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?