MMOs have a well-deserved reputation for being addictive. Here at Mystic Riders, we want to make sure that the players and their parents can agree on how much time they can play in the game and give parents a feeling there is a measure of safety they have control over. Thus, we’re giving them parental controls.
The parental control menu will be part of the games loading area where the player chooses which character they’re going to use for their session. Off to one side outside of an office would be Billie, the camp director, with her clipboard. She and the office door would be the interface for parental controls.
The parental control menu has its own password and Billie will give password advice, like it not being a common password the kids know or something like your birthday.
There are at least three very important controls the parents can implement.
First off, if their child has stated they are under the age of 13, the parent can choose whether or not to turn on chat for their child. If the parent chooses not to turn on chat, the child will be limited to a set number of emotes and a list of commonly asked questions to get help.
Players should be able to get help in playing the game from the game help manual in the phone of the user interface. If they can’t find what they need to know there, then the help manual needs to be rewritten.
The parents can also control how long their children can play the game before they’re kicked off the servers. We desire that Mystic Riders have a system where the game story is set out over half an hour to forty-five minute bites. This would give the player enough time to do chores, maybe run a few races, and advance the plot. The parent would be able to turn on and off or decide if their child can play an hour, two hours or unlimited number of hours should they want to spend more time racing or crafting.
Kids can be overloaded with after school activities, homework, and chores. Setting a time limit for how long they can play the game leaves time for these activities and visiting with their real life friends.
This also gives the option of the players having to choose what type of content they want to do for the day and making the content available last longer. If the player wants to spend their hour crafting or leveling their horse, then that adds an extra day of content where they aren’t progressing the story.
There is a “stay the night” function in the game. This function allows players to spend real money currency (credits) to advance the game’s story by another day if they finish that days story. If the parent has the ‘can only play 1 hour’ selected, this function will be automatically turned off. Otherwise, the parent can choose whether or not they want to opt-in to this function. (All functions that require real world money, should be opt-in, not opt-out.)
Lastly, and almost in correlation with the chat function, parents can choose whether or not their children can accept friend/group invites and join clubs. These will be separate check boxes. We know that some parents will simply desire to have their children be able to play the game without fear of social pressuring or bullying. Letting them choose to turn off these functions so the game in essence becomes a single player game is an option we want to give them.
We hope having these parental control functions will make parents feel easier about having their pre-teens and teens be part of an MMO that will no doubt draw all age groups.