Remember when you were playing Call of Duty with your buddies, just having a good time, when a high-pitched voice suddenly blares through the headset going on about how many kills they have? Maybe they’re even trash talking and telling you how badly you suck. Right in the middle of a match you hear them yelling, “Mom! Not now! I’ll do homework later.” Do you know why they’re loud, arrogant and disrespectful? It’s because they’re 12.
You know exactly what I’m talking about. For a while, children around the ages of 10 to 13 had been addicted to first-person shooting games. They take joy in seeing virtual violence in forms of explosions, gunfire, knife attacks and more.
There does, however, seem to be a blessing with the game of Minecraft. This game has made a huge impact in the last several months, especially on kids. In this game they can build skyscrapers, farms, and other structures out of blocks. The colors and animation are reminiscent of animated movies that kids are always glued to. The amount of violence is low and toned down even more by its cartoony graphics. One of the more violent aspects is blowing up a sheep for its wool but it’s not like blood or guts are spewed on the ground. They just disappear—far tamer than assassinating humans. Game play is simpler compared to Call of Duty; there’s no need to remember weapon names or combat tactics. Minecraft is a game that appeals to children in ways their parents and teachers would be satisfied with. There aren’t any negative effects to playing this game except for obsession; no foul language, violence, or anything to label it mature.
I have been working with school-aged children for the past year as a substitute teacher and after school care counselor. Since I am able to interact with them I’ve found the chatting has moved from Call of Duty to Minecraft. I’ve even asked them why they enjoy each game. Jarrett, 12, told me he likes Minecraft because, “you build houses, make tools, and it’s easier to play.” When asked about the other he said, “I like Call of Duty because it’s more action packed.” While he enjoys playing both games he says he prefers Call of Duty however, he also said his friends play Minecraft more. A young boy named Joshua, aged 10, told me he likes play a Minecraft recess game outside. “We pretend we’re fishing for treasure or attacking creepers,” he said. With Minecraft being played by younger children, it seems promising they will play peacefully with one another at home and school.
I am aware that not all children will pretend to shoot bad guys or throw fake grenades — and of course this isn’t necessarily an indication of any real violent tendencies for those who do. Each child is different, but from what I’ve experienced first hand, they are playing less violent games. Minecraft is a safe game that encourages creativity. It is a wise choice for a growing child to create rather than kill, albeit virtually. At the very least, it’s hard to disagree with anything that takes away high-pitched profanities about your inadequacies during heated sessions of CoD.