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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

When Should You Let Your Kids Play Eve?

I try to stay connected with Eve when I travel and can’t actually log in. I’ll check my alliance forums, our corp Discord, update Evenova, read through Reddit, and check zkill for activity. We all have a few minutes here or there to stay informed, and when you’re unable to log in, those snippets of info are like water to a man in the desert.

This week, I read a comment on Reddit about how a man and his son would use Eve lingo in the real world. That got me thinking about the background of that kind of situation.

At first, I thought about how very few people are really suited to playing Eve. It’s an unforgiving game that doesn’t protect you either from the wickedness of other people or the consequences of your actions. Rather, it rubs your face in both. Most people aren’t made with stern enough stuff to endure that for entertainment. On the one hand, I’d deem it a sign of good parenting that his son enjoys Eve enough to not only play it, but internalize the lingo. To me, that reflects well on his parenting.

On the other hand, he lets his son play Eve. That’s just not right on so many levels. This really is a twisted game, with the full display of humanity on display.

So, is he a great or a terrible dad? At what age is it okay to let your kids play Eve?

We have to set some ground rules in our considerations, though. Really, when we’re talking about “letting” your kids play Eve, we have to constrain it to under 18 years of age. Any more than that and, well, it’s not really your choice anymore, is it? While some parents do still control what their kids do after that age, that’s a separate issue, I think.

And while we’re at it, we should also exclude mental, social, or biological challenges (e.g. chemical imbalances) that might hamper a person’s ability to cope with in-game content from our consideration. More often than not, parents need to consider each case individually, so any discussion of generalities really doesn’t apply.

And one last one. Ultimately, we each know our children best, so this isn’t about judgment. Rather, I’m curious if it’s even possible to come up with some standard age/threshold/benchmark to use to gauge whether your child is ready for Eve.

Eve offers the opportunity to teach a lot of critical lessons to kids. Here are just a few:

  • Ultimately, you are responsible for yourself. No one is going to save you from your mistakes.
  • The greatest profits and successes come through constant effort.
  • Be suspicious of those you don’t know, and guard against those you do.
  • We each create our own sense of morality and find our own way in the world, based on each action we take. Morality is a choice we make daily, not a credo to adopt.
  • There’s always someone out there who is bigger, stronger, faster, smarter, or has more friends than you.
  • OODA Loops don’t just exist in Willy Wonka. Constantly reassess your situation to verify that your decision is still the correct one.
  • Failure isn’t something to be avoided. Rather, embrace and learn from it, so you can grow stronger.
  • Weakness and optimism don’t lead to success; brutally honest reflection and direct action do.
  • Delaying gratification often leads to greater satisfaction.
  • Poor actions will always come back to bite you, even if it’s years from now.
  • The innocent don’t always win; in fact, the innocent, the defenseless, and the peaceful more often than not make themselves into victims than martyrs.

And that’s just a few off the top of my head. I often say Eve is a mature game, one that operates at a higher level than most out there; the above lessons are why.

As a parent, I find a common thread spreading through the rest of the media, societal pressures, and the tone of political and sociological conversation – namely that the government/community/family/company owes us certain things. To put it more bluntly, that the keys to our happiness lie beyond ourselves. We’re given a definition of success, we’re given a pattern we’re supposed to follow, and increasingly we’re told that the government owes us food, shelter, health care, electricity, etc. etc. etc.

Eve, on the other hand, tells us a different lesson: we owe you nothing. You earn what you get through working harder, smarter, faster, or longer than the other guy. You’re the agent of action that drives you forward or allows you to drown.

That’s one of the downsides, though. While that thought is incredibly empowering, it only really works on you after you pass through a period of despair. To know that you’re responsible, that no one will come to save you, that you have to stand on your own two feet and make your future rather than have it given to you… those who do learn it are consistently happier than those who don’t.

But it’s a hard thing to learn. So many new players never get beyond it. Why? Because they buy into the lessons society tries to teach – that your country cares about you, that eveyrthing’s going to turn out okay, that you can be and have anything you want just by wishing and trying really hard, that the good are always rewarded and the wicked punished.

Only, that’s not how the real world operates. Sometimes, the hero does in the first act and the story ends. Often, the shoot-from-the-hip ragtag band of righteous rebels is massacred during their first “it’s so crazy it just might work” plan. Generally, institutionalized abuse is never exposed and punished.

When should you pull back that curtain and expose the truth of that harsh fact? When are they capable of taking the right lesson from it: that the way to deal with a fickle and uncaring world is to become content within yourself and understand your own power to control your reactions, your decisions, and your priorities, if not what happens to you?

Beyond that key lesson, though, Eve has a lot of more prosaic dangers. Eve has trash talk to bait people into a fight. It has nastiness, deception, and betrayal. Some of that provides a good, fictitious lesson that maps over well to the real world, but too often players cross the line into unacceptable activity.

And then, there are the darker bits. How often have we heard homophobic, misogynistic, or racist comments in fleet, on r/eve, or in local? How many times have players linked porn in fleet chat? We have real-life threats and character assassination across various media. Every dark part of the Internet is exposed in the very same player interactions that make the game so appealing.

On the one hand, I’d love my daughters to learn to rely upon their own abilities, recognize their power to control their own lives, and patiently work towards goals stretching across months and years.

But do I want my daughters to be exposed to all the twisted things players post, say, and do to each other beyond the extent necessary to play the game? I certainly don’t.  I honestly can’t say when I’d be okay with them being exposed to that on such a regular basis. Sure, I could monitor what groups they join, but that’s only a check, not surety.

And yet, if we did take steps to exclude all that unpleasantness from Eve, it wouldn’t be Eve anymore.

Is Eve appropriate for children (anyone under 18)? Are the great lessons within the game enough to balance out the strong negatives you can find?

9 comments:

  1. I'll be honest, I've always thought the middling ESRB and PEGI ratings a bit dubious myself. I've seen and read things, and not even the "Online content is unrated" that would make any parent cringe. Some of the things I've personally experienced from other players would probably see them arrested outside of the game but that's another issue.
    Human slavery is common, the Amarr empire is built and maintained by it, and by religious doctrine no less, and it's one of the bigger things that bugs me. One that it exists, and two that it's perpetuated by a religion which honestly I can't see existing after 10,000 years of meaningful societal development. Drug use, both willing and not, is common, and even encouraged in "higher" tiers of society within the game. There's plenty of prostitution, (they're listed under livestock) gambling, (which has recently come under fire, though I'm with you on it being a personal thing) and murder (though the loss of thousands of people killed in any PvE or PVP is really downplayed.)

    So I can see there being a bumping up of the rating for the game without seeing any real dip in subs, but people should for sure be warned that the online player interaction can be a lot worse than a simple "not rated" merits...

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  2. Well, I really like your thoughts except for two things:
    "Be suspicious of those you don’t know, and guard against those you do." Eve might tell you that there is a risk at trusting people but also that it is worth the risk. If you always play it save you will loose in the end.

    The main thing that is missing: "THIS IS A GAME!" no matter how bad you fail it is still a game. Loose your best ships and are broke: start again from scratch. But always remember: This is a game! If you don't like it any more walk away and find a new one. THAT's the main difference between RL and EVE.

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    1. Ive often had difficulty thinking of it as just a game. Its such a visceral experience! I've been on a bit of a hiatus from burnout, and when i get back i think ill do a bit of exploration, and try to be more relaxed about it. Whelp some Hyperions, and do some mining while listening to NPR. Im finally getting all my mining alts to 5mil SP, so the endless grind to get them plexed will be over. As far as kids playing eve, id say 15 for a well adjusted nerdy kid, unless they are remarkably mature. Most non geeky people are never ready to play; after all even combat in this game involves math and spreadsheets!

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  3. My boy is 17 and I've busted him using some pretty foul language whilst playing Counterstrike. Eve would be mild by comparison.

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  4. I would ask you:
    How old were you when you saw porn in some way for the first time?
    How old were you when you heard/used foul language for the first time?
    How old were you when you felt betrayed by someone/something?
    How old were you when you saw pictures of ww1/WW2 (and others) massacres and torture?
    How old were you when you first had a paying job?
    I can answer "under 12" to all but the "paying job" thing, so I don't feel like EVE is such a hard environment, harder than most other games for sure.

    Unless you have a really good parental control of your and your doughter's friends and your neighbors (and theirs) internet, its better to educate than to hide. Just saying.

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    1. Images and words out of context don't mean anything. My daughters have watched Lord of the Rings where Orcs are having their heads cut off, and they're 6 and 3. I'm not going to let them watch a terrorist beheading a prisoner on YouTube, though.

      I agree that it's best to educate them. But there's a distinction between them seeing things and them seeing that certain things are okay when they absolutely aren't. Eve has a certain culture of abuse that would be confusing for a kid to recognize as messed up.

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  5. I think that it would be ok for limited gameplay for a teenager, so maybe 15 being the youngest. Girls though... Not so sure. Not that they can't handle it, but just the harassment.

    The bottom line would have to be working with your child on boundaries and teaching them how to protect themselves. I know for me eve has taught me some life lessons and I've come out of them much better off because I dealt with it in a virtual environment and not real life. I may do a blog post more thoroughly responding to this. But this brings up a good point. Ty for sharing!

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    1. Teach them the line "you know Im 15 right?" Would hope that would shut them up lol. However, ive never heard harassment of women on comms or anything like that. Some organizations have more maladjusted mouthbreathing wannabe sexual predators than others.

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  6. My son started playing Eve within a couple weeks of me when he was 15 years old. We'd played Warcraft together for years before that, and it was commonplace around the house to be in a "different language" (per my wife) discussing mana regeneration curves while healing, etc. We both got bored with Warcraft and got the Eve bug at the same time. We'd both read the same book (Ender's Game) around the same time and unbeknownst to us until later, named our characters with the same first name. He played about 1-1.5 years before moving on as kids often do. It made for a great first "second account" for me to adopt for cyno characters, etc. The neat thing that lingers is that he understands the lingo so when I experience things in game that are fun/outrageous/etc I have someone I can talk to that "gets it". To his credit, his head is screwed on pretty straight and I've never had to worry about parts of the game being bad for him to run across.

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