Thursday, May 7, 2009

'Toon Custody

Growing our WoW toons is a lot like a knitted piece of work. Choices are made from the beginning as to what class and race your virtual ‘character’ will be, it’s named, and off you go. There are now 80 levels of growth that the game marks, but nearly infinite ways of measuring your toon, dictated by how you play.

Choices like, will you PvP with it or PvE? Player vs. Player toons are set up differently, via gear choices and ability enhancements, than are Player vs. Environment toons. Those are the ones set up for ‘instances,’ otherwise known as dungeons or raids. It took me about a year to get my first toon leveled all the way up, and even longer to get her geared appropriately enough to be a team member in a raid.

My next toon (called an 'alt') is still leveling, and is at 63. But now that I’ve been through it once before, I’m leveling this one smarter and with an eye for what I ultimately want to ‘raise’ her to do.
See, a lot of time, thought, and just plain hard work goes into nurturing these toons to be viable in the end-game content. There are folks who actually sell well-developed toons for a ton of money on eBay – I’m talkin’ four figures here, folks! And surely you’ve heard news stories about how game gold sells for real life cash. Why does it have any value at all? Because of the time it takes and the effort that went into it. Getting the virtual gold and the uber toons took an investment on somebody’s part.

A lot of married couples play together and entire families too. They have multiple game accounts in their households (and computers) so they can log on at the same time and quest & raid side-by-side. I know, “Aaaaaw!” Well you know, a family that kills monsters together sticks together, lol.

But what happens when these couples don’t stick? Big uh-oh. Who gets custody of the toons??? Guys, the game is a big damned deal for families like this.

This happened to a friend and guildmate of mine. She had two topped-out toons on a separate account so she and her husband could be online at the same time and be on the same raid team. Their two sons also had toons on their own accounts. Yup, four accounts in that household. Well, one of the boys didn’t have a topped out toon, so she transferred her main (her first toon) to his so he could play with it and not feel left out.

But the marriage soured, and they went in different directions. He briefly had the boys, and changed the passwords to all three accounts, one of which still had her main on it.

Once the divorce was finally settled and she was given custody of their sons, she was ecstatically telling me that she also got her main back. To which I replied, kind of tongue-in-cheek, “So the judge gave you custody of the toon?”

Okay, so there isn’t really WoW character custody laws on the books. But apparently there are laws about any online accounts of the kids’; those go with the custodial parents! So yeah, the judge gave her and her kids all their toons – hubby had to hand over the kids' WoW accounts (snicker).

Don’t ya just love a story with a happy ending?

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