It’s Father’s Day coming up this weekend, but my daughter is graduating from high school, so I asked that we celebrate my day early, so we can concentrate on her this weekend. The gift I asked my family for was that we all join our Minecraft Realm and kill the Ender Dragon.
We started playing Minecraft together when they were still pretty young; maybe in 2013 or 2014. We always played on the mobile Android version; they were too small to be used to a computer keyboard. We tried the peer-to-peer collaborative gaming for a while, and then we used an older phone to act as a “server”, staying logged in forever so we could come play around once in a while.
In 2015 we got a Minecraft realm. That’s a server “in the cloud”. We played pretty regularly, building a little farm, raising chickens, exploring caves, shooting zombies and skeletons. I recorded a few sessions and put them on YouTube. They’re sweet and fun.
Sometime later, they both grew out of mobile Minecraft. Stavro started playing desktop Minecraft, which is easier to get good at, and more fun for the massively multiplayer servers. Amita just started doing other things.
But I kept playing. I loved making infrastructure, building roads, making houses and spaces, exploring the continents. I used the vague excuse that I was making things to show them, paving the way for us to have adventures, setting up caches of supplies.
A year or so ago, I realised I’d kind of tapped out the world I was playing in. I’d explored really far in every direction, built roads and railroads and had horses and food and iron and stone and villagers and so on, more than I’d ever need. It was time to finish the game, which in Minecraft world means going through a magic portal to another dimension and killing a giant dragon.
I started saving up supplies to do it. Found a portal to the other dimension. Collected diamonds to make the best armour and weapons, enchanted everything I could imagine, and even built special conduits through the Nether (the Minecraft equivalent of Hell) to get us around quicker.
So, tonight, we sat down and played. The first 90 minutes was terrible; they hadn’t played in a while, so we had to reactivate their accounts and get them re-invited to the realm. We had 4 different devices (Xbox, Switch, and Android) that also needed upgrades and logins.
But once they were in, they had to get equipped and get to the portal that opened to the other dimension, The End. They were nice about all the infrastructure I’d built. They put on all the armour and equipped all the weapons and carried the Totems of Undying that would keep them alive. We all put on pumpkin masks so the Endermen in the End wouldn’t attack us. And then we jumped in.
Stavro knew all the tricks to defeating the Dragon; he went right for the beacons that regenerate the Dragon’s XP, and he got under the Dragon while it was on its throne. Amita and I got attacked and chased a lot, but we managed to survive and come join him. I didn’t think we were going to make it. But we just kept hacking at the Dragon, over and over, until it was dead. Woohoo!
The closing credits for Minecraft are about being a human embodied in a universe that loves you, and being a digital avatar embodied in a game that loves you. It was a nice ending; we all sat and read together as the story scrolled by. And then we shut down and everyone went their separate ways.
It feels like our time playing Minecraft together is over; it’s probably been over for a while, but I haven’t been admitting. If I play Minecraft from now on, it will be for me. They can come visit, but I’ll be there for myself.