With two swift swings of his mega fists “MrDoodle” pulverizes the castle’s doors. He enters and stands before the throne pouring lava from his bucket onto it, watching it burn in juvenile satisfaction. In a frenzy, he swings his mega fists at all the king has built, who is in the distance building a sky island, unaware his kingdom is being reduced to pixels.
Monday seemed so far away on Friday, but at 2 Alice’s Coffee Lounge in Cornwall-On-Hudson, New York, the cycle begins again. At 7am the opening baristas turn on the house lights, power on the open sign, place newspapers out, and brew up the great coffee they serve to get life started. The baristas are extra prepared this morning, stocking up on mac and cheese and bottles of wine.
Morning regulars file in for the dark roast that fills the air. They talk to each other about “coming back to the real world” after a great weekend. They say, “I hate my alarm clock again.” “This morning, getting out of bed was literally the hardest thing I ever did.” and they all agree, “Mondays suck.”
An event board is rolled out to the curb with a chalked logo that, from a distance, resembles an end of trail marker for hiking, with the words below, Minecraft Monday.
The “trail marker” is in fact a creeper’s face from the hit game, Minecraft: A virtual land where you create your own worlds from scratch. Like Lego, there are no rules or stated objectives. There are several modes, but the two basics are survival and creative.
In survival mode you look out for notorious creepers, endermen, zombies, skeletons, and other roving monsters as you explore, build, mine, and craft. Your virtual character Steve (unless you go into options and change “your name”) is subject to die if he doesn’t eat spawned animals, but don’t worry, you can be re-spawned and pick up where you left off.
In creative mode users have unlimited resources and are free to let their imaginations run wild.
Played on the same Wi-Fi network, gamers can explore and add to (or take away from) each other’s worlds.
Last week, my son Nicholas and his friend “Grumpy127” were in creative mode. Nicholas spent days (and nights) building a cobblestone mansion with a secret room stocked with diamonds, gold, and emeralds. Its entrance sat behind a painting you walked through. “Grumpy127” marveled at the mansion, walked through its rooms and through the painting. He complimented Nicholas and in envy swung his virtual pick ax and destroyed the secret room. Before the two of them boiled up from the virtual to the physical, I disconnected the Wi-Fi and nixed the tension. Nicholas cut his losses and they went outside to play.
At 6:30pm Mikey, the owner enters 2 Alice’s with the energy of four cups of coffee, clearing the front of little square tables from the area rug where he daisy chains a string of power hubs down the middle.
A couple standing on line questions Mikey’s energetic organizing.
“There will be 40 kids in here soon,” he tells them.
“Should we sit outside?” the couple asks.
Mikey (despite Yelp reviews) smiles and continues reorganizing.
The Wi-Fi password is cleared for open access at 6:45pm as the first gamer walks in; A boy with an iPad in one hand and its power cord in the other. He has an eager smile on his face and almost trips over his untied shoe laces. He rushes over to the sofa and plugs in. His mother orders him a bowl of mac and cheese and a bottle of wine for herself and a friend.
A few more kids shuffle in and take their place near the boy as their parents occupy tables and order from the baristas. They talk to each other quietly, akin to chirps of morning birds at dawn. Soon after, 40 players create a rat’s nest of the power hubs. Morning birds are now a murder of crows. Kids are zigzagging through the place, to their parents at the tables for a mouthful of mac and cheese or bite of cookie, to the bathroom, and back to the player’s area.
Parents enjoy sips of their reds or whites. They talk to each other about surviving their first day back to work after a relaxing weekend. They sip, laugh, and say, “Tomorrow’s Tuesday.”
Kids spill over onto the tables and Mikey announces, “Anyone playing Minecraft you go over there.” He points over to the front by the couch and area rug. A boy sitting next to me at his laptop looks at me, then does a double take, wondering if I’m going to call him out. I smile at him and say, “I’m no snitch, enjoy. He smiles back and enters his virtual world.
Enticed by usernames like PocketIsland, MrZombieKilla42, BigBadManPig, and CreepaBuster, the gamers begin exploring each other’s worlds. With poker faces some kids begin reorganizing worlds to their liking. A girl screams out, “Noooooo,” and starts to cry. She disconnects her iPad from the Wi-Fi network to halt further damage to her world. Gamers who can’t keep poker faces will walk out to the parking lot still in range of the Wi-Fi and go Tasmanian devil on elaborate built worlds.
An outlier is sitting at his laptop with his eyes growing wide. After he puts the finishing touches on his sky island he treks back to his castle to find “MrDoodle” and others putting the finishing touches on the destruction of his kingdom. He puts his hands to his face in disbelief and shrieks, “I worked so hard to build that!” You can hear a lady bug walk for a moment. With tears streaming down his face he runs laps around the tables, walks up to the baristas behind the counter and yells, “Minecraft Monday is a terrible idea.”
At 8:45pm the Wi-Fi is shutdown as the house lights brighten. Satisfied gamers gather up their belongings, untangle the rats nest, and clear out in an orderly fashion. The baristas tackle cleaning, starting with the recycle bin overflowing with wine bottles. They talk to each other about the week’s schedule. They count the night’s tips and say, “It will be too bad when this Minecraft game is no longer trending.” They divvy out the tips and all agree for now, “Monday’s rock.”