Minecraft, the game championed worldwide as Lego’s for grown-ups. An endless sandbox of worlds to create, skins to download, and pigs to ride. Affinity runs deep amongst Minecraft aficionados who wow with their sheer brilliance (I’m looking at you, Circleight) and the more amateur novices, like myself, who feel successful if they kill a spider without being poisoned. Mojang‘s created a platform that fosters creativity and collaboration and teaches careful planning and patience to even the most antsy of gamers. However, in life, there’s always a flipside, and there is a dark blotch that sometimes stains the beautiful block world. A vile speck hidden in the floor or wall: TNT.
But not just any TNT. No, these explosives are planted and triggered by your “friends”, people you’ve invited into your world to both praise your ingenuity and share in the joy of building. It starts simple enough. They start small lava pools to get a few laughs, trigger a small blast in your meager cattle barn. It’s humorous, sure, but after awhile, something changes. Your pangs of heart ache morph into anger as you watch the castle or house you spent twelve hours tweaking and designing just… disappear. However, you’re probably being too sensitive, right? It didn’t mean that much to you anyway. Besides, they’re your friends, and they’d never really hurt you. Would they?
If you’ve ever had a similar experience or found yourself keeping quiet while your friends set fire to the things you love, take a moment to read over this list and see if it’s a simple case of friendly-fire, or, if it might be the sign of a more abusive relationship.
1.) Your friends exhibit aggressive behaviors
2.) They deny they were ever douchebags
While often a punchline involving slang and geography, denial is actually a form of abuse that involves an invalidation of past wrongs and cruelties. For example, you’ve just built the Sears Tower… but with a twist. You’ve included an underwater aquarium replete with trapped squid and glow stones which lead to a garden cavern with jukeboxes and an endless supply of apples. Eagerly, you show this to your friends, but, they hardly acknowledge your accomplishments. What’s more, they ignore you or perhaps even leave your world. This is to make you feel inferior and acts as a type of punishment, often resulting from jealousy. Other examples include the denial of making rude comments or exhibiting aggressive behavior (see point 1) followed by a cornucopia of “Why would you ever feel that way? That’s so stupid,” sort of statements. Denial is the most passive-aggressive form of Minecraft abuse, but can often be the most detrimental. Many times Minecraft players will deny their own skills to make their “friends”, who are now purposefully emotionally distant, feel better again. This can build an unhealthy cycle that can spill into other co-op or competition-based games.
3.) They try to downplay their doucheness
Now that we have a good understanding of the overt negative behaviors bad Minecraft friends exhibit, let’s talk about the most common: downplaying. This occurs when your friends realize that you are the only human being who will let them into your world, and they try to “downplay” the reality of their doucheness in order to remain friends. Phrases like, “It wasn’t like that,” or “You’re overreacting” are common. For instance, you spent 10 hours building the most beautiful Victorian home on a mountainside. The garden is manicured, the cows are grazing, and suddenly… the home explodes, because your friend was bored (aggressive and selfish behavior). Once you’ve done the right thing and banned them from your world, they might try to deny the devastation they’ve done to your ego, childlike innocence, and joy by claiming that “Oh, come on. It’s fixable. It wasn’t even that much TNT.” This behavior dips back into the denial category, which as mentioned, is the worst of the three, given its ability to spread to other games.
If you or a Minecraft loved one have been subjected to any of these horrible behaviors, it might be time to consider finding a new group of friends to play Minecraft with, or perhaps, address the issue publicly over chat or Live. Often, an emotional bully lashes out because of his or her own emotional insecurities, and if challenged, will become emotionally compromised. How this manifests depends largely on the bully’s socio-economic, political, and religious predilections. The important thing to remember, though, is that Notch did not design Minecraft for the bullies and the cruel to prevail, and that people can only hurt you for as long as you let them.
(Abuse in the real world is no joke either. If you or someone you love is a victim, please visit healthyplace.com or get in touch with your local counseling center.)