Sep 28, 2014

Dear Minecraft Creators

Dear Minecraft Creators,

There are articles all the time talking about how electronics and games are ruining our kids.  These people share how our kids are slower, dumber, less articulate and less social than their counterparts who abstain from electronics.  It seems to be “the” thing to do.  And electronics are evil. 

But I have a completely different take.  I believe electronics make for level playing field.  My kid is better off because of these games.  They give my kid the chance to just “be a kid” without the normal limitations he typically faces. 

Minecraft is a prime example.

When the developers of Minecraft were designing and programming this game, I have a feeling they had no clue what they’d created.  I have a feeling they didn’t know it would be THE hit game of millions of kids, tweens and teens across the country. 

But here’s one thing even they probably still don’t know.  They have made a HUGE difference in the life of my son, Manny and many like Manny. 

Manny is 5. Manny is severely disabled.  He’s in a wheelchair full time.  He can barely use his arms.  (For example, he cannot raise his arms to scratch his nose.) He cannot sit independently.  But he can use his hands if his elbows are propped.  And his mind is quite sharp. 

The only world he can truly interact with are things that are brought TO him.  We can hand him a puppy.  But often the dog is too heavy.  We can bring him a football but he can’t throw it.  We can hand him a tower of blocks but he cannot build with them.  He can go to the amusement parks and watch roller coasters but he cannot ride them. 

But an electronic puppy?  There’s a game where he can pet his dog, play “fetch the stick”, feed him and even clean and throw away his poop.  His dog’s name is Diego and Manny has kept him quite happy for months via the medium of an ipad.  His favorite part is scooping up Diego’s poop, putting it in a bag and throwing it away.

Manny also learned to play football.  He can line up the offense, the defense, the special teams.  He can actually play.  He’s as tall as the other players.  He’s as strong and fast as the other players.  He’s just “one of the guys.”

But Manny mostly loves Minecraft.  In this world, my five year old can just be a kid.  He can build a swimming pool and a castle.  He can build rollercoasters and then ride them.  He can wield a sword and defend his treasures.  He captures sheep in fences he’s built.  He built restrooms with toilets.  Periodically he will say, “Gotta go to the bathroom.” And then he runs over there to use it before resuming play.  (This is a kid who has never used the restroom in real life.)  

Manny loves playing multi-player best of all.  Manny plays with everyone who will play with him.  The more players the better.

In Minecraft, he’s the same height and ability as everyone else.  There’s a level playing field.  He’s just as strong as everyone else.  He’s just as fast.  He’s just as capable.  He’s even as tough as his 16 year old brother and 18 year old cousin. 

On the survival level, he loves to lure people over to him with his sweet voice, “Come here, guys.”  And when they do, he whacks them up-side the head with his sword.  Without Minecraft, I’d have no clue I have an “evil genius” in the making. 

Thanks Creators of Minecraft for the gift!  The gift of being “one of the kids”.  You have no clue how important that is. 

Forever grateful,

Thankful Mom

Manny wearing his Captain America Minecraft shirt.