RuneScape, the world’s most popular MMORPG, has been around for over five years now, receiving tremendous success with its medieval gameplay. The original idea of giving the player freedom to do anything he or she wishes to has captured the interests of millions of people around the world; however, is it appropriate for all of them? A diehard RuneScape player myself, I nevertheless cannot help but maintain that RuneScape is not the ideal game for minors for a multitude of reasons.
From the first moment that a RuneScape account is created, combat is the overarching theme to RuneScape. From slaying dragons for their hides to harmless birds and implings for Hunter experience, nearly all aspects of the game-quests, skills, and player killing-involves fighting. Undoubtedly, this gives great pleasure to the competitive teenagers and adults of the modern world, but what ideas does it place inside the mind of a minor? Such excessive combat is not recommended for a child and is little better than handing him a game rated M+.
The worship of gods is a central theme in RuneScape. Countless gods such as Saradomin, Guthix, and Zamorak exist in the MMORPG. The game even takes the liberty of placing virtues and values upon each, deeming Saradomin the god of wisdom and Zamorak the god of chaos and evil. The worship of gods is evident in the Prayer skill where the player can bury bones and worship altars to gain special abilities “invoked” through the power of these gods. Thus, Jagex raises the issue of religion and provides imaginary deities for the players to worship as a source of recreation, an idea not suggested for minors.
As if this weren’t enough, players also have the option to train Herblore and Thieving-yes, thieving. Herblore is a skill where different ingredients are combined to make potions that boost other skills. This is a controversial issue as it has been compared to the subject of making drugs in the past. Furthermore, the release of Thieving has raised an issue of concern among some. Players are given the choice to pickpocket other people, steal from stalls, and break open doors.
Even more recently, Jagex, the company that created and updates RuneScape, has allowed the chat filter to be turned off. Prior to having the option to turn off the chat filter, offensive words would be censored by the chat system. Since then, any player now has the option to disregard this and turn it off with a single click of the button, exposing some very young children to inappropriate content.
I hold no skepticism when I say that Jagex intends RuneScape to be a game enjoyable for its players. It tries its best to uphold this for players of all ages, protecting minors from the relatively harsh player community by limiting chat and such. Nevertheless, parents may wish to think again before allowing their younger children to sign up for this game.