| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (42)

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 10:59AM nimzy said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
As far as I can tell WoW is the only one that actually includes the children in a meaningful way. It really adds to the immersion and really communicates effectively how hard life is in the game's world--most of the children you see in World of Warcraft are orphans. There's even a holiday event dedicated to them. Some of the most memorable quests in the game involve kids too--especially in Northrend.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 11:00AM pcgneurotic said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
When I look at the comments sections for posts on PC Gamer or RPS about Skyrim's un-killable chlidren and their subsequent modding to killable status, it makes me quite ill. I think children in MMOs are perfectly fine, because you can't do anything to them other than what the game allows you to, whereas with single-player games like Skyrim, the children are open to abuse (!), which is not good. At all.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 11:19AM fdisk said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Children make the world much more immersive; I'm OK with making them immortal and not allowing players to kill them; but a city feels a lot more immersive and "real" with all sorts of NPCs going about their business rather than people just standing in corners waiting to give you a quest and no children running around.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 11:43AM watchawatch said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Rift has no kids. I always thought that was odd. Wonder if there's a lore explanation for that?

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 1:39PM Daeths said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@watchawatch well rift also has only 4 cities in the game with upto hundreds of people. So the non-adventuring population in the world is near too a thousand! Makes you wonder where they get all the people for their armies you encounter.
Reply

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 11:52AM threetailedfox said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
On the side of NPC's, definite yes. For me the lack in some games always felt forced. Either that they were focusing on the issue way too much, like saying that children shouldn't exist in any world that isn't perfect, or using it as a way to build on how dark and gritty they are. I just never got it, as it makes things feel far more natural as a world. They don't have to be everywhere, just exist. Likewise I don't get the attackable thing; because I cannot recall any instances of normal NPC's being killable. Maybe in some kind of RvR thing perhaps, but I've never taken part in any so I can't say.

On the playable side, I of course have to give a major yes as I've stated before that defeating horrific abominations against nature, and looking completely adorable while doing so, is one of my favorite things in MMO's. But at least I can see why some people complain on this one. Either due to being involved in actual combat, or feeling it breaks their immersion for one reason or another. Though on the opposite side, I have trouble really immersing if I actively dislike my character.

Going on a tangent, marginally related to the question, I always wanted to see an MMO going with the protector angle mentioned once or twice above, from the other side. Either something like Anima Online, except with you playing the Anima and an NPC protector, or with player teams. If you could choose which you wanted to be that would be my perfect MMO >_<

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 11:53AM Ocho said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
This reminds me of the Ultima controversy. Basically, in a few Ultima games, in dungeons, there would be placed a room full of children. All these children wanted was just to murder you, and the only way past them was to kill them all. Lots of people complained that this encouraged child abuse.

In MMO's, children create a feeling of a world and that there is more beyond just the part the player sees. By having children sporadically around, it fleshes out the lore and gives the world greater immersion.

However... making them attack you might not be the best option, just to stay away from any controversy...

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 12:31PM kgptzac said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Yes for immersion factor. Though rarely MMORPG are set to create a believable town environment where NPC are something more than a mere merchant/quest giver.

Killing a room of children sounds silly. Games don't need to go there lol.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 12:36PM Vandal said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
We don't see children in MMOs because those would be more models and animations that need to be made. Why have children when you can just copy paste the adult models in a town?

WoW had made some effort to have children NPCs and as others have pointed out GW2 is also making the extra effort to have children NPCs.

A good MMO should have good stories. Children are a part of life and part of countless possible stories revolving around things like protecting families with children or rescuing children who are in trouble or dealing young child princes etcetc. They need to be part of any game that intends to have worthwhile stories IMO.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 1:36PM Daeths said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Yes, along with restrooms, the need to eat and drink at regular intervals. Nightly sleep (and since the day/night cycle is much faster it doesn't cut it that we sleep when were offline) and all those other details that dont fit in a streamlined game

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 1:38PM Anmaeriel said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
There is an absolutely hilarious quest involving a kid and many many water buckets in Sacred 2 (RPG from Ascaron).

But as this example (and many other, like the girls in Bioschock) states, the most kids we see are mostly in RPGs and single player games. Since MMO universes aren't always thoroughly developed, I guess that this aspect has just been left out, like many others that might improve realism.

As for the questionability of children's presence, it only depends on how they are introduced in the world. Children running in a village are most likely than children that would follow you to war (and get killed in the process).

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 1:47PM Demeter said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
For immersion's sake, yes children NPCs belong in a good MMO. And yes good stories are part of that.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 1:51PM mogchar said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I think that it's been less of an issue of immersion and more of an issue of development cost and game mechanics. As others have said the towns in our games haven't exactly been living breathing entities; something I long to see accomplished in our games.

I do hope that towns in future MMOs will become more alive with activity and through this processes children will become more common place. As this happens developers will need to struggle through the representation of children in games and as that happens en mass I hope that they are respectful as they do. We don't need focus from parent groups and the church declaring our hobby/pastime abusive toward children so that we become the cause of every child abuser or molester because he played a game at one time.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 2:04PM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
One of the reasons I haven't responded much of late (besides some others) is that I've read a few comments that mirror mine.

It's obvious why MMOs just don't put children into their games; to avoid potential controversy, since, "killing" is the easiest/biggest thing in MMOs (and Single Player) RPGs and if you show something, you have the potential, at least in game-dev/lawyer minds, to link the dangers of the game-world to that set of sprites.

I like to see kids and even animals (and dogs and cats) in certain games because some observant people do note their absence and the game world seems rather "dead" and/or "bland".

Now, I am an immersion fan and I do get involved, but I sorta know some of the mechanics/psychology of the human brain. In some ways, one can use these to make really powerful and memorable stories, IMHO, although, there will be an audience that will get "ticked off" and no, I am not counting the UO example of a roomful of kiddies out for blood (unless there is a way to defuse that situation wholesale, like turning of a mind-controlling switch or something?). Granted, different people/players will look at something a different way; some may not think deeply about killing children and others may. Heck, even humor is subjective/different from person to person. I think such stories could reinforce certain things in society, if shown in a "caring" light.

I know, it is strange that I can look at this as "matter-of-fact" or even "dispassionately" but there are worlds to show and if you make them more believable and even tell stories with a deftness, I think you will have players invested in a game. The others who want only "hardcore gaming mechanics" are looking for other things that may not coincide with a specific game or IP: To them, story may not matter at all (Again, I sorta wonder why they'd be attracted to a Star Wars-themed or any popular themed-IP when any old basic generic setting and even stick figures would seem to serve them well by their own arguments).

I will say, this question has gotten more complicated on an individual and world level as time has gone on. And then you throw in differing world views into it and even popular media (I am mostly looking at Japan/Asia here and it's youth-oriented culture with Kids that are shown driving robots, flying jets, and traveling around by themselves capturing various monsters in round red-and-white balls, but America also seems to feed on the "kids can do it all" notion, especially on the Disney channel).

But, generally speaking, it is relatively easy for games, especially MMOs to "cheese" things their way (I regularly complain that, due to certain AI pathing, that I can't exploit-kill some NPCs, and I should NOT, but THEY can and do use those exploit "line-of-sight" attacks successfully against ME and hit me when I can't target them in some situations! This is an unfortunate example, but acceptable "cheese" that NPCs can exploit but players cannot that I am talking about.) Meaning, it is easy to either make NPCs unkillable or just make them disappear/run-away/always-jump-out-of-planes-that-are-shot-down-via-parachute-like-every-GIJoe-cartoon). Sure, that might kill immersion for some people (having kid NPCs invulnerable) but I think such cheese would be acceptable to more players than the current situation of having none or a small number of kids (and dogs and cats) in a game world.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 2:09PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Thing is, most mmo's are just combat/quest grinders, not living worlds.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 2:21PM Lumin said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I think children do add to immersion, but to avoid controversy they should only be in peaceful areas where they can't be killed by any means.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 2:53PM Spacegrass said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I've never actually noticed the lack of kids in most MMOs, because the towns don't really feel alive to begin with: when your town is just a bunch of people standing in one place with exclamation points over their heads, adding children isn't going to help much.

If they do add children, I'm all for making them immortal. Invincible children shouldn't be an immersion breaker, because players shouldn't be attacking them to begin with. If they are, then they're psychopaths, and I don't want to be playing with them anyway.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 3:10PM enamelizer said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Children add texture and context to a world, so any proper virtual world should have them in my opinion.

Since most MMOs no longer care about creating vibrant virtual worlds, you see things like children and day/night cycles excluded as well.

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 4:06PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
I like kids in MMOs about as much as I like them in real life. I think they're adorable from a distance, but I get annoyed when I have to protect them (ie. Lalia in LOTRO will forever be remembered as the stupidest MMO child I've ever encountered).

Posted: Feb 8th 2012 4:49PM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
"Haha, I have your Grindgear Gorilla!"

"You better not break Jum-jump! It's not fair!"

What would Stormwind be without this?

Featured Stories

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW