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The Guild Counsel: How do you get your son to log off? Grief him!

Karen Bryan

If there's one deplorable aspect about online gaming, it's the raw underside of the clash between parent and child that often occurs (sometimes all too publicly) when said child has stayed on too long. Everyone under the age of 40 has no doubt heard the words "get off that computer now!" at some point in his or her development. And for those under the age of 15, there's a fair chance that those words were uploaded to YouTube for all the world to hear. I'm often in a weird position because I play games for a living, and yet I fight the daily struggle to make sure my kids grow up with a moderated experience in their gaming career. I'm not hoping to raise the next MLG pro; I just want to see them have fun both in game and out as they grow up.

But just when I think I've heard it all, along comes a story about a dad, his adult unemployed son, and the most unusual method ever of forcing his son to stop playing online games. Instead of battling out-of-game, one father in China decided to fight the battle in-game and hire players to hunt down and kill his son's avatar. It's an amazing story, but did it work? And what can we learn from this? (There has to be a lesson in there somewhere right?) Let's take a look!

According to the story, a father in China was tired of trying to convince his 23-year-old son to stop playing World of Warcraft and start seeking a job. He decided to hire players to assassinate his son's character, and he found several who were higher level than his son to carry out the task. He thought that it would cause his son to lose enjoyment of the game and give up playing. When his son logged in, his character would immediately be killed, and after several deaths, his son began to suspect something; eventually, the hired hitmen explained that his father was behind it all.

It's hard not to laugh at the thought of a father hiring assassins in WoW to kill his son's character. In fact, the only thing missing that would have made this the best story ever is if the assassins were Pandas. But gaming addiction is no laughing matter, and it's led the Chinese government to set up bootcamp-style addiction treatment centers to deal with the growing problem. And prior to 2009, treatment included shock therapy, which makes a little in-game griefing sound like a walk in the park.

There are several unanswered questions in this story. First, what's up with the son? At first glance, I would have guessed that this story was about an American college grad who majored in sustainable macrame and is now unemployable and living at home. This young adult is 23, he's healthy, and he seems fairly intelligent, according to the article. Why isn't he looking for a job? Has this kid heard of Foxconn? That threat alone would get me off my keister and hitting the pavement for a job.

Second, according to the story, the father apparently eased off once the son said he didn't care whether he was perma-killed because he wasn't looking for a job no matter what. In the article, it said the dad was relieved when his son told him that. What the heck? That's a classic gamer bluff, and the dad fell for it. When a young adult says, "I don't care," you never take him at his word because kids claim to not care about anything. But even Pierre cared at the end of the day, and gamers definitely care about their games. This dad had the perfect solution to get his son to log off, but he inexplicably let his son off the hook in the end.

The Guild Counsel  How do you get your son to log off  Grief him!
Lastly, if this guy was playing World of Warcraft non-stop, why isn't he level-capped by now? According to the story, the father found several players who were at a much higher level than his son to carry out the assassinations. So what the heck was he doing in game for all that time? For that fact alone, not only should his character die repeatedly in game, but his parents should melt down his motherboard.

But before I get too outraged, I have to say that I think this father is on to something. Those YouTube scoldings we've seen in the past might be a little embarrassing, but having your parents hire hitmen to grief the living daylights out of you is a potential nightmare. Take it a step further and imagine a scenario where your parents are actually the ones doing the griefing. Talk about the ultimate shame!

In fact, I think the gold farming industry can bounce back from the one-two punch that gaming companies have thrown at it in recent years. Gold selling and botting has caused farmers to live as virtual pariahs, but they have a second chance with this valuable and noble service. They can redeem themselves by offering new "parent-leveling" services, aimed at helping parents level up an uber character that's strong enough to take down their kid's avatar in just a few quick strikes. We've all witnessed that iconic Star Wars moment on Bespin between Luke and Darth. Vader really ruined Luke's day by defeating him in a lightsaber duel and adding insult to injury by chopping off his hand. How many of us would want to keep playing our MMO of choice if our parents (or disgruntled spouses, for that matter) constantly kicked our butts? We'd never live that down with our internet friends! No more arguing about logging off, no more threats of confiscating the computer, and no more histrionic YouTube videos of alarming family disputes over Vent. Parents can instantly get their kids to log off just by saying, "Don't make me log in my character!"

Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.

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