My Guild Wars Mesmer just dinged level 20 today. That' s as high as you can get in this game but I still have lots of quests to do and lots of skills to collect. I hit the big 20 half way through a quest called Blood and Smoke. This was a pretty big quest - even though it had only one boss mob it involved a lot of trekking back and forth through hordes of poisonous spiders. For a bit of variety I chanced a pick up group. What can I say - it was exciting if not very productive. Apart from myself and one other player (a lvl 17 ranger) everyone in this group had a death wish. Leeroy Jenkins was nothing on our lads who charged into every group of mobs with joyful abandon. Given that poisonous spiders come in very large bunches this tactic was suicidal. Our only healer was Aleysia the henchlady but she just wasn't able to keep up with the carnage and we had a couple of total wipes. Curiously our gung ho comrades seemed to lose heart after this leaving just myself and the ranger with one npc henchman. Poor Aleysia had already bitten the dust and our ressurection signets were exhausted but we decided to persevere without a healer. Thankfully this ranger was a good player. He knew when to pull and when to deal damage - he even gave me a few tips. Between us we managed to fight through to the end of the quest. Along the way we chatted a bit - turned out he is a fan of Robert Jordan one of my favorites too. Quest finished - I said goodnight and told it it was time for me to put my kids to bed. "Kids?" he exclaimed in disbelief . "I am only 14. How old are you?"
Now it is an awful but inescapable fact that on account of the behaviour of a small number of unspeakable perverts society has come to regard any social contact between an adult male and a minor who is not his own child as wrong. Normally this isn't a problem - I don't have much in common with 14 year olds and I generally don't have much occasion to interact with them. In an on-line game however a clued in 14 year old can play just as well as an adult and short of a character bawling for their mammy there is no way to tell someone's age from the actions of their character.This poses a problem for an adult gamer like myself. I have no problem playing the game with an (able) 14 year old but I feel very uncomfortable engaging in chit chat or other social interaction. I generally switch off the social interaction if I discover a fellow player is in fact a child. I know that is totally fucked up and I know the world shouldn't be like that but it is. I have been lucky enough to find a mature guild for my Guild Wars adventures so I can comfortably chat away with guildies knowing that everyone there is over 21.
My way of dealing with the fact that some nasty people take advantage of children is to run away from interaction with kids. This is a knee jerk reaction. Sometimes I think about this and I realise that those of us who are not perverts and who do not pose a threat to kids should atcually make special effort to interact with young people in order to keep them away from the perverts and to and show them that most adults are actually decent people. We really need genuine committed adults to run football clubs and dancing classes. Perhaps my knee jerk reaction is wrong - mainly it comes from a sense of self preservation. I don't want some irate parent getting upset because their kid is chatting to a middle aged man.