A Sandbox Game Sans the Sands

The things anyone can do with Minecraft is limitless. What I once perceived as one ordinary game eventually hits me as more challenging than any other games we have at home. It may sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. Our eight-year old son has Halo and Call of Duty (oopps, bad parent) wherein we are able to see his progress. He is also almost done with his Lego Marvel game but not Minecraft. That’s because Minecraft is categorized as a sandbox game which means that in its environment anything goes, sky’s the limit and its boxy white clouds. It is a game that right out of the package does not have any goal to complete before a player moves on to the next level.

Marcus gives the concept, I build the stuff. Here’s a rendition of the compound’s dog, Den Den.
Three heads are better than one. It took the three of us to build this house. Instructions on how to build this is available online.

To create something out of single block is the main objective the game. The output could be a simple boxy dog up to more complex designs that resemble famous landmarks and even vehicles. The game continues to evolve and gain popularity which is not surprising that Microsoft invested billions to take ownership of this game.  Minecraft is a virtual building block game that my generation once wished we would have. So props to Mojang for finally giving our kids the option to build stuffs without us parents emptying our wallet although in the process we need to expect them begging for new skins and texture packs. I have so far resisted most of it plus the fact that my credit card won’t allow me to purchase anything anymore.

We created this plane one year ago today.

Gamers who want more excitement have options other than Minecraft’s creative world. The game also has survival and adventure worlds, each of which has its own challenges. I honestly can’t distinguish between the two but the shrieks and yelling I have heard from our son Marcus tell me that he has switched to either of these options. This game has its hell and creepers so trust me, it could be scary. On days when Minecraft Xbox turns boring, he would play its PC version where he spends hours on different Minecraft servers interacting with players somewhere in the globe. More screaming happens here.

Parents and kids alike would find a wide range of Minecraft references and resources available online. On Youtube.com there are channels of popular users like DanTDM and EthanGamerTV (who recently turned 10) and PopularMMOs. Our son is a big fan of these Youtubers. He would love to see DanTDM and his pugs but he has set his eyes to meet PopularMMOs once we get in the US. There’s also Minecraft Forum that I have used to troubleshoot most Minecraft PC errors. Marcus started his own Youtube channel last month so you might as well check it—maybe after five years from now.

Books have also been published for Minecraft. Yes, books like those made of sheets of paper that you flip to transfer to the next pages. Books with hard covers that are meant to protect the paper pages. And we recently bought one for Marcus to encourage him to read more but last night I found out that he peeled off the spine of one of his books. Thankfully it is not the Hacks for Minecrafters book but I told him that he is banned to play his newly upgraded Minecraft Xbox for a day anyway. It slipped my mind though that he has Minecraft PC. Parenting is tough, isn’t it?

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Mood: 3/10 Honks! (If we could only switch the weather like in Minecraft.)

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Gamer’s Perspective

That’s Marcus and I together online. I intentionally erased my identity.

I have a predictable routine at home. In a time lapse video I would be seen either seated or lying beside Marcus’ white plastic table where he spends almost his whole day playing his favorite online games which are just either Roblox or Minecraft. On some days, we would go shoot the bad guys in Call of Duty. Trust me, he is a sharp shooter, a lot better than me.

Yesterday, while staring at his Roblox game something struck me. That real people are like characters in games such as in this Lego-like environment. Like Marcus’ boxy policeman in patrol, one of the roles he like to play, our perspective in life does control our actions. For example, in the third person perspective, a gamer could see more of everything around him–the whole place, the bad guys, and the good guys alike. With a bigger picture, it makes it easier to decide on the next appropriate actions. Such should be the case when we encounter problems in real life–we should step back, analyze, and form the corresponding solution.

On the other hand, there’s that first person view. This one allows an approach that is focused only on what is directly in front. In games, a lot of movement, from side to side, to turning back, have to be made to ensure that no one sneaks past and take advantage of your current position. This approach is head on and works well if we know what needs to be done. Same goes in real life. We face the issue and deal with it.

There is not one perspective, however, that is perfect. Each requires sound judgment to benefit from it and therefore it is important that one knows when to step back and have a bird’s eye view of the situation; and when to zoom in to be able to engage accordingly. In real life, it takes more than just a mouse control wheel to shift from first person to third person and vice versa. Marcus told me how he does it. It fascinates me that his game would bring me into a short yet deep thought. I can see that when he errs, when he loses, he can respawn, he can restart all over again. Don’t we all wish life is just like this too?

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Happy to be home early.)

Saturdays with Needles

It has been a week since I got inked for the very first time and as most people who do it, there is an inspiration behind each tattoo. Mine comes from Marcus and one of his favorite games, Minecraft.

That’s Minecraft’s Steve on my left chest.

The tattoo shop’s size and ambiance were not close to those of Miami Ink–a show that wifey and I used to watch back when we still have cable TV. However, I know that the experience I felt that day was the same as anyone who had their tattoo for the first time. It was a mixture of pain, excitement, and the dilemma if I could still back out and say “forget it.”

Same cannot be told of Marcus’ day with a different needle. Today, we finally accomplished his first test–among several ordered by his doctor–that requires blood extraction for CKMM which is a procedure that will determine the extent of damage to his muscles. Watching him cry was painful but what breaks my heart more was his question after the extraction, “Daddy, would I be able to jump soon?” Result comes out this Monday.

Marcus with Yaya (known to others as Frankenbob) thru good times and bad times. There’s my next tattoo idea.

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Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Still wondering why him.)

From 300 to Minecraft

Three days ago the radio station I have been listening to for several months already started to give away tickets for the sequel of the movie 300. On twitter, the DJ asked for suggestions on how they should go about the contest which on a whim I tweeted, since the original 300 movie brags a cast with washboard abs, “How about sending a profile pic showing good abs. One that can be verified on Facebook or twitter.” Lo and behold, they picked up the suggestion and got willing participants to strut their stuff. I was tempted to send my own yet let go of the idea with an alibi, “…300 days more.”

Perhaps if I maintain my current gym regiment, however unscientific it is, I might achieve, or at least get closer to, the form that I should have had years ago. While low in the standards of weight training, considering I started being more serious about it just when I reached that age when they say life begins at, I cannot believe that I have upped the ante in terms of the weights I am now lifting. The significant of which is with my chest and shoulder exercises wherein I have transitioned from the embarrassing 20-pound to 70-pound dumbbells in a matter of weeks—and that’s sans any drug supplement such as the creatine I once planned to buy. The problem now is that school will be over soon and I won’t have the opportunity to kill time at the gym, so as early as now I need to plan an alternative training schedule. I plan to be more frequent this summer and would need more of wifey’s perfect carbo-filled breakfast. (Yes, she can now cook again.)

Every Monday morning as I wage my personal war against body fat and laziness, just a street across the gym, Marcus fights his own battle—the start of his school week. Remarkably, despite the usual resistance to report to school, he has been making good progress inside the kindergarten classroom. After earning the top three spot in his class in the third quarter of the school year, his next monthly exams were a lot better. In fact, he excels in Math and Science subjects wherein he perfected his recent exams. (Reading and writing though present some challenges but I am quite impressed nevertheless.) So if in the previous grading period wifey gave him Ben 10 CDs—and a regular supply of imitation Lego figures—this time I got him a genuine Minecraft for Xbox 360. It was dream come true for him after spending several months of just watching walkthrough YouTube videos of this game from this person with the name StampyLongHead.

This is a cross between Lego and World War Z. Doubt it? Get one.

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Marcus has stopped playing the game due to the Zombies and Creepers which I think is a good thing since the last exams for this school will happen next week.

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Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Our second normal week.)