Tuesday, 1 November 2011

On the importance of experience.

This post concerns a principle that I have long stood by and believe to be central to my enjoyment of Azeroth. That principle, or rule, if you like, is that in the current guild I'm in we do not accept anyone who is under 18 years of age. However it has recently been brought to my attention that we have someone considerably younger than that in the guild, and I took the decision that I could no longer remain an officer if that was the case. Before there is a cry of people exclaiming that I'm over-reacting, let me explain a little about the reasoning behind this decision.

I am a fully-developed and some may say "worldly" woman. At 33 I have been around long enough to know the difference between flirting, harassment and stalking. I am an adult with all that entails, the good and the bad. I am able to joke about the more serious topics of life without hurling derogatory terms or words which are so unsavoury they cause offence. I can say fuck, cunt, bugger, arsehole and use them in general terms and without resorting to 'raping the opposing faction' or 'fisty-up-to-the-wristy'. I will talk about sexual practices and beating up the opposition, but to an adult ear, I don't think I'm particularly offensive, if you want to find out you can just follow me on twitter where I get most of my ranting/dirty thoughts out - and please do tell me if I'm offensive!

I am also fully aware that terms like the above shouldn't be used in front of young teenagers who, frankly, are probably so busy wanking and watching porn they have had no time to develop respect for each other, never mind themselves. You see there is a way to have fun, to be rude/dirty/swear, without crossing a line, whilst still showing that you respect yourself and those around you. The kind of experience that you need to know where the line is only comes with life experience.

In a community like Azeroth there is room for everyone, but there must be some responsibility taken for those younger members of that community. If they happen to be within your guild, then as an officer, you must take that responsibility. I'm afraid this is not something I am willing to commit to. I have in the past been in a 'family friendly' guild where we had a 9pm watershed for the more profane talk. It worked, up to a point. When I found myself leading a raid team with two 15/16 year olds in it I was mortified. I am an incorrigible flirt. I can't help it. It does not mean I am interested in you. It's far more self-centred than that as it is chiefly about me boosting my own ego and getting some attention. So when I found out that these 'men' were 15/16 I felt disgusted with myself. Would I walk up to a group of teenagers in the street and say those things? No I would not. I'd be far too embarrassed and concerned of any untoward repercussions. I am still horrified at the thought and it has curbed my behaviour somewhat in Azeroth towards people I don't know yet and haven't placed on the 'Deme's Dirty Talk Scale'.

Imagine though if the above scenario happened and a parent had read what I'd said or overheard me on mumble, and what I thought was a silly, throw away comment, they view in a less savoury light. I'm a 33 year old woman, their likely reaction may be to think that I'm just a 'sad lonely old cow', because unfortunately predatory older women aren't taken that seriously, although they do exist. Let's reverse it then, what if I was a 33 year old man talking to your son or daughter in a way you thought was alarming? Puts a different perspective on it somewhat doesn't it. How would you feel if you were an officer in a guild where this happened?

For me, this is not about age. The numbers I've banded around help to demonstrate the point. At age 18, you are legally considered an adult in the United Kingdom. The guild I am in is on an English speaking server and the GM has always been a UK resident. Therefore we follow UK law on the 'coming of age'. This does not mean that there are not 14,15 or hell, even 13 year olds who act with  more maturity than older members of the guild. But those minors do not have the same level of life experience. It's impossible for them to have it. They do not understand the jokes and can very easily a) misinterpret things and b) find themselves in a situation they are not comfortable in, or c) make an uncomfortable situation for others. At 18, if they have that life experience or not (one would hope that have had a little bit more by then!), the law recognises them as an adult and they have to accept responsibility for their own actions, so if they wind up in a situation they are not happy with, they should have the confidence to get out of it. By my age, you learn how to tailor what you say to the be age-appropriate. With our friends we talk about our daily lives with colloquial language and curse-terms. With our parents and grand-parents we show respect by substituting those curse words and language for something more formal and with those younger than us we don't talk about pussy and cock or violent images because we're attempting to protect their innocence for as long as possible. It's not the age that teaches you that, you don't magically wake up at 30 and know what to do with your life. Your experience of the world and the mistakes you make teach you where the line is, as a young teenager you can not possibly know all of that, no matter what childhood you've had.

I have had experience in Azeroth of so-called adults behaving in ways which were creepy, upsetting and in one instance down-right scary. As adults, those people have to take responsibility for their actions and as an adult victim of them, we should be aware of the channels we can use to stop their behaviour. Would a 13/14/15 year old  know to do that? Would they be able to report another player who was making them feel uncomfortable? Would they even have the confidence to do it or the knowledge to know that the behaviour was unacceptable? I know I didn't at 13 and at 13 you're still protected by your parents at home, by teachers at school. Who protects you in Azeroth if your guild won't?

If your guild has a full, open and appropriate application process, that you can point to, that clearly states there is a lower age limit, if everyone who joins the guild has to fill out an application, then you have nothing to worry about. If the minor (for in the eyes of the law that is what someone under 18 is), lies on the application, you have no method of knowing that but you have at least covered your arse.

If your guild allows minors, then as an officer you have a duty of care towards those minors. You also have to ensure that the rest of the guild are aware of how the guild operates and also acts in a suitable fashion. You have to instigate some rules to protect those minors.

I think it boils down to 2 things -

  • Protection - of the minor, of the guild and for me.
  • Enjoyment - knowing everyone is safe to enjoy the game as themselves. That means safe from repercussions because everyone knows where the line is and safe from less-than-pleasant people. 

As you can see I'm quite passionate about this so I may well be rambling and not making myself clear. I've tried to distil it down to these points and to use my experiences to show why I believe having an 18+ rule and sticking to it is important. This is hopefully to show that I'm not just belly-aching and whining, "just because". But you know what? Maybe it is "Just because". Warcraft is a game to be enjoyed and I shouldn't have to feel that I can't be myself when I play it. I had 6 years of being a shadow of myself. Warcraft and the lovely people who I met there showed me I could be myself again and I'm damned if I'll let anyone stop me now. So, because I won't take that responsibility in guild to protect a minor, because I want to be able to be myself and not censor what I'm saying in /g, I don't feel I can represent the guild and do what I was doing in the guild before, so I've resigned as an officer. I'm sure some feel that this is walking away from a situation that really I should have stood my ground on and been willing to protect this minor. That by resigning I'm doing nothing but open the flood gates and leave this person without protection. My answer is as above, I'm in Azeroth to have fun. I was an officer with just enough responsibility to keep me interested in the role but not so much that I felt it was a tough job, which was the perfect balance. However, when that role means that I can not enjoy the game as I want to, one thing has to go and of course, an officers place is easier to relinquish than the friends, fun and experiences I've yet to make, to have and to enjoy.


  1. Sounds like drama to me.

    My son is 12 and plays in our guild, which is a very adult guild (30, 40, even a 60 something). If the child is hidden away from such things, then it gives them more reason to go search it out. We have been open with our child, and explain what terms mean...or innuendos, if you will..

    All this has led to our son being top tier in his class, and above grade student, with a vocabulary that exceeds even high school norms.

    So, you can either create drama, or accept the fact this child (teenager) has accepted this guild, and let them decide what is too much...because, really what are all these words, but letters someone put together to represent an act or object that EVENTUALLY this kid will figure out anyways.

  2. I specifically chose to post on my blog about it in the hope that it would avoid some drama occurring in guild.

    Imho, a 12 year old playing in the same guild as their parents is considerably different from one playing in a guild with a known 18+ rule without their parents.

    I've been in guilds with youngsters as I said, and at the time I was perfectly happy with the situation, I went into the guild knowing that to be the case. The policy in my current guild seems to have shifted slightly away from what it was and since I am the only one 'creating drama' it's not right for me to stay in a position of leadership when I feel so strongly against it.

    I still like my guildies, I still LOVE my guild as a whole so I don't see the point in /gquitting over this. I believe I've stood by my principles and that's what matters to me. If someone else wants to make drama out of it, then that's their decision. Part of being me is ranting/venting every now and then and I wouldn't be true to myself if I had sugar-coated how I felt about this.

  3. I kind of see the opposite to Elementalistly - although I understand what they're saying. The thing is is that their child is in the same guild as them, they have a good idea of what they're doing, what they're being exposed to, and how to react and they will undoubtedly be viewed as having responsibility for their child.

    When we were banging out guild rules, we opted for an over-18 if possible, although it also depended on the strength of the applicant. Self-protection was a strong part of that decision. For our atmosphere, and for ourselves. While it's unlikely to happen, in the worst case scenario, it only takes one annoyed child to lie to their parents about something to cause some serious potential issues.

    I can understand why you're resigning, and appreciate where you're coming from - but the question I'd be asking is how did they get into the guild in the first place - and why are they still there? Because someone has seriously bent the guild rules. Either the child themselves, in which case they've lied to the guild, or people have allowed the rules to be bent. And THAT will be just as much of an issue in the long run.

  4. @nowiamtree In my blind passion I'd not even thought of that. /catamongstthepigeons.

    I realise that this topic can raise passions for lots of people, even within my own little world my partner and I have discussed this tonight and there are huge questions around how you approach this topic based on all sorts of experiences, beliefs, ways of enjoying Azeroth and so on. This post is just my view, it might not resonate with you, or it might, or it might bring up some questions for you. I don't post on topics to cause drama or be deliberately controversial, I just say what I feel and sometimes that appears in a slightly ramshackle unedited fashion.

  5. I was in a guild with several members that participated in conversation of the more bawdy sort - nothing derogatory (we had very strict rules about that) but definitely explicit. We didn't particularly think it wise to discuss the philosophy of which participant has the power in the act of a blow job in front of the children... so we moved to a private chat channel. That worked for a while, but doesn't cover the verbal bantering and left a conversation divide in the guild that made communication a little difficult.

    I fully agree with people not wanting to be put in a situation where they have to act as an example for someone else's kids - especially non-supervised children.

    Outside of the game I avoid children as much as possible. I didn't sign up to be a parent or a caretaker and am not interested in being a rolemodel. That is as much our decision and right as it is for parents to protect their kids from people like me. =D

  6. I agree with what you wrote. I found myself in a somewhat similar situation some time back. Not in a guild mind, but in world PvE. I'm an AH maven to some extent, and do quite well at it. Consequently, I'm usually quite flush with gold on my main, and my alts too. As I enjoy the interaction with others in the game world, I will often help out players in less fortunate circumstances just because I can. It helps them get ahead, and it feels good to do someone a good turn. Sometimes it is something as simple as buffing a lowbie right before they get off the zeppelin. Sometimes it's passing out free enchants at the AH because I'm trying to lvl my enchanting. Anyway, I was running around on a an alt I was leveling out in pre-Cata Tanaris one day, when I ran into a toon around the same level as my alt who was running the same quest lines. We decided to group up to speed things along. We did very well together, and it was a big help to have someone to work with. So, when my group-mate happened to mention how hard he'd been saving up so he could buy his first mount, I went ahead and tossed him the gold to cover it. Later on, another character joined our little group. Imagine my surprise to find out that it was my original group-mates father, and that the original group-mate was only 11 yrs old. To put things in perspective, I'm a late 40s male. I could just imagine what the kid's father might have been thinking, and I thanked my lucky stars that I had (as usual) kept my conversations "G-rated". Still, it did make me look further into things before grouping after that.


Keep it clean or face my army.