Remote control: Saturday 10 May 2014

Copenhagen Uber Alles

Copenhagen Uber Alles

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Taking me into virtual insanity

Like any self-respecting dad this week I tried to fool my son into thinking I was clever.

After watching the visually-spectacular Pompeii film, I was baraged with a series of questions from a lad whose mind was running amok, stimulated and frazzled.

Not about slavery, gladatorial contests or even a snog caked forever in volcanic ash.

No, rocks, as in stone.

“What happens to lava dad when it slides into the sea?”

Chest puffed, O-level geography 1983 recalled.

“Ah igneous rocks, one of the three main types of rock with sedimentary and metamorphic, lad.”

Get me.

“What about obsidian dad?”

He’s exposed the limits to my knowledge, or memory.

How does he know this? Minecraft.

And how do I know that?

Because the Xbox has been removed from his room – fears over him watching inappropriate telly in his room like the pot-smoking teddy bear film Ted – and is now in the front room.

The relocation, though, means he hogs the telly with a game that on the face of it is appalling.

No blasting enemies, no stealing cars in South Central LA, no noble medieval quests on a white steed.

Just blocky graphics and bouncing square sheep.

There’s no specific goals for the player to accomplish.

In fact it’s a meandering mess, but one that’s got the kids hooked.

The core gameplay revolves around breaking and placing blocks, and he’s joined by fellow Minecrafters online who also want to break and place blocks.

Names pop up on screen and off they go, only sporadically re-entering the real world while expecting me to gasp at some lever or the creation of stacks of blocks that remind me of the Nowa Huta communist-era housing blocks on the outskirts of Krakow.

But the virtual world entered the real world this week, with an American landgrab to give Putin food for thought as he eyes up Lithuania, and that sovereign nation’s 100-mile stretch that separates the Russian Baltic Sea port of Kaliningrad and the Moscow puppet state of Belarus.

The Stars and Stripes was planted deep into Danish soil.

Hackers staked their claim, or America’s, for new territories by undermining the Danish government’s plan to recreate the entire country within a computer game.

Officials were forced to, er, officially confirm that that large cities, including Copenhagen, had been damaged after users found a way to smuggle virtual dynamite, supposedly banned, into the Danish area of the Minecraft world.

Those progressive Scandinavians had hoped to become the first country to be fully transplanted into block; the government hoping it could help make lessons more fun for students.

So if I’d been allowed to watch the news last night I could have told you how this was resolved.

And if I’d been able to watch any proper beamed programmes this week I could have written a proper TV column.

Then again, is the real world different than the pixelated world anymore?

If I missed anything please email alan.burrows@lep.co.uk.

Alan Burrows