For Christmas, the boys got an Xbox One. It came with the game Titanfall, and they were thrilled. They really enjoyed playing that game. They also downloaded Minecraft, but only played it once in a while. It didn't appeal to them all that much.
Then, one weekend when their cousins were visiting, they discovered how to play. They were shown how to build houses and defend against threats and gather food. The game has now become their favorite.
One of the features of the game is that they can both play at the same time--which is awesome on so many levels. They mainly play in "Creative" mode, which means they are free to do whatever they want and they don't have to eat and build shelter and survive like they do in "Survival" mode.
I don't watch them play all that often. Generally while the kids are enthralled with video games, I'm accomplishing other tasks (cleaning the house, writing, napping on the couch). Every so often, I check in to see what they're doing, and it's mind boggling.
They really enjoy building huge elaborate houses, and houses on top of houses. But I've also watched them blow up mountains with TNT; create houses out of lava; and burn houses, trees, and whatever else they can with their fire. I've seen them spawn numerous Zombie Pig Men, only to destroy them just as quickly. They create ridiculous amounts of dogs and various other creatures that I can't name off the top of my head.
I furrow my brow and wonder what in the world they're doing and why it's so exciting for them. I worry ever so slightly that their destructive nature will translate into the real world. But then I shrug and carry on with what I was doing.
So what if they like to burn things down and destroy creatures? It's only a game. If there's a safe place to express those kinds of behaviors, it's here because no one really gets hurt. I have faith that they'll keep those actions in the game.
The boys' enjoyment with Minecraft is no different than when my siblings and I used to play SimCity when we were little. I remember having so much fun creating cities and watching them grow and dealing with problems as they arose--traffic, pollution, overpopulation--and finding a way to fix them. My brother loved turning on natural disasters and watching them take out part of his city and having to repair it. Or not. It depended on his mood.
The best part of watching my boys play is how they play together. It's not always perfect, but more often than not they work as a team and the fighting stays to a minimum. It makes me happy to see them getting along. And they're having fun, which is all that really matters anyway.