Excuse me if I seem a little tired. I was up late again last night, desperately trying to load a new Mod into Minecraft.

What’s a “Mod?” Well, I’m glad you asked … because I have no earthly idea. Could stand for “modification.” Possibly. Or “my obedient dad,” as in, “My obedient dad is going to stay up all night pulling his hair out while trying to load this thing onto my computer game.” It’s anyone’s guess.

My daughter has become a maniac for Minecraft, that video game that lets players construct whole worlds and travel through them while whaw, whaw-whaw, whaw, whaw. (I don’t actually know what Minecraft is all about, as I tend to tune out when she explains it.)

What I do know is that everything looks like it’s made of square blocks — the land, the people, the animals, the buildings.

“Oh, look how cute,” my daughter will say. “It’s an ant!”

I strain my pixel-challenged eyes and say: “No, it isn’t! It’s six black squares walking around. These graphics are terrible!”

Apparently I’m missing something. Because Minecraft is incredibly popular. It is a game of imagination. Of building and creating. You develop vast worlds and construct your own houses and lands. My wife has sent me articles that talk about why it is wonderful for developing minds like children.

But has anyone done a study on what loading Mods — which gives you extra animals or maybe put the Taj Mahal in your carrot garden — is doing to the minds of parents like me? I can feel my little brain cells pop like sizzling bacon.

There’s no simple way to do it. Minecraft developers make it intentionally hard so parents feel stupid. You have to download a file and save it in a specific location. No wait, actually that’s not right. First you have to change this setting and click that, then open the game while neutering a bat born in summer solstice. Do it in the wrong order and part of the Arctic ice shelf (the real one!) breaks off and floats away.

Even searching online for Mods can be treacherous. Click on the wrong thing and you can download a computer virus that will send all of your credit card information, plus your left kidney, to the Russian mob.

Next thing you know it’s 4 a.m. and your computer no longer works right.


But say you get it working? Well, I tell you it’s all worth it in the morning when that kid gasps at being able to create salamanders and raccoons and — the pièce de résistance — an elephant!

“Oh, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, my obedient dad,” she says while clapping. Then she turns around and does the most remarkable thing: She hugs me!

Suddenly, the Russian mob stealing my identity doesn’t seem so bad.

Thompson: Mining for Minecraft Mods