In last month's Confessions of a Teenage Warlock, we saw a well spoken, capable, creative young man out representing for the legion of teenagers who play WoW without dragging everyone else on the server down to the level of Barrens chat. "He's nothing special!" cried some readers in the comments – and rightly so. Seldorm's not the youngest player, or the most uber player or even the most outspoken player. In fact, you might most accurately characterize Seldorm as the poster boy for "normal" WoW-playing teens who don't make little worgs of themselves online. (There are more of them than you think!)
This week's 15 Minutes of Fame looks at another young WoW player – "young" being the operative word. Under the protective wing of his parents, Zeshon began serious raiding in Karazhan last summer at the age of 10. Now 11 years old, he's filling in as a DPS sub in his guild's Serpentshrine Cavern raids, studying boss strats ... and getting his homework done and to bed on time. We talked with Zeshon and his mom, Melynthris, to see how the family that raids together, stays together.
Meet Zeshon, an 11-year-old fifth-grader and Hunter, and his parents Melynthris (Warlock) and Trozz (Paladin) of <Soulbound> on Norgannon. Melynthris, a full-time mom to Zeshon and two younger brothers, spends a slice of her free time managing guild affairs as a member of the executive council. Zeshon and Trozz raid alongside, as the guild prepares to take on Lady Vashj. We visited with Melynthris and Zeshon to find out how a player as young as Zeshon got involved in regular raiding – and how they make it work with his elementary-school lifestyle.
15 Minutes of Fame: How did Zeshon get started playing World of Warcraft?
Melynthris: Zeshon watched my husband and me play World of Warcraft right from the start, which was about two and one-half years ago. Soon, he rolled a few characters on my account and played casually for several months. As time passed, he wanted to play more and more, so we decided to get him his own account.
My husband and I had been raiding for quite a while before he decided he wanted to try it seriously. He did run Molten Core with us a few times shortly before BC came out (just after his 10th birthday), but didn't want to raid regularly until we were in Karazhan last summer.
Have you always grouped together?
No. Zeshon started off playing WoW a lot less often than my husband and I did, so we leveled faster. Of course, we grouped with him on our alts or helped him with our mains when he asked us to, but he did most of his leveling through solo questing.
Now, we sometimes go questing as a family, go to instances or battlegrounds together or take turns helping each other's alts. For several months, Zeshon also played on a 5v5 Arena team with me, although lately he has lost interest in Arena. He also runs instances and battlegrounds with our guild mates and farms or does daily quests solo when he needs gold or materials.
So do you ever allow him to play with PUGs? What about voice chat with people he doesn't know?
No, we don't let him PUG or voice chat with strangers. Eleven is just too young for that. All of the computers we use for WoW have the in-game profanity filter enabled. Zeshon is also not allowed to participate in the General or Trade channels. Of course, profanity filters and keeping him out of a couple of chat channels doesn't substitute for supervision. So, all of the computers in our house that have Internet access are in the same room.
It helps greatly that our guild is family-friendly. Many of our guildmates also have children, and some of those children also play WoW. So guild chat is PG-rated, as is Ventrilo during groups and raids. It's also a pretty close-knit group, and everyone knows everyone else – including who the kids are. So we can feel comfortable letting Zeshon group with guild members. When we get new guild members, we do get to know them for a while before Zeshon groups with them.
If a guild member wants to invite one of their friends to a group, I either go with the group or watch Zeshon's screen and listen in on Ventrilo. I also whisper that person first. Most people are very understanding if you approach them politely. If the person responds negatively, I make Zeshon leave the group. If he's disappointed because he really wanted or needed to run that instance, Trozz and I will just recruit some guildies to run it with us later.
Do you allow him to raid when you are not online with him?
Very rarely. But that's because it's very rare for my husband and me to both miss a raid!
So how did the whole idea of a 10-year-old raiding in Karazhan come about? Didn't anyone in the guild have their doubts about taking along a 10-year-old boy?
Our guild set up some gear standards for members to meet if they wanted to run Karazhan -- and he met the standards (basically, dungeon blues). Also, many of our guildies had grouped with him before. So most people knew he could actually play. I am sure there were some people who were still concerned, but no one said anything about it. Maybe they were afraid of offending me. I don't know.
Are there any other very young players in the guild?
Yes, there are. But Zeshon is the only pre-teen who raids. Our next-youngest raider is 16. She has been raiding with us since she was 14.
What was that first Kara like? Was he on voice chat? Are you in the same room with him when you're raiding, ending extra guidance on the side?
Yes, he was on Ventrilo with us, and he sounds much younger on Ventrilo than in real life – I am not kidding when I say he sounds like he is 5 or 6. He sounds so young that I was pinged by a couple of people who couldn't believe he was actually 10! But he had raided MC with us a few times before BC came out, so most of the guild knew he could raid.
Zeshon sits right beside me when we raid. Trozz and I do give him some guidance on the side, but not much. Mostly, when he is going into a new boss fight, we talk to him about the strat to make sure he understands it and his role. If he has trouble on a pull, we'll make suggestions. That's about it.
Zeshon: When I started Karazhan the first time I was a little nervous, as it had been a while since I had last raided and was scared of messing up in front of the guild. However, after I got in I felt the urge to DPS I always have during raids and quickly got into it and started getting excited because I was finally doing what I had worked for.
What about the rest of the guild? What the general reaction to having Zeshon there?
Melynthris: People were pretty positive. Some people were even a little sad that he had to cut back his raiding so much when school started.
So last summer, when Zeshon was 10 years old -- Karazhan three times a week, all summer?
Not every single raid – there were times he had other activities going on. But he attended more than 75% of the summer raids, yes.
It sounds like you take raiding together as an opportunity to allow Zeshon to take responsibility -- responsibility for his own consumables, responsibility for knowing the strats, responsibility for handling himself in a capable manner during the raid. What are his rules of the road in order to be allowed to raid?
The biggest rule is that he both acts like, and gets treated like, everyone else. I don't pull strings for him because he's my son. On his end, this means that he has to supply his own consumables, learn the strats and behave as an adult on Ventrilo and in raid chat. He earns and bids DKP like everyone else and sits out when it's someone else's turn.
The only reason I can do this, though, is because we're in a guild that understands that he is still a kid and maintains a raiding environment that I can let him participate in. If people were cursing constantly or talking about "adult content" in the raid, I wouldn't be able to let him raid.
Now that the school year is in full swing, are there new raiding rules in place?
Zeshon can only raid on weekends. Our raids last until around midnight for us, which is much too late for him to be up on school nights. School is our top priority, and we don't want him falling asleep in class!
Zeshon, what do you enjoy about raiding?
Zeshon: When I raid, I love the challenge of staying alive throughout a difficult fight and the thrill of killing a boss for the first time.
Do you think the other guild members treat you differently now that you've been raiding with them a long time than they did when you first started?
I think my guildmates treat me a little differently now -- although not by much -- but when they do, they seem to have a little more respect for my playing skills, because I'm invited to more instances and people just seem to notice me more.
My parents don't really limit my playtime unless I let WoW interfere with real-life obligations, in which case I get put on restriction for a while.
Do any of your friends in real life also play World of Warcraft?
I do have one friend who also plays, but he started recently and doesn't get to play all that much so isn't in the guild with me. All I really get to do with him is run him through an instance every so often.
What other things do you enjoy doing?
When I'm not playing I enjoy reading and math. I also have been doing karate for five years and have earned my brown belt. In addition, I enjoy other video games and some of them are other MMOs that more of my friends play.
Take that, Barrens chat!
Speaking of l33tsp34k: Are you uber-l337? Is your uberguild on the bleeding edge of raid content? Is your Arena rating teh secks? We're interested in talking to players who live and breathe WoW achievement. Shoot us a note at 15minutesoffame AT wowinsider DOT com and show us your WoW-fu.