Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
Has a neighbor ever inundated you with homegrown vegetables just when you’re least able to process them? Has a well-meaning relative ever picked out the perfect mate, chapel, honeymoon location, house and cemetery plot for you?
It’s sort of like that with my son Gideon (age nine) and his breathless crusade to share every intricacy of his rapture at playing the video game Minecraft.
Wikipedia explains “the creative and building aspects of Minecraft allow players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally structured world.” (Well, duh.) I know the game (introduced in 2009) has sold over 33 million copies and won numerous awards, but I simply don’t have the time for it.
I’ve tried lovingly explaining to Gideon that (like most adults) I have built up decades of my own obligations, preoccupations, commitments, pastimes, hobbies and interests and that there just aren’t enough hours in the day for a new addiction like Minecraft (bless its heart).
Although I am computer literate, I still have an “old school” streak in my entertainment. Even “back in the day” I was sometimes overwhelmed. Ask the NFL about fourth grade and multiple concussions from constructing paper footballs.
Gideon is just so earnest as he gushes about all the “modes,” “biomes” and “mobs” in Minecraft. I tend to tune him out when he starts talking about Creepers — exploding creatures that sneak up on the player. My own childhood play might involve skinned knees or wounded pride; I don’t see how risking Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a step up.
As long as he gets his homework and chores completed, we do try to indulge Gideon’s Minecraft fascination, whether it be with a Minecraft T-shirt, 20-minute YouTube videos of two guys giving blow by blow narration of their Minecraft competition (next up: Glidden and Dutch Boy narrate watching paint dry) or books on the subject.
One of the books promises to divulge “450 Tips To Get You Started Today.” If I need 450 tips just to be marginally acceptable at something, I would just as soon sacrifice a lamb, treat shellfish as an abomination and plan a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
We have to tell ourselves that Gideon is developing valuable hand-eye coordination with the game. Any day now he’ll be able to get his nasty Kleenex into the wastebasket instead of onto the floor, and coordinate his eyes on the stack of dirty dishes.
We probably do need to pull Gideon away from the game more often, or at least pay the royalties to make Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” his theme song. It should have been a tip-off when he returned from school telling all about photosynthesis. (“By the way, what is this ‘sunlight’ the teacher was talking about?”)
I must admit that we have ulterior motives for humoring Gideon. He has aspirations of being a world-renowned engineer (developing time machines and such) and it would be nice having him to support us in our old age.
I just worry that he will be too preoccupied with Minecraft 2053 to take proper care of us. (“Oops. I just remembered I left Mom and Dad locked in a hot car three days ago. Guess they’ve ascended to the NEXT LEVEL by now…”)
©2013 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades”. Danny’s’ weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns, please email Cari Dawson Bartley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800 696 7561.