The Daily Grind: Is there a ‘youth’ stigma in online gaming?

A couple of nights ago, my husband was playing Overwatch when I heard a pair of high-pitched voices coming across his headset. “Oh cool, two women in one match,” I said. “No,” he said. “They’re boys. They can’t be older than 12. And they already chased everyone else on the team out of voice chat.”

And then? It was the only game he won all night.

Setting aside my instinct that pre-pubescent kids probably shouldn’t be playing a shooter under Blizzard’s relatively toxic environment umbrella in the first place, I still felt really sorry for the kids. Even before age demographics in online gaming started skewing into 30-somethings, I lost count of how many serious MMO guilds wouldn’t even consider picking up members under 18 or even under 21 or 25. Maybe they had a point that kids don’t belong in adult groups, but without anybody to mentor them – to sit in team chat and patiently explain the way to a win and how to control their language to avoid a ban – they wind up guided by the dregs of gaming, and toxic culture continues long after those voices mature.

Is there a “youth” stigma in online gaming? How do you handle younger players in your MMOs and gaming guilds?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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60 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Is there a ‘youth’ stigma in online gaming?"

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mosselyn
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mosselyn

I don’t socialize IRL with 12 year olds, I don’t see why I should socialize with them online. I belong to a 25+ guild for a reason. There are family oriented guilds out there where the young things are welcome.

I was an officer in an all-ages guild for a few years. We didn’t have many really young kids, but we had a reasonable number of teenagers. For the most part, they were good kids, but OMG the drama. Broken hearts, parent woes, school woes, existential angst. I do not want to spend my game time acting as camp counselor or psychoanalyst. Joining an all adult guild was a HUGE relief.

Nothing wrong with the kids. They’re doing normal kid things. But if I’d wanted to raise kids, I’d have had my own.

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Malcolm Swoboda

12 no. 14 ehhh maybe. 16 could be fine. 18 alright. 20 good. 20s great.

I’m 27 though, not middle-aged.

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Bryan Gregory

Age is a number that means nothing. Seen my fair share of mature kids and immature adults. Seen way more of the latter.

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rafael12104

Hmm…

Well, I prefer not to walk on eggshells, but I am very aware of the kiddies and adjust accordingly. We have had a few, a small few, in our guild over the years and some are the son’s and daughters of good friends.

The main thing though, for me, is to treat them like people. Tone down the language and adult chit chat, but invite them to do stuff and include them just like you would any other guildy. And, I have to be honest, a couple of those youngsters were the best players for running group content. Lol. Damn fine dps.

So, nah, no stigma for me really. I’ll run stuff with them, np.

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Mewmew

Yes there is a youth stigma, and yet it’s often right. It stinks when you’re the odd kid out that it’s wrong about and everybody assumes you’re the same though.

I used to get kicked out of guilds when I said I was under 18 when I was one of the most mature, polite, fair and pleasant players in them, just by saying my age.

When I was a very young girl on voice chat on consoles, ooph. They’d drive *me* out by the stuff they’d say to me (nasty terrible stuff no young girl should have had to hear, and supposedly I was the child? These older male players were terribly childish and sickening and they knew I was a young girl hearing me). I was so polite and happy and excited to be playing online with all these people and they crushed me with what they said to me.

Sometimes you’re the odd mature kid out there, especially if you’re a female player that grows up a bit earlier than your male counterparts. You’re stuck with that same stigma for being young.

We could get in to why of course, there are good reasons behind the stigma usually. Just like everything else even if it covers a great many young players it doesn’t cover them all.

It’s why I stopped answering my age when I was younger, but that got some people riled up too. I could have just made something up to make them happy but I didn’t feel good lying, so I’d just say I preferred not to answer and wanted to be judged on who I was as a person not my age. That would set off all sorts of different things, a few would say okay, others would bug me to the end of time saying it was fine to tell them, and a good deal others would get outright mad at me. Should I have lied and made something up just to make them happy? That doesn’t seem right. And I wasn’t good with sharing my real age anymore past a certain point (I did when I was really young, new to online and naive still) so that wasn’t going to happen either.

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Jack Pipsam

Yeah that’s one thing I learned early on, just best to lie about your age if you’re under 18 sadly.

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Jack Kerras

I don’t think there’s a stigma directly attached to youth.

Kids, by and large, have always been more likely to waste my time than adults. At this point, I ask for people who are 18+, in part because dealing with twelve-year-olds who can’t keep their heads in the game is a pain, and in part because dealing with kids in general can be flat-out fucking dangerous for adults, especially men.

It doesn’t matter how you act or how harmless you are; behind every reasonably-mature tween that can play video games and cooperate with others in a useful way, it is possible there’s a fucking psycho mom or dad who thinks you’re a pedophile for no Goddamn reason.

Kids are fucking scary. All they have to do is say one asshole thing, even if they didn’t pick it up from or near you, and your life suddenly becomes The Hunt. I used to run an Internet cafe, kids came in and played Halo together all the time, and one 17-year-old’s asshole mom (who, I might add, signed a waiver indicating that he could play games at my place, I required that for EVERY <18 customer) spread a false rumor in that vein that straight-up destroyed my fucking business.

Kids don't always suck – some kids are great, and in my youth I always preferred the company of adults! – but dealing with kids is absolutely a risk. Fuck dealing with that shit ever again.

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Bryan Correll

It’s not always easy to tell who the kids are.

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MeltWithYou

Maybe – I pick guilds where peeps are 30+ because I just prefer to hang out with people my own age or older. Other than that, I just dont understand kids anymore, if I hear a kid/teenager on VC for any game, I don’t treat them bad or anything, I just mute them…immediately. They can thank past transgressions from Call of Duty for that.

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Depends on the kid. If they are spamming the mic and being general annoyances who are either not playing the game or there to troll the other players, then yeah, the ‘squeakers’ (as the TF2 servers I am on often call them) are loathed and despised. if they’re making an effort to play the game, sticking relatively to the conversations being held in voice chat, and not overdoing it/talking over others, than I don’t have a problem with them. Of course the sheer number of the former makes it tough sometimes to pick up on those in the latter camp…

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starbuck1771

Is there a youth stigma? No. However there is a maturity stigma. I have seen children who act like adults while at the same time have seen adults act like children.