Minecraft – what the devil is this game? My boys play it constantly, and that scares me. Not because I have some rule against hours spent gaming. Normally any game that keeps my kids quiet for that long gets my vote for Parents’ Choice Award. It scares me because Minecraft seems to be the lineal descendant of Dungeons & Dragons, which was girl-repellent in my youth.
Just because you played D&D didn’t mean you’d later do something macabre, like drive a used hearse to high school. However if you drove such a creepy ride, smart money says that earlier you played your share of D&D. Please, let’s not argue. All of this is well documented in unbiased journals like Dorkness Visible and Don’t Make Me Come Down There, Chet. Which leads to the question we all want answered: is Minecraft play in childhood a leading indicator of Cosplay in adulthood?
Here’s something to consider before you answer — technology is cool now, highly social. In fact, some quick internet research on Cosplay bought me new appreciation for the breadth of its appeal (read huge in Japan) and the pageantry of its costuming (read form-fitting latex). It also bought me a meeting first thing tomorrow with my HR Department. The truth is, technology today is nothing like it was for the unfortunate asthmatics who comprised the audio-visual club back in the day. Keep in mind there wasn’t any of this fashionable, seasonal asthma back then – if you had asthma, brother, you really had asthma. Rescue inhalers lived up to their name. I never knew what the AV Club was up to during recess. It was enough to know that recess was available and they didn’t want it. I imagined them watching documentaries on topics like whale communication, kids who could hear words like humpback and sperm whale and not giggle. Their love of technology was matched only by their loathing of kickball.
Things are different now, or maybe they aren’t. Maybe I’ve just never been good at discerning between productive behavior and a cry for help. Do I struggle with Minecraft? Like a dyslexic struggles with the schwa. My wife points out that it’s an upstairs game – nobody plays huddled in the password-protected room beneath the stairs – so that’s positive. And I’m mindful of at least two examples where I was dead wrong about popular phenomena. The first is Lonesome Dove. My Texas college buddies revered it, watching the miniseries in starchy white button-downs and jeans dark enough for George Strait himself to say dude, too much. These guys knew cool things like never give a knife as a gift. They deserved the benefit of the doubt, especially considering the “better” things I had to do. Like conference call two different Dunkin Donuts and listen silently as baffled crosstown sales clerks discussed the cosmic implications of what just happened. Many years later I read and then saw Lonesome Dove. The Texans were right, I was wrong, and I am sorry.
The second is the band Rush. I didn’t see this one coming, but it turns out these guys are really good. This is hard to say because where Dungeons & Dragons was the movie, Rush was the soundtrack. Saul of Tarsus could scarcely have persecuted more Christians than I tormented Rush fan-boys. How? With underground newspaper reviews like this one, of concept album 2112: This record once and for all answers the question in what year will somebody finally score while listening to Rush? With time I’ve realized that once again, the joke is on me. There’s a lyrical bent to their music that I totally missed, not in a sexually charged, Jim Morrison kind of way, but more in a was that an Ayn Rand reference, the Syosset teen asked himself kind of way. Who knew Canada was good for more than Neil Young, BlackBerry and sonar? While I confessed my Lonesome Dove sins almost instantly, it took a little longer with Rush. As recently as a year ago I had this exchange with a trainer at my gym:
Trainer: Do you want to go to the Rush concert with me tomorrow night? It will be a sick show.
Me: Awesome. You’ve got the tickets, so I’ll get the time machine that takes us back to being fourteen.
He was right, I was wrong and I’m sorry. So take it easy, Bilbo, Q*bert, Chewie and the rest of you gamers, you win. My fear of Minecraft is completely unsubstantiated. It is a gateway to nothing untoward, simply good, clean fun. Speaking of, will I soon regret what I recently said to a Game of Thrones-loving friend: methinks you shant bed down with a woman until your forties, m’lord? Almost certainly.