You Want Prepared Kids? Play Minecraft!
If you do the ugly parent thing and refuse to read this because you think it is about a video game and there is no way it can translate preparedness, well, than I am very sorry.
I certainly don’t fall into the category of a hardcore gamer. Do I play video games? I am 28 and grew up with NES. Of course I play. I like to stay in the combat sports vein and I enjoy a good Rebel/American/Resistance style game.
Since I have been doing the show and engaging with listeners there has been one struggle that has shown to be insurmountable for some. It’s not the skills it’s passing them on. Its engaging the family in a way that really pushes them to get excited about things like bushcraft, hunting, gardening, storing food and a general enjoyment of that self reliant lifestyle. This is why we decided on including the outdoors into our Reroot USA movement www.rerootusa.com.
Still, those bonds with technology for some kids are so strong that it is nearly impossible to break them. They could care less about what Dad wants to do or what Mom wants to do. Now this isn’t the case for every kid but I am using this article to address those folks that just cannot build an alliance at home. Here’s the thing if Dad and the kids like it than Mom is gonna get curious. The problem is when they can pilot a spaceship and blow up entire worlds on their phone its nearly impossible to pull them from the clouds and teach them to appreciate a hazelnut growing on a bush outside. At a time when it seems more important to move towards preparedness than ever what do you do?
In comes the pixilated, underrated survival game known as Minecraft. Yes it is very much a survival game. In fact after having put several hours into the game I would go as far as to say it is THE self-reliance and survival game.
There are a few modes to play in but to get the most out of this game with your kids you have to play Survival Mode. This mode ties it all together. You play through day and night and when the sun goes down the danger level goes up. I guess I should mention that to get the most out of this game you would want to play two-player mode with your child.
So what is so great about a stupid, ugly looking video game in the age of crystal clear graphics? I will elaborate in the bold titles below.
Hunting to survive
If you are playing the game in Survival Mode you will burn calories building your shelter. You will burn calories mining, gardening and pretty much everything else you do. Eating meat will fill you up much faster than anything else. You even have to cook the meat to get the most out of it.
Throughout your game there will be several types of animals and you can eat most of them. You have the option of stabbing them, using a bow and arrow to shoot them or bludgeoning them to death. Not my recommendation.
Your kids will begin to understand they have to hunt and that hunting is not what PETA makes it out to be. In the game they will look forward to providing meat for Dad or Mom and eating their hard work at the end of the day.
As I mentioned earlier there would be a daytime period where light is plentiful and you will tend your garden, build on your home, cut down trees or mine. It’s a wonderful time to get things done.
However, when the moon rises and night is upon you several enemies come out. Zombies, skeletons and spiders are the most recognizable but other more confusing enemies are out in the dark as well. The important thing is that without a shelter you will be killed.
This creates a great opportunity for your kids to understand the importance of a shelter, especially at night. It also drives home managing time and when the sun reaches a certain spot in the sky its time to start making your way back to safety.
Also if you die you lose all of your items.
The importance of growing your own food
One of the coolest features in Minecraft is that you have to grow food to survive. Not only do you have to grow food but also you have to find seeds, prep an area with plenty of light, prep the soil and also consider irrigation. Without all of these your garden will be very ineffective.
I know this is baby talk to you but can you think of a better vehicle to deliver this information to your child? You can explain to them why you have to do all I mentioned above.
You will even have to craft your own hoe from sticks and rocks that you mine. Using this tool is imperative or you will not be able to plant seeds.
Understanding raw materials
There is not another game or activity period on this planet that allows you to use so many raw materials and develop an understanding of how they translate into everyday objects. Whether you are mining stone for tools, coal for torches, sandstone and cobblestone for structures, cutting wood to build fences, or getting into gold and diamonds to make weapons, kinda silly I know, Minecraft really introduces kids to what, where and how so many everyday objects come to be.
The very basics of managing an inventory
All through the game you will collect items. Whether you mine rock, cut wood, find seeds, hunt for meat or even just dig up dirt. You have a finite inventory to work from. Everything tool you craft will also be in your inventory. You can make axes, swords, pick axes, shovels and even fishing poles among other things. All of these tools are necessary in Survival Mode.
When you run out of inventory you cannot keep anything else. You have to decide what to keep and what must go.
I could go on……
But for your sake I won’t cuz I want you to get out and play the game! If you have made it this far in the article I am very happy for you. It means you are thinking outside the box and going with the natural order a bit.
Of course getting outside with your kids and physically building fences, digging gardens and building shelters is incomparable to playing a video game. My son is young he is all about helping Daddy for about 5 minutes than I lose his attention. Kids learn best when they are engaged. You running a tiller and planting seeds all day is hardly engaging to a young kid. What Minecraft offers, and this is the most important thing to understand, is a level playing field. A place where your child will open their mind and devote their full attention. Here you can dump even more important knowledge and details into something you both are enjoying.
Here’s the ultimate secret. If your kids don’t like camping or digging, gardening, hunting, bushcraft yadda yadda. You have to be smarter than the 5 year old. That’s what parenting is about. Instead of “hey junior hows about we go out back and look for some fallen black walnuts,” you grab one of your kids swords and say, “I think I hear a creeper. Lets go outside and play Minecraft!”