Unlike most seasoned adult gamers, whose first introductions to online play were usually in the cut-throat world of the first-person shooter or real-time strategy genres, kids today are largely insulated from the bullying behavior that once typified the online experience. Creating a safe, collaborative environment that still manages to challenge gamers is one of the chief design goals of MMOs aimed at children, as Richard Aihoshi explores in a recent article for The Escapist
Gathering opinions from developers working on titles like LEGO Universe
, Aihoshi explores how these titles seek to eliminate anti-social behavior like ganking and trash-talking through calculated design decisions. While Aihoshi establishes something of a consensus among the developers, he doesn't reflect on the potential ills of setting up these "mini-fascist utopias," as they are referred to by LEGO Universe's
Ryan Seabury. One wonders whether this digital extension of helicopter parenting
is actually desirable at all. Instead of teaching kids that fighting and cursing is wrong, we take away their freedom to do those things altogether. Lesson learned? This blogger doubts it.