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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Attack of the WHAT???

Dear readers, I am, at this very moment, having an emotional meltdown. Over a video game. With real tears trickling. It's not pretty. It's an ugly cry, and it comes from down deep, because this is more than "just a game." This is the full circle. This is the infinity snake catching up with itself. The mobius strip making the connection... It's just a game, to be sure, but to me... it's more.

Some of you, if you know me in real life, have heard me talk about Minecraft. About the connection forged between myself and my troubled tween. My son has been playing Minecraft almost from the beginning. He played the truly early stages- the first releases of the game. He would get SO excited when updates were released. He, quite frankly, drove me half mad with his chatter about creepers and endermen and zombies and mobs and mods and downloads.

Redstone was a complete mystery to me. It still is to some extent. I didn't understand the appeal of this blocky, weird game, until one day, seeing the disappointment in his face when he caught me rolling my eyes at just one more rendition of "Me and Brody got cornered by these zombies but his wolf was fighting for us and then this creeper came along and..."

For an instant, I caught sight of just how deeply my little boy, whose father had just walked out of all our lives, was hurting. I decided to appease him in the only way I knew how- I asked him to teach me Minecraft.

It was the beginning of an era. With a lot of frustration and some swearing (mostly me) and some "Geez, Mom, you're REALLY bad at this!" eyerolling comments, he introduced me to the game. And then, in an effort to understand it better, I did what I do best - research. Research took  me to Youtube, to explore the gaming channels... and that's when I discovered a whole other dimension of minecraft- Mods.

The very first modded Minecraft "lets play" Youtubers I watched were Generik B, Chimney Swift, and BDoubleOO, playing "Attack of the B-Team." Their commentary was engaging. The gameplay was intriguing. Chimney, in particular, caught my attention with his infectious enthusiasm and his mischievous approach to multiplayer gameplay. Soon, my son started playing B-Team, too, and got me to play it. I eventually upgraded my computer to better handle the modpack. Together, my son and I discovered this world. We explored it. We built things together. We laughed. We shouted. We got frustrated. We created and destroyed. We argued and collaborated. We learned... and we grew.

These days, my son doesn't really play with me. For a while, we played servers together and built incredible things. He showed me his creative world in which he built some insane redstone projects. Even now, when he has a girlfriend and a life that is slowly carrying him away from the childish pursuits of Minecraft and further toward the interests of an older teen, he can still be drawn back in. We still watch Etho, another Let's Player, together. We discuss his builds and talk about how crazy his "sand worm" project is, and how cool. Even as my son is growing away from his early interest in Minecraft, I am building a small hobby channel and immersing myself in the community that nurtured that early interest.

And now, a new era is opening up. Attack of the C-Team will be a sequel to the early Attack of the B-Team series. Many of the same Youtubers who participated the first time around will be involved in this remake. To call my reaction "excited" is like comparing Mt. Vesuvius to a sparkler.

This new game is about more than Minecraft. It's just a game, after all. There may be mods in this pack that I don't care for. The changes with the update may not appeal to me. I might not be as excited to play once I see what's been added and what's been taken away. Knowing all of that doesn't dim my excitement one bit.

These past few years have been... difficult.
My kids and I have navigated some rough waters. Not only has the divorce caused enormous emotional upheaval, we subsequently lost my best friend and my sister. Both deaths were sudden and unexpected. The devastation was deep and is lasting. For the past year or more, I've been knocked off my feet with grief, just keeping my head above water. It's only been in recent weeks that I've begun to feel as if life might have a chance of returning to some semblance of normalcy, and that the gaps left by the losses might close enough so that the feeling of continuously falling into them will end and our feet might once again touch the ground.

While no game, no exciting news, and no new adventure can possibly begin to touch the depth of the losses we've suffered, there is a moment, after one has been walking through darkness for so long, that a flicker of light can be seen. There is a moment when you realize that the tunnel you've been walking through isn't endless after all, that you will step out of it. The sun will once again warm your face, and you will feel the breeze against your fingertips. Spring will come, even after the longest winter. What is lost to the past can never be recovered, but there will be new experiences and new joys and new chances to laugh and live and breathe together. There is healing, and that, my friends, is something worth celebrating.

My kids have both expressed interest in exploring this new modpack together. The idea of playing together again, and discovering the ways in which we've changed, as players and in our relationships, is exciting beyond words. The fact that they still want to play with me... It's a balm to the soul.
So, forgive me if I dance just a little too exuberantly at this announcement. If I get a little carried away, and get just a little too excited. It's been a long, cold, dark night. I'm ready for the sun.

Bring it on.

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