A Letter To Parents
A letter to parents about the online world of Haelrahv:
First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Rich Mondy. I'm 42 years old, unmarried and I don't have kids of my own. This letter isn't one as a parent to a parent. However, I am sensitive to what kids may experience in our virtual world and I believe it is your right as a parent to know these details ahead of time so that you can judge whether or not your child should play. I will be completely frank about what your child may experience in this game.
Haelrahv is a game set in a futuristic fantasy world, literally a planet called Haelrahv. There are elements of magic, high technology aspects and so on. Players build a character of one of many types and create a role for themselves. They make friends (and probably enemies sometimes, too). The strongest pull of these types of games is usually the social element. I personally have friends that I keep in touch with that I've known since I started playing these types of games in 1996.
Haelrahv itself is a mostly unmoderated game. While we do not specifically foster aberrant behavior, we don't do much to restrict it either. We rely on the player base to police themselves and each other by social pressure, and so far this experiment in social engineering has been a success.
For example, players are free to attack other players if they choose. Despite this, because the staff does not "rescue" anyone or set down a policy for this, we have had very little actual conflict of this type, because generally those who pick on other players find themselves under siege by other players willing to defend those less able to defend themselves.
Many of Haelrahv's players are adults, and a good portion are not. So far, our population does seem to be more adults than not, ranging from young adults to middle-aged or older players. Our largest dynamic seems to be in the 20 to 35 year old range.
As one can imagine, this does create a bit of a difficult atmosphere for kids from time to time. When a child plays a game like this, usually the players of the game will not know how old that child is unless the child tells them. No personal information about any player is ever accessible through game mechanics, so any personal information acquired by others would be by that player voluntarily divulging their personal details. If your children do play, we encourage them to provide as little detail to others as possible, other than perhaps their age.
As part of role-playing a character, some players will choose to act out romantic relationships. This can include simple friendship, romantic actions (kissing, etc.), marriage and even acted out sex. Because Haelrahv has no structure by which the staff involve themselves in any of these matters, it is possible a child could find themselves involved in such a situation with another player, be it another child or adult.
Generally, adults will not choose to engage in any form of romantic involvement with a child for obvious reasons. However, it is still possible that this type of situation could come up, especially if a child is interested in it and chooses to not divulge their age or profess to be an adult. Remember, other players only know personal details they are told by a player, so they have no method of verifying age.
There are also other risks involved such as the potential that a player will choose to assault another and act out some form of rape fantasy. Or, players may act out a sexual situation in a public place, exposing passers by to it. While I expect this to change at some point, as of the writing of this letter, we have had no known cases of either of these situations coming up yet. These are rare incidents, but they will happen from time to time. Even in a moderated game, they happen from time to time as some players are willing to accept whatever punishment for the possibility of getting away with an act, much like real life crime.
There is also no regulation on vulgarity or obscene language, and while this has also been quite uncommon to date, it is only because players have chosen to regulate their own language, not due to any policy by the staff.
Finally, substances such as alcohol, tobacco products and even drugs may appear in the game. Players are free to choose to use or not use them. I must state that I am personally very much anti-drug in "real life". In fact, I've personally never used an illicit drug and am rather proud of that fact. Still, to me, a game is a different situation and these things are a bit more acceptable. While drugs aside from tobacco and alchohol do not yet exist in the game, they will at some point. We have already made one guideline that they will reflect the afflictions of addition, the reductions in one's abilities as is common with such drugs, and so on. In other words, it will hurt the character more than help them to use them and so they should be considered recreational items with serious consequences.
Whether you choose to allow your child to play Haelrahv or not, I hope this letter has been helpful to you in making that decision. Feel free to contact me at any time with any questions you may have using this form and I will gladly address your comments and questions.
-- Rich Mondy, Haelrahv Owner and RPGN Partner