minutes later and tried again on episode 9b:
Bronchitis being what it is, my voice took a turn for the worse on Saturday and Claire — eager as always to record some Let’s Play — did a solo episode.
I won’t vouch for any aspect of it. It may be pretty random. It may be little more than a glimpse into the mind of an eight year old girl. But she made it, and she’s darned proud of it.
We decided to just keep playing and recorded a second episode with just a short break to reset the recording equipment in between…
And you’d think that would mean that we would have kept working on whatever it was we were working on, right? Well, yeah actually… Claire finished her minecart roller coaster and we took a few giggly rides on it.
But then… well, she saw a cow floating in the nearby lagoon, and next thing you know we’re goofing around with a new –um– pet… I guess.
Enjoy episode seven, but beware… we got a little weird.
Another busy Saturday, and this time she was on a bit of a roll…er coaster.
In the first of two Saturday episodes, we were poking around in our new-ish world again, for the third weekend in a row. All my behind the scenes work is paying off, I suppose, because she robbed the larder and started to build.
First on the agenda: a little roller coaster. She got to work collecting all the bits of train tracks, which took most of our twenty minutes, and really just kicked things off before I called it.
Check out our sixth episode…
After enjoying some blueberry pancakes, Claire excitedly hauled the computer back down to the basement and helped me set up another episode and recorded installment of our Let’s Play Minecraft videos for her channel. She’s very proud, by the way.
The problem, however, becomes one of resources. In Minecraft there is a kind of stretch of time early in the game, after you have completed your initial gathering and shelter set up phase, where you are really stuck just grinding out some time gathering even more resources and establishing the ability to generate building supplies.
This can be really boring. It is probably even more boring to watch. And we kinda hit it in episode 4.
Not that this episode is boring, but in it I acknowledge a few times the need to spend some time (unrecorded time) chopping stone and growing trees so that we can actually do some builds.
That is going to be between episode 4 and 5… definitely. In the meantime, enjoy episode 4.
My daughter is slightly obsessed with watching Minecraft videos on YouTube. I’m okay with that, but in this world of passive media consumption a dad needs to figure out a simple way to make sure that some of that passion moves from the passive mode into the engaged mode. Ideally, I’d kick her outside to play, but the temperature sucks, and even I don’t really want to be outside, preferring to hunker down in my pajamas and watch. So, I guess when you have the tools and the know-how, inspiration is the only missing ingredient. Hence why you’ve been seeing a lot of videos of us playing videos games here lately. I thought I would explain, if only because we’ve made so many and as I write this another is being uploaded. It isn’t all serious: it’s fun, too. But part of me would rather see her as an active, creative participant, than only a lump-on-the-couch consumer of this stuff. When you create as well as watch, your mind watches in a different way. And that’s a good thing.
It’s still really cold outside, and having looked out the window –and at my phone for all the people who were skipping out on the morning run– I told Claire we could make another couple Minecraft videos instead.
Plus, YouTube had unblocked my account (huzzah!) so after a day of delay we seemed to be back in business.
Our plan is make (at best) a new 20 minute video every week. That’s not tough, finding twenty minutes to record yourself playing a video game. What is going to be tough is keeping my partner on track and from getting to wired up while recording.
I mean, check out when she breaks into song part way through Episode 3:
After a hearty breakfast of homemade pancakes, we went back into the basement to record another episode in “Thirty Below” — our peaceful-survival world that will hopefully turn into a regular series.
I can tell that one video every week or so is going to be close to the max on this project. Her energy wanes faster than mine. I spent ten minutes in-game pre-recording un-lost-ifying her and getting her back to our little house.
And then we started again… Unfortunately, as you start a new world, there is lots of little bits of housekeeping and resource gathering to be done. This episode is mostly that. Finding some wood. Looking for iron ore. Clearing some land to build on later. And lots of jibber jabber from an eight-year-old and her dad.
Enjoy episode 2…