Feb 18, 2016

How not to be annoying on Facebook

There are four kinds of people on Facebook:
1. People who post happy braggy stuff about their kids, spouses or holidays, and kind of annoy everybody
2. People who post inspiring or melancholy quotes in script font on meadowy pictures, and kind of annoy everybody
3. People who post political rants and opinions, and kind of annoy everybody
4. People who post an engaging mix of news, articles, jokes, current events, personal life, family tidbits, occasional celebrations, completely on-point social observations, witty and relevant opinions and a bit of self deprecation, and who never annoy anyone at all, ever.
I am obviously in the fourth category!  I just know I'm never annoying to anybody, ever. *

So why can't everybody else manage this as effortlessly and gracefully as I do?

Ha ha. Do we all see ourselves, and Facebook, this way?  I suspect we do.

This is quite funny - it's a little dated now as most people have by now self-corrected for the most annoying stuff that used to plague Facebook (I haven't seen a "vaguebook" status for awhile, or a humblebrag), but I'm sure we can all recognise our Facebook friends - and ourselves - in at least one of these: 7 ways to be annoying on Facebook.

And yes, I do actually enjoy reading what my friends are up to on Facebook!

* I might sometimes be guilty of mommyjacking. And unintentional one-upping when trying to express empathy. And using stupid immature words like "OMG". And sharing news stories that validate my personal viewpoint on something with a comment that basically means "I always knew this!"  Other than that, I'm not annoying at all.

Feb 14, 2016

Minecraft Part 2: Getting Banned

Last week I wrote about Minecraft online gaming, known to non-parents as pvp (player vs player) - an arcane universe inhabited by ten-year-olds and their demonic alter-egos, where good times can turn to crap at the tap of a birchwood block.  

At some point in their recent Minecraft career, my kids discovered the shock and horror of being BANNED.

At this point you may want to refresh yourself with the PvP glossary presented in Minecraft Part 1.  

Being BANNED is worse than being KICKED. Being KICKED just means you've been kicked off the game (disconnected from the server), and you can get back in another time. Being BANNED means the Admin (owner/moderator) has BANNED you from the server, probably forever! (At least in most cases).

To cheer up my kid and out of curiosity, I googled "reasons for being banned in Minecraft" and the result is very funny. You can be banned for all sorts of reasons, from legitimate ones like griefing or trolling or killing other players, through minor infractions like speaking in all caps or asking for "OP" one too many times, to baffling ones that apparently involve saying or doing the wrong thing in front of the wrong Admin.

Most of the ones below came from this Minecraft forum thread.  They made me chuckle.

Some reasons for being banned from a Minecraft PvP server

Upsetting an Admin

For being impatient

For unintentional destruction

For following your architectural dreams

For not obeying the laws of gravity

For being too badass

Because you peaked

For solving a game challenge too quickly

For asking an annoying question too many times - like once

For possibly being a Brony

For saying Hi

For wanton destruction

For committing two horrible crimes at once:

For unrepentant warmongering

For being American

For annoying the French

For being called Dylan

For swearing

For hate crimes against art

For inverting a Minecraft element to reference a pop culture trope

As a result of a complex battle which ended with mutual respect

For killing everyone and taking their stuff - actually this ban sounds pretty legit:

For inadvertently playing against someone's political beliefs 

Just because

And perhaps saddest of all: FOR NO REASON

These cheered up my kids and gave me an entertaining evening's reading. 
But I still don't quite know how to play Minecraft.

galaxybackground.com Wallpaper 15

Feb 7, 2016

Minecraft Part 1: What the hell are you talking about, kids

I thought I was a very tech savvy parent and secretly felt pretty smug about my preparedness for my kids to gradually enter the fray of online life.  Then along came Minecraft.

I'll admit, gaming has been a bit of a black hole for me. What little I know about gaming I have gleaned from 9Gag and Gamergate (which, you know, both make gaming seem super awesome).

I am, however, a technophile and ambitious to know it all. I mean, I switched from an iPhone to a Samsung two years ago, so I'm like, pretty cutting edge.

Now that the kids have an Xbox, I fully intend to give up some Netflix time to learn how to steer the goddamn Need for Speed car down the middle of the highway instead of careening from barrier to barrier and getting stuck in reverse, and I am looking forward to trying a first-person shooter game to see how violent it makes me.

But commanding the Xbox controller is, like, hard. Why are kids immediately so dextrous at this stuff? I cannot get all my fingers plus my brain to work in unison. I cannot get my car or skateboarder to go more than a couple of metres without crashing. This is a good way to immediately feel like your own parents as your kids try and keep the laughter out of their voices while they show you how to use the technology. Karma.

Back to Minecraft...

The kids have long loved Minecraft and spend a borderline unhealthy amount of time glued to their screens building stuff and playing interactive games.  And here's where I (also) got caught napping. I had no idea you could play Minecraft online.

When my kids started having run-ins with online etiquette and trolling, they came to me with complaints and lengthy descriptions of online interactions I could barely understand. And I thought I knew about online interactions! I was a bit shocked and had to have some quick tutorials from my ten year olds on what the hell they were talking about.

Here's the deal: you can join servers run by other people and build stuff in their world, or play battles or racing games where you are playing against, and interacting with, other players. This whole world is subject to a whole lot of arcane rules and etiquette the kids pick up fairly quickly, but is also obviously subject to the whims of the people running it.

There are also the usual dispiriting online spats between friends where someone gives some people access to a game but not others, or kicks one person out for bad behaviour but lets their best friend behave worse, etc. There are days when this seems to be happening all the time and I have to tell the kids to take a break from it and do something else, and sometimes they even listen to me.

The thing with online play is that your kids can be sitting calmly in the lounge room tooling around on their iPod and you can be sitting a metre away, and a whole world of turmoil can be going on where they show no sign and you have no idea.

For me (and I'm trying not to sound smug here, as I know I don't have this solved) the answer is to try and be involved enough to understand what's going on and be interested in the games and the online world so they will talk to me, and we can talk about the problems as they come up.

There are millions of kids playing Minecraft. Most Minecraft players these days are probably under 13, but there are a lot of adults too.  My kids and I have talked a lot about this, what it means and what they need to keep in mind. We've had a couple of ugly moments, but for the most part, it's been fun and educational and the girls have been handing it well.

There are Minecraft glossaries and guides online you can Google if you want to know how redstone is used, or what a creeper or an Enderman is - this one is a good place to start - but they don't have the words my kids and their friends are using when they talk about interactive play.

Here are the Minecraft words I hear all the time and what they mean:

Minecraft online play words and meanings 

Seed - the code that Minecraft uses to generate terrain and content in worlds you create. There are online directories where people have shared good seeds or people pass them on through word of mouth. The reason these are valued is that without a good seed you have no idea where you will "spawn" to start your game: it could be awesome terrain, or it could be "a bland, uninspiring world full of flat grassland and the odd chicken(that sounds familiar as that's what I got the one and only time I tried to play Minecraft on my own)

Server - any Minecraft player can set up a game on a Minecraft public server and others can join if they have the IP address of the server (which is passed around by word of mouth or found in the Minecraft public server directory)

Admin - person who runs the server, gives access to players and polices behaviour

OP - "give someone OP" - full access to all the available commands. The Admin as someone who is already OP gives OP status to other users. If you are given OP, it is generally bad form to give others OP without permission from the Admin.

Donate - Admins will sometimes ask players to donate money to the server, which is fair enough when it's a couple of dollars to help with the cost of an established game, but can be a bit rich if players are asked to donate as soon as they join, or if it's more than a couple of dollars, or if it's in return for getting a ban removed, etc.

PvP (player vs player) - term refers to interactive play with other online players, but my kids and their friends (in which case others they play with online as well) are using it as a noun to mean the server/game hosting the play, e.g. "I was on an awesome pvp yesterday but I updated my iPod and now I've lost it"

Grief (verb), Griefer (noun - person who griefs) - destroying things others have built, generally causing trouble in the game

Lag (verb) - perform moves that cause the game to lag - a major infraction that can get you banned. Eg flying.

Kick - to be "kicked" is to be kicked out. Not as bad as being banned because you can usually get back in, but it is done as a warning, or in a fit of pique

Ban - you can get banned for griefing, lagging, trolling, speaking in all caps, using annoying phrases like "lol" or "yolo" or... all sorts of things really! I will cover that in Minecraft Part 2...

Wallpaper image by dkjjr at Minebook


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