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You Must Be This Old To Play

Jeff Cannata wonders about seeing "Up" by himself

Jeff Cannata wonders about seeing "Up" by himself

I’ve been playing Free Realms a lot; it’s a fantastic game. It’s hard not to shake the feeling that I’m the creepy guy of video games. You know, the one that plays Animal Crossing? Reading the Free Realms chat channel, there’s a lot of “asl?”, just like when I was a young’un in IRC.

That said, it’s important that we have family-friendly spaces for gamers of all ages, not just those who think raiding is key. How we police those spaces is an interesting problem. Watching the various attempts at circumventing the swearing filters can be amusing to older players, but it’s something that has to be policed fairly strongly.

Our playgrounds are constantly watched over by teachers and assistants, and age-inclusive online spaces require a human element to ensure a safe place for all. However, we can’t on companies to provide CSRs as schoolyard teachers, the cost is simply too high. Some form of reward system for players might incentivize people using the /report function. It could even be framed as a job, although perhaps a policeman suit might be a little too authoritarian!

For now, I’ll be the creepy guy wielding the Pick of /Report, mining those gems.

About the author:  Chris Lewis is a British PhD student researching the intersection of software engineering and video game development. Read more from this author

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    1) While on the Disney cruise ship for Foundations of Digital Games 2009, I couldn’t help but have my share of misty eyed moments in response the “magic” (of Disney) that lingers from my childhood. I’m willing to say that we can appreciate the imagery of these stories more than those who are 20 years younger. It’s what we grew up being excited about, and it’s not like we’d lose what that felt like (although, i suppose we often forget).

    I think somewhere online is also a picture of Chris and Mickey Mouse.

    2) The FAQ of Free Realms states:

    “Free Realms is designed for everyone young at heart: tweens, teens, and families alike. It’s a rich and magical world where even parents are welcome. In fact, you’ll want to jump right in and play with your kids! ”

    I’m sure no parent would let their kid wander off to play with strangers in real life. I believe the same goes for virtual worlds. Even non-gamer parents should be playing with their kids if not watching them play. Online multiplayer games aren’t the same as PBS kids broadcasting where you can just sit them there and walk away.

    p.s. “Up” was a great movie.

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