'Minecraft' Is Patching the Game So Kids Won’t Poison Their Pet Birds

"If Minecraft has any effect on children’s behavior, we want it to be a positive one."

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May 16 2017, 7:47pm

Earlier this week, the Minecraft community was wracked by controversy after fans of the game pointed out that cookies—the food used to tame and breed parrots in the game—could potentially be deadly if fed to real-life birds. In an email to Motherboard, one of the game's developers says the food will be changed in an upcoming patch in order to protect animals the world over.

In the most-upvoted post of all time on the /r/minecraft subreddit, users noted that the game is played by millions of children, and that some children will probably try to feed their pet birds chocolate or cookies: "chocolate and pet parrots are common enough that this will cause a problem," Redditor 1jl wrote. "There is no question about that."

The post has more than 37,000 upvotes. After I saw it, I asked Minecraft developer Mojang if it was aware of the controversy. Minecraft lead creative designer Jens Bergensten told me in an email that soon another food will be used to tame parrots in the game.

"If Minecraft has any effect on children's behavior, we want it to be a positive one, so we'll change the item used to breed parrots before the 1.12 update is released," Bergensten said. "Our reasoning for originally using cookies was twofold; it gave cookies a reason to exist within Minecraft, and it was a subtle reference to the Nirvana song 'Polly.' However, we didn't consider what the chocolate ingredient would mean to real life parrots!"

The 1.12 patch is considered a major update and currently has no release date. It's expected "soon."

Monday, I asked Marc Marrone, "Martha Stewart's pet expert" and co-owner of the Parrots of the World pet shop in Long Island, whether Mojang should swap cookies for another food. He said that most parrots are smart enough to avoid eating bitter dark chocolate, which is most dangerous to them and noted that milk chocolate doesn't pose that much of a risk. Still, to be safe, he had a recommendation: "Just take out the chocolate part and say that you need to tame the bird by giving it a blueberry," Morrone said. "None of these lunatics [the parrots] can ever find anything wrong with a blueberry."

So Mojang, if you're listening—it's time to build some delicious blocks of blueberry bushes into the game.