The Soapbox: The raid can wait; your kids can't

Shawn Schuster
S. Schuster|01.18.11

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The Soapbox: The raid can wait; your kids can't
Disclaimer: The Soapbox column is entirely the opinion of this week's writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Massively as a whole. If you're afraid of opinions other than your own, you might want to skip this column. No, seriously.

When I'm on voice chat and I hear a child in the background asking for his mommy's or daddy's help with something, it breaks my heart when the parent responds with frustration.

"Not now, honey, Mommy's busy."
"Go ask your Mommy -- Daddy's very busy right now."
"Can it wait?!"

Sure, it can wait, but if you've ever found yourself saying something like that, look into that child's eyes next time. All a child wants is your guidance, attention and love. When you take any of those away from him for the sake of a potential loot drop, you might want to re-evaluate your priorities.

As a parent of two children myself, I understand the factors here. Raising children can be frustrating at times, and losing your patience simply means you're human. Sometimes all you want is a break from it all -- a place to anchor your sanity and escape a bit from the responsibilities of family life. But there is a time and a place for this, and that time and place is never when your child is begging for your attention.

The issue is not new, and it's even considered humorous in certain situations. On the popular web series The Guild, Clara Beane is a stay-at-home mom who locks her children behind a baby gate in the next room so they don't bother her while she chats away to her guildies. Clara loves to talk fondly of her children, hiding her disconnect behind a wall of verbal pleasantries.

In a previous interview with The Guild's writer and director, Felicia Day, I asked if Clara's character was based on anyone she knew in her real life. Felicia said it wasn't, but I couldn't help but conjure up thoughts of a few ex-guildies of mine who showed similar behavior.

"There's no respawn point for parenting. They'll be max level before you know it."

Now, I'm not telling anyone how to raise his children, and I'm certainly not Dr. Phil. Each child is different and responds to parenting in different ways. But neglect is not a viable option in raising your child. And this problem certainly isn't unique to MMO gamers, but I bring it up here because the game mechanics of an MMO are designed to keep you glued in front of that computer. There is no pause button, and the threat of respawns is always looming. This means when you commit to something with a group, you'll be letting down your teammates by leaving in the middle. Most other types of games don't have this problem, so it's not as much of an issue. For this reason, it's important to plan ahead. If you can only play when your children are awake, involve them as much as you can without shooing them away for "bothering you."

I remember being young and watching my parents play Risk or Monopoly with a group of friends around our dining room table. If I needed something, they'd stand up, come help me, and that was it. I could sit on their laps, and they'd teach me about the game and what each piece was. I felt included and happy about being involved with their "play time." This is an important part of a child's development. If you mess this up, there's no respawn point for parenting. Your kids will be max level before you know it.

If you've ever barked at your child for "bothering" you while gaming, I just ask that you take a step back and realize the impact something like that can have on a young, impressionable mind. On one hand, keep in mind that not everyone gets to see his children every day. If you do, consider yourself lucky, not bothered by their presence. But on the other hand, it's not about you and your feelings. It's about raising a child who will grow up to not have serious issues resulting from the timing of your raid night.

Some good advice would be to find a family-oriented guild if you find that your current one is intolerant of your family situation. There are plenty of guilds out there that understand that "Oops, brb" means everyone takes a moment to wait for you to get back, without complaining or pressuring you into taking the game more seriously than your family.

Everyone has opinions, and The Soapbox is how we indulge ours. Join the Massively writers every Tuesday as we take turns atop our very own soapbox to deliver unfettered editorials a bit outside our normal purviews. Think we're spot on -- or out of our minds? Let us know in the comments!
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