In hindsight, I really shouldn't have started this thread, I apologise; I knew this debate would likely start, but I did it anyway hoping that I'd get some feedback from people who have actually done this (which I have to a degree, thank you to those who have offered their feedback) rather than people questioning why I'm doing it in the first place.
For those curious, we had our first trial over this weekend, and here's my general thoughts on how it went, as well as some general responses to some of the comments made above.
- The reading is very helpful as I suspected (there's a lot of "big" words to an 8 year old in the newbie quest lines), however now we've gotten to the end of the quests I'm going to need to encourage him to explore and speak to NPCs if I want him to continue doing this (or I direct him where to go myself) - this could be an issue if I want to focus on his reading
- He's enjoying killing enemies, although beyond auto attacking and weapon-skills, I suspect more advanced battle is going to be a little while off yet (which some other parents did suggest and I can agree to now first-hand) - this reinforces what I've said before that I don't want him in parties yet (someone mentioned earlier that without being in parties he's not going to learn how to play his job - that may be the case, but he's really not old enough yet to do that anyway)
- The chat filters can't be locked down as much as I had planned on - tells can't be blocked completely (although with ChatMon and Windower I could probably do it), and party chat can't be turned off, however as per the above point, that isn't an issue at the moment
- He's starting to learn about aggro pretty quickly thanks to the numerous Quadav around Bastok and managed to get all the way to the Crag of Dem today for his telecrystal with minimal prompting (once he worked out how to read the map he was fine)
To be perfectly honest, I'm expecting him to get bored of the game before his 2 weeks is up since I'm not letting him interact with people, but we'll wait an see how things go. If he does decide to continue, he's going to have to put some of his pocket money towards his subscription, so we'll see if he thinks it's worth it.
To everyone who's saying letting an 8 year old loose in Vana'diel is irresponsible, I agree with you 100%. However, I'm not letting him loose, and that's really the point here. Without the community interaction, it's really no different to playing a console game, the main difference being I can also play with him too (can't think of another Final Fantasy game offhand where that's possible).
I also understand people don't want to be playing with players who can't play the game properly - again, I don't want him playing in groups yet either, both for his sake and for the sake of the other party members. This isn't an exercise in jepordising the rest of the server. It's not fair that the rest of a party should have to watch what they're saying just because I choose to allow my son to play, or have to deal with a player who doesn't understand the mechanics of Provoke and why or when they should use it (although believe me, that is by no means exclusive to younger players...)
Essentially, the reason I said I'm not looking for debate is because I'm not looking for debate. I know the issues, I understand the risks, and after weighing them up, I've made a decision as a parent that I can put appropriate controls in place to make the gaming experience safe for my child without screwing it up for the rest of you; if after the trial period I determine I was wrong in that assumption, I'll stop him playing. It's not rocket science people, and saying "no" when it's appropriate is part of being a parent.
From a household perspective, it's like anything else. Homework still needs to be done first, still gotta get some time outside at the park after school assuming he's not at sports training (he plays aussie rules football and basketball), and he can only play when I'm playing, which means it doesn't happen until after I'm home from work, which forces an artificial limit of maybe half an hour a night at most 2-3 times a week. School goes back this week, I suspect he's probably not even going to take advantage of those 2-3 nights a week most weeks, he'll be too busy doing other things (watching Simpsons, playing with his Lego, listening to music on his iPod, which incidentally he saved up for with his own money from his birthdays).
If after all that you still want to assume I'm a bad parent simply because I want to spend some time with my kids doing something we both enjoy, then I can only assume you've never had kids, or your standards are considerably higher than mine are (and at the risk of sounding immodest, I like to think my standards are pretty good for my kids). Either way, it's not your input I'm looking for in this thread.
The thread was aimed at other parents who have played with their kids to get a better understanding of the parts of the game that are going to potentially trip my kids up - I'm not 8 and haven't been for some time. It's exceedingly easy to forget what your level of understanding of things was at that age, so my hope was for other parents who have experienced this first hand to give some insight so I can be prepared for the types of problems I'm likely to run into.
If you've made it to the end of this, congratulations, I ended up on a rant ^^ Apologies.