Sunday, February 20, 2011

I love Sundaes...

Really, I do!  My favorite is a hot fudge sundae with almost any kind of ice cream.

I think Sunday posts are going to be reserved for random topics related to World of Warcraft.  This week I want to discuss WoW and children.  I have 2 boys who both know about WoW.  The eldest child has been playing World of Warcraft for over a year now.  The younger is not old enough to read and write just yet, but he enjoys watching the cartoonish characters running around the computer.

I do not have a problem with children playing WoW, I just believe that it is up to the parents to set up the guidelines for playing.  Outside of the game, the child needs to be given a set of expectations in order to play any game.  For example, the child's priority is to do well in school.  If his grades are not where they should be, then no games until he can get those grades back up.  Some basic life skills are also necessary in order to play, like the ability to read and write.  I did not let my son play until he demonstrated to me that he could read consistently higher elementary reading materials.

Before allowing your child to play any game, the parents should also know the relative maturity level of the child.  I do not mean that the child needs to be ready for adulthood, but rather the child should be able to handle varying situations.  Some children are frightened easily by certain images or creatures you might find in the game.  My son discusses with me about the fantasy aspect of WoW and movies all the time, so I knew he would not have a problem seeing the Forsaken characters, for example. 

Mainly because WoW is such a rich fantasy world, my boys often ask questions about events in the game and can more readily relate them to the real world.  One question that came up was about why there were two factions.  The discussion moved along to some lore discussion about the Horde vs. the Alliance and why each side thought the way they did.  My son drew his own conclusion that it was similar to governments of different countries which unite for a common purpose.  (Bright kid.... and I am proud to say he gets it all from his Mom!)

In game, parents have as much control over what their children see as they want.  Blizzard provides an entire support section devoted to setting up parental controls.  Parents can set up limits on play time, chat in game, and even reports sent to the parent's email on play time.  As much as we would like to have the game keep our kids safe, it is the responsibility of the parent to make sure the child has a safe environment to play in.  We have talked many times about what is appropriate to talk about with other people in the game.  We also talked about the importance of not sharing important information that could get the account stolen, or worse.

Currently, my son is not playing much WoW.  He occasionally does low level pvp battles, but has focused his available playtime on Starcraft 2.  He saw several live stream games during Blizzcon last year and wanted to get the game.  We asked him how he planned on getting it.  On his own, he figured out how to save enough money and purchase the game by himself over the course of a few months.  I think this tells me enough that I need to know about his maturity and ability to play games at his age.

Thank you for checking out my Sundae with my kids edition of the long,strange blog...

Now its time for me to clean before the in-laws come for a visit...

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