Today's MMO Family is for all the MMO-playing teens out there who'd like more time to game. Parents, you're most welcome to stay and read along (and hand this to your own teen afterwards), but we've covered your perspective before. (Refer back to our tips on how to balance gaming with the rest of your life, or check the signs that your teen may be over-indulging in too much gaming.) What we haven't covered yet explicitly are strategies for responsible teens to earn permission for more gaming time. If you're jonesing for more time in game and online, there are things that you should and shouldn't do before you even make your case with your parents.
Here's our game plan.
Lobbying your parents for more gaming time
- Make sure your grades are solid. If they're even remotely shaky, go back to the newbie zone. You need impeccable stats to proceed with this quest, my friend.
- Create a weekly schedule. This is the tool that's going to convince your parents that you deserve and are capable of handling more gaming time.
- Block out your personal activities. Write down everything you do on a regular basis, from extracurricular activities to church to your after-school job.
- Figure out when you can (and should) handle chores and family responsibilities. Think logically here. It doesn't do any good to block off two hours for chores on Sunday afternoons if your main responsibilities are daily tasks like doing the dishes and taking out the trash.
- Pencil in homework time every day. As previously mentioned, your stats need to be solid, but don't neglect the faction angle to including homework on your daily schedule. It doesn't matter if you actually have homework every day or not. Showing that you're ready for it is like showing up to a raid with all your quests and consumables lined up.
- Block off routine family time. Be available for common family activities like dinnertime, church and so on. A failure to consider both formal and informal times that your parents expect you to be around will cause your faction to plummet.
- Grind faction. You'll go into this conversation with a higher likelihood of success if you've already been taking care of your grades, your chores and your family time on a regular basis.
- Accrue rested XP. How late would your gaming nights run? Can you set a hard cut-off time, or would you need more flexibility in order to be part of a raiding group? How many hours of sleep would you get on those nights? Show your parents that you've thought about getting enough rest.
- Determine your quest objectives. Do you need solid blocks of time two to three times a week for raiding? Are you craving the flexibility to log in for 30 minutes or less every day to take care of your trading and errands? Do you want to be able to meet up in the early evenings with another friend who plays? Figure out exactly how much time you require and why -- "I wanna play more often" or "I want to be able to log in whenever I'm not busy" doesn't cut it.
- Present your request to your parents. Begin by reviewing your schedule and how you've covered your obligations and responsibilities. Next, note the time slots that are available for gaming. Explain how and why playing at those particular times will help you achieve your gaming goals. (Be brief and basic: What is a raid, and how long does one typically last? What times can your friend who plays get online? What daily in-game chores would you like time to maintain, and why are they important to advancing your character?)
- If your parents turn you down, raise your faction. Resurrect, run back and grind. Keep up your proposed schedule (minus the desired extra game time). Demonstrate that you're successfully juggling all your responsibilities and still have open time when you could game.
- Outlevel the mobs. If your parents are worried about how you might have time to handle especially large school projects, trivialize the encounter by showing them that you consistently manage to cross them off your list before their due dates.
- If your parents accept your proposal, stay flexible. Keep school and family responsibilities at the top of the list. If a family birthday or studying for a big exam falls on a raid night, opt out of the raid night. No complaints or whining – this is where you show you understand how to balance your priorities. (Don't forget to let your guild know you won't be attending and why. Make sure your guild's attendance policies are forgiving enough to accommodate the occasional miss.)
- Show appreciation for your parents' consideration. No matter how your negotiations turn out, let them know you're glad they took the time to listen. They'll appreciate your positive approach and be more willing to listen in the future.