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Tuesday 21 November 2006

Is WoW bad for your life? [Lurks]

That might sound like a bit of an obviously loaded question but there's more to it than that. Our guild has, over the last year, had thee different WoW-playing couples crash and burn out of the guild in a fashion which is rather more eventful, verging on spectacular, than anything like we normally see. Having seen three of them now, I think we have to look at this being a pattern and also being a WoW husband and wife team in this household, are there any lessons to be learned for me or is it just a case of WoW being a symptom of something being wrong in the first place, rather than the cause?
In each of the cases the central issue is basically that WoW-hubby has expressed a pretty negative attitude while raiding. The key symptom is moaning or bleating as we like to call it in EED and which has, like several other terms, been adopted with aplomb by the guild we spawned. WoW-hubby is generally down on everything. Complains about loot, complains about others and really doesn't appear to be having a very good time of it at all.
The most famous incident was a good year ago when one Swedish couple, both of whome were mages, had a spectacular falling out in a molten core raid. WoW-wife, in this scenario, did the unspeakable thing of bidding on an item that WoW-hubby wanted. He went proper mental and apparently just walked away from his PC and left the house for fear of actually resorting to violence on his wife. Driven by this guys insatiable selfish desire for loot, and combined with their failure to really socialise or genuinely desire the company of other guildies, they eventually took off another guild who at the time was raiding content at a higher level than us. We felt well and truly betrayed since they'd been with us for ages and it was a basic statement that the loot was more important than our friendship. This isn't something you normally see, certainly it's rare for our guild.
WoW couple number two, was all together more subtle. Again a pretty whiney negative WoW-hubby and rather like the first couple, this was known to be causing considerable friction within the household. In both cases WoW-wives were pretty unhappy at the asshat-like behavior of WoW-hubby and this seemed to place some sort of additional strain on the relationship. The second couple had WoW-wife take off from the guild largely because she didn't want to be in the same guild as her man. After that happened, WoW-hubby went sort of silent, didn't sign to any raids and then finally left without a word. Bizarrely they both ended up in the same low level guild together so we've nothing more to report on that. In this case WoW-wife appeared to enjoy social interaction in the game with others, while WoW-hubby absolutely did not.
And finally the most recent case. Yet again another case of a hugely negative WoW-hubby in raids. General complaining about everything, lack of socialisation, refusal to engage in jokes with others, quick to take offense and all that sort of stuff. Again, as in all three couples, WoW-wife got on with others and so when she announced that she wasn't having a good time in raids and was leaving the guild, we were a little shocked and disappointed as opposed to the first two couples that we were, quite frankly, fairly nonplussed about. Unfortunately it's a little difficult to peer into this relationship and know what's going on as to why they wanted to leave the guild, since WoW-wife sort of obfuscates the issue with another, seemingly trivial, grievance.
What we did know however was that all was not well in the home and they were not getting on very well. WoW-wife was also, as in the other two cases, pretty unhappy with the way WoW-hubby behaved in game. This, I think, is what we can take away from all three cases as the common theme. So the question we come out of this is, was WoW the cause or was it merely the symptom of other problems?
I don't know if my view is controversial but I kind of believe that men and women get on in a relationship long term, only so long as they have a decent amout of breathing space each. My relationship is very different from that I see with other couples. We pretty much never argue and even though we both work from home and are more or less in eachother's company all of the time, we get on fine. However I really do need to do my own stuff. However when I gave the wife a copy of WoW and upgraded her PC for Christmas, I didn't really think she'd pick it up and run with it. In fact now days, she plays more than I do!
However when usual couples are in close proximity for protracted periods, it seems to me they don't tend to get on that well. Men are naturally competitive and aggressive and I think what we've basically seen is simply three struggling relationships where the couples are in closer proximity, for several hours a night several times a week. If they're not getting on, we're going to see it. What I can't answer is, would they get on better if they weren't both playing WoW together?
Does this mean all WoW relationships are doomed to failure? Hell no, I'm not remotely falling out with my wife. She doesn't quite raid along side me, she's rather more casual and this being her first computer game ever, she's unlikely to be some uber end-game raider really. That also seems to be the case with a Norwegian couple in game too. Maybe in relationships where both are becoming addicted to WoW at the high end, it's some kind of transference. Focusing on WoW rather than deal with their relationship problems? I'm convinced there's an element of truth in that because in all three cases mentioned here, I've definitely got the sense that the latest tension isn't really about the things they complain about, eg loot, arguments etc, but really it's easier to get annoyed at the game than to turn to the person next to you and sort out your relationship.
Do I think WoW is good or bad for couples, is there some detrimental effect of having both play a game like WoW? On balance the evidence based on what we've seen would have to suggest there is but I don't feel that's the case in our house. I'm actually pretty happy to have something in common like this to talk about with my wife, if I didn't have this I think we'd not have that much to discuss really since we both like very different man/woman type stuff. I think it's down to the people.
In terms of personal development, I think the game has been brilliant for me and I've enjoyed it intensely. I've met countless new folks from around Europe, talk to them nightly on teamspeak. As one of the guild leaders I've had to basically u-turn my natural bad attitude concerning others and learn patience and diplomacy. I'm struggling to think of just about anything else in the world that could have done that for me.
So in the final analysis, I think WoW or indeed any other MMO type scenario, ends up being a basic reflection of your life outside of the game. People who are generally content in their own lives, tend to be generally content in game and people who are missing something, or unhappy with their lives or others around them, tend to reflect that in the game too. I don't think the game has the power to change your level of happiness over all, but I think it can hold a mirror up to yourself and actually allow you to make some changes if you have the strength to do so.


  1. Reading this piece and thinking back on my old relationship, I can only say how bang on Lurks is again.In the beginning of summer of 2005 my fiancee was very enthousiastic about a game called World of Warcraft. We ended up buying it and bought a second copy for me quickly after that.We got pretty hooked, pretty quickly. After a while I got to know people through the game but as I am, I got a bit envolved in the social part of the game. This to the annoyment of my fiancee. He noticed me chatting with other guys and wondered where our social life went. Warning me about the dangers and I do agree there are some sickoos out there. I have gotten to know 2 of them and glad I am not in contact anymore.But the game started reflecting what was really going on with ourselves. He got more and more jealous and annoyed and I got more curious about life outside of a relationship. Things went downhill from there and lots of mending and grieve followed. We still played the game alongside of eachother but I withdrew more and more. Venting my grieve and problems to my online friends.
    We ended the relationship in october 2005. And I can still remember him crying. Its not something I am proud of, he was my friend and lover for 11,5 years. But there had been something wrong for a long time. And the game and gameplay reflected what was going on. I took measures that hurt and were very scary but with the support of some of those friends in WoW, I got through it.
    I have found a lot of myself after that and grew up a lot more. Got in the guild and got to know Slim, Lurks and all the other EED members. Made friends in THH but also hang on to some old friends. They have made a great impact on my life, but more in a way that I got to know me a lot better. And got to deal with different kinds of people. I have met people of the game and EED and feel it to be an enrichment to my life. I have been traveling to England because of it. Something I have wanted since I was 18.
    Quite recently I have even started a relationship with a guy I met through WoW. So far I am very happy with how things turned out and WoW keeps being a mirror. To my own wants and needs and to my own addictions.It can be very distracting and the resolve it takes to balance it out in real life with gaming has become a challenge. I am succeeding in my efforts as far as I am concerned. I finally feel my life is taking the direction it intended to take.
    I agree with Lurks analysis and hope to keep having the strength to change what the online gaming experience is mirroring back to me.

  2. Lifes about balance, not that I have it in any way shape or form perfect in my life. Gaming is something I love, but I always try and fit it round family, football, friends and fookinDRINK.
    It does gall me a lot that I have to rush my kids to bed to make an 8pm GTM raid. I get in from work a bit after 6 normally, chat with wifey eat dinner as a family. Quick play, then get boys ready for bed. On nights i'm signed to WoW the pressure to get them to bed feels ridiculous, I'm forcing my boys out of my sight to play a fucking game. It's not right and something I'm looking at, it's unfair on them and me frankly.
    But being grown up enough to deal with this shit is just too much for some people, as has been proven in Lurks examples. I watched a BBC1 documentary when I got in from work last night, around 9.30, about folk dying with cancer. Perspective, thats what it's called folks.
    Roll on BC, I can get 5 man groups and paly from 8.30. It's only 30 minutes difference but that 30 minutes makes a world of difference in my house for kids bedtime. Much more fun and relaxing. Wifey has been relatively accomodating about it too, but there's stuff going on there under the hood I'm sure :)
    Too much of anything can't be good, single or in a marriage/partnership. An obsessive game which forces you to interact with others, I can see how guys would basically think their bint was getting cyber non-stop. But hey it's only words, if you're a jealous type lock her in a cellar ffs.
    My progress to 60 was long and ardous, not compared to coins tho, I got there but that was fitting it around Celtic/Scotland games and my drinking, plus wifeytime. I'm quite happy I did it that way and can't see the expansion making me play more.
    This is going to sound real harsh now. But if you're a vet of other games and the 'communities' they make, you'll know this in your hearts. True friends are folk you see and talk to, have fun with and pour your heart out to. Face to face. Online shit is great, but amlan utterly cemented the EED guys as true pals in my eyes.
    Eventually wow will curl up and die, how many folk from THH do you expect to interact with regularly once that happens?
    Do the right thing, grow "real life"!

  3. A number of interesting blogs from the Lurk in recent days including this.
    As an outsider, I have to say that WoW does appear to be a really rather demanding mistress. I gave up because I couldn't really put the hours in to keep up. The usual thing happened where a lot of people working from home or with less commuting and / or work hours accelerated so fast away from me in the levelling that I could no longer play with my mates. This lost a lot of the attraction. Then the grinding, after a long day's work, seemed like, well more work. In the end I couldn't do that. It wasn't the game that was only the problem but very much the timescale of progress that caused me the problem. I do think the game is highly enjoyable to the extent I've played it but well that, in the end, was that.
    I have to say - sorry - that the 60+ raiding appears more and more bizarre from the outside. I'm not surprised that it has put fissures in couples. As we all know, practically to a man and boy, online gaming is a very easy medium in which to make a dick of yourself. We also tend to forgive it...somewhat.... because we understand that. But if you were the partner of any of us behaving badly in an online environment, you'd generally be fairly appalled by the behaviour exhibited. Its not the game that's the problem, imho, it's the medium (and yes indeed WoW seems to have onwardly cultivated the hippy-personae of some fiercely ummm *challenging* eed-ers of yester-games) but then really a lot more than that, when you all boil it down, ultimately it's the personalities. And any listening in to any ts type environment of any online game will show people being, well frankly, total twats. If you were partnered with one, or if you were *both* errr one, it's not difficult to see what could happen next.
    But back to raids. I sense a lot of compulsion fatigue in the people in the crosshatch on this. Yes you *can* not sign up and yes it *is* your choice but there is a compulsion in this game and a fear of falling behind. Are you really having FUN? If so, good on you, wish I could be there with you I really honestly do. If you aren't and it feels like the grind, well, maybe you need to ditch the bitch for a while.


  4. I have often thought the same. " How does WoW effect your life? Is it bad?"

    To be honest, I dont see WoW as an addiction, i see it as a hobby, somthing to do when im bored or when noone is going out.

    WoW is a good stress relief, and i don't see how it is different from playing any other games such as Halo or call of duty ect.

    However, It can get bad. If you were to ; miss parties, miss seeing family or friends to play wow, then yes that is addiction. What i do, is always make myself go out or do some activity, even if its just walking round the block, i always try and do somthing. :)


  5. This game is my is a very addicting game and im only 14. I have tried to stop many times but i always get the urge to hop back on, and before you know it 6 hours have gone by. I have even deleted that game from my didnt work. I now have 2 lvl 70's that run ssc and TK.


  6. The problem isn't WoW itself - it's how the end-game model is set up.

    That requires many hours of dedicated play per week. And, if you sign up, you have ot go - or else your guild will ditch you.

    It's liek any other hobby or activity that requires time and energy devoted to it, in order to become top-level. If you hit level cap, and do the odd instance or raid when you get the chance, when it's CONVENIENT to you, WoW is unlikely to destroy your life, but likewise, the chances of you getting your hands on T6 gear drop to a minute percentage.

    Most guilds raid between 3-5 nights a week, depending on size, and their focus area. That leaves 2-4 nights for other things. That's not a lot of time. Guilds tend to raid late; start at 8pm, end at midnight, if you're lucky.

    The difference between being dedicated to achieving excellence and having an unhealthy addiction is very, very slim. It's entirely dependent on who's making the judgement call, nine times out of ten.

    If your partner approaches you with feelings of concern about time spent doing anything that a) isn't immediately productive (i.e. there is no end tangible end product) and b) draws away from the rest of your life, be it work, family or something else, your reaction can be telling. Blow it off by all means. Get mad, say it's your business to do what you want, you're enjoying yourself, having fun. Ignore it. But don't be surprised when your partner breaks down emotionally, and either throws or fit or just leaves. And that's addiction.

    If, on the other hand, you examine it rationally and can discuss it, make a compromise or maybe even give it up for the ones you love, thats a hobby.