Saturday, October 24, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 34

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on June 3rd, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 14

With a teen and a preteen as my guides, I venture into the pixel playground known as Minecraft


It’s the last Sunday of May, and it’s perfectly cloudy outside—excellent weather for the adventure my daughters and I are about to begin here in our living room. 

My 13-year-old daughter leads me through one of her favorite Minecraft worlds, which proves to be an exciting adventure.

The girls, ages 10 and 13, still love to share their worlds with me, and I do my best to enter. I know these times are finite—both the ongoing coronavirus quarantine and my daughters’ youthful willingness to bring me along. However, some of their worlds are easier for me to engage in than others. They’ve tried many times to get me and my husband to play Minecraft with them, but I’m hopeless when it comes to video games. I get bored with my limitations and lack the drive to learn enough to keep a screen-based game interesting for more than 20 minutes.

When I tried playing Minecraft, I accidentally destroyed everything I created because I couldn’t make my character stop chopping things. But today, I just sit back and watch while my daughters lead the way, Kindles on laps, thumbs and forefingers tapping away.  

Before we get going: What is Minecraft

“A game where you can unleash your creativity,” my 10-year-old explains while making the word “enchant” on a banner above a bookcase. 

Originally there was only survival mode, and players had to mine for all their resources. “You still do,” my 13-year-old says. “Except wood—that grows on trees now.”

We’re on the couch, moving rapidly through her world. We enter one of the castles she’s made here, and her first order of business is to kill an intruder. I’m sitting here watching my child beat a baby zombie to death. Cool. 

“I like that you can either play in survival or creative ... . Normally I prefer the creative mode,” she says. That zombie wouldn’t have killed her in creative mode, they’re just annoying trespassers. But in survival, “they’re the worst because they’re really small and agile.”

She likes that if she has an idea she can just do it, such as “the sky castle over there,” she says pointing off into the mist. 

I’m glad I don’t have to physically keep up with her—she covers a lot of ground very quickly. We’re now in a small castle she built in the center of a lake, complete with defenses made with redstone, which is “sort of like electricity in Minecraft. You can power stuff and tell pistons when to push blocks.” 

In this case, she pushes a button in her castle and I see a red line glow in front of us, like a fuse, and then fire launches across the lake. 

What’s mine is yours
Explore new worlds and learn how to build your own with a couple of my daughters’ favorite Minecraft pros: Grian,, and Mumbo Jumbo,

A second later we’re flying over to her “super awesome treehouse,” complete with a kitchen, lighted lanterns, potted plants, glass-paned windows, and a panda sitting on her bed. She explains that she watched a tutorial on how to level a tree’s top and make supports before designing the house. The girls’ favorite Minecraft gurus are Grian and Mumbo Jumbo, who make tutorials and lead expeditions through the newest releases of the game.

I get nostalgic looking at the pixely Minecraft worlds because this is what I wanted to do with Legos as a kid. I would spend hours making floor plans, brick by brick, and improvising stovetops and refrigerators for my blocky people. Now my girls make multi-level libraries and zoos, self-sorting treasure chests and lava-powered meat smokers. They can even wander around with angular parrots on their shoulders. 

While flying to her next castle, she explains that in survival, you’re trying to live, explore, and build while facing hunger and monsters—you can starve, suffocate, drown, get burned, and fall off a cliff and die, whereas in creative mode you just play around.

On my younger daughter’s Kindle, we’re wandering through the Nether dimension in survival mode. “You don’t want to go in there unless you have to,” she says. “I’m going to show you the lava pit of doom.” 

With a few taps on her screen, she returns to creative mode so we can fly over the lava and not get killed by the floating jellyfish-looking Ghasts, which shoot fireballs at you, “but if you hit it back at the Ghast, you’re good.”

Before I know it, we’re back in her regular world, and she’s showing me a hidden plateau, which features a bee enclosure, multiple bookcases, and a Nether portal. I turn away for a second and now we’re riding a horse back to her castle—actually into the building where there are two other horses waiting. This is not weird in Minecraft

Besides getting to fly and ride horses into houses, what’s the best part of this game?

“I like that I can build whatever I want, and that the possibilities are endless.”

Are they truly endless?

“-ish,” she says. 

Endless-ish—I like that, especially during a time when it feels like so much as ended. 

Associate Editor Andrea Rooks still doesn’t understand mooshrooms. Send cows and mushrooms separately to

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