Minors in the guild!

Many guilds don’t allow members under 18.  Ours does, and on the whole, it’s been successful.  But there are a few principles to keep in mind.

Kids of members

In general, this works well.  I’m very willing to let in a kid who is a child of an existing member, even a kid who is as young as 11 or 12.  The parent keeps the kid from doing things that would bug guildmates, and can run interference with guildies (such as telling guildies to take an inappropriate conversation to tells).

When this does not work:

  • a parent shares an account with the kid, and expects the guild to cyber-babysit while the kid is using the parent’s account
  • the parent leaves the guild but the kid stays in the guild

Ugh, no.  I’m perfectly willing to help you with your kid, but no guild wants an 11 year old spamming gchat for help running deadmines.  11 year olds don’t understand that people have better things to do.  Mom isn’t around to gently explain this, and nobody wants to be the jerk to tell the 11 year old that he’s being rude, make him cry…

So parents: play with your kids. Explain etiquette.  And when you leave the guild, take your youngsters with you.

Bad Behavior by Child

If mom or dad is in the guild, tell mom or dad.  I would recommend against letting anyone into the guild under 16 without a parent involved.  A 16 year old should be able to take constructive criticism and behave accordingly, or get booted.

But I find that the youngsters are so anxious to prove that they are “mature” that they are exemplary members.  They keep their mouths shut and follow instructions.

As for the risk of immature crap and awful behavior, that can come from anyone.  I’ve had a bigger problem with the 18-25 age group (male).   The last two morons booted from the guild were males between the ages of 20 and 25.

Nonetheless, we let the youngsters have a slightly longer trial period than the adulty folk.  Just so we can evaluate them a little longer.  Doesn’t hurt.

Bad Behavior by Adults

This is where leading by example comes in.  If your leadership treats the kids like equals, that’s good.  But even better is if you set a parenty-protective tone toward them.  Your guild will follow suit.

We have a 15 year old girl in our guild, who has been a member with her father since the beginning of time.  All the guildies act very protectively toward her, warning her that boys are evil.  It’s very cute.

Any guildies who would act pervy toward a 15 year old girl aren’t people I want to be hanging out with anyway.  Yech.  In this case, it helps to have female officership, because she knows she can come to me with any complaints, and I’d boot the offender into the next state.

As  for bad language – I think you just gotta compromise. If you have kids in your guild, you have to accept that you won’t be able to talk about extremely raunchy stuff.  I’ve had people leave in a huff about this but, again, do I really want someone in the guild who can’t go 5 minutes without describing his latest sexual exploit?  No.

On the other hand, the parents have to compromise as well.  They have to accept that their dear little angel will be exposed to words that are in R-rated movies, and that casual references to herpes might be made.  In general, they’ve been ok with that.  They know that their kids HAVE heard the F-bomb before.

Scheduling for Raiding

Again, having kids of members makes scheduling easy.  There won’t be sudden “parent aggro” to deal with.  The parents will play WoW and either allow the child to attend the raid or not.

Youngsters whose parents don’t play may be more of a challenge in this respect.  They may have to get off the computer immediately because they share a computer, or because parents are telling them to.  This is something you have to just get a feel for – how in control of his/her own schedule an adolescent is.

If the interruptions are too frequent, you’re gonna have to bench the kid. I know, it feels mean, since the interruptions are out of the kid’s control.  But you simply can’t have raids interrupted by parent aggro and have to scramble for a sub.

Worth the Hassle?

I think if you’re a mature guild, your guildies will have spawn about the right age to play, and it seems heartless not to let them in.  You may lose guildies if their kids can’t play with them.

If your guild culture is just too “mature”, and you’d give up an essential part of your identity letting in kids, then don’t do it.


Young'uns in the guild. But not on my lawn. — 12 Comments

  1. Great post! I loved the pictures, are they your children?

    The main problem I've had with teenagers is inconsistency with attendance or suddenly deciding halfway through a raid that they want to leave (or their mommy tells them to go to bed).

    That said, my current guild has quite a few teenagers who are fantastic, reliable reliable. Often the things they say make them sound, well, like teenagers, not offensive per say, but things you wouldn't hear from anyone after high school. I have yet to hear anything that bothers me though.

    I would be uncomfortable in a guild with very young members, though. I don't want to censor myself and I don't want others to censor themselves. Even if the child and their parents are fine with the kind of language going on the guild, *I* don't. When there are children around, I feel responsible for showing a good example and acting like an adult. Which I don't want to do when playing WoW.

  2. Ah yes, I do feel a little weird swearing around the very little ones. Our guild members tend to know who are kids and self-censor when they're online.

    As for the cute baby – yes that's my baby! The same baby, just different ages. She's two now.

  3. "As for the risk of immature crap and awful behavior, that can come from anyone. I’ve had a bigger problem with the 18-25 age group (male)."

    Ever so true.

    We've had some kids in our guild over time. Right now, we still have one who very occasionally plays with his dad. The dad is concerned about language, but he just turned on filters and removed his son from just about every chat channel there is. I appreciated him being proactive about it so we could keep our more adult culture.

    We did have one younger kid who played with his older and more mature brother. It was fine for a while until the older one stopped playing and wasn't there to monitor the kid's extreme neediness. I think a lot of people ended up putting him on ignore, which worked well for a while. Then the kid somehow got his older brother's account information and the short story is it all ended in a gkick.

    Overall though, the experience with younger kids has been more positive than not.

  4. I've had a few positive and a few negative experiences with children in guild, some with parents and some without. We have a few parent/child groups in my current guild and it's worked out just fine, because the kids are (I'm guessing) in their late teens.

    I've only had one bad-ish experience in a previous guild where a guildie brought in her 11 year old son. Hearing him talk in vent and seeing what kind of player he was, I easily forgot he was that young and sometimes let more adult comments slip out (as did others…including mom!). One day I log on to see she had yanked all her multitude of alts out of the guild and her son's toon was gone. Appearantly he'd been getting whispers from guildies criticizing his gear/spec and mom reacted as she saw fit. Later on, she came back to the guild. Her son did not.

  5. An excellent post that I wish more people would read, Cranky!

    I'm currently part of a "family" style guild. I find that more often than not, "family" style means babysitting/family reunion style. I joined the guild because of it's good reputation, the RP, and some people who I love. However, I have found it's downfalls.

    Like any family, there are nuts. We have our fair share of them, who are completely off the wall and just let be because they are "Crazy Uncle Tom." They're allowed to drink uproariously (figuratively and sometimes not) and pinch the behinds of the young girls.

    Problem number two comes into the babysitting factor as you mentioned previously, although I've found, on more than one occasion, said baby is between the ages of 1 and 5. People actually sit their kids in front of the computer and let them play on their characters in guild. Granted, these kids probably have no idea what's going on, but because several parents in our guild take part in this terrible habit, we're all censored like North Korean children in a communist orphanage. Being as I am often snarky and sarcastic, this puts a huge damper on my talking time. Also, it limits our guild chat RP.

    The third problem is that I am not a therapist, but often the younger members in the guild want to talk about their real life issues in guild chat. I come to the game to escape, not to listen to a 15 year old air his or her dirty laundry while I'm trying to blast some undead to blow off RL steam.

    I know of one actual family in our guild and all of their members are above the age of 18. The youngins who hang out with us are not supervised and often are slapped on the wrist when they do something wrong, while we're held under the iron grip of censorship on their behalf. I can understand curbing the dirty language, but I dislike not being able to say "suck" in guild chat or vent because someone's 5 year old might be listening.

    (Cranky edit: I moved this comment in its unedited entirety from "cranky reads" to this post… but in so doing I had to recopy the original and then delete it. Let's hope I didn't screw it up.)

  6. An interesting post, which if anything has made me feel slightly anxious, heh.

    I am only 16 myself and raid with a 10man semi casual raiding guild, on and off (I only activate my subscription periodically during the downtime in between exams and classes for the next semester).

    What you said here:

    "But I find that the youngsters are so anxious to prove that they are “mature” that they are exemplary members. They keep their mouths shut and follow instructions."

    pretty much describes me for the first six or so months (not talking much and doing what was needed) that I was with this guild. I was given a longer trail period (1 month –> 2 months) but I think this was good idea as it allowed people to get to know me.

    I still am careful (after almost a year in the guild) about what I say and what I do within the guild but I guess this just comes from being around adults, and being a shyer person in general.

    I like how this post, and the following comments, are not all from the 'don't raid with teens at all' point of view. Having said that, it is worth considering that every teenager is not going to be exactly the same, i.e. stereotyping won't work in most cases – not that I'm accusing anyone is doing this! Just looking at myself and a fellow classmates who also raids shows difference in how we approach WoW.

    My idea of a perfect day would be along the lines of having fun with the guild progression raiding and maybe downing a new boss, or helping run some alts through other raids/the weekly. Gear or no gear, I'd go away looking to further optimize my spec etc. to help out to the best of my ability for the next weeks fun.

    My friends is a purple pixel lover; he's in it for the gear, and as such is in a guild which does 25mans regularly. To the guild, he is just a name and a DPS number, but that's what he finds fun in the game.

    Now. to touch on the other issues you talked about. In terms of censorship, my guild chat/vent chat never goes past anything I would hear at school, and my parents have no interest whatsoever in my gaming.

    Raid scheduling is a different ballgame. I play on a US server with a US guild but I live in Australia, so I end up raiding from 9:30am to ~1pm, Thurs/Fri/Mon. This actually works out well; during the school holidays I never have anything planned at these times and plan my time ahead to not conflict with raiding times, or inform the guild beforehand if I'm unable to make it.

  7. You're right – not all teens are the same. Not all of them are going to follow instructions and behave just because I have let them into the guild.

    What I didn't add to this, which I should have, is that we require an application to get into the guild. It probably takes 20 minutes to fill out. Just going to the website and filling out an application is enough to weed out jerks, young and otherwise.

    So my "stereotype" of the behaving youngster comes from a sub-group of teens that have already passed the first "test."

  8. To be fair, Soldris, we have a couple of teens in our guild who have been mistaken for people much older due to their maturity and in some cases, the way they sound over Vent. On of our best DPSers is only just 18 last week. And to be fair to teens in general, as Crankyhealer said, there are some adults that are much, much worse. I honestly think the best policy is to treat everyone the same, regardless of age. It does the unruly teens and adults some good to be expected to act mature, while still allowed to have fun.

  9. Totally agree with the usual drama-causing jerks being older. There's very few people who I don't want to come in contact with anymore, and the top two are both in their late 20s. On the other hand, I raided for 1+ years with a guy before finding out he was 16. It took lots of asking around to believe it, since I had always sure he was at least 20 and probably more like 23-24.

  10. I once had a very bad experience with this kind of thing. I was in a guild where the parents had children in guild, and that was fine (the kids were actually quite good); the problem was that they had issues with swearing in vent; normally this was not a problem… (there appeared to be a 10ish cutoff for kid play). We were doing one of the 25 man BC raids one night (the one in Zangarmarsh) and at around 2am (my real time, server time, and right around that for everybody raiding) I said a few choice words… only to hear one of the parents start to bite my head off for swearing when their child was on. I made the mistake of pointing out that maybe a 10 year old shouldn't be in vent at 2am, and ended up with all my toons gkicked. So I'm just sayin', there can be a down side to having parent/kid combos in guild (when the parents are idiots, and guild leaders)…