I'm 46 and like to play video games – specifically on the PlayStation 4. But age can play a curious role in self-policing when playing online.
Let me explain…
My game preference is the first-person shooter (think Battlefield, Titanfall or similar) and I love to play online with people I know, all of us on mics, having a laugh and chat. It makes gaming a lot more social and, yes, even more fun that it already is.
A few years ago I was part of a 'clan' that was intended for 'mature' players. They did this by having an age limit in place (24 and over, if I remember correctly). Except, maturity is not defined by a set age. You don't become 24 and suddenly become mature overnight. And what is maturity anyway? I can make poo jokes with my 8 year old all day – jokes which are, on the face of it, very immature. What they were actually look for were people who would play seriously, whilst still having a laugh but not spend the time screaming down the microphone, calling names, etc (if you want to experience this, just play any Call of Duty game, which is invariably played by 12 year-old-boys who would most certainly fit the aforementioned stereotype).
Eventually I joined another group (they don't define themselves as a 'clan'). They have no age limits, in fact they have no rules at all. Yet, those who are part of it are mature in the way that the previous group were trying to attract. How did they do it?
It's all in the name.
The new group is called "Old and Rubbish" (OnR). The previous group has a generic name with no reference to age or ability. OnR is self-policing – not only do younger people not want the 'old' attachment but they certainly don't want people to think they're 'rubbish'. Indeed, the 'rubbish' is self-deprecating – we're actually quite good. We're just not interested in playing competitively, just in having fun.
In fact, a colleague at a previous employer of mine, was in the same initial clan that I was. He wanted a change after I'd left and asked who I was gaming with. When I initially described the group he was really interested, although I'd referred to them as "OnR". It wasn't until he asked what the "OnR" stood for and I explained it that he lost all interest (and hasn't joined me to this day). "I'm not playing in a group for old people", he told me. He was 30 but not the most mature person I know.
That's how it works.