Whether we realize it or not, a game's reputation greatly impacts whether we decide to try it or move along. Since Wizard101's creation, it has been labeled by many as a "kid's game." Though the game is marketed as a "family game" and its playerbase consists of a wide range of players, it's not hard to see why Wizard101 gets the kid's game reputation. The pre-selected character names and a highly restrictive chat system are just two of the elements that usually clue people in.
Recently, I was directed towards an MMORPG forum post written by TylerN. It reads:
"My friends and I are 14 years old. I am the only one who plays Wizard101 and I think its an amazing game with great gameplay experience. After completing one wizard, and being half-way done a second, I am starting to get bored of solo questing and the game is so much more fun when playing with friends. So, I tried to get them to as much as look at the game and give it a try, and they won't budge. They say the game is "geared towards kids" and therefore "can not play it". I have tried so many things to show them that this point is ridiculous, but they stand with it. Is there any tips you could give me to try and get them to as much as try it out?
Well TylerN, you're not alone. I know plenty of people who have refused to try Wizard101 simply because of the "kid's game" reputation. So, let's break down why Wizard101 might have gained this reputation and what you can say to your friends in response.
Why: Game Graphics and Style
Response: Yes, Wizard101's graphics are a bit outdated. It's not as crisp as most other modern games, and the characters have a very cartoony look to them. Is that a bad thing though? The game is 8 years old and that's an amazing achievement in this day and age. Although I agree that Wizard City in particular could use a graphics overhaul with it being the very first area that players are introduced to, there is far more to Wizard101 than what meets the eye. Besides, take a look at the latest worlds such as Polaris or Mirage to really see what Wizard101 is capable of in 2017. Stunning.
Why: Marketed Towards Kids
Response: I haven't seen any lately, but Wizard101 commercials used to air all the time on channels such as Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. At its core, Wizard101 is a family game, and kids are certainly a part of that. However, that doesn't mean Wizard101 should be LIMITED to kids. Like Sonic or Mario or Donkey Kong, Wizard101 tries to appeal to many audiences. It may not be as complex as other MMOs out there, but I think that's exactly the point. It's not supposed to be complicated. It's supposed to be something that a 12 year old, a 21 year old, a 50 year old, or even a 99 year old could pick up and understand. Just because kids CAN play it, doesn't mean YOU shouldn't.
Why: Parental Controls
Response: Parental controls and Wizard101's restrictive nature probably tops the list for why people think of it as just a kid's game. Wizard101 features pre-selected character names, menu chat, and a fully moderated message board. Although there's nothing you can do about the character names, you do have a few options as far as chat and forums are concerned. In addition to menu chat, Wizard101 also offers text chat and open chat. Text chat allows players to freely type within the game's approved dictionary, and open chat (for people 18 years old and older) gives even more freedom. Open chat does have its communication challenges as well, but for the most part, it serves what it needs to. To get around the fully moderated message board, take a look at Wizard101's largest fansite: Wizard101 Central. Central's forums occur in real time and are packed with all sorts of different people. Moderators are present to make sure people are following the rules, but so does any responsible gaming forum. And if that doesn't tickle your fancy, explore the completely unfiltered Wizard101 community on Twitter.
It's Not All Rainbows and Unicorns
Sure, you run into the occasional leprechauns and SOME unicorns, but that doesn't mean Wizard101 is easy. Like any game, when you progress far enough, things can potentially get difficult. Certain bosses require specific strategies to avoid battle "cheats" and many players rely on guides. Additionally, Wizard101's storyline is intense and dark at times. Over the years, Wizard101 has matured along with the players who enjoyed the game back in 2008 and 2009. Just take a look at the Malistaire the Undying wiki page and tell me that battle doesn't look complicated.
You're Forgetting the Best Part
Oddly enough, the reason Wizard101 is constantly knocked is (in my opinion) one of the best reasons to play it. Because Wizard101 is truly played by both the young and old, you get to meet so many different types of people. Not only that, but the family atmosphere makes the Wizard101 community an extremely welcoming one. Any community has its bad apples, but overall, there isn't much toxicity. When it comes down to it, the Wizard101 community is optimistic and supportive -- something rarely seen in many other gaming communities.
Don't Assume. Experience.
So what if kids play Wizard101? Is that really the only thing stopping you from trying it? Kids also play Call of Duty, but that's not stopping anyone. Stop judging games by who plays them, and instead start evaluating them based on personal experiences. Remain open-minded ... you never know when a game might surprise you. Besides, why are we all rushing to grow up anyway? I'm a college student and I'm already suffering from Peter Pan Syndrome.
Don't let reputations dictate your decisions. Decide for yourself.