How young is too young to play WoW? We've discussed the ups and downs of grouping with kids quite a few times over the years, but the topic – like the kids themselves – just won't go away. Earlier this week, we interviewed an 11-year-old SSC raider and his mother. While most reader comments applauded the family for a disciplined, sensible approach to online gaming, a few readers seemed confused or even aghast that someone so young would be allowed to play World of Warcraft.
Gamers on the Street decided to pop in on Bloodscalp, a high-population PvP realm with what one supposes would be a correspondingly tough outlook on kiddie action. We surveyed several level 70 players at random, asking them about their own experiences with children in game. The consensus: Jerks come in all shapes, sizes and ages -- and children and teens are no better or worse than their adult counterparts. Hear out their reasoning, after the break.
Xerith, Level 70 Orc Warlock <The Brain Spawn>
Our first chat was with Xerith, a warlock who plays in a casual guild of mostly friends and family members. His laid-back attitude typifies a general open-mindedness about tolerating young players when possible.
Gamers on the Street: Is World of Warcraft ok for kids?
Xerith: I have no real strong opinions either way. I have no problem with kids playing WoW.
How old (or what general age range) are you, if I might ask?
Is The Brain Spawn generally made up of adult players?
Our age range is from 24-32, so I would say yes, it's adult players.
Is that on purpose? Do you actively avoid inviting younger players?
No, it's not on purpose. Most of us have known each other for years or are family members. We don't recruit anybody because we are not a heavy raid guild (nor do we wish to be). We are here to have fun with friends and family, not to grind out progression.
What about PuGs -- have you ever been in a group where you felt one of the players was probably a kid and wasn't pulling their weight?
Yea, but unless that player does something stupid like roll on something that his/her class can't use, or pulls something with warning, or generally wipes us continuously, then we will generally tolerate it. But those rules hold for any age.
How young do think is too young? For instance, how young would a player have to be before you felt uncomfortable letting loose in guild chat or on Vent?
No age limit, I guess. Some us will bash that player for playing stupid, without a care for age. There is a swear filter in chat.
Is your guild chat pretty PG, then? You think the filter is enough?
As for vent, only Brain Spawn members use that. There will be no PuG players in it. No, we are not PG. We are adults and say what's on our mind, regardless of who reads it. If you don't want to read what we have to say, you can leave. That's how we feel.
So if you were in a group with a pickup player or two, is there an age that would make you feel uncomfortable? Say, 12? 10? What if you were running around on an alt and ran across someone who said they were 8?
Nope, I would not feel uncomfortable.
Would you treat them any different?
Nope, i do not age discriminate. ;)
Fair enough. If you were talking to the parent of a teen who wanted to play WoW, what would you tell them?
It can be an addictive game; be sure to watch their play habits and put limits as you see fit.
Grevan, Level 70 Undead Mage <Renshai>
The whole time I was talking with Xerith, I kept noticing this message in general chat:
[1. General] Grevan: -= ( Renshai )=- Please Send a tell to Grevan / Felahn / Rahvun / Relyx . We are brand new (less than 3 hours) to this server, but our End game experience is superior. Send a tell now to Join. Morons/Bad players/a$hats will be weeded out.
[1. General] Grevan: -= ( Renshai ) =- has Open recruitment for levels 60-70. 4 Officers from another server, have transfered to Bloodscalp to form a raiding guild. Officers bring vast raid exp, and are looking to fill the ranks. *Bad Attitudes/nubs need not apply!
Wondering what the reaction would be to a particularly young applicant, I gave Grevan a buzz.
Gamers on the Street: Does Renshai have an age limit for recruits?
Grevan: I'd like 'em to be mature. I don't care what age, as long as there's a maturity level.
Soo ... What would give you reason to pause? 16? 14? ... 12?
Would you take a 14-year-old?
I might ... Depends on the maturity of that 14-year-old.
What would you want to know about the player to help make a decision? Or would you just want him to try several events with you?
I'd want to speak with him in Vent, get a feel for his MMO experience.
Dessorag, Level 70 Orc Warlock <Semantics>
We let the very busy Grevan get back to his recruiting and picked up a friendly conversation with Dessorag, who noted that "problem kids" were easily dodged.
Gamers on the Street: Does your guild have an age limit?
Dessorag: No, but we generally look for more mature players. Most of the players are > 20, with the vast majority having jobs and kids.
Any teens in the group that you know of?
Not for a while. There are a few, but mostly the college-age type – 18, 19, that sort of thing.
Have you ever grouped with a player you suspected was much younger than that?
Yes, most certainly. I've played with some 14-year-olds. Overall, they lack maturity, but that is to be entirely expected.
"Lack maturity" in what way? Giggly in chat, or not understanding strats, or ...?
Some were good for their age, acted mature and basically added some enjoyment to the game. (But others), generally, all the expectations of walking into a middle school classroom.
So kinda cute in an annoying way?
Not really. More obnoxious. Every once in a while one surprises you, but overall, it can detract from the experience
Hmm. Do you think there should be an age limit for WoW?
No, not at all. What age someone starts playing MMOs is really based on the parents or reaching 18/maturity/self-sufficiency. Basically, as long as you treat other players with respect, it doesn't matter what age you are. You'll generally be treated with the same respect you show others. I have no problem with parents playing with their kids.
What do you think parents should do as far as keeping up with their kid? What would you tell the parent of a child or teen who wants to play WoW?
Play with them.
Yes. One of my coworkers is doing that with his son. It's a good bonding experience. A 14-year-old isn't going to see or hear anything in this game they haven't already heard 20 times a day on the bus ride home.
Anything else about age to add?
Well, just the classic line repeated by Ian of CtrlAltDel: Parents, its up to you to teach your kids. Don't force it on the industry.
Read more about young WoW players
Raiding SSC at age 11
Using WoW to teach children values
Teaching game etiquette to young players
Confessions of a teenage warlock
More interviews with World of Warcraft players from 15 Minutes of Fame. Plus, we log on to the WoW servers every week to ask players what's on their mind in Gamers on the Street.