Teen Speak: A Translation for Beginners
(The one where I talk about gaming and its continued annoyance in my otherwise perfect life)
The other day when my computer refused to charge, I used Mancub’s. As I booted it up, the computer itself seemed to cringe a little, as if wary of the new user. It was probably still hung over from last night’s Mine Craft marathon. Immediately I was inundated with Minecraft world info…New Mods! New Servers! New Videos about the new mods and new servers! I felt like I was being yelled at by shifty carnies at the fair–my tactic is to avoid eye contact but that doesn’t matter here. Dear Parent, if you have not heard of MineCraft, then you can just count your lucky stars. It’s one of the biggest time wasters on the entire planet. Picture everything you like about Facebook, then turn the resolution WAY down so everything looks like grainy legos. Then turn it down even more.
MineCraft itself is a world of its own. Remember how people talked about WOW? When I was taking Latin, there was this girl who sat next to me, so very confident in her Latin abilities (she was really good–I was unashamedly embarrassed of her translating skills) that she actually brought her laptop into class and played WOW during lecture. I cornered her after class and said, “Look, we’re all just thrilled to death that Latin, to you, is akin to a Dora the Explorer episode, but if you ever bring that to class again, I am going to totally rat you out. Count on it.” Mine Craft is similar to WOW in that it’s always new and exciting, and creative “mods” are introduced practically on an hourly basis, written by unwashed men who live in their mother’s basement and are far more acquainted with their online friends than annoying people IRL (in real life, for those of you who don’t know). The biggest problems on Mine Craft? People slowing down the server, the server being “down” (what will happen to our sheep??????), creepers (bad guys), and griefers (those who pillage the Mine Craft world, unfairly stealing from others who have also sat unwashed tinkering with one thing or another until they have the perfect sheep breeder or whatever. Coupled with the fact that people can actually talk to others who share their obsession AND watch hours of videos about the fascinating world of blurred legos, it can become quite a problem. Left unchecked, sleep, hygiene and skin tone can indeed suffer. When my boys play too long, they get sucked into the MC world and the real world seems…less fun.
Anyway, when I was using Nate’s computer, I was listening to music so I put on his headphones which are perfectly adapted to completely tuning out my voice unless the words “Hey….food” are heard. The Engineer comes in (he is similarly afflicted with the MIneCraft Virus) and asks me a question.
“What?” I say, much louder than necessary.
“I said, are we going to lunch?”
“Oh,” I pretend to deliberate. “I’m sorry–I didn’t hear you. I’m Mine Crafting.”
Lee is not impressed.
“Reallllly?” He says.
“Yeah. I was just talking to my friend Wart, who lives in Sarasota. We’re both sick and tired of Sasquatch29 griefing our turf. We’re trying to get him banned from the server.”
“Oh,” Lee says, trying not to grin at my completely lame attempt to speak nerd.
“Good luck with that.”
There are things you can do, dear parent. You can install a timer that shuts down the computer after a certain amount of screen time. I let Mancub play for 3 hours a day during break, only after he’s done a list of chores I’ve given him. Then, if he wants more time he has to earn it. How? By doing more chores or READING A BOOK. I took care to choose books I thought he’d like, including Ender’s Game and Divergent. It’s tough competition against a backdrop of lego pig farms, but it’s a cross he’s got to bear.