Minecraft and Teamwork

Posted on March 1, 2015

Gaming isn’t all beer and skittles, sometimes. As many parents know, Minecraft in particular can be the source of just as much grief as joy. I’ve written before about griefing and its dangers, but recently I experienced a different challenge in facilitating fun friendly gaming with Minecraft.

In short, playing Minecraft with others, especially on split screen, requires good teamwork skills. At this party the four players immediately ran in four different directions and started doing their own thing, which is not uncommon. Soon enough their paths crossed again and they became interested in what each other was doing. One player obviously had a plan and was carrying it out, but the others just wanted to blow stuff up. Thankfully due to the Game Truck ‘no griefing’ rule (and close supervision) none of them got to setting off the TNT. That wasn’t the end of the challenge though.

Your friendship ends here.

Your friendship ends here.

One player had built an Ender portal, a door into another realm with the Ender Dragon, a kind of ‘boss monster’. The problem was none of the others were around, and they got frustrated at feeling left out. Through some stern instructions from me, they all worked together to meet and try to rediscover the portal.

However, one player just couldn’t manage it. Not that he couldn’t play the game – he was quite good actually – he just couldn’t manage the interaction to make the complex social situation work for him. It was like he had a blind spot. He would meet up with his friends, but when things didn’t go his way or he couldn’t easily control the situation he would give up and leave, either physically (by going to another console) or in the game world. When his friends achieved something great and he had not invested into it, he had a sudden (but predictable) bout of envy and anger.


Not always beer and skittles. (Photo staged.)

Needless to say there was a lot of high-pitched whining and I had to step in quite firmly and redirect him towards another game on another console, despite his resistance. Unfortunately though the sulks had taken hold and he didn’t have much fun from then on. The party was a blast for everyone else, though, and his parents nodded knowingly when I told them about it.

If I had the time I’d love to sit down with this young lad and talk through what happened to prevent his fun that day. To try and help him see that it wasn’t just what the others were doing, that maybe there could have been a different way he could have handled it to make it work. Perhaps he is a born leader, frustrated by an inability to bring others along on the ride or define a set of shared goals that everyone could works towards. Perhaps he just lacked the patience to work with others.

In the end, though, in a two-hour Game Truck party all I can manage is damage control, and that’s fine by me and most customers.

Have you had a difficult experience with kids playing games? Tell all in the comments below!

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