Posted March 29, 2013 by Troy Benedict in Family Fiends

Family Fiends: Enticing the Creative Mind

Family Fiends: Enticing the Creative Mind
Family Fiends: Enticing the Creative Mind

Having kids is fun.  There are obvious reasons for having kids: loving and caring for them, and wathing them grow, walk and talk.   But let’s all be honest, when you have kids, they make for great excuses.  Sometimes you need an reason not to do something, and when the honest reason just won’t work, you can blame it on the kids!  Why not?  If they’re young enough, they won’t rat out your lying ass!

“I won’t be making it into work because one of the kids was up all night. I didn’t sleep at all.”

“I hope you don’t mind, but we can’t say very long.  The little ones really need to get to bed early.”

“Sorry we’re late. The kids just couldn’t focus this morning!”

“I think we should buy Minecraft. The kids would really like it!”

Wait just a second…

That last excuse sounds reeeeeeally familiar!

I’ll admit it.  I’ve played “the kids would love this” card many times when it comes to just about anything that is both fun and something that I would enjoy/want.

I always put the kids first and foremost (or at least I honestly try to), but if I can shoehorn the kids into the argument for getting the next PlayStation or Xbox systems, you’re damn right I’m going to use them.

I used the kids as an excuse to help leverage the reason to get Minecraft on the PC over a year ago.

You know what?

I was right!

Family Fiends: Enticing the Creative Mind

While the goal was to get Minecraft into my greedy little hands… the reality is that I often can’t find the time to dedicate playing this awesome game.  But the kids do, and are totally in love with it!

It appeals to every. single. one. of my children.  From the littlest one at 3, the middle child at almost 6, and the oldest at age 14 – it’s the rare game that hooks them all in and has kept them interested since we bought it for the PC. And again when we purchased via the Apple App Store. And again when we purchased it on the Xbox 360.  I think you get my idea.  It’s popular.

The reason I think it appeals to everybody is because of the creative aspect.  Building things (and destroying them) is something that was fun when you were little and is still fun years later you’re an old fogey like me.  (I know my parents are probably yelling, if you’re calling yourself and old at 36 what does that make us?!)

We bought a multitude of soft and squeaky, colorful blocks for the kids when they were babies, and celebrated when they began stacking them on top of each other.  When they were too little for normal-sized Lego blocks they built things using Quatro, and later, Duplo blocks.  You see my point.

With games like Minecraft, you don’t need to worry about about having the right set of blocks to build what your heart desires.  You just need to pluck the resources from the game’s environment.  And if you don’t want to do that, Minecraft offers a creative mode where a limitless number of any block or tool is at your command.

Much like building things out of Legos with the family, Minecraft is multiplayer.  On the PC it requires a couple of computers, and is a little more complicated, but on the Xbox 360, the only thing required is an extra controller (or two), and the kids can all play via split-screen on the couch.

It amazing that the kids have stayed this interested in Minecraft for so long.  In typical kid fashion, it seems that favorite things seems to run their course within a matter of weeks.  The popular show two weeks ago is old news today, but the fasincation with Minecraft continues on.

Family Fiends: Enticing the Creative MindI’ve been searching for the next thing to grab the kids attention, while providing some sort of substance, and I think I may have found it in the new SimCity.

Some of you may have groaned, knowing about the game’s rather rocky launch earlier this month which essentially rendered the game unplayable for a lot of people for nearly a week.

The truth of the matter is, I loved the SimCity games growing up, and I’m willing to give some games a fair shot – rough start or not.

Growing up with SimCity, there was a certain satisfaction watching a virtual city spring to life and grow over time.  And just like that block tower that you built up as a child destroying your SimCity, by unleashing natural disasters and monster invasions, was almost just as fun!

I used the kids as an excuse again, as an investment term for getting SimCity this past weekend, and so far it’s paid off.  While the game is a little more technical than Minecraft, requiring a bit more reading and understanding… and patiencethe kids love watching me play, and provide a lot of back-seat suggestions.

Also popular: the sewage related buildings.  One which has a poo-pumping animation that, make for some uproarious laughter.  Not only that but you can switch over to the sewage map to see how well the pipes are handling the flow of sewage for your city — you don’t want blocked pipes – which is illustrated by little brown circles that work their way from the homes and builings to your seweage processing plant.  The kids love it!

What is probably the most enjoyable, is that the video games inspire real-life creativity, especially with the youngest two.  They’ll play games for about 30 minutes, then voluntarily shut off the system and start playing the same the “game” using normal toys and blocks!

Family Fiends: Enticing the Creative Mind

Not pictured: the “poop buildings.”

I couldn’t help but smile the afternoon after we purchased SimCity.  The kids disappeared a short time after watching me play SimCity.  When I went to check on them, they had the Lego street tiles interconnected all over the playroom’s carpet.  A variety of wooden block properties around them.

It was their real SimCity, the said.

When I asked about the buildings, the three-year-old gleefully pointed out one special property:

“It’s the poop building!”

How could you not smile at the creativity?

Troy Benedict