The idea of agency–that the world can be changed and that we have power to change it–has shaped the language we use at our house. First introduced to me through Peter Johnston’s Choice Words, I often call upon his questioning techniques to coach my daughter through tough times. So when she comes home and says, “Mom, Jonah has mods for Minecraft on his Xbox,” the first thing I say–and I do believe I am quoting Johnston when I ask–is, “What the heck is a mod?”
She tries to explain it. I pick up the gist: People are writing code to change the way certain parts of the game work. She’s found the “copious dogs mod” that will turn your standard Minecraft wolf into any of eight different breeds. Jonah, on the other hand, has a cars mod. Does anyone else feel like we’re speaking a foreign language?
That was almost a month ago. Since then, she’s watched dozens of YouTube videos, engaged in dozens of searches, and has come to the same conclusion several times. Let me see if I can get it right: In order to get copious dog mods on the PS3, you have to download the mod and a file compressor utility like WinRAR that unpacks the files so they will be available on the console version of the game. However, doing anything to modify the game violates the Terms of Service (ToS) with Sony, so many gamers have given up trying to get mods on their console and have, instead, purchased the PC version.
Phew! There’s our answer, right? Not so fast! I have raised a daughter with an urgent sense of agency.
“But Jonah has the cars mod on his game for XBox,” she reiterates.
So, I respond in the best way I know how–and this time, I truly take a line from Johnston’s playbook: “Well, how are you going to figure it out?”
She goes over to my laptop, opens a new tab and begins typing. “Will you help me?” she asks.
“What do you have so far?” She reads the words in her search field. I coach into this moment: “Let’s tighten up your keywords. Like USB, that’s going to be part of the answer, so what are the most important…”
I don’t even get to finish. “Minecraft. PS3. And mods,” she says and turns back to the screen.
“Mom, what version do we have?”
“How did we figure this out the last time?” She returns to the screen, opens a new tab and types a few more words.
“What did you find?”
“Uh, nothing” she says and proceeds to read of a list of search results. But she has found it. “Which one is it? One-point-fourteen or one-point-oh-four?”
We read together. It turns out Version 1.14 is the same as patch 1.04. Who knew? And apparently, if only Mojang and Sony would agree to make the mod like a DLC, our problems would be solved. This part I am sure of. Sort of. And even more than that, I am sure of one more thing: She’ll figure it out. She just hasn’t…yet!
I’m participating in the 2015 Slice of Life Challenge at Two Writing Teachers.