Did you know that bananas are good for you? The high potassium and low sodium content in each yellow packet of mush is great for your cardiovascular system. They are also high in fibre, which helps you poop. Which is nice. There’s also research that indicates that bananas help reduce the risk of kidney cancer. Having said that, bananas can also be really bad for you.
If you eat too many on a regular basis, they can cause severe drowsiness, headaches and the sugar can harm your teeth. Potassium overdose is also a risk… if you try to eat more than 30 bananas in one sitting. Given that this fruit is also slightly radioactive, it is also technically possible to suffer radiation sickness if you eat about 250 bananas a day. Though, of course, if you’re trying to eat 30-300 bananas a day you probably have much bigger problems.
Every time someone asks the question “is X good for you?” the answer is almost always “Yes, in moderation”. Too much of a healthy, enriching item can have negative effects; small amounts of something harmful can have positive effects.
There are few issues where I feel that my opinion is stuck fast. I’m usually willing to adapt my thoughts and feelings to compelling, proven arguments. But when the topic of Minecraft and its benefits for young children are questioned, my opinion is unwavering: Minecraft is a wonderful game for children, for entertainment or education, providing its usage is monitored. The value of this video game is synonymous with that of a big box of Lego, or a sandpit with bucket and spade. Just like bananas, Minecraft is good for children in moderation.
Now I might be wrong, and I’m more than willing to discuss the topic and have my mind opened. But today, I’m in a silly mood, and fancy poking fun at the notion that a single game based on exploration and creativity could be construed as harmful. So a-poking I shall go.
Surely, if small doses of Minecraft have a negative impact on cognitive or social development in children, then prolonged use of the game would demonstrate a negative effect on adults as well. With that in mind, I present to you some reasons why Minecraft could prove to be a terrible influence on grown-ups.
1. Awful Eating Habits
You may use utensils when you eat – knives, forks, spoons and chopsticks a used in a variety of combinations around the world. It might be more natural for you to eat with your hands, or use particular foods as a form of utensil. Whichever culinary practice you follow, there is always a certain level of self-respect attached to how you eat. I’m sure that all of us can be called on to eat respectfully in public when required.
Minecraft teaches some really bad habits. If this game was your only source of instruction on food etiquette, you would soon become feral. You would ram every meal into your chomping mouth, noisily spraying remnants of bread, fruit or cake across the dinner table. Whether you are eating an apple or an entire duck in one go, passers-by would compare you to a food blender with the lid off.
The Minecraft diet is a grotesque, unhealthy affair. Foods can be scooped off the ground and consumed whole, without stopping to wipe off the dirt or sand. The message that the game sends about uncooked meat is horrendous; you might get food poisoning, but it goes away after a few minutes and you can get on with your day. On top of that, the game advocates the storage of food in wooden chests or in the oven over night.
2. Reckless behaviour
According to Minecraft, jumping off tall ledges and holding your breath for too long are only slightly dangerous. Spelunking is one of the most hazardous past times out there, requiring all sorts of safety gear and precautions, but if you play this game you might be led to think that all you need is a flashlight. There aren’t any skeleton archers in real life, so running around in caves must be a breeze. If anyone gets stuck, they can just punch their way through solid stone.
We’ve all seen the safety posters, pamphlets and videos regarding the safe use of fireworks. We have to be a certain age to buy even the smallest Catherine Wheel, and Sparklers must be handled with kid gloves…especially if you are a kid. Yet Minecraft would have us believe that huge blocks of dynamite are a play thing to annoy your friends with. Don’t worry, just give that hunk of explosive a whack with your sword (because running around with a sword is sensible), and then run away. The police will understand that you blew up your neighbours back garden for a bit of a giggle.
3. Impatient Gardening
Last year, I moved into my first house after years of renting. The place needed, and still needs, a lot of renovation. I took the place on knowing it would be a big project. The back garden is my current focus. When I arrived, the garden consisted of dirt, withered trees and roots. I’m having a surprising amount of fun turning it into an actual garden. Old trees are being carefully removed; turf has been laid, new flowers planted; seeds growing in trays. It’s all going quite well, largely because I’m being very patient.
If I had learnt how to garden from Minecraft, I would have given up a long time ago. I would have been enraged by the lack of strawberries popping into existence on my little potted plants. I’d be standing over the soil waiting for the grass to spread. I have not once considered karate-chopping/axe-swinging my way through the trees with disregard for gravity.
If I followed the guidance of this video game, my neighbours would be greatly distressed by the large, water-filled trench I’d carved into the land instead of just watering the plants every day. They would be alarmed by the way I stand over my seed trays, waiting for flowers to ping into existence. They would certainly find my use of homemade Bone Meal disturbing…
4. Social awkwardness
Do you know that punching is not the only type of physical interaction? You can pet animals and hug people for a start. You did remember that? Then you’ve probably been playing a suitable amount of Minecraft. You probably know that it’s also not okay to just wander into someone’s house, rummage through their cupboards and ‘accidentally’ punch a hole in the wall.
When someone asks you to hand them something, it is very normal to hand that item to them. You both hold out your hands and exchange the item. You do not throw the thing at their feet or chuck it into their unsuspecting face. That is how you lose friends in real life.
Most importantly, if you happen to pass a farmer’s field, it is not okay to ride the pigs.
The discussions surrounding the effects of video games on children (and adults) crop up sporadically across the internet. Many articles discuss the development of young people in a fair and reasoned way. On the other hand, articles that criticise games are often compiled by non-gamers, only focused on the most popular games (Minecraft, GTA, etc.) and rarely consider that playing any kind of game for too long will have a negative impact.
Whilst I’d love to see more thoughtful discussion on the relationship between video games and cognitive or behavioural development, I find it silly to suggest that a games like Minecraft are bad for children. Played for too long, any game or toy (electronic or otherwise) is bad for anyone. This blog is a half-hearted, light-hearted pop at uniformed video game criticism, and not aimed at researchers who aim to truly evaluate the impact of video games. You might want to read some of those excellent articles, to balance out my deliberate immaturity.
Alternatively, do you think Minecraft is bad for adults? Do you think this video game has effected your social interactions? Do you fear, like I, that grown-ups will stop taking lava seriously, or become addicted to dyeing sheep? Or do you feel that Minecraft actually promotes positive behaviour? It certainly promotes the importance of growing your own fruit and veg.