Why I don’t think I’ll play Age of Conan

When Everquest was released in March of 1999, I was just 10 months away from the birth of my daughter. She’s grown up with me playing mmorpg’s, and she’s always been involved. Whether it was just sitting on my lap and watching me play DAoC (and maybe hitting the space bar during long horse rides and dismounting me in the middle of frickin’ nowhere) or creating her own characters in WoW and learning how to play a litle, she and I have enjoyed gaming together.

As much as I’m curious about Conan, and given that I usually at least TRY most of the major mmorpg’s released, I think Conan is going to get skipped. Here’s why. I don’t play games with excessive blood when she’s around. Sure, there’s violence in the other mmorpg’s, but I avoided that part of the game when she was younger. Now that she’s older, and a thoughtful and sensitive kid, it’s a good opportunity to talk about violence in the world, competition, human history, etc.

Maybe it’s just a prudish side that I didn’t realize I had, but I feel like I can explain sanitized violence in a way that helps her understanding of the world, while excessive blood and gore crosses a line for me. It’s probably contradictory, but there ya go. Maybe it’s a decision everyone has to make for their own family, but I don’t feel like Conan would be a game that I’d want to be playing in my house, and have to say to her “Sorry, but I can’t let you watch”. I like the fact that we game together, and we can talk about it. I don’t want to shut her out of that.

Plus there’s the whole topless thing πŸ™‚

Does anyone else with a child find themselves considering this aspect of AoC? Or am I either

a) the only one too prudish to expose my kid to blood and gore, or
b) crazy for even letting her see me kill orcs in WoW, anyway?


11 Responses

  1. I think it’s a very valid point. I think that aspect of AoC will be a dealbreaker for many, just like it might be a feature for others.

    Just be sure your daughter understands that the mass murder in WoW for questing purposes is not real life πŸ™‚

  2. a) No, you are not the only one, and you’re not prudish. Even though video game violence doesn’t inevitably lead to real-life violence, there’s still an issue of good taste. AoC has been designed to appeal to people who like to see more realistic gore, and that’s just tasteless, in my view (old gamer mom).

    b) Kids mimic their parents’ attitudes (until they hit 12 or 13, hehe). What is she learning by watching you play WoW? Hopefully patience, helpfulness (to other players), etc. She can also learn if you explain to her about the lines you draw, i.e., if you say, that’s too gory, I’m not watching. Kids understand “make believe”, that’s why they like cartoons, but ugly images can stay in the memory for a long time.

  3. What is she learning by watching me play WoW? Well, she learned how to do basic addition in WoW, or at least practiced it regularly. We counted coppers and silver for buying dresses at the auction house. She was 5 and 6 when that was going on. She wasn’t old enough to understand budgeting yet, but I would give her a spending limit for her characters, and she knew how to log in my characters and send her characters gold. I was always a little nervous about that, but she never bought items that were beyond her limit. I hope I’m that lucky when she’s a teenager!

    She would also have fun with emotes, and I treated it as a chance to help her learn how to spell, and how to read. It wasn’t the only place we read (we read together every night before bed, usually at least a half hour), and it also wasn’t the only place we talked about math and numbers, but it’s a great secret way to teach a kid when they wouldn’t want to sit down and work on a ditto πŸ™‚

    She rarely grouped, and only if I was right there, and I’d tell the person who invited her that she was only 6 or 7 or whatever, and she’d probably just follow them around. Some people got it, some people just disbanded, but the social interaction part of WoW wasn’t our main focus.

    I think that she learned her way around a computer, and learned about interfaces, and I’m hoping those lessons stick with her. I want her to be comfortable exploring programs or interfaces or entire 3D worlds when she encounters them in school.

    Because WoW and DAoC were fairly sanitized, I could put violence in context. we’re vegetarians, and when she asked why we might be hunting animals, I could teach her about how humans evolved, what we did before supermarkets, how to be respectful of nature. We also had lots of talks about why different factions fight, and what possible compromises might be possible in real life, or even in virtual worlds. I could introduce topics like diplomacy, politics, negotiations, and history, all by telling stories when we ran into NPC’s. She couldn’t tell us how the U.S. State Department works, or how the British Empire operated in the 19th century, but she’s been introduced to the basic ideas. Maybe when they start to cover those things in school, she’ll learn it a bit faster, and it might stick with her a little more.

    Thanks for the response!

  4. Aww, now I want to read more about it! I cannot have children, so I feel like it’s kind of a vicarious thing, reading about what your daughter has learned. I’d love to have you write more on the topic, though I know it might be a bit off-course for the blog. πŸ™‚

    (Oh, and don’t feel bad or sorry for me — it’s okay, I’ve come to terms and all that a long time ago, so I don’t really feel sad or deprived or whatever. I just love reading about parents who actually parent, and who are raising up tomorrow’s responsible, smart citizens. We need more of them, because the world is too full of non-parenting morons raising tomorrow’s entitlement-minded jerks.)

  5. That is so sweet, you playing with her like that! My son is 16 and would be embarrassed to death if I tried to play WoW with him– I had to play on another server, hehe. Still, the computer is in the living room, so I can look over his shoulder now and then, just to show that I care about what he’s doing. I quit WoW for LotRO last October; we talk about and compare the two games often.

    He wants to get AoC. I’m nervous about the violence, possibly the nudity. (I’ve taken him to see European films, some with nudity, but not the exploitative type.) I suppose we will try it for a time, in order to be able to make an informed decision. He doesn’t really like R-rated movies, although he has seen a few with his friends, so maybe he won’t like AoC (or I’m deluding myself).

    Mallika, I do feel sorry for you. Raising kids is the most enjoyable way to grow your own soul, and you sound like you would be a good mom. Now we’ve hijacked Rick’s blog πŸ™‚

  6. Mallika, I don’t think this blog HAS a course! I’m sure I’ll be talking more about what my daughter is playing, and what we’re playing together. I’ve always enjoyed the camaraderie of games, online or offline, and playing with another generation lets me see the world through their eyes a little. Their wonder and imagination takes me back to when I was a kid, and I love that.

    Philodendron, I’m waiting for the day where my daughter tells me that playing games together isn’t cool. I hope I’ve got five or six years left before that happens! I’m sure it’ll come full circle, though. I’m curious what 30 years will bring. Will there be three generations in a group? Will I meet her friends online before I meet them in real life?

    “Dad, do you want a granddaughter or a grandson?”
    “I don’t have a preference, honey, as long as they can manage aggro.”

    I think you’re making the right choice with AoC for your son. At 16, I was able to make my own choices about violence and nudity (I didn’t enjoy the violence, but I was a big fan of the nudity, of course. I was 16!). I think I would have benefited from my parents being a little more present when those subjects came up. They pretty much left it to me to figure things out (my dad gave me a book to read about the birds and the bees, and told me to ask him if I had questions. I told him he could ask me if HE had questions. We didn’t really talk about it again). Being able to talk about AoC with you will go a long way toward helping him have normal reactions to the world outside, instead of feeling like he’s got to hide his interests.

    Feel free to hijack the comments any time, I’ve enjoyed your contributions πŸ™‚

  7. This is funny.. I am twelve and I play wow, although I am a newbie >.> I used to play everquest2 but left because i found wow had better roleplaying and solo play. This is kinda cool to read about parents talking about how they play MMOs with their kids… my parents cant even check emails without my help. I found this searching for AoC to see if there was any way to get around nudity and gore so I could play, but sadly there isnt… and it makes me angry that the most exited MMO out is not available for children to play. I understand wanting to keep out the kids on wow that would prefer running around toppless and screaming to the heavens “need gold plz” but it isnt that fair to the majority of us.

  8. Hiya Jacob. Yeah, it’s never fair when kids who know how to handle themselves are labeled too young because of their age. There’s plenty of stuff on TV, in movies, and in magazines in stores that’s probably going to be as bad or worse than AOC, but games are the new technology, so they’re still getting watched pretty closely.

    And part of that is because some parents didn’t grow up with games. My parents are like yours (except mine are 70), they can barely surf the web and check email. They can’t comprehend an online world, or why we find it more fun than television.

    I guess talking to your parents is out of the question? I know I’d be hesitant if my daughter was 12, but I’m guessing that’s pretty much the age kids are thinking about these things anyway, even if they’re not acting on them yet. It’s tricky. As an adult, I’ve got to say that I think caution is the best path, but I do remember being younger and feeling things like this are unfair. It’s just that age is the easiest way to measure someone’s ability to handle various things. No one’s saying it’s the best way, though.

    I have to say, though, I wouldn’t have guessed you’re 12 by your comment. It’s thoughtful and well written. Don’t worry too much about AoC, you’ve got decades of good gaming in front of you. Think about that next time you talk to some smug 40 year-old who’s bragging he can play AoC…just imagine the cool games you’ll be playing when you’re 50 and he’s dead πŸ˜‰

  9. Talking to my parents would be possible but okward.. I mean what would anyone think? A twelve year old boy telling his mom he wants to play a game not because of the topless women but the gameplay? I mean it’s true but most people can’t see things that way.

    Yeah that’s the reaction I get alot. Sometimes after I’ve known someone in a game for a while and the connversation comes to age, I reveal my age and they are shocked, usually thinking that I am in my late teens or early twenties. But, online, grammar and spelling are one of the only ways to portray yourself as an intelligent, mature, and worth-while human.

    You make a good point there, and I am still exited and optimistic about games such as Darkfall. But Age of Conan will be a big loss. Even if the game had a toggle for nudity, you cannot get around the sexual quests and NPCs.

  10. I really don’t understand Funcom’s reasoning about going the mature route. They’re not only cutting out people your age, they’re also cutting out the family audience as well. I’m not the only person my age who plays AoC in the living room while other family members are around. It doesn’t make a lot of sense.

    Warhammer is violent, but sanitized a little more. The graphic violence just cuts down your audience.

    We’ll see how their subscribers numbers hold up, if the game is stable and fun. I guess if you planned to limit your audience that way, and budgeted for reduced subscribers, you can still be successful. Maybe it’s a good way to distinguish yourself in an increasingly crowded market. Time will tell, I guess.

  11. I am looking forward to Darkfall alot for this reason, but still AOC like… IS coming out, yet no news for darkfalls release, so this is a real downer. I think alot of developers look at three age groups personally, the small children (5-8) the teens (13-17) and the adults (18+) but games almost never come out focused at the preteens (9-12), us kids stuck between two worlds. Now not only haven’t I sene many games at all for my age group, i think too many games are focused on age groups at all. WoW is so successfu because anyone can play and enjoy it. AOC may be successful becaise its taking just about every adult player to it, but that’s the only community they will have. If the word about darkfall egts out, and it is all its said to be (and from what it’s said it is alot cooler then conan) i think it will be the winner.

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