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Breakfast Topic: How do you adapt WoW for younger players?

Lauren Lewis

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Since she was really little, my eldest cousin has been fascinated by WoW. Whenever she came over, she would watch me play. I would dutifully run around, maybe do some dailies or professions, and she would be absolutely spellbound. I couldn't wait until she was old enough to play with me.

Recently, she turned 11. She had progressed to leveling a character on my account, a hunter, and was surprisingly adept considering I flaked on turning on newbie hints. So I bought the games for her and started lobbying my aunt and uncle to let her play with me. Her parents were understandably concerned about online safety. They aren't familiar with WoW except through me, and there are a lot of safety issues with letting your kid play an interactive game online -- not to mention the $15 monthly fee!

Our solution was to get her a free-to-play account. Some of the restrictions placed on those accounts were close to the ones we wanted placed on her. She can't access global chat channels and can only whisper people who have her on their friends list. It also restricted the number of in-game features available to her, so she's not immediately overwhelmed (I'm looking at you, Auction House).

It's not perfect, of course. Random people can still whisper her, but she knows to tell and ask for help if someone does. Instead of the current parental controls options that only allow you to turn off RealID, I would have loved to see her interactions restricted to RealID friends only. I'm sure it'll take some creative adaptations, but it's entirely possible to create a safe, fun bubble inside WoW without ruining the game. WoW, I think, is uniquely modifiable to suit individual needs.

How do you adapt WoW to a younger audience?

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