Let's be clear about a few things. First off, almost all video games on the market use some form of combat or violence. I've seen the use of green blood, or even cartoon characters to lessen the impact of that. KOL doesn't bother with animations. It's done in the fashion of the old script based games... As in, it's almost all reading. Period... If your child can read well enough to pass the tests at the alter of literacy, and can spend hours at a time solving complex puzzles that require most adults to spend many hours reading *how* to solve those puzzles, then your child is probably ready for this game. The game does not have a killing effect of any kind in combat. Instead, you beat up opponents and they slink away in shame... Or they beat you up, and you slink away in shame. The game assumes there to be one monster of a specific type in a room. And only one. You never, ever, ever kill them (with the exception of the slime in the slime pit). For example, the Goth Giant. There's only one Goth giant, and you'll fight him many times on your quest to spin the chore wheel in the castle in the clouds so that the laziest giant there will stop dumping giant garbage into your kingdom... This is a game full of quests taken from old Twilight Zone episodes, and Indiana Jones, and even the Ninja Turtles. It was made by a group of people who wrote text based adventure games and books. Remember the old choose your own adventure books? I have three Kingdom of Loathing choose your own adventure books. The developers latest game is Word Realms, where you combine basically Scrabble with RPG wizard fighting. It's very cool, and hobestly, if you care about your child's brain you may wish to encourage games that revolve around reading and puzzle solving rather than flashy expensive graphics and an over rated expense budget. This game is indeed aimed at adults in that almost everything in the game is a reference to something we grew up with. From Back to the Future, to the Fifth Element. It's all in there. Scattered throughout the game. So, Ask yourself this. Does your child have the patience to spend hours reading instead of playing their Xbox? Because, that's what Kol is. Hours upon hours of reading. With no video. Stick figure black and white graphics. No help whatsoever solving overly complicated puzzles meant to make adults frustrated. And when you beat the game, your character goes to Valhalla, makes one skill permanent, and then starts the whole process all over again. If your child has that kind of patience, and actually enjoys the game, chances are they are far too mature and developed for this to be a question. And, since I know many adults who get lost and can't even complete the first or second quest, they must have iron clad attention spans.
Now, that said, your child likely won't like this game. It's too cerebral. They will likely want something expensive and colorful. Your teenager might show some interest in this game if they are going in for video game programming (that's how I found it, it's rather popular among programming students and teachers), or if your child is an avid reader with a great sense of humor and a long attention span. Your teenager may also be drawn to it for the cultural references, but it really has two major appeals. The right brain is drawn to the humor, amazing wealth of solid written material, and sheer fun. The left brain is drawn to the endless min maxing and maximizing mechanics implemented in the game. For example, I've played for almost ten years, and have built a character who can beat the game in four days, at my very beat. The bell curve to beat is two days, and the was that's likely years more tinkering with math before I get there... As you can see, a hobby of programmers, not children. The right brain appeal, however, is open to any who have the patience for the game. So, before getting worked up over how appropriate or inappropriate this game is, try to understand that your children won't have any motivation to play it unless their brain map fallows a very specific pattern, which simply won't happen for most children until high-school or college. If your child is younger than that and exhibiting signs of that brain map, I'd recommend challenging them more instead of letting them sink the hundred plus hours it takes to really get good at this game. Because, if your young child is capable of out puzzling and maximizing adults, your job is to channel that towards something productive. Not video games. On the other hand, if your child has an interest in programming... Maybe you should ask why this game is one we pass around video game programming schools.
Anyway, there's my long winded before work rant about why your child won't be willing to play this game if you paid them, unless they were extremely high functioning and requiring more special attention and less play time.
Oh, and for the record. This is the best video game I've ever played in my life... But, I've got a 173 IQ, and broke Skyrim in about an hour. I break every game I find. This game is built for people like me. No matter how much I break it, there's always more to do and break. Updated weekly, too... And, it always makes me laugh. So, if your a reasonably intelligent person, perhaps you'd like to try it for yourself instead of relying on the opinions of others. Your kids might not like it, but you'll probably love it.