Making the Game Safe For My Kids

My daughter is thirteen, and she plays WoW.  She has a toon on my account, so her playtime is severely limited.  She can’t raid with the guild because I’m online during the raids.  She only plays during off-hours, so she sees very little guild chat as few players are online with her.

For her birthday this week, a family member bought her a WoW account and is paying for it for a year.  I’ll transfer her level 80 DK from my account to her own account, and she’ll be able to play alongside me, maybe even do runs with my guild, etc…

I have no concerns about bringing her into our runs.  As the GM, I have molded the guild in a way that appeals to me.  Since I am a parent with young kids , their presence has influenced my thoughts on the guild’s culture.  A lot of the policies and playstyle that I have established previously are working in my favor here.

  1. My guild has a strict no-swearing policy.  Its been this way since I have been GM, and it has nothing to do with children.  I hate being around people who use swearing as a substitute for actual vocabulary.   I can understand people sometimes swearing in an emotional outburst.  But within the game you have to make a conscious effort to type it or press the push-to-talk button in order to share your vulgar language.  That’s not an emotional outburst – its a specific action taken to demonstrate to the other people that you know swear words.  Its inane and serves no purpose.  Since it has no purpose, all it can do is offend people or make them uncomfortable.  Therefore its prohibited.
  2. We actually enforce the profanity rule.  Lots of guilds have such rules, but officers are often reluctant to enforce them.  We make sure that every new recruit is told about it, and if there is a transgression all of the officers are serious about addressing it.
  3. Her account has the profanity filter activated (found in the game Settings).  It replaces vulgarities in chat with cartoonish symbols like &*$(*%.  It has a pretty expansive list of words that it will filter out.
  4. Communication with officers is important.  In my guild, every officer is aware of the children in the guild (we have a family guild, and several members let their kids play on occasion).  If a child is online, and the conversation starts to stray into more adult themes, then the officers can rein it in before it crosses a line.
  5. We’ve all been subjected to the “anal ___” and other moronic exchanges in the Trade channel.  My daughter’s account has Trade and General chat turned off.  To do that, type “/leave #” where # is the number of the channel you want to shut off.
  6. I am very aware of the people in the guild who like to talk about off-color topics.  Some people like to intentionally say things that are borderline offensive, just to get reactions.  This is especially true with some high school and college students (and immature adults, as well) who bring up sex or sexual innuendo frequently.  They know better than to do that while my kids are online.  If your guild has many people like that, it may not be an appropriate environment for your kids.  Either you have to find a way to control that, or don’t bring your kids into the guild.
  7. Vent (or any other voice chat application) is the hardest part of the game to monitor.  Some guilds use their vent for many different purposes, not limited to raiding.  There are people who hang out in vent all day and talk, there are people who flirt in vent or even carry out virtual affairs.  Remember that you have no idea what kind of person is behind the voice that your child is chatting with.  I wouldn’t let my daughter use vent at all at any time unless someone I trust is in the channel with her, preferably me or my wife.  We are just as strict about curtailing swearing in vent as we are in guild chat.

Not every guild wants to be like that.  Some will object, saying that they should be free to say what they want in chat and children don’t belong.  That is, of course, ridiculous.  First of all, swearing in chat is against the Blizzard ToS.  Second, its a game.  Certainly there are children in the game and its almost impossible to avoid all contact with them.

The key phrase here, that I used earlier, is guild culture.  In my guild I am the GM so I steer the culture myself.  If you are not an officer in your guild, you need to carefully gauge this before you ask to bring in your kids.  Don’t assume that people will want to change to accommodate your kids.  If your guild’s culture doesn’t support the measures I have listed, then bringing your kids in would only cause stress and resentment among the members who feel inconvenienced.

Many of the officers in my guild are parents themselves, so they don’t shy away from the responsibility of safeguarding the kids.  That’s part of my guild’s culture.  Will your guild’s officers want to police the tone of the chat when kids are online?

There are plenty of adult-only guilds out there that are made to avoid the issues that come with children.  If I were in one of those, I would not try and disrupt the guild culture by bringing in my kids.  I’d either leave the guild myself or make an alt guild where my daughter and I could play together.

Making a separate guild may be the simplest option.  If I were in a guild where children would not be tolerated, I would make a new guild, put my kids in it with some of my alts, and also invite the alts of some friends.  It would be a small, self-contained, and most importantly safe community where you and your child can play the game together.



5 Responses to “Making the Game Safe For My Kids”

  1. 1 Rochmoninoff
    November 24, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    This is a interesting topic to me.

    My daughter is 13 too.
    She was fascinated with WoW when she was 9 but isn’t interested at all now (she plays Halo3 instead – too bad for her).

    My guild has several younger players in it and I always try to treat everyone appropriately and businesslike.
    But we DON’T have the strict rules about guild chat that yours does (I wish!).
    And while people who use 4-letter words as punctuation are soundly thrashed by my guild leadership, they don’t have the same dim view of Turettes Syndrome exclamations during critical raid moments on vent (i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtvIYRrgZ04 ).
    Also some of the things said in vent make me blush.
    NOT the kind of shenanigans I want my children to take part in (they can make their own decisions when they’re adults).

    So it’s tough. A guild (like yours apparently) can select membership based on a code of behavior and maintain existing standards. But it’s impossible (?) to drive those standards after the fact if children are invited.
    The “bad actors” (as parents would think of them) instead view the parents as prudish enforcers and don’t get “the big deal”. Naturally they don’t have chilren of their own. So they feel very put upon to suddenly modify their behavior for somebody else’s “whelp”.

  2. 2 marie
    December 2, 2009 at 9:35 am

    i would certainly like to be a part of your guild. i have left several guilds because of language usage and lack of respect. there fore most players are only out for themselves and disregard the fact that new players need tender loving care while leveling. I am a senior citizen and unfortunately play a slowwer version of WOW. even tho i am at 80 rogue it is taking a tole on my self esteem as a player from the abuse i get from pug groups. Instead of players trying to see what my disappointing problems are it is better and easier to throw some unkind remarks and give me the boot.

    i am currently in a guild again all alone that was started by my family members and thru my dismay the invited players were very very illiterate potty mouths. Eventually thru vent when i would enter every one would try to reset there language. but i left them. After which they all left and moved on to other guilds themselves some have even left wow all together.
    i am currently giving all i can to deveope my dps into something that is acceptable.

  3. December 3, 2009 at 3:21 am

    I also played Wow when I am still single and I thought that I would still be playing it with my kids but I already quit because I got busy with work and taking care of my baby, I used to play games the whole day and night that’s why I can relate to Dinaer, I know that few gamers are really rude and say things that I don’t want my kid to read, now my kid is 2 and I want to also expose her to games but the safe ones, it’s a good thing that there are many game sites the provides educational games for kids. I am teaching her now to play at YourKidsClub because it teaches Math, Geography, Music and a lot more in a fun and safe environment.

  4. 4 Callate
    December 26, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Hmm, I’m really not so sure about this one. I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog, but I found this post while trolling your archives today. While I agree that swearing is overused in our culture as it is, I don’t personally find it that offensive. Sure, if people are swearing AT someone there would be a problem, but I don’t see it as an overwhelming negative force. I mean, eventually, it’ll just be a part of the vernacular. But that doesn’t mean I fully disagree with your assertation that things should be toned down in your own guild. After all, it’s your show.

    I did enjoy your point about forming a separate guild for the guild’s children and would probably do exactly that were I in the same situation. Then again, I say a lot of things that some (and I’m assuming you) would find inappropriate and don’t find myself to be overly immature nor am I just some college student. Sometimes people say things like that just because they use humor to help ease discussions into subjects that they want to discuss. Just remember that it’s not always as you think it is. Those are people behind all the crazy ampersands and dollar bill signs.

    • 5 Badshot
      June 10, 2010 at 9:35 am

      Wow, great blog!

      I found you via Wow.com (my favorite WoW blog).

      I too am GM of a Large (300+ accounts/480+ toons) Casual, Family-Friendly, Social, Leveling and Sometime Raiding guild on Frostmane (Horde), US, Symbol of Aggression. What makes us unique on Frostmane is our Non-Vulgar Guild chat.

      I also have young children who play. I am currently RaFing with my 9 yr old daughter! She earned her Celestial Pony yesterday when she reached level 60! Amazingly, she likes PvP/Battle Grounds more than questing! Affliction Warlock, what do you expect!

      Anyways, I and the guild officers STRONGLY enforce our non-vulgar guild chat. It seems to have worked, we appear to have collected the majority of like minded players on our server! The rest routinely troll us in trade chat, whispers (“you guys can *&&$#$ my mother’s **&$*%”), guid invites (“ha, ha, I got in…you guys can 5%$## my mother’s $##%%%$#…”), etc. Funny but I am always polite to other players, even if they disagree with my guild’s playstyle. Anyways, love your blog and happy to see a fellow Family Friendly Guild prospering in the WoW/Interweb Trade Chat culture.

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