Spending time with my kids involves playing their video games. Needless to say, I enjoy it very much, but only in small doses. The two big games in their little lives right now are Terraria and Minecraft.
Caleb, my 13-year-old, prefers to play Terraria over Minecraft. He’s played Minecraft in the past, both on a console and PC, but he’s since moved on to Terraria. Why is Terraria better? He says he likes to 2D game play and to him, it’s more fun. I think it reminds him a lot of Little Big Planet, in which he and his father played obsessively, when we had the Playstation 3. (PS3 broke 2 years ago, haven’t replaced it yet.) He usually plays Terraria on the laptop but Santa got him the XBox 360 version for Christmas, per his request. I played with him a couple of times and it was surprisingly fun. He showed me around the world and gave me choices to either explore or build. It’s fun to play multi-player games when you are playing with someone who is actually teaching you to play too.
My 5-year-old, Ava, on the other hand, said all she wanted for Christmas was… Minecraft and Ninjas. Santa brought her Minecraft and apologized for not finding anything Ninja-worthy. Playing this game with her was fun too. It was boring at first, but it grew on me. It might have been because we were in training-mode the first time around and didn’t really play the game. We eventually got around to actual game play and started breaking stuff, then the fun started. Games that require too much reading and instruction will lose me quickly if the gaming itself isn’t fun. The 3D game play makes it a little different from Terraria but the games are very similar.
Both Terraria and Minecraft involve building and creating and evading monsters of some sort. Terraria has Zombies and Demon Eyes that come out at night and Minecraft has the Creepers and Spiders. You have to switch tools and weapons according to what you’re doing or attacking. Pickaxe for anything stone, wood axe to take down trees, a sword to attack, a torch to light the night, etc. There are plenty more monsters and tools as you advance but I haven’t gotten very far in either game. If you can play one, you can easily pick up on the other. It just depends on whether you want to build a forest type world and explore underground caves or build a 3D world limited by your creativity. The 2D gaming of Terraria reminds me of games from my youth so it’s a bit nostalgic for me. Super Mario Bros, Contra, Sonic, to name a few, are 2D with 8-bit graphics. Both Terraria and Minecraft have 8-bit graphics. The irony is how much everyone loves this stuff now! Have you seen the graphics on the new games today? I’m not just talking about the “movies clips” that play, but the actual game play itself. Very impressive, yet we love our simple 8-bit graphics.
I don’t actually prefer one game over the other because I would prefer not to play either, but both games allow me to spend time with my little ones and I’m the cool mom for that moment. Luckily, nobody fights over who gets to use the console. Caleb usually plays online on the laptop and Skype’s with his friends as they play. Ava plays on the XBox when I turn it on for her and I’ll jump in to play with her for a little bit to get her going. Like me, she only plays for about an hour and then loses interest. The crazy thing is when they are not playing, they are watching YouTube videos of other people playing. Try to make sense of that one.