I enjoy playing computer games. I recently reinstalled Township on my iPad. And it wasn’t long before I was reminded why I had deleted it the last time. At some point, in order to really advance in the game, the player is encouraged to spend some money. Maybe just a dollar or two or three or maybe more. It can happen quickly and sometimes too easily. I have found that, eventually, the game gets a little repetitive as, despite perks as you move through the levels, you are mostly asked to complete similar kinds of tasks required by the game.
This time, as I went to press the pay button a little too quickly, I was reminded that I could be building and harvesting and exploring almost for free in Minecraft. Since I don’t play on my iPad, Minecraft seems like more of a commitment, requiring a laptop and even a mouse. But even that is good as it makes game playing more intentional, not just something else to do because it’s easy and available.
I paid for Minecraft many years ago at a time when most education-focused websites and software was free. So, twenty six dollars seemed like a lot of money, particularly if you weren’t sure you would stick with it. I play about four times a year and have easily played for ten years: that’s less than a dollar a game. And, I can start and restart to my heart’s content so when I get tired of a particular simulation, I can start a new one, or move from game to game, maybe building something grand in creative mode or battling creepers in survival mode. And, ultimately, it remains interesting as I am the decision maker. There are rules to follow but they don’t dictate what I have to do as much as what I should or could do within the context of the game.
As I type this, I am downloading the iPad version and plan to try it out this evening. If I am going to “waste time” playing a game, at least I can do it mostly for free.
If you haven’t played Minecraft, you may want to move on. If you do play, then you’ll know how excited I was to discover a shipwreck that included a buried treasure map that led to finding The Heart of the Sea. For an hour this afternoon, I was completely absorbed in the process, including getting some advice from online Minecraft sites about finding the buried treasure.
Minecraft doesn’t always feel like a game. I use a few cheats that allow me to “mostly” play in the survival mode but mitigate the effects of dying. My play is open-ended: building, mining, and trading depending on my mood. Today, I felt like I was playing a game with a goal that led to a journey, some challenges, and a final reward: the rare Heart of the Sea. I feel successful even if I am not completely sure how to use it. That will come later.
And, once again, I am reminded of the freedom of having a flexible schedule. I have evening meetings for the next two night so take that into account when planning my days. So, after having to travel in the rain this morning, I came home and took a break to discover the Heart of the Sea.
While I don’t play all the time, I do sometimes dive into Minecraft for a few days or a few weeks. I find it relaxing.
I started a new game about a week ago.
I’ve gotten past the initial startup and am now building vegetable gardens. I like the way they have come together but I have a row of pumpkins that won’t fruit. Not sure why as the light is correct and they have a block next to them for the actual pumpkin.
I had a bunch of oak slabs left over from my roof project and discovered they could be used to make a composter. I placed it in the corner of the garden and didn’t think too much about it. Guess I figured it was decorative. Well, it turns out that it composts. And it particularly likes cake and pumpkin pie. Stuff it full of compostable stuff and you get bone meal back. The green crystals are the compost being made.
I am not much of a gamer but, for some reason, I find Minecraft very relaxing, even when I’m getting blown up and losing all my stuff. It’s pretty easy to avoid dying, actually, but if you just want to build, you can switch into the creative mode that is safe and offers up all the inventory you could ever want. Miners are doing some amazing things with this game/tool. If you are only vaguely aware of Minecraft, the official site is a good starting point for learning more.
I don’t play all the time–I binge for a few days every couple months–but in this go round, which has lasted a few days, I am pretty enamored of the world where was I was spawned. Easy access to resources along with some interesting new features and items. Normally, I play for awhile and then lose interest and delete the world. But, I may keep this one around and stop in now and then.
I was going to name this post Minecraft Mindfulness because playing the game has a flow-like quality that can shut out the rest of the world and focus my thoughts.
What do you do that others might see as “wasting time” but helps relax and focus your mind?
Yesterday was meeting day…a stack of three starting late afternoon and running until probably past my bed time. It’s fine: it happens that way sometimes, especially at the beginning of the school year when all those hats I wear seem to be in the air at the same time. I’m taking them off and putting them on and every so often wearing more than one.
But, yesterday, the first meeting was cancelled. Since I had planned around it, I found myself with free time! Unscheduled, unstructured and quiet in the office. And the night before, I had hooked up the Raspeberry Pi again, determined to continue on with my Python/Minecraft studies.
As a reminder, since it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, I’m using Craig Richardson’s book Learn to Program with Minecraft. Summer distractions had kept me from digging in, so last night I mostly just reviewed the early stuff and today, I headed into Chapter 3: Building Quickly and Traveling Far with Math. It’s been fun experimenting with placing blocks using code. I managed to create two lava flows before I realized I forgot the minus sign in front of the y coordinate for the lava block.
Here’s what I was supposed to do:
I also figured out how to manipulate the blocks to make what I’m calling a Rainbox rather than bow mostly because that’s the name that was created when I pressed the x instead of the w in saving.
Yesterday’s other challenge was two fold: learn how to take screen shots on the Pi and transferring those photos to my computer.
This site was one stop shopping for the screenshots information with nicely detailed but easy to follow directions and helpful links. They mentioned SSH or USB for transferring the photos and I decided to go with SSH.
Trevor Appleton led me through installing and setting up FileZilla to take advantage of SSH for transferring the photos.
Having fun learning and then riffing on that learning through the extra challenges. My swimming pool attempts led to a couple waterfalls!