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Posts with tag parenting

10 things I learned from playing WoW with my 7 year old

10 things I learned from playing WoW with my 7 year old
I took advantage of one of the many Blizzard sales to get The Spawn's account up to date through Cataclysm a few months ago. We made a pandaren duo together and played through the Wandering Isle, choosing Horde, my faction of choice. This is the first time playing together when she's been able to read the quests without my help, so she's a real partner instead of a tagalong. The experience has been illuminating.

The title of this article is kind of misleading, because some of these things I already knew, but "10 things playing with my daughter illuminated for me but I already knew, they just weren't at the forefront of my mind" is a bit unwieldy. Regardless, here they are:

  1. Sprites are scary. Anne Stickney had pointed this out before, but I didn't really get it until playing with The Spawn. After being swarmed by them and dying, I had to play her character in order to get her through a particular questline. It's all OK now. No nightmares. It could have turned into another Raving Rabbids incident -- she still fears them in her sleep. That was a big video game fail on my part. (It's the screaming.)

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

How 5 minutes AFK cost one WoW player 476,000 gold

How 5 minutes AFK cost one WoW player 476,000 gold
We've all been there: leaving World of Warcraft running on our computers while we've run off to grab a soda or take a bio break. However, most of us return to find our characters safe and sound just as we left them. Not so for WoW-player 1104, who returned to his desk to find that most of his 476,000 gold was missing in action. The culprit? His 6-year-old son, who went on a pet shopping spree, picking up the rarest -- and priciest -- pets on the auction house.

It could have been worse, of course: clearing out gold isn't nearly as bad as clearing out a real life bank account, as kids have done accidentally with in-app purchases in mobile games. But still, getting half-way to the gold cap is nothing to sneeze at -- it represents a lot of time and effort, if nothing else.

So what's a WoW-playing parent to do? 1104 couldn't really blame his son, but does think this might be a sign that it's time to walk away from WoW. On the flip side, he could also take up pet collecting: he's bound to be off to a great start!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

5 chat safety tips for young players

5 chat safety tips for young players
It's winter break. The Spawn is seven years old and home for three weeks. She wants to go swimming, have playdates, check out books from the library, play Zelda Windwaker, and collect pets in World of Warcraft. The first four are easy -- there are already safety nets in place. But now I have to get her WoW account safe for little, reading eyes.

  1. Get the Bunny Censor add-on. I'm going to do other things to protect her from chat, but just in case anything gets through, it's hard to be traumatized by "Bunny you!"
  2. Have the talk. Don't talk to anyone. Don't join groups. Be considerate. See Penny Arcade for an excellent depiction of what we parents have to go through in this day and age.
  3. Leave all public chat, especially Trade and General. The command is /leave and then the channel number. So to leave trade chat for most people, type /leave 2.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

How do you balance game and family?

This post has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

No matter your walk of life, we all have time management challenges. Within that spectrum, there are the most fortunate who have personal assistants to manage their next nose hair removal appointment, to those dealing with significant life-and-death issues that none of us would ever want to contemplate. However, within the WoW community, there is a sizeable portion of us who are full-time working parents. Gone are my early college days (early '90s, egad!) when I used to slack off and play MUDs (Valhalla, anyone?) all night long without a care in the world ... I could always blow off a class or two and still pass.

With kids, it's a completely different ballgame. Not only do young children demand your attention after you get home from a long day at work, it's your responsibility to spend quality time with them. Make them a healthy dinner, read books with them, play games, go outside for a walk, give them a bath, watch a ballgame with them. These are precious moments that I savor. However, this added responsibility can add a lot of stress. It's therapeutic to expunge it when we actually have a free moment. Gaming is one of my releases. I feel fortunate that I can actually squeeze in two raiding nights a week, but that's it for me. With raiding, there is a schedule that my wife and family are comfortable with. It's how I choose to prioritize my WoW goals. I can't run heroics. Dailies, yeah, right -- it's either bath time, a tee ball game, or we need to rush our toddler to the doctor because his diaper is full of purple poo. Stay out of the purple poo, BTW.

As a parent, how do you prioritize in-game goals?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Do your kids play WoW with you?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

My 10-year-old son is quickly becoming a World of Warcraft junkie (can't imagine where he gets that from ...). He has two characters, a gnome mage and a tauren warrior. He hasn't managed to level either of them past 13, but that doesn't bother him in the least. He runs from capital to capital, fishing, riding the zeppelin or Deeprun Tram, hooking up with whichever relative is "lucky" enough to be on at that moment and even occasionally completing a quest. My brother, brave fellow that he is, actually took my son for a run through Ragefire Chasm. I still haven't heard the end of that. I confess to sometimes using his WoW obsession for nefarious purposes -- it makes a great reward for chores or homework well done!

If you have kids, do you let them play WoW? What types of characters do they play? Do you find it necessary to take any precautions? What limits do you set? Whether you do or you don't, what is your reasoning behind it? Are you concerned that they might fall in with a "rough crowd?" Do you love the idea of teaming up with your kiddo to take on Erudax? Are your kids in your guild? Chime in, all you WoW parents out there!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Drama Mamas: The case of the underage scammer

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

It's always more interesting when Lisa and I disagree. This week is very interesting. Let's get right to it.
So... Here's my story. The first part is probably pretty typical, but it's what I did in response that I'm conflicted about. I feel I could use the advice of someone who understands WoW.

I saw somebody advertising in trade that he was selling the ruby shades for 500g. I'm not sure why I thought even for a second that it might be real; even on a low-pop server, that's two orders of magnitude low. But I did, so I arranged to meet with the "seller". He expressed some hesitation about the 500g price and we negotiated a higher price - none of which turned out to matter, since it quickly became clear that he did not have the shades at all. At one point he put an item with the same icon as the shades (yes, I have seen the real ones) into the trade box.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

Drama Mamas: When NSFW guild chat aggros a parent


Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

We are planning a special Drama Mamas that talks about the results of our advice -- good or bad. Some of our letter writers have responded in the comments, but we'd love to hear from more of you. If you have had your letter answered here and would like to be included, please send us an email at DramaMamas@wow.com letting us know how your situation turned out.

Now on to this week's letter:
Last Saturday night very late in the evening and pushing into the early morning, our guild chat erupted into the usual filthy conversation as drunk people came home and got online, and those of us that were online slackened our usual standards to join in. However, this time, one of the guild members exploded after about half an hour of this, claiming that her 12-year-old child was on, that we had scarred him for life and ruined his childhood. I helpfully pointed out that perhaps she was not being the best parent for allowing her young child to be playing the game very late at night with an unfiltered chat box -- not the best move I have ever made.

This has now blown up to the point where I have left a guild I was very happy in to attempt to ease the obvious grief that the guild leaders were getting from this person. Unfortunately, this has not stopped it, as many of the guild members who were involved are still arguing about the situation and are disappointed that I have left. This guild member is now going to report us all to Blizzard and attempt to get us all banned from the game permanently. I was hoping for a neutral view on this.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

WoW, Casually: Sick and tired

Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.

I'm crabby. I'm crabby because I'm sick. This snowballs into being crabby because nothing is comfortable and crabby because I'm not spending as much time completing the holidays as I would like and crabby because I can't seem to get enough sleep. I'm also crabby because the rest of my family is crabby because they're sick too. Crabby!

So this week, instead of consulting The List, I am going to crabbily give tips for playing sick and/or sleep deprived. This advice will be good for new parents, those suffering from this evil cold my family has, and those that are trying to squeeze some play in between long work/study sessions. I bet it will help other situations, too. I don't know. I don't care. See above for why.

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Filed under: WoW, Casually

WoW, Casually: Playing WoW with your teen

Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.

Last year, I talked about playing with preschoolers and reading-age children. Several months later, I'd like to continue the series by tackling the topic of teens. I'm now tempted to talk in tantalizing alliteration, but I really can't keep it up. Anyway...

Teens provide a completely different challenge than the young children we've discussed before. Teens are already extremely competent readers, experience Trade Chat-like talk in school on a regular basis and have the coordination skills required to fully play the game. So they don't need the coddling and constant supervision, but that doesn't mean that the benefits of parents playing with teens aren't just as valuable.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW, Casually

Teen runs away to meet older WoW soulmate [Updated]

Before we delve into this story, I just want to say that everything turned out alright. No Canadian laws were broken. No authority figures taking advantage of underage people in their care. The teenager is home safe and his online lover is allowed to return home whenever she likes. Here are the facts:
  • A 16 year old boy in Ontario had an online affair with a 42 year old mother of four in Texas.
  • They met in WoW, but much of the affair took place in MSN chat.
  • The parents knew of the relationship for over a year.
  • The boy told the woman that he was 20.
  • The consenting age in Ontario, Canada is 16.
  • The boy had a history of addiction to WoW, had seen a counselor and was given computer privileges again as a reward for good behavior.
  • She came to visit him for the Christmas holidays and asked him to meet her in a hotel.
  • He asked his parents for permission. They said no.
  • He snuck out at 2 am and went to her anyway.
  • The parents and local authorities made a plea to the public for his safe return.
  • The boy and woman were spotted together in public two days later and brought in.
  • Again, the boy is home safe and the woman is not being charged with anything in Canada.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items

WoW, Casually: Playing with your reading-age child


Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.

Since I last wrote about playing with preschoolers, I have been having an extremely rewarding time playing Itchee with The Spawn. The benefits to both of us are even greater than I originally wrote about. I find that my Itchee time is making me appreciate all of my WoW time even more. Nurturing my child while enjoying my limited playtime is a win-win situation.

It's particularly nice to have this indoor activity to do together with the nasty heatwave we are having in the real world. And that leads me to something I want to address before we get into the guide for playing with reading-age children:

These guides are for parents who have made the educated decision to include WoW as one of the indoor activities to participate in with their children.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW, Casually

WoW, Casually: Playing with your preschooler


Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.

In the comments for Drama Mamas, Orkchop asked about tips for playing WoW with his 3 year old daughter. Since, as he put it, this is more of a Mama question than a drama question and I also have a 3 year old daughter, I thought I'd create a guide for playing WoW with preschoolers. Parents have limited playtime due to their family priorities -- not necessarily because they don't want to play as much as the more hardcore players. So mixing parental duties and leisure time is efficient as well as rewarding.

The question some of you may ask is, "Should children that young play video games?" And the answer is not just "yes", but "Yes!" At the beginning of this year, I spent some time working with getting my daughter comfortable with the computer, concentrating on mouse manipulation and keyboard movement while playing many of the free preschool-age video games out there. Within a week, she was reading words like "Play" and "Skip" and navigating through Nick Jr.'s site to her favorite radio station, which she listens to while playing with her toys. The freely available games on sites like PBS Kids have really improved many of her developmental skill sets and her computer skills are now better than most of her grandparents'. Of course, now I'm having to closely monitor her computing time, lest I be subjected to fart videos from YouTube... again.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW, Casually

Is it time for age restricted servers?


Anyone who has been playing WoW for a bit knows that this game is unique in that both adults and children can enjoy it at the same time. Indeed this duality can be considered one of the best features of the game. How often can you sit down with your son or daughter and truly enjoy the same video game? Besides the amazing adventures of Dora The Explorer, other kid friendly games like Disney Online's Toon Town and Club Penguin just don't provide the same level of enjoyment for adults and their children. (What's the game in Dora, you ask? Assisting her in finding the red berries or yelling at Swiper. See this not-safe-for-work Kevin Smith YouTube excerpt for an explanation.)

However with that in mind, there are some compelling arguments that its due time for World of Warcraft to get a few age restricted servers.

For starters, take a look at what Second Life has done. They're a pretty successful venture, and have a lot of parallels to MMORPGS like WoW. They've created a server called Teen Second Life in which they do their best to only allow teenagers between the ages of 13 – 17 access. When you turn 18 you're moved up to the adult server along with all your gear and property. Of course this has the same pitfalls as any other internet site where you can fake your identity, but it is a start; and a good one since Linden Labs actively polices age restrictions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Odds and ends, News items

Neglecting kids isn't videogame addiction-- it's bad parenting

The AP is reporting on the story of a couple in Nevada who claim they were so addicted to "the Internet and video games" that they neglected the health and well-being of their two children, a 22-month old girl and an 11-month old boy. I won't go into the details, although you can read them in the article, but it's a horrific story. WoW isn't mentioned-- "the fantasy role-playing Dungeons & Dragons series" is, but does that mean DDO or does the reporter just, as usual, have no idea what they're talking about?

At any rate, (also as usual) the report eventually turns to videogame addiction and what a "serious issue" it is. Exactly zero mention is made of the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of parents who play WoW and other online games right alongside their children, happily and healthily. A few of my guildies are parents and often play with their kids, and our own Robin Torres writes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about doing exactly that and how to handle issues like playing with your kids. You'll also note that almost no attention is paid to the other problems with this couple-- they gained $50,000 in inheritance, and spend it on computer equipment and a plasma screen rather than anything for their two children. This isn't "abuse rooted in videogame addiction"-- it's abuse rooted in bad parenting.

Kayholder over on WoW Ladies says she gets attacked for playing the game with young children at home-- people automatically say that having children around to take care of should automatically exempt you from playing a game like World of Warcraft.

That's just plain wrong. Any game can be played responsibly by anyone of age, World of Warcraft included. Kay even says that she doesn't raid because she doesn't think she has the time (which is fine as well), but one of my guildies who just had yet another kid is actually our main healer. Good parenting and videogames aren't mutually exclusive-- in fact, in some situations, they're better together.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items

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