What my kids learned from Minecraft

In the real world, I provide for all of my kids’ needs, but in Minecraft they have to work for everything they create. A neighbor told me that for the first time she can remember, her son swept the kitchen floor. “It’s kind of like playing Minecraft,” he told her, adding that he’d just finished cleaning debris (known as “podzol”) from his online property.

The kids get really upset when someone steals their stuff. And no one wants to maintain the communal areas. To establish some order, one of the kids—the James Madison of the group—decided to draft a set of basic governing principles in their dedicated chat room. The kids, eager to protect what they had built, all signed the document.

These rules specially prohibit “griefing”—either being a nuisance or disrupting the experience by exploiting quirks in the game’s design. To enforce the rule, the kids built a courthouse and appointed a judge. They were excited about the first trial—the adjudication of a theft of “netherite,” a rare mineral. It was like the olden days when town folks flocked to the courtroom to witness a spectacle. The trial began at 8 p.m. on a Friday. The opposing sides made their respective arguments. The judge—the oldest player and Gandalf of the group—ruled, and then a fight broke out and the players all killed one another. Fortunately, in Minecraft, players can come back to life. In the end there were no hard feelings.

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