It came from the PUG: Do I look like a registered childminder?

This is not actually something that happened to me in a PUG, but to Daraxxus.

He was plugging along in a PUG and getting annoyed at a dps player who was running around and picking up mobs, asking for loot to be set to free for all (so he could grab it all) and generally being a twit. The rest of the group let him know how they feel about this. And the kicker? Later on in the instance, the actual player gets back to the keyboard and tells them that he was letting his little brother play his character, and gets upset at how the group spoke to him.

This is not the first time I’ve heard of a similar occurrence. I’ve heard of parents letting their kids play their toon in an instance while they watched, unaccompanied 9 year olds wandering the landscape, and people generally treating the game as if it was childcare.

Now here is the thing: I’m not a childcare professional, neither are most other players, and even if we were, why would we do it for free? I also can’t be responsible for what anyone in the group says to a kid when they have no way to know it was a kid. (And some people would be gits and upset the kid anyway because they don’t believe them about their age; and to make it worse, there really are people who would pretend to be 9 year olds just to annoy everyone else.)

I’m not in the business of telling other people how to bring up their children, and it’s great when families can share their hobbies. But if you let your 5 year old play in my group, then you really need to sort out your priorities. I can see how it happens – oh, little Timmy wants to play with daddy’s computer game! Well, hey, wouldn’t it be cool if he could do that and *eyes light up* I could get my frost badges at the same time? No, it would not be cool because you are abusing the trust of other players who didn’t sign up for childminding.

That is even without considering privacy issues, or grooming issues, or any of the other really great reasons why just because your child is sitting safely in their room, it does not mean that they are actually safe.

I think it would be terribly easy for a precocious 9 year old to never be outed. And I’m quite sure that they could play the game competently. But  the rest of the playerbase can barely be civil to each other. Even if they were all nice people AND registered childminders, how can they moderate what they say to a kid when they don’t even know they are talking to a minor?

There are some pretty cool MMOs which are actually aimed at kids. Games like Free Realms, Wizard 101, Club Penguin et al have a lot more protection built in and also have a much better chance of the kid to be able to meet other kids. They also tend to be much cheaper than WoW. Think about it before you decide to bring little Timmy into a heroic instance group.

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19 thoughts on “It came from the PUG: Do I look like a registered childminder?

  1. The game has a minimum age of 12. So you probably should not use any language or show any behavior inappropriate to 12 year old. Is that any different to how you should behave to a 9 year old?

    In the end it just sucks if you’re used. It doesn’t matter if it’s for taking care of a child, for having someone in your group who drops group after the boss he wants loot from is killed or for carrying a TV watching low dps.

  2. The minimum age for the game may be 12 years old, but I’m not going to dumb down my persona on the off chance that someone I’m grouping with is a minor. Raising that child is not my responsibility, it’s the parent’s. If there is a 12 year old playing, they should be monitored and probably kept out of any kind of social channel.

    The majority of folks who play Warcraft are 20+. A parent wouldn’t leave their child alone in a room with a group of adult strangers, so why leave them alone on the internet?

  3. You’d be amazed at how many WoWing parents ignore that 12 year old limit and let their kids play younger than the age limit. This bothers me.

    But then I’m childphobic.

  4. @Uzi: Try hopping on XBox Live or the PSN sometime, the hateful language that those kids can spew will comepletely justify your phobia. They take the GIFT to a whole new level.

  5. As if grouping with adults would not have enough potential to become an unpleasant experience, now they even let their kids farm for them. Oh my.

    No wonder that most people in Guild Wars restricted their group play to friends and otherwise used their heroes/henchmen and damned PUGs, which became synonymous for people quitting, bitching, being bad players and all that combined.

    Hm… the more I think about it, how comes that the supposed positive side of MMOs, interaction and playing together with other people, gets more and more frowned upon nowadays.

    • I love playing and interacting with other people. It’s just that the bad experiences make for more interesting blog posts (and to be fair, that’s kind of what I’m aiming for with these friday PUG horror stories.)

  6. You shouldn’t have to mind your language on the off chance that you’re grouped with a minor. It’s the parent’s responsibility to turn on the language filter. The filter does a good job to picking up most things. (I played with it on for ages before realizing there was a way to turn it off.)

    I don’t see the harm in letting a child play, but I don’t agree with letting the child play in a social environment. A few friends of mine let their kids “play”, but only in the loosest sense of the word.

    Some of my favourite examples:
    One friend has a 2 year old who likes to play with him. The extent of his play is randomly pressing spacebar or flapping his arms when the character gets on a flying mount.
    Another friend’s 5 year old nephew likes to just fly around and kill random mobs. So he’s convinced him to only play in Storm Peaks and to call for him if he runs into a brown dragon.
    Another friend gets his 9 year old stepson to farm for him. Fishing/Gathering/Gold/Honor Whatever he needs, he pays him by the hour and gets him to farm what he can. (I don’t understand how he gets away with this.)

  7. Just because the game says ‘suitable for ages 12 and up’ doesn’t mean that parents (or in this case, older brothers) are suddenly exempt from supervision. Especially since ALL online games today also display the warning: “Online experience not rated” or something similar. Blizzard can control the content of quests, farming, etc. The can’t control how other people behave.

    If the older brother had announced that he was going AFK for a bit and let his younger brother have a go, I think it would’ve been more acceptable, but simply letting a 5 year old have a go and later complain that people treated him like any other player…

    As a note: The language filter works quite well for American English swear words. Turn to swearing in British English, and nothing gets filtered. Bloody marvelous, if you ask me.

  8. I completely agree. After spending too much of my time taking care of people unable to take care of themselves, I’ve become somewhat harsh and had to say ‘not my problem’ a lot. It tears at the part of me that likes to help people, but I make myself step back because someone else’s kid is NOT MY PROBLEM.

  9. We have a father in our guild who lets their 11 year old son play his mage in raid sometimes. The kicker is his son has better reaction times on some fights but overall they do about the same dps. His son just never talks.

    I used to let my daughter (5 at the time) create toons and run around the starting zones…. until I saw some creep hitting on her. Not that she knew what was going on but it still upset me enough that I haven’t let her play since. I’ve been thinking about child proofing wow so that she could play around. Turning chat off, disabling certain key bindings to prevent her from taking off clothes (all her barbies are naked) etc.

    Anyway I would never let her play in a group environemnt and people who do are just asking for trouble.

  10. Sort of related:

    I raided all of BC with a rogue who was 12. He rarely talked in vent, but was really nice, and a very competent player. 9 might be a little young, and certainly is a violation of ToS (Sharing account) but I will attest that 12 year olds can be awesome.

    I’m not sure I would let my 12 year old play due to some of the things he might get exposed to, but I know they are capable. Finding an mature guild, letting them know the situation up front, blocking trade chat (is this possible?) might be steps that could make it a safe fun experience for kids ASSUMING THEY ARE CAPABLE OF PLAYING MATURELY.

    12 year old doing 800 dps in heroics though? No, I will boot.

    • Trade is 2 by default, so /leave 2 will do the trick.

      It’s bad enoguh when parents just leave their kid in front of a TV. But to stick them in a mixed-age group which may not even be aware of their age; that;s outright irresponsible. In addition to being a bad person in general for leeching off a raid. Just go /afk and be honest about it.

  11. My guess is the guy was lying about someone else playing. He knew he pushed things too far so he came up with that story to get you guys to stop “being mean”. I’ve seen that too many times to take that type of story at face value.

    As for kids in games, that’s up to the adult. I’m pretty sure I could have handled WoW at 12, but some kids can’t. One of the avid supporters of Meridian 59 said he wouldn’t let his kids play the game because it was way too rough for them. I respected his opinion and even thanked him for being a good parent.

  12. Pingback: I’d say, send in Charles Bronson « Ress me please!

  13. I agree with Brian. A 9-12 year old is not really going to be having those kind of problems especially if the game’s PUG is instance or raid centered.

    I think the kicker against your argument though is that it didn’t matter he was a kid until his brother told you. If it were an adult, honestly would it have been any less vexing if he did the same things?

  14. I use totally different rules for pugs vs playing with my guild/friends.

    In pugs I try to be polite and converse but there is rarely any time for conversation, when I encounter any kind of debauchery I have the control of … dropping group even if it means 15 mins lockout. It saves me a lot of aggravation in the end.

    On the age thing, I do know of a 9 year old in a raiding guild that I pugged with a couple of time and he can outdps and has more situational awareness than most 19 year olds… it was weird to raid with him I must admit, but his Mom was also in the raid and he was midly amusing and showed his age as much as his skills.

    I think the rules of play in dungeons needs to be as safe as possible for all that have access to the game, beyond that you can do whatever you want with your guildies… and honestly since the whole new and shinny smell has worn off the random tool, most people in our guild wait to form our own guild only “randoms.”

  15. you all need to realize that this is just a game and who cares of someone lets there kid play in ur group. i my mmos and i used to be a hard core wow player and never had a problem with someone running in a group and the person said “oh my little brother is playing.” regardless its a damn game, wipe rez and keep going u dont have to get all pissed off cuz some little kid is running around being silly. u take the games to seriously and just need to take a chill pill and just relax…….

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