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 - twitter.com/demeternoth 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.