Can you imagine not just growing up on a farm, but growing up on one where most weekends crazy grown-ups in silly costumes invade with foam swords and tents for a weekend of make believe? That was the case for Robbie "Master Robert" Maggie "Lady Maggie", and James "Master James the goblin slayer" Disbrow. Their father, Andy "Sir Shean O'Qunilinn" Disbrow talked with us about their Realms experience.
They each started coming to game around ages 2-3 and participating at 4-5. With Robbie turning 22 in June, Maggie 19 in November, and James just turned 15 they have over 5 decades of Realms experiences between the
Robbie found his first Randy Gordon magic item, the Crown of Change, at age 4. James was also 4 when he found his first magic item. Maggie got a magic dagger off an NPC at approximately 10. Sally, Andrew "Sir Sean's" wife, brought them in and out of events at young ages. Maggie marshaled “buckaroo” at a Feast of Creathorne back when they were the Costa Feast fundraisers and had to step in between an angry Curley and Celtrex.
According to Andy they, "all like questing over tournaments, but have said that they really enjoyed North/South War. It is one of their favorite events every year." While all three said that questing is what they enjoy most, and James enjoys improving his martial skills, Maggie brought up that she, " once “liked Blacksmith until they f___ed it up, event holders need to stop messing with things especially spells because they are bored” . "most of your great changes are not good for players or the game we do not like it"
Andy feels that they've benefited from their participation. "They learned many things hand eye coordination, fighting styles, how to make many things out of nothing, independence, leadership skills and problem-solving to name a VERY few. A good amount of time they have learned when things are going to go horrifically wrong and how to maneuver away from it or when to jump in and fix things. Things that in life away from realms is always good to know.
I watched Robbie come out of his shell and be much more independent and assertive. In Robbie’s case he started throwing events at age 14, He was not the first under 18 year old to throw an event nor will he be the last. But because he was my kid a group of “adults” went after him as an event holder and tried to block not only his event that people had fun at but ban all people under 18 from throwing events (it was his 2nd event). I watched a 15 year old gather information, get references and research things well beyond his years to prove his competency as an event holder and his ability to deal with aggressive adults as a child, something NO other event holder has ever had to do. He came up with the amendment that is currently in the omnibus requiring under 18 year olds to have a 18+ person on staff rather than they cannot throw events at all. “I” think this helped him in the long run when he had to prepare for his Eagle Scout project and board of review, 2 years later. He graduates from College in May.
Maggie is a very strong independent young woman, who sticks up for herself. She has watched and learned from many of the woman in realms some good and bad habits. But all in all I think a positive experience that I feel she has come away from realms with some skills that she would not have learned if she had not been part of realms. She might be moving away from realms on an extended leave of absence due to college requirements in the fall. Also some of the males currently in the game kind of “creep her out”. This summer she and her boyfriend are going to be in England with relatives.
James is still very active and changing quite a bit every day. He has expressed wanting to help throw an event possibly in the fall. When He was 11 he was doing very well with Order of the List but 1 weekend he had a soccer tournament and missed 1 event that knocked him from top 14-20ish to 34th.. Point wise he and others did not have a huge point year … but to an 11 year old getting bumped that bad was pretty devastating.. I think he is doing something with Order of the List this year or prepping up for next year."
In addition to the items mentioned above, he brought up some additional concerns/challenges.
"Adults in general need to be aware that kids are in this game and that some jokes are not appropriate for kids to be around. The cost to bring a family is expensive, though many event holders do work with you on kids pricing, but some don’t which causes you to have to pick and choose. Many events NOW are having age appropriate things and many players are realizing kids are out there at events. It is sad when a 15 year old has to carry some one incapable of walking to their tent or when they walk up on people doing things at events that they should be doing at home, or NOT doing at all. I have seen many things at events and it makes me wonder what my kids have seen. I do hear a good amount of things from them, but I often wonder knowing people in realms what did I not hear about."
As you talk to Realms parents you realize that they have, through the game, gained the tremendous gift of interacting with their child in an environment where they get to be a part of their children's "play", while at the same time watching them develop skills that lead to them not just being seen as peers but as leaders in our mixed age community.
When asked about favorite memories, Andy said:
"In relation to Robbie, I would have to say Feast of Blackwood when he and I were fighting in thy deep snow (in October). There was a big dracolitch. There were very cool fights and experiences that weekend.
With Maggie, watching her at a North/South War popping circles with her “skull puckie” familiar from clear across the field, the smile on her face was priceless. Also, one time when she was about thirteeen, we handed her a spear and a big shield and sent here out NPCing.the predator stuff. It was fun watching people run from a young girl with a shield too big for her to lift.
Wish James, I want to say a small quest at a Feast of Leviathan. The site was getting pounded by the NPC’s. Creathorne had 25+ players there. James took the entire team a safe way to the big badie… good leadership opportunity, good group comradely, and a good time was had by all.
It is pretty hard to pick the most memorable though, I have had so many great memories with my kids. Many are with Realms".
Andy offered the following advice to other parents, "I trust my kids to know right and wrong. I am not a Helicopter parent, I let them go off and do things, but I like to be close by. So my kids stayed together when they made friends they stayed close to them. The One rule was never be alone with anyone. Always stay in groups 3 or more. At some point they will have learned who to not be to close to and who to avoid . If you trust YOUR parenting skills your kids will be fine. Some events are not appropriate for your kids to be away from you at. I hear all the time such and such event is not something I would bring my kid to.. I disagree, most of the time it is you don’t want your kids to see you at that event. Many times the kids will gravitate together, I remember one Tournaments of Creathorne when Robbie and an army of kids grouped up in a grand melee, and some adults were less than happy that they got beat down by 10+ kids.. Let your kids have some space and let them have some fun."