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Little Timmy And The EverQuest Pervert
So there I was, clinging to the spire atop one of the busiest buildings in the Plane of Knowledge, feeling like a pervert. I knew I wasn't a pervert...but the fear that somebody else might think I was one, or even worse, that I was being tested by some undercover officer with bait more befitting the entrapment of a pedophile...made me feel old and somewhat worried about my maturity level.
In my own defense, I can only say...how was I to know? There I was, playing the popular MMORG Everquest one summer afternoon...minding my own business. My lovely little high elf wizard, Finnyinye, was taking a well earned break from adventuring, sitting in the grass by the bank, practicing a few new spells and ignoring the world around her when out of nowhere this nasty little rogue comes up and smacks her in the head. It was a challenge I could not ignore.
He was a fleet-footed little devil, but his skills were no match for mine as I chased him round and round the central city. As I imagined my fingertips closing around the collar of his shirt, the crafty beast swallowed a levitation potion, forcing me to use one of my spells in order to follow him. Like Santa's reindeer, we flew from rooftop to rooftop...bouncing off trees and walls...and somewhere in the midst of all of that...I realized...I was actually having a lot of fun.
I had spent so much time in this game, chasing monsters around and blowing them up, dying and cursing every time I lost experience points that I'd forgotten just how much fun some of the game's basics could be. How amazing it was to just fly...
And that's how I ended up plastered to the side of the spire with my toes barely perched upon a small lip of masonry, looking over at the instigator of the event, laughing and saying "Wow! I'd forgotten just how much fun it could be to act so silly!" It was at that moment, my little rogue friend turned to me and without premeditation, delivered the kiss of death...
"I'm ten years old btw...how old are you?"
My fleeting bubble of child-like bliss withered instantaneously from a sweet summer grape to the last stale raisin in the Sun-Maid raisin box. I had assumed that my companion was an adult, like myself, who simply enjoyed acting like a child. Confronted with the genuine article, I felt guilty of deceiving him and for a moment I didn't know what to say. Resigning myself to the inevitable change in our relationship, I just typed in a direct answer to his query.
I'm not sure exactly what reaction I expected, but it certainly wasn't...
"I wish my mom was as cool as you are. She hates this game. You are a girl right?"
While I was relieved that my age seemed to have no impact on his perception of me as a friend, I was rather mortified by my own reaction. As an adult interacting with a child, my previously carefree attitude was suddenly tempered by such thoughts as responsibility along with a strong maternal instinct.
He was a kid! Running around a game with all sorts of perverts, which of course I wasn't, lucky for him...but what if he bumped into one of those? And now...look, his potion has worn off and he's sliding down the spire to certain death. Without hesitation, I slapped a levitation spell on his ass and was rewarded with a smile and a "Thanks Finny! I ran out of potions."
As far as the rogue was concerned, we were now best friends for life and like an eager to please puppy, he frolicked at my dignified heel keeping up a stream of non-stop chatter. I learned his name, where he lived, what school he went to, how he was doing in school, what his favorite subjects were and the fact that both of his parents worked so he was alone a lot of the time. Either he was totally oblivious to the fact that giving out so much information was dangerous or this was the sloppiest pedophile sting operation in history. Yes, I'll admit, I was a bit paranoid. This "boy" could easily have been one of those undercover agents you hear about that is constantly policing the games making sure it's a safe place for little Johnny or little Suzy to play in.
Well...since I wasn't one of those perverts, I didn't have anything to worry about, right? Wrong.
As luck would have it, my friend, Timmy, and I were invited into a group for some adventuring action. He may have been only ten years old, but his rogue was the same level as my wizard...so in gaming terms we were peers. I noticed, to my dismay, that the biggest slut in the game had been invited along in the group and with avaricious glee she laid her eyes on little Timmy.
"Oooh, Finny...what do we have here...a delicious rogue! I love rogues!"
Sitting in front of my monitor, I began to bang my forehead against my desk wondering how much worse my day could get. Why hadn't I just ignored the head slapping thing? I could be sitting nice and happy in the Plane of Knowledge, still blissfully practicing my spells instead of feeling this odd compulsion to beat the ever loving snot out of this horny hag trying to defile a ten year old boy.
"Back off," I snarled, "he's a kid."
"Finny, it's okay," said little Timmy, "I don't let it bother me."
Well it bothered me, especially when despite my warning, the tramp still persisted in flinging sexual innuendo at Timmy. To his credit, the boy remained silent during all of her baiting...and I had to admit I was in total admiration of his restraint. Then again...would this have really been an issue if I hadn't pointed out his age? Probably not...
Obviously Timmy had been playing the game for a while and had managed to be judged not by his age, but by his ability. So who was the hypocrite? That's right...yours truly.
Wizards, however, aren't known for their restraint. As I teetered on the brink of snapping completely, she opened her mouth one time too many and I simply had no choice. Within seconds, I conjured a flaming ball of whoopass and unleashed my fury onto her hormonal butt, reducing her to cinders.
A Parents Guide to Fighting Online Predators
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As Timmy and I went off in search of a new adventure, I promised him that I wouldn't tell anyone he was ten years old ever again. In return, he promised that nobody ever needed to know I was old enough to be his mother. There were times when it was very difficult not to become over-protective when every instinct urged me to step between him and harm's way. I have to admit, Timmy was one very cool kid since he was very patient with my chronological handicap.
It's ironic that it took a fantasy game to teach me a valuable life lesson. With the ability of computers and games opening new doors of opportunity for our children, they're entering the world, albeit a fantasy world, earlier and earlier. There are so many hidden dangers, and not just of the pixilated monster variety, that it's right for a parent to be wary and concerned.
However, if parents aren't going to become involved in their child's recreation, merely expressing a distaste for the game and then allowing them access to it anyway, the welfare of that child becomes the responsibility of the adults in the game. People like me...or people that might not have your child's best interest at heart...like the pile of ash I left in my wake.
Personally, I don't mind. Especially not with a kid as sharp as Timmy turned out to be. And once he and I had the talk about being more careful about giving out so much personal information, I felt confident in his ability to be safe with his hobby. I'm not an advocate of denying our children the right to explore this almost limitless medium we call the internet or the computer games that have been developed for entertainment...however, please...please...take the time to give your children a healthy dose of self-preservation before sending them off to play.