It is so not “just” a game

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He told me he wanted to make a public pixelmon server in minecraft,  so we equipped his server with the mod required and walked away. This wasn’t the first mod install dad had to do. He invited some friends on and they started to build. He was dreaming big and we were here to listen. Truth be told he is 11 and I never really thought it was going to get all the way to finished. He has passions and interest that scurry him all over the place, quickly and deeply so I wondered how the focus could stay in one place for the length of time he was considering.

Then one day he said “hey wanna see my server?” and took his dad and I on a tour that literally blew our minds. There were towns and signs, gyms and parkour challenges. He knew how each gym would work to battle with pokemon. He had designed the server to compliment the Pokemon game and the anime as well. Explaining in depth how each building supported both the story and his vision of how users would interact with the game. I was in awe. Total awe of the work, the time, the detail.

Next he said to us I need to know how to use plug ins with a long list of reasons and how to and why, that he had gathered from researching using tools such as You tube and google. He knew the things he needed and simply was asking for support in finding out how to equip them on our Mac systems because most of the gaming world is set up against the Mac users. So he and his dad researched, tossed ideas around and found some pretty awesome out of the box solutions. Seeing how his mind works in this exchange of ideas left me once again completely in awe of my child. He had acquired a language, I didn’t fully understand. He had these complex problem solving skills that took him in to the belly of the design code in a way my mind couldn’t fully comprehend.

When he hit some roadblocks we all went on the research trail again. Dad deeper in to the code, me reaching out using social media. I emailed the dudes who had inspired him down this trail in the first place. They confirmed indeed what we were doing was tedious, required perseverance and steered us toward a path we could investigate. It was exciting to have an exchange with the folks he admired.

He worked away on his own, finding a mod that would avoid some plug ins, installing it for himself and 2 others working with him. He advertised about his need for help through a friends you tube channel and exchanged emails with those who were interested. Calling me in for times of support, mostly finding this all out on his own. We even stumbled through the sort of conversation that involved asking someone to leave the server after a trial period that showed it just wasn’t the right fit. I helped him find the worlds that were kind and clear, that were about performance and vision and nothing personal. His dad liking this to his own work where from time to time he has to fire folks.

Then when I thought the learning had hit the highest peek we could get to there was more. “Mom I need to make a video do you know how to edit stuff together?” With a ten minute tutorial on how to use iMovie, he produced his first piece, with titles and credits. After which he asked for music and is currently in the process of learning garage band so he can compose the sort of piece the fits his vision for the final production of his short video.

Oh and of course there will need to be a website built, a domain decided upon and a release date confirmed. All of this is swirling around in his mind, full time, everyday, with short breaks in between to cuddle, converse and for the first time ever try out a high intensity interval training workout, which he rocked.

If I had been that mom that said “no that’s too much screen time,” this magic never would have had a place to happen. The resume that he is writing for himself, right now at 11 years of age, is what he will be able to show to the job market in the future. Each skill he is using to research, collaborate, problem solve,  and design is what employers are looking for now and I dare say even more so in the future. And it all came from way more hours then any study would ever admit is okay for a child to spend in front of a screen. But I can say with confidence, that this boy before me is one of the most well rounded, confident, articulate human beings that I have the pleasure to know. Dream chasing is not about hours spent in anyone place, it’s about believing in yourself, finding your way around roadblocks and keeping your mind wide open to everything the journey presents. To know my 11 year old is doing this already, makes me beyond excited for this one treasured life he is living.

18 thoughts on “It is so not “just” a game

  1. My son is just like yours, and he’s 8. I gave him my Mac mini a few weeks ago and installed Minecraft on it for him. Now, he want’s mods. From what I see, the mods are all PC based. What did you do to get them to work on a Mac?

  2. This is so exciting! And a great resource for me to point to when I get asked the gaming question, since I didn’t experience this kind of learning with computer games. I knew it could be educational but I didn’t have the language. Thanks for sharing.

  3. When I was a boy of 12 I wrote a special chat module for BBSes that allowed system operators of bulletin boards to chat with their users in real-time- this was 5-10 years before Internet.

    Now I work from anywhere in the world as a software consultant. 🙂

    I agree that there are some great computer and problem solving skills a kid can learn! I did!

    Way to go for encouraging your son!!! 🙂 I think the main thing is also to model a balanced lifestyle as much as possible! Our bodies are so fun to be in.

    Mark
    (whom you met at SA Explorers in Cusco)

  4. My son is 9 and loves Minecraft and Pokemon. He was so shocked to see your son’s video, he loves it! He would love to help out on the server. Please contact us. Thanks so much!

  5. Hey guys! Awesome server! The boys and i just watched the video and can’t wait until your server is up and running and we can hopefully join it!
    Rachel, Max & Otto

  6. This story inspired us to buy our 8 year old boy his own computer and Minecraft. He’s been dying to play it ever since he discovered it at a friend’s house months ago. He is constantly checking out youtube videos of Minecraft, googling info about it. And I was worried until I read this story. Thank you for helping me open my mind a bit further.

    • Bethany .. this brought tears of your to me! I have so excited for your family and this journey you are embarking on. Feel free to share any questions or concerns along the way, I’m happy to help out.

  7. (Seems like I’m always coming late to the conversation:)
    We have just begun unlimited screen time and the description you gave of your sons interests sound so similar to my sons. I am encouraged after hearing the positive impact his autonomy has had on the development of his interests!

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