Chris Ware's "Minecraft Playdate" cover on New Yorker

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Playing Minecraft with touchpad + keyboard? Ouch, have been stuck like that at times… not fun.

Looks like a cover designed to stimulate Boomers’ ‘superiority complex’ when they blast tech, gaming and new media


“Bah, back in my day we went outside and built treehouses, our only limit was our imaginations! What are these kids building in these online games? Are they even using their imaginations?!”

“Meh, looks pretty blocky to me, those graphics are terrible!”


Ditto, my house

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Alright, well…this is my house too, in winter at least. And yet, there is a koyaanisqatsi to the current equilibrium of gameplaying to outdoor activities in our kid’s (and our) lives. Plenty of us have managed to raise kids who are able to enjoy the creative freedoms and limitless learning available online while not sacrificing good old fashioned outdoor play and imaginative play unaided by technology, and that’s great. Yet we all (parents anyway) know that kid who does not have that balance, and this cover rightly exposes that lack, right? Mark, I know from your posts that your kids have this balance, but didn’t that cover sting a bit, or strike you as True with a capital T? I know it did for me.

You mean… a high-speed Twinkie assembly line? Yum!

EDIT: Awwww man! The Twinkies aren’t on Youtube!

Uh oh, what’s a “happy mutant” to do when a beloved comic artist shoots a well-deserved critical arrow at… technology? Praise the art or get all defensive?


Shrug it off and go handling the tech.

Art is nice, but that’s about it. Go for a month without art, wherever you are, and it’ll suck but you’ll survive. Go for a month without technology, and the cities, stripped of their infrastructure, collapse.

Not all kids have huge back yards nor do they all live in safe neighborhoods.



My comment was seeking to position technology activities involving kids and non-technology activities involving kids. The fact that my comment used “outdoor activities” is relevant to my life and my kids and my backyard and my neighborhood. YMMV.

(did you believe my comment was somehow elitist or lacking in privelege-checking?)

Funny how one image can spawn such different responses based on demographic. I’m sure the readers of the New Yorker have a very different idea about it than I do.

Ware is making a perfectly valid observation.

Children’s minds are engaged and stimulated in different ways by different kinds of interactions.

There’s a lot of value engaging with a rich sandbox world like Minecraft or Kerbal Space Program.

But it isn’t a substitute for social interaction and social play. Or for doing something constructive in the physical space. Actually building something real.

Or going outside and horsing around.

I know kids who would, if not challenged by their parents, sit around thumbing their fucking phones all day.

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I know some adults who would do the same thing. o.O


Those kids on the cover are interacting socially. They’re playing a game together. It’s no less social than tag or Parcheesi.


I’m not so sure that the picture is intended to be ‘anti-gaming’ (then again, I don’t know what’s been written up in the magazine).

When I look at that picture I see two kids playing together. There’s nothing anti-social at all, and the bedroom shows signs of lots of other forms of play.

People need to get over their fear of ‘screens’. It’s not the device that matters, its how it’s being used. And the best thing we can do to get our kids getting the most of their ‘screen time’, is to encourage ‘active’ use of devices, as opposed to ‘passive’ media consumption all day long. This includes using them as tools for learning, communicating and creating, as opposed to mindless channel surfing or the latest mobile ‘free-to-play’ game.


Yeah, I’m really not sure what the intention is. My first impression was the same as yours–here’s two kids enjoying a game together, once they get tired of that they’ve got lots of toys and outdoor activities to move on to. They’re going to have a fun day!

It wasn’t until I read the comments here that I realized it could also be read as the artist pointedly depicting lots of traditional kids’ activities (toys, books, swingset, etc.) available but unused in favor of the game. That kinda doesn’t make sense, though; the scattered toys, and the crayons and paper on the desk, certainly look like someone was enjoying them recently. So I dunno.

Has anyone actually read the magazine?

Edit: HEY LOOK THERE’S A LINKED ARTICLE YOU GUYS. It’s a mildly but benevolently bewildered father talking about how his ten-year-old daughter loves creating all kinds of neat stuff in Minecraft, alone or with friends, in between playing sports and going to summer camp and having a social life and generally being a healthy, well-adjusted kid.

So there you go!

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Carpenter’s Block mod and ForgeMultipart will help a little with that blockiness problem (slopes and extra tiny cubes, whee~). Err, not that I would personally know anything about that as a well adjusted, productive adult in modern society… I’m far too serious for such nonsense and I totally don’t have the Regrowth modpack running in the background right at this minute! Do not look behind the curtain, I am not terraforming a blasted wasteland!

Edit: That is to say, if it’s okay for me I don’t think it’s going to corrupt children any more than say, everything else in the last 30 years we’ve been moaning that they never play outside any more.