The world of Minecraft can be a dark and terrifying place…for adults.
Welcome to Minecraft Malfunction, a new YouTube channel from Seattleites Margaret Chiavetta and Brooks Peck. The pair — she teaches coding to kids and he is the sci-fi curator at Experience Music Project — created the channel when they realized that Minecraft was more than just a game. It was a phenomenon among the younger set.
So they challenged themselves to learn how to play with kids as their instructors.
It’s a fun idea on role reversal: Not only is it hilarious to watch two adults fumble their way through the mystical world — it’s even more fun to hear the kids explain the game to them.
Or, in Chiavetta’s words, “We suck at it, and the kids are hilarious.”
Here we talked to Chiavetta and Peck about their YouTube channel and why Minecraft is such a runaway hit.
How did you get the idea to do this?Margaret Chiavetta: I’m teaching after-school coding to elementary school kids called Creative Coding 4 Kids. One of the questions we have to ask them in the beginning is “what video games do you play?” They all say Minecraft — boys and girls equally. So we were thinking, “OK, this Minecraft is replacing Harry Potter as this global, cultural phenomenon.”
Brooks and I were looking for a project together and originally thinking of doing a podcast. And that evolved into us playing Minecraft.
Brooks Peck: You notice something that keeps popping up all around you, and for me that was Minecraft. From Margaret’s students and people at work, we saw it was all around us. Margaret had the idea that we try it and find out what was going on.
That’s a big part of it – the fact that you both don’t know how to play, right?
Peck: Right. Arguably, we still don’t.
Chiavetta: We’re actually not playing it on our own on purpose, so we can have the fun of the kids showing us how to play.
How far into this Minecraft experiment are you – and how do you find the kids?
Chiavetta: We have 15 episodes up [as of this date], the first 10 are Brooks and me trying to do the tutorial, the next 11 to 15 episodes are playing with my nephew Brayden.
Peck: We play every couple weeks at least. It’s with kids of friends, coworkers, within our network mostly — and we’re always looking for more girls to play the game with us. So far, it’s not be terribly hard. Everyone with kids over 6, they play Minecraft.
What has been the most difficult part of learning Minecraft so far?
Chiavetta: Surviving one night was our biggest challenge. We weren’t building a shelter fast enough. I got distracted that night would come, and I would have to barricade myself and wouldn’t be able to finish the shelter. There was no roof usually.
The first one we made, I accidentally made a step up so a skeleton got inside and killed me. We didn’t survive a night until we got Brayden to help.
Peck: We might as well have left the door open. We’ve been learning about the creatures, but it’s mostly been running in panic in the dark and falling into pits. This happens way more often than it should.
Is there any chance of a Minecraft exhibition at EMP anytime soon?
Peck: We’ve had two different video game exhibitions so far. [Laughs] I wouldn’t rule it out, but I’m not promising anything. We’re always looking for ideas.
The cool thing about Minecraft is that it is transcending video gamers and video game culture and becoming a wider thing, and that is always interesting to me as a curator.
That’s why Minecraft is something parents and kids can enjoy together, yes?
Chiavetta: We’re noticing with kids, 8 or 9 years old, they really want their own YouTube channels. And parents are like, “No, you’re too young.” This is a great compromise for them – they can be on YouTube and not have to maintain their own channel.
Peck: It goes back to the idea that we’re always thinking about ways to get intergenerational conversations into the EMP gallery, and ways to get kids to talk to adults. The art of video games — old games and new games – are great for this kind of dialogue.
Minecraft has great potential for that since it can be so collaborative. It’s not like Facebook. No one sits down as a family and uses Facebook together.
Want to learn more about Minecraft Malfunction or play along? Email Margaret and Brooks at [email protected].