Thursday, July 2, 2009

Misnomer, or "What's So Bad About Being 12?"

My guild has a few young boys, some of whom were twelve (or close to it) when I met them, and they're really nice people. Rambunctious with excessive amounts of time on their hands, yes. But still nice.

And I think it's a misnomer to call immature people 12-year-old boys like we do, because most of the really horrible people I've met (the ones who are mean for the sheer pleasure of being horrible) seem to be college-aged males.

That doesn't mean I haven't met 12-year-olds with psycho senses of entitlement. But it does mean that bad 12-year-olds are easy to spot, and most of the worst and most offensive players aren't kids. Bad kids tend to stick to "I deserve everything." Bad adults tend to revert that: "You deserve nothing."

So, yeah. If I'm stuck with a PuG, I'd rather have a selfish kid over a jerk adult any day. Like in the show Survivor -- a quantity you can predict is better to keep around than a quantity you can't. A kid who wants everything no matter what is better than a jerk who will sabotage himself just to sabatoge you.

What to Expect From a Kid Applicant

Kids have more time on their hands and will be bored (and thus harder to please) in a slow guild. If you have a guild that bustles, a good kid will improve your ability to provide groups for your most active players.

Good kids respond favorably to kindness. You don't have to be their mentor or BFF, just be (genuinely) happy to see them. I truly love seeing my guild kids because they're sweethearts, even though I don't run much (anything?) with them. Just treat them like people. Because they are.

If you can get a team of kids -- 5 to 7 -- with similar amounts of free time and interest in running things, they could very well become a self-sustaining entity within the guild as well as a great supplement to your slower players. They keep each other from getting bored and having to beg slower players to run something (or *shudder* pugging).

Weeding Out the Bad

Make sure everyone knows your rules going in and accepts them. Have a conversation spelling out anything you think might be a problem. (Guild bank rules are always helpful to detail, whether you're worried about ninjaing or not, as well as loot rules.)

Take a high-level kid along for a few raids (we've been leading 25-man pugs to Naxx every Sunday and got a few new members off of it). If the kid leaves the raid after getting loot or makes a fuss about not getting loot or insults the guild's proficiency, dump him.

Find out about his monetary situation and how he expects to improve it. Both our 12-year-olds who got kicked were weird about gold in particular. One planned to beg us for gold for his first mount (and told me so) and the other stole items from the guild bank to buy epic flying.

If he's leveling, find out how much help he expects. The first of our kicked kids expected something akin to an 80 escort whenever he wanted it.


At the end of the day, 12-year-olds get a bad rap. Sometimes they deserve it, sometimes they don't. It's true that their needs are different due to lifestyle differences, but other than that they are just like you and me. Just as reasonable, just as polite, just as generous.


  1. I dont think young players have a bad rep, I think that its more to do with the fact that if you refer to a bad player as having the mentality of a 12 year old - everyone knows what type of bad player he is.

    im guessing this doesnt make me any better than the people who use the term "gay" at something that is the opposite of great -and afterwards claiming that: "hey man i know a lot of gays and they are cool and i didnt mean nuthing by it"....
    Great im a jerk.

  2. My favorite experience with an over-entitled kid recruit occurred during a ZA "raid practice" run. (It was soon after the Wrath release so the majority of the world was still leveling, hence ZA over Naxx.) 20 minutes in he announced he had to leave for dinner. Very bad form to sign up for a raid then leave for something so predictable, but we were more than able to continue without him. Our GM was hanging at the back of the pack, providing heals and herding the group along. A couple minutes later, she realized that New Recruit hadn't hearthed or logged out, but was */following her*. Appalled, she promptly lodged him on a nearby troll hut so he'd fall off of follow, and removed him from raid and guild. I mean, just because mom (totally unexpectedly at 6pm!) calls you for dinner, doesn't mean you shouldn't get to rack up some XP in the meantime!

  3. I have three boys who play the game aged 15, 12 and 10. I think you are absolutely right that referring to an immature player as a "12 year old kid" is probably not always accurate. And it's funny, my 15 and 10 year old haven't done the demanding "give me your time to help achieve my goals" thing that you stereotypically think of associated with kids . . . but my 12 year old did (though he was 11 at the time). Not because he's a self-centered little snot. He isn't. He's actually a good kid, perfectly willing to help others out and okay with being turned down over and over. He totally didn't realize that his guildmates got tired of turning him down.

    It's just that there's a developmental threshhold kids hit in early adolesence where they lose a lot of inhibitions as they search for an identity seperate from Mom and Dad ("desatellization") and haven't yet matured enough to interact with a world outside their own little egocentric bubbles. They know what they want to go do (or think they want) before they know how to accomplish it, but they try anyway. So while it may not be entirely fair to accuse immature players of being "12 year old kids", there's a reason the stigma exists. And, no, not just because of my 12 year old . . . it's common among kids around that age. It's normal.

    The tendency is not as strong in all kids and they do mature out of it. The degree is largely a matter of modelling, i.e. what examples do they have. My 12 year old, for example, was kicked out of a couple guilds because his mates got tired of him asking for runs through instances. I had to explain it to him a couple times to get him to see his requests through their eyes . . . but between discussions with Dad and watching his guildmates, it got through and he has learned (and is learning) how to work cooperatively in his guild and on an Arena team.

    My 10 year old watched his brother go through it and will probably be able to avoid some of the drama as he hits that developmental stage over the next couple years.

    I actually had to study this stuff while certifying to teach high school, then only taught for about a year. It's been kind of fun watching it unfold in my own kids just like the textbooks said it would.

  4. My kids are actually all pretty awesome players. I sometimes wonder as I watch them play if the other players in their group have any idea that, say, they just asked a 10 year old to heal while they 3 manned an instance. Or that they're trusting a 12 year old to tank their heroic.

    Which, in turn, gets me wondering how old the party is that went through Coilfang with me last night. It was actually a very, very good PuG. I mean, from our conversations and how well we worked together, I imagine we were all adults . . . but I've seen my own kids play, right? . . .

  5. "A kid who wants everything no matter what is better than a jerk who will sabotage himself just to sabatoge you."

    This really struck a chord with me, as I've recently been doing a lot of battlegrounds for variety and I've seen this attitude a lot.

    There are a lot of people who seem to want easy wins and when it looks like we're outmanned or outmatched, they throw a fit, call everyone bad, tell everyone to just let the other team win, and when other people don't listen to them, quit in the middle of the match.

    I'm not a twink or even a great PvPer. I think I'm good enough that I'm not terrible and in my experience so are most people who do it.

    It's sad to me that some people seem only to care about points and rewards and not the actual experience. I have a great deal of fun in the games that are long struggles, even if we ultimately lose, and I feel proud of myself for fighting to the bitter end and making the other team work hard for their victory even if we're outmatched.

    And it makes me so angry when people who don't care about the experience at all, just want to get a mount or something make everyone else miserable and make the game harder for them, just because they can't get an easy and effortless win. It's bad enough that they want to throw the game, but they also always insult everyone in the process as if they are not the main problem in the situation.

    I hate these people (along with griefers) much more than the childish "can you please give me X" attitude and more than the people who aren't the best players.

  6. *Laughs* Important distinction to make there.

    I had my own "phase" when I first started playing last year. Because my friend had a level 70 mage, I got some easy runs through RFC, and when Wailing Caverns came around, I was all, "Daniel, wanna run me through?"

    His response was to get on a level 22 Paladin alt and gather a PuG with me. Which annoyed the Hell out of me at the time.

    But I will admit it did wonders for my sense of entitlement. Not only did I have to share loot (an interesting concept at the time for me), but I had to work in an environment of more than two people.

    I think a lot of people go through the stage of having a 12-year-old mentality. Granted, when you encounter it, it's a pain in the ass, but...

    Make some lemonade when life has a lemon dropped on you.

  7. Excellent and well-stated post. I, of course, know the two "bad seeds" you refer to as well as the good ones that I raid, instance and banter with in the guild. Some of them are really solid players and some of them are just having fun in their own way (interpretation: not so solid) but I'd take my little crew of pre-teens over any other crew of raiders on our server. At least they're (generally) still young enough to remember what mom taught them about being polite.

    @Jack: Really REALLY appreciate the insight. I'm not a parent but that information will help me deal with some of the repeated requests we still get from the younger crowd.

    @KT: I also despise the type of person you describe here, but every battleground has one. I've seen chumps shouting at the team and calling everyone "baddies" while we're winning. Go figure. That said, I admit a tendency toward the "get my reward and get out" mentality. It's odd because I really do enjoy battlegrounds when I feel like I have a fair chance, but my battlegroup is notorious for the Horde forsaking strategy and sabotaging their chances of winning in the process (like the very common AB strategy of rushing Blacksmith with all 15 team members and then getting confused when we get 4-capped). I more enjoy the solitary battles within the battleground itself... like me versus a Rogue while I'm defending Farm in AB or striving to take down the DK / Paladin team after getting Death Gripped off my mount in AV. That's where I glory and what I truly enjoy about the whole BG experience. Of course, when I get the unique pleasure of playing with friends (Birdfall, come heal for me on your Drood!!) I always enjoy the game no matter what.


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