Nicci Roundy, a Grand Island mother of three, doesn’t understand Minecraft, a popular video game.
“I tried playing Minecraft. I don’t get it,” she said, smiling.
But Roundy doesn’t mind her two sons, Xavier, 12, and Lincoln, 7, playing Minecraft and another game, Skylanders.
She likes Minecraft for her sons because it’s challenging. “They have to be creative with it,” she said. “They actually create their own worlds.”
The two boys fill those worlds with buildings, roller coasters and other objects of their own design. They can come back and add to those worlds as long as they use the same computer. In addition to houses, Lincoln has also designed flying saucers.
Roundy doesn’t let her sons play any of the shooting games that are popular, such as “Call of Duty.”
She and her husband, Antone, also have a 10-year-old daughter, Zoey. She’s not very interested in video games. But that doesn’t mean they appeal only to males. Xavier and his mother know girls who really like Minecraft.
Xavier and Lincoln are both members of the summer Minecraft Club at Grand Island Public Library. The coding and gaming class is led by Ben Marten, who teaches at Walnut Middle School.
The sessions at the library are more challenging than just playing the game, said Roundy, who works at the library. Marten teaches the young people how to solve problems.
“It’s a little different than just playing the game,” she said. “They’re actually trying to figure out how to do stuff.”
Blocks are very important in Minecraft. Watching them at work, Roundy notices differences in the boys’ personalities just in how they design buildings.
Why doesn’t she understand a game that her sons like?
“I don’t think I’m as creative as they are. I think that’s probably a large part of it,” Roundy said, laughing.
Even if other games come along, Xavier plans to stick with Minecraft “because it’s so much fun,” he said. “I just like playing it. Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s easy. You just have to be really creative.”
Right now, Minecraft and Skylanders are probably tied for first place among Xavier’s favorite games. There are lots of levels in Skylanders, he said. As you play it, you can unlock some of those levels.
He likes Minecraft because you can “build anything you want.”
Lincoln also likes a game called Roblox.
Xavier is going into seventh grade at Walnut, where his favorite class is science. At this point, he’d like to be an astronomer when he grows up. Lincoln and Zoey attend Howard Elementary School, where Lincoln is in second grade and Zoey is in fifth grade.
Xavier said he plays video games at least two hours a day. The boys are supposed to get their chores done before they’re allowed to play, their mother noted.
In addition to video games, Xavier likes to read. He likes the Percy Jackson series, his mother said.
“And Lincoln likes to draw,” Roundy said. “He’s a really good artist. That’s another reason why Minecraft is really something he enjoys doing.”
Xavier likes to play the NCAA college football video game. He also likes playing with footballs and basketballs, as well as watching football, he said.
The Roundy kids have always liked Legos, their mother said. One of the first video games they grew attached to was a Lego video game.
In addition to playing Minecraft themselves, the boys also like a YouTube Minecraft series hosted by a British animated cat named Stampy. Xavier said he likes those videos because Stampy is funny and he builds cool stuff.
A good thing about Minecraft, Xavier said, is that he can play the game with other people. In some cases, he plays with them. In others, he’s against them.
One version of Minecraft is similar to “The Hunger Games” in that the last player alive wins. Players also hunt characters called Ender Dragons.
So there is some shooting in Minecraft.
“At least it’s not gory,” Roundy said.