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Our kids will have childhood memories of their own. Memories that they will think are super awesome. We will scoff at them as somehow not as great or authentic as our memories. We will be wrong of course, just like our parents were wrong, and just like they will be wrong when they think the same of their kids.

A lot of Minecraft and Terraria gets played here. Not much of it gets played by me. I enjoy these games, of course, because they are enjoyable. They are created to be enjoyed. They are not really made for me. Not specifically at least.

I am an adult, and I have a certain amount of agency in the world. I have aquired tools, physical, mental, and emotional, that I can use to subtly tune my environment. I can make things. I can change the things that other people have made. Don't like that shade of teal, paint it orange. Don't like the wall, knock it down and rebuild it. Don't like your wireless performance, upgrade your network. The world is plastic. It takes effort, or money, or both, but it can be changed. I learned this by playing.

Sure I've had jobs that furnished me a whole host of skills, but I learned none of them through the dutiful application of labour. I learned by playing, tinkering, messing around. I take things apart and reassemble them because it is fun. It's play. Nothing I've had to remember to function competently at a job, the bureaucracy of the tasks, has stayed with me. I could tell you all about applying vinyl wraps to vehicles, because sticking vinyl to things is fun. Changing your environment is fun.

When you are a kid, your agency in the world is muted. Filtered through an insulating layer, often for your own protection. But you are able to play, and the play most kids gravitate toward will provide them with that agency. Minecraft and terraria have player agency in spades. They are building blocks. They are Lego.

It would be very easy to say that in some way playing with blocks and Lego is more authentic. A better way to play. That, of course, would be wrong. Different skills can be learned by playing with physical toys, and I don't think that any good can come from not providing them to your kids, but digital toys will be as super awesome a memory for most kids as anything else they obsess over. If minecraft can instill in a kid, the inherent plasticity of the world I think it's a net positive.

Sometimes you should go kick a ball around too. That makes for good memories.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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