Admittedly, I thought my nerdcred has always been on point. After I got over a larger portion of my adolescent angst, I started to hang out with the “smart kids.” I was in more AP classes than I could count my junior and senior year, and even hit the epitome of nerdlife by being in our Calculus Club.
Regardless, when the Minecraft boom hit, I was in the awkward end of my undergraduate, starting my “real life” years and missed the boat. I knew enough to “pass” amongst friends and students who played -- I could catch the pixely references and admire other people’s creations in the game, but never had really dove in myself. I decided over the winter break for the sake of some of my kiddos who happen to also be some of the few I haven’t been able to match books with yet - I’d make the jump. Alas, there I was, a mid-twenties lady buying Minecraft books at Costco days before Christmas Eve (good choice, Brittany!). I got the box set and began.
WOW. That is really all there is to say and all that I have to say. Reading the books, while the lexile is upper elementary middle school, as an “educated” person with several degrees, I was stumped. I constantly bothered my boyfriend… and humbly, have a few reflections to offer:
- Context/Prior Knowledge/Schemas - IT MATTERS - The book begins with a kind intro chapter for those of us without pixelated castles into the sky, helping us dive in -“What is Minecraft?” I thought this would be the perfect place to get my lexicon and move forward, but even then, I was struggling. Servers - how do I understand how the game is played without knowing what a server is? I thought those just stored stuff, how can you play a game on it? And NPCs? Despite the appositive definition (non-player character), I still was lost. How is it a character that doesn’t play, it’s robot-character? Isn’t this a game people play together?
- Writing Matters & Authenticity Matters - The fact that this dad (author, Mark Cheverton) figured out how to teach his son about cyber-bullies by writing a book through Minecraft is just, well, the sweetest thing I could possibly imagine. As he signs his author’s note, his authenticity pours out of the page with his sign-off, “Keep Reading, Be Nice, and watch out for the creepers.”