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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.