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Age segregation in gaming

David Stone's picture

I was perusing my usual slate of gaming news sites when I came across a story about some pre-pubescent kid trying to be all “cool” while trying to join a guild. He used such colorful phrases as “I wouldn’t mind if a girl raped me” while attempting to show his supposed manliness (or, at least, I assume that’s what he was trying to do). When told that it could mean something else, he replied, “But girls don’t have a pee pee!”

I think it’s time to have some age segregation in games. I’m not just talking the ratings system (parents, PLEASE read the ratings on the games your children play!) but lobbies and online play in general.

I tried to play Gears of War online a couple of times, only to play against some foul-mouthed, alto-voiced miscreants whose parents likely didn’t know what they were buying for them. I quit the games immediately.

Now before I get hate mail about being “ageist,” there are a couple of truths here. I don't care how "mature" you may think you are at 14. I'm 26 and can still remember how I was at 14. Sure, at the time I thought I was mature ‘n smart 'n stuff, but honestly, I was dumb as a brick. We all were, and even though you don't realize it now, so are you (trust me, you'll see it even in five years from now). It's nothing personal; it's the way we were at 14.

But more fundamental than that, gaming is a social activity. As such, I want to socialize with people my own age. I wouldn't want to go out for a drink with these players. I wouldn't want to invite them over to my place to game with me in person either, so why would I want to do it over the internet? The fact that they really shouldn't be playing these games to begin with is another story - that 8-year old who's playing Halo 2 professionally at his parents' encouragement makes me ill.

But know that it's not that I want to make their poor underage lives miserable; I just don't want to hang with a baby brother when I’m trying to have fun.

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Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

Speaking in general, the level of discourse between young males is almost always going to be lower when compared to older males or even females of the same age, at least in terms of politeness. We've all observed this phenomenon with the teenage-infested gaming forums of other sites. Hell, even the twentysomethings which frequent this site's forums have a tendency to act in an aggressive manner, myself included.

Different Strokes for Different Dorks

I would think that some people see videogame as a means of bridging the gap not only between cultures, but also ages. Of course a line has to be drawn somewhere as to what kind of "aggression" is allowed in a gaming session (just as it is necessary for people to behave), but to completely disallow the interaction between people with certain disparity of age... don't you find that a little cold/harsh?

If you were a dad, wouldn't you at least play with your son?

My brother is only 4 years older than I, and like you he's the type that doesn't want to hang with a baby brother when trying to have fun. I've become somebody without any playmates because of that.

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