A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that combat is an integral part of this massively multiplayer online game (MMOG), and players will attack and kill computer and human-controlled opponents with swords and other medieval weaponry. There is no blood. Parents also should be aware that costumes can be mildly racy and players can take off their character's clothes down to their underwear. Like all MMOGs, Guild Wars is an online game with online communication can be unpredictable. Parents should take note that, unlike other MMOGs, this game does not charge a monthly subscription fee.
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What's it about?
GUILD WARS, also known as Guild Wars: Prophecies, is the first in a trio of games that allow the player to explore and quest in an online mythical fantasy world. The story, which is surprisingly engaging, concerns an ancient prophecy on the fictitious continent of Tyria and puts the player in the role of champion. Tyria is part of a vast fantasy world that includes other regions and continents. Those areas are also available for play in other Guild Wars games: Factions and Nightfall.
Players take on the role of a heroic character and battle against monsters and other players. They can design their own character using a mix-and-match system of skin colors, hair styles, magical abilities, and fighting skills. By questing and defeating computer-controlled monsters, the player's character gains experience, new abilities, and improved clothing and weapons. The quests are fairly easy, even if completed without the aid of other players. By the end of the main story, the character will reach level 20, the highest level in the game.
Is it any good?
Outside the main storyline, players can fight against each other in player-versus-player (PvP) combat. Unlike many MMOGs, successful PvP play does not depend on players having better equipment or higher skills. In PvP mode, characters are outfitted with the highest level of equipment and skills, so that success in combat is largely dependent on the players' strategy and teamwork, and not just on the quality of their gear.
Guild Wars is a MMOG in a very loose sense of the term; the only thing that's "massively-multiplayer" about it are the large towns where players can meet to go on quests or PvP. The actual game areas are "instanced," meaning that teams get their own copy of the world to quest in. The upside of this is that it keeps costs down; the downside is that random encounters with fellow adventurers happen only in the city areas, providing less opportunity to form casual pick-up groups. That said, the benefit of playing such a game online is that players can team up with other players to tackle more challenging obstacles.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online safety with their teenage children. Why shouldn't you give out personal details online? Is everyone always who they claim to be? What does effect does online anonymity have on people's behavior? Families can also discuss Guild Wars' unusual business model. How can a company make money if no one pays a subscription fee?