Minecraft -More than Just a Game

Have you heard of Minecraft?  Are you like most moms who just tune it out when your kids start talking about the game because all the foreign terms make no sense and you have no time to learn a new language let alone a new game!

I recently wrote a piece for Muslim Moms in Canada  about Minecraft and thought I would share it here:

A typical day in my household always includes a story about a Creeper, an Ender-Dragon or Herobine.  And like most moms, I have no idea what my kids are talking about.  Chances are if you have a child who plays video games, they are playing Minecraft!

Minecraft has sold over 20 million copies for PC’s and millions more on iPads and Android Tablets. Microsoft purchased Minecraft from Mojang for $2.5 billion dollars last year and the creator of Minecraft Markus Persson out-bid Jay Z and Beyonce on a $70 million mansion in Beverly Hills.  Minecraft is everywhere.  If you have not heard of it, you really are living under a rock!

I’m not sure how the craze began in my house but I remember downloading the game for my son and then him begging us to buy the full edition.  Still not understanding the game I turned to Facebook and asked my friends for their advice.  A few friends told me to steer clear of the dark side, while others told me why it was so great.

Creative Mode

The game has two modes; Creative and Survival.  In both modes, players (a character named Steve in the game) use their creativity to build.  Players usually begin by creating a home and then expand their world by creating other buildings in a community.  In this game of virtual blocks, players use their creativity to build a world the way they want.  They first must chop down trees for wood, mine for coal, iron and other elements that are used throughout the game to make different types of blocks. You will also see animals roaming around freely, you can make them your pets, let them live or use them to make food.

My son has built amusement parks with roller coasters, bowling alleys with multiple lanes, a school and anything he wants.  Creative mode allows players to determine how to place blocks strategically resulting in a finished project.  Sounds like a lot of future engineers to me!

Survival Mode

In Survival mode, the purpose of the game is to survive.  It has all the features of creative but is more challenging and frightening.  Players use their creations to hide and escape from all the enemies in Minecraft.  They also mine to look for items that will protect them like swords and armour.  Survival mode is where you will find Creepers, zombies, spiders and skeletons.

A creeper is that ackward looking, pixilated, green figure you see roaming around on your child’s screen. If you get too close to it, it will blow up and harm you.  Skeletons also blow up while spiders and zombies hit the player.  The player must destroy these creatures to live.  If the player is destroyed, he/she quickly respawns (comes back to life).

What To Be Wary Of

If you are going to let your kids enter the world of Minecraft there are a few things you need to be weary of.  The most important one is that it is addicting.  My kids will play for hours if I don’t monitor their time.  It’s a fast moving game where a day lasts only 20 minutes.  Your child will always want more time to finish building something or looking for something.

If you let your kids play together in one world, they will fight.  It doesn’t matter how well they get along in real life, in Minecraft there will be problems.  They will bicker about what direction to go in, who found the diamond sword first and who has more experience blocks.  The constant bickering has made me go crazy that I have shut the game off a few times.  I have since learned to take a deep breath and let them figure out their own problems like they do on the playground.

Some parents don’t want their children exposed to the violence in the game.  Parents should be able to judge if their child can handle the game or not.

Why I let my kids play

My boys are 8 and 5. I let them play Minecraft because it’s teaching them certain aspects of the real world.  It’s teaching them you need materials to build and is encouraging them to go find those materials.  It is expanding their creativity while they attempt at and then later succeed at building a more difficult creation.  It’s teaching them how to plan, organize, execute, succeed and sometimes fail all in one game.

I don’t think my kids would have any interest in building if it wasn’t for Minecraft.  They have many Lego sets that are sitting in their closet but they prefer Minecraft because there are no instructions.   They write their own instructions.

I read an article that suggested Minecraft is preparing today’s kids for jobs that don’t even exist yet.  With technology changing so quickly, there is no way for us know what skills will be sought after and maybe the millions of people playing Minecraft are on to something the rest of us don’t understand (yet).

Miscarriage and Me!

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame recently shared a very personal experience on his Facebook page.  He shared his pregnancy news but along with it also shared their struggles with miscarriages him and his wife faced while trying to get pregnant.  His candid post has been shared more than 49,000 times and has 1.7 million likes!  It is great and refreshing to see so much support for a topic that was previously discussed in whispered tones.  I feel that his post has brought awareness to a topic that so many women know about and felt ashamed about.  Women are now talking about their experiences and supporting one another during a moment when you feel so alone. His post made me want write a blog post! I suffered a miscarriage nine years ago yet it is so vivid in my mind.  I’ve always to share my story because I was one of the first people I know that suffered from a miscarriage.  However, when it happened I felt so alone.  Mark Zuckerberg has encouraged me to open up and I hope you can too.

When I first learned I was pregnant, I was overjoyed. My husband and I could not wait to become parents and add another member to our family. We began researching baby names and added multiple Pregnancy and Parenting books to our bookshelf. Every Sunday night we would pull one out and read together what the coming week had in store for our baby.

We shared our exciting news with family and close friends who all joined in with their happiness for us.And then it all disappeared in an instant, as quickly as it had first arrived.

I had a miscarriage.

I remember coming home from the doctor’s office and clinging on to my husband’s arms, falling to the ground crying. We both sat on the ground holding each other, trying to find the right words to say but there were no words that would help.  We could feel each other’s pain.  We both saw everything we talked about the last few weeks disappear into thin air.

When the news spread about my miscarriage, only a selected few comforted me. My mom told me it would be okay. Inshallah I will be blessed again. My sister reminded me, Allah knows best. Never to question why it happened and it happened for a reason we will never know or even understand that reason.There were a few who gave me reasons as to why it happened. I was told to re-think of an incident where I fell or bumped into something.  Did I run down the stairs too quickly?  Maybe it happened because I shared my news before my first trimester was complete? These comments and lack of support made me believe it was MY fault. Maybe I did do something. Maybe I didn’t deserve to be a mom and these people were just reassuring it.

And everyone else was silent. Everyone else ignored that it even happened.

I could not ignore it. The agony and sadness that filled my heart followed me every waking minute of my day for many weeks. I would hear of a friend’s or family member’s pregnancy and congratulate the parents-to-be while holding back tears.  Behind closed doors, I would cry.  I would ask why I had to have my baby taken away from me?  What did I do wrong?

The fact that no one talked about it made it harder for me to deal with.  It made it seem like there was in fact something wrong with me.  I was the only one going through this.  I wanted to talk about it. I wanted to share my feelings but did not know who to turn to, did not know who would understand me.

I joined some online forums and read the stories of other women.  Although our feelings were the same, I couldn’t relate to them as a Muslim.  There were many businesses who helped you remember your child.  I didn’t need a necklace or bracelet to help me validate my feelings, I just needed someone to listen to me and tell me it would be ok.

When I finally opened up to a friend, she told me she understood me because she too suffered from having a miscarriage. Finally, I was no longer alone.  We talked for hours about how we felt, how others made us feel and how to move on.

She shared some words from a hadith with me that helped me heal and I have not forgotten those words. Regarding the loss of an unborn child, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, truly the miscarried child will certainly drag its mother with its umbilical cord to Paradise, provided one expects recompense.” [Ibn Maajah and Ahmad]

Those words helped me heal.  My soul felt at ease and my tears eventually stopped.  I felt comfort knowing my unborn baby would be praying for me and waiting for me.  By taking the first step and opening up to my friend, I created a discussion we wouldn’t have had otherwise.  Sometimes, it’s hard to reach out for support when usually it’s always waiting for you.

The Muslim community is normally so supportive. However, I learned the hard way that miscarriage is not a topic many like to speak of. I no longer keep silent about it. I still mourn the loss of my “baby” but am vocal about it with others. I want my friends and family members to know it’s not their fault they miscarried. There is no closure with a miscarriage. You are only left with your emotions to deal with and that can be very difficult.

After making dua and remembering Sabr is very important thing during a loss, I accepted my loss.

I ask that you comfort those going through a miscarriage. You may not know what to say, but just offering your time and support helps. And if you’ve been unfortunate to have gone through one, speak about it. You don’t know what sharing your story will do for another woman who has silenced her own story.

Today, I have two beautiful boys whom I cannot live without. I thank Allah swt everyday for them. I also am thankful for the experiences I went through before them. It makes me a better mom and reminds me that although we don’t know it, there is a plan for us-we just have to wait for it.