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Friday, December 28, 2012

Virtual Fishing

A couple of days ago, my virtual self stood shoulder-to-shoulder with virtual Munchkin Boy as we dropped our fishing lines into the sea and watched the sun set on the horizon. I don't know what this says about me, but I think I may have actually enjoyed it more than I would have enjoyed the real thing.

Munchkin Boy has been playing a game called Minecraft for more than a year now. A cousin introduced him to the game at a family gathering last year and he's been hooked ever since. The whole thing remained a mystery to me -- at least until a couple of days ago. We were haggling, as our family often does, and I exchanged with him an activity I really wanted to do for an activity he really wanted to do.

It's an interesting setup as we can sit across the table from each other and each play on our own computer. We are playing in the same virtual world, however. To lure me initially, he told me we could create a factory where we write and print our own books. Yep, the idea of being a virtual author is intriguing enough I accepted!

It's a process, as we've started on an island with very little to offer, we've had to explore and/or mine to collect the supplies we need to craft the tools to create the... I hope this gives you an idea. The first day I got to swim long distances and play with tentacled creatures that swim in the sea. I learned to make a crafting table and a furnace, a wooden pick ax and a torch. I'm now up to shovels, swords and cobblestone slabs (they make nice roofs and steps). Yesterday, I worked on creating a circular mine shaft that takes us deep under the ground. I learned to catch and cook fish, grow and chop down trees, and I picked flowers for the fun of it.

I have to admit, I've found myself puzzling, many times, about the benefits of all this virtual activity. My butt has remained rooted in a chair throughout, after all, and I've pondered why I don't have the gumption to put this kind of time into fixing my real roof which still leaks after our numerous attempts at fixing it. Numerous... at least if you count all the years back. Last year my efforts involved making sure someone had the bucket properly placed under the leak when it rained. I haven't figured out how to build a bucket in Minecraft yet, but I built a chest to hold all the treasures I collect.

This morning, Munchkin Boy became my real life track partner. We were out dark and early and I enjoyed his company immensely. This was our exchange -- some game playing for some track circling. It's a win-win. He's happy; I'm happy. And as an unexpected bonus, I've found that tossing my line into virtual waters and watching a block-shaped sun sink beneath the horizon is as relaxing (perhaps even more so on a cold night like tonight) than the real thing.

Tonight I learned to take virtual photos.

Fishing with Munchkin Boy. I'm the one with blue eyes. He tells me his skin is green because he is a zombie.  You can see our house on the left. The cobblestone wall is a protected tunnel that leads to the sea so that we can fish at night without having to worry about fighting with spiders and other creepy things that apparently spawn in the darkness.

Watching the sun rise. Our tree far is to the left and you can see the bricks of our home at the right edge.

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