Can I tell you a story? So there was this guy who was kind of new at playing WoW, but was a decent paladin. He was running dungeons using Dungeon Finder and happened to get grouped up with someone from his own server. He chatted with the hunter, exchanged a few jokes and when the dungeon was finished they queued up for another one. Over the next week or so, they ran a few more dungeons together. The hunter was an officer in her guild and thought the paladin was pretty cool, so she asked him to join. He accepted and was greeted warmly into his new family, having no idea that his first act within the new guild was to break the biggest rule: Nobody under 21 years old.
The way I started interacting with the paladin is that he rolled a shaman and gave it a ridiculous name. It wasn’t offensive, but it was dumb. Being the lovely person that I am, I immediately tore into him. I made fun of him relentlessly. I made up a nickname and insisted the guildies played along. He responded by creating four of five other toons with related names, just to get on my nerves. Oh, we were instant friends. I ran him through dungeons on his alts, he sent me way too many profession mats, and we did heroic instances together. I became a better player because he would use his entire arsenal of spells and remind me that I could as well. I would chat to him on vent, but he would respond by typing because he said he didn’t have a microphone.
He loved his alts. When he got them to max level, he would try out each spec. It drove me crazy when he would queue up as an ele shaman when half his gear was for enhance. When I was nervous about trying out healing, he would say “just do it” and force me into a dungeon. He constantly spammed me with duels, which I hated because he beat me every single time. It seemed that the way he learned new specs was to stand outside of Goldshire, get his butt whooped and then ask “What spell did you use there?”
Then it occurred to me: Playing a zillion specs with reckless abandon and obvious joy, silly names, won’t speak on vent, Goldshire… OMG this guy is a kid!
I asked him, he confirmed. He hadn’t lied to anyone, but nobody had asked. He liked the guild and thought it was a good idea to keep his age to himself. I agreed. Even though other members liked him, and he had proven himself to be nice, funny, generous and quite useful… I still thought there was the tiniest possibility that he might be asked to leave if it became common knowledge that he was in high school.
I tell this story because I think we are shooting ourselves in the foot by cutting the younger generation out of our circles. When we see players using unsavory language or acting like idiots, we assume they are kids. That might actually be a fair assumption, but most people are good at heart, and that includes teenagers. A lot of those players end up in a guild that will take just about anyone and are exposed to a culture that would curl your toes. It would be easy to fall into a habit of idiocy when you think that’s just how the game is supposed to be.
Adults can’t lead by example from an ivory tower with thorned gates. Allowing a few younger players within the ranks could dissipate the potential audience of the asshats who attempt to ruin our hobby. Another way to look at it is that we could stop denying ourselves the opportunity to work with new players with fresh perspectives. I don’t think the paladin is an anomaly. There are more of him out there and I hope we can give them a chance.
These days the paladin is more of a shaman… or a druid… or a priest. He did eventually come clean to the GM about his age because he had hoped to be part of the raid team. She acted annoyed, but was fine. He had proved himself to be an awesome person over and over again and was not a candidate for a gkick. The only time anyone treats him differently is when I ask, “Why are you playing video games and not out talking to girls?” I still call him names, but one thing I don’t call him is a “kid."
See you soon,