Sep 062010

Several people have wondered where I’ve gone, and I now have the opportunity to set the record straight. (Personal details to follow; skip if that’s not your thing.)

In my previous post, I had said that my wife had taken a bad fall. This was true…however, I left out a key element of the story. When she fell, I was raiding with my headset on, and I couldn’t hear her calling for help from the other end of the house. While she did eventually get my attention, it led to a serious, angry discussion about how WoW was dominating my life and the need for some drastic changes. During the discussion, she pointed out how I’d compromised on my sleep repeatedly, I’d lied to her about what I was doing to play WoW, and how (most importantly) I’d tried to rush our son to bed on raid nights so I wouldn’t miss the raid start time and be benched.

She asked me to quit, and after some more discussion, I agreed to quit for a month, and see how my perspective changed. No WoW, no WoW blogs, no WoW forums, nothing. I cancelled my account the next day, and have not played since (though I think I did log in once, before having a crisis of conscience and logging back out). My account expired some time ago, and I have not renewed. (Interestingly, I get 3x more phishing attempts now for my WoW account password than I used to.)

Now, looking back, I am absolutely disgusted at my behavior. Yes, I loved WoW (the minmaxing, analysis and discussion, really, more than the playing part of it), but that doesn’t excuse me one bit. I can’t believe my wife put up with it for as long as she did. Quitting WoW, however, has made my wife and I much closer; I’ve spent much of the time that I used to devote to WoW with her, and our relationship has improved markedly. (Not to mention, my son is still the coolest little guy ever, and I feel terribly guilty about how I put a game before his welfare. He’s two now, and he’ll come in my office/computer room, grab my arm, and say “Daddy…up…play?” Hard to resist that.)

I’ve realized that I am incredibly good at rationalizing my addictive behavior…after all, I didn’t PLAY WoW much, but I had 50+ WoW blogs that I was current on, I wrote guides for this blog, I analyzed WOL reports for my guild, I watched fight videos on Tankspot, I read boss strategies on BossKillers, etc. I also realized that I felt “entitled” to play WoW because I worked all day and made the money for our family…and as any working parent can tell you, when things are rough, there just isn’t enough time at the end of the day to fit in spouse time, kid time, chores, and me time, at least not realistically.

After a month of perspective of being away from the game, here’s my thoughts on a few things:

  • “Farming” for gear (random drops from instances/raids) is stupid, and it makes me angry to think how much time I wasted on repetitive content. WOTLK, currently, has 16 5-man instances. According to PUG Checker, I’ve completed 268 heroic 5-man runs. (If you count in normal runs, bugs in counting (DTK) and failed runs, I’m sure the number is over 300.) That’s 15+ runs per instance. Let’s say you can do an instance 3 times before it becomes boring…that’s about 50 hours worth of 5-man content in WOTLK. I’ve spent 200+ hours, easily.) I understand Blizzard needs to design timesinks into the game. I get that. Badges are a better way of doing that then relying solely on random drops, so this is improving, but some of the key items for improving your character (weapons, some trinkets) are only available via random drop.
  • Obsessively gear minmaxing is a huge waste of time. It’s one thing if you’re in a guild with high expectations that everyone lives up to (I hate the term “hardcore,” too many negative connotations), but if you’re in the 95% of guilds that don’t, then you’re compensating for someone else’s inability to play well, and that’s not fun after a while. For that matter, most of the fights in WOTLK were execution-based, not gear-based (excepting heroic modes, which I’ll discuss in a second), which defeats the purpose. What do I mean by obsessive? How about farming Sons of Hodir rep (in 3.0, before all the changes to make it easier) where you needed something like 1000 Emblems that sold for 3-5g apiece, or to do 5-7 SOH daily quests every day for 20+ days, to get an enchant that boosted your DPS/tanking/healing by less than 1%?
  • On that note, the daily quest thing also sucks. I HATE that WOTLK essentially says “if you’re not logging on every day to do your daily quests, you’re going to fall behind.” My understanding is that Cataclysm will go to a weekly model, which will be much better. Also, 10 OR 25 instead of 10 AND 25…awesome.
  • Heroic mode raids. I’m still conflicted in how I feel about these…obviously, perspectives vary based on guild skill and personal tolerance. I burned out badly on ICC near the end, but that was due to both it being the last raid of the expansion (why gear up if everything will be replaced?), and a guild raid atmosphere that I felt did not present constructive criticism (though this may be the ex-raidleader in me talking…it’s hard to give up that control).

So where do I go from here?

I’m not permanently done with WoW, I don’t think. It is still one of the most enjoyable and accessible games I’ve played, even if the public community can be noxious at times. Unfortunately, my orders have been changed; I will now, most likely, be heading to a unit that is deploying next spring. As such, I’m going casual. I’ll pick up Cataclysm when it releases, and I’ll have fun with the new content, but I’ll have much less tolerance for timesinks. If it wasn’t for my deployment, I’d probably be looking for an East Coast variant of Skunkworks.

The blog and forums will stick around…hosting fees are paid up through next March, and I’ll even try to write something from time to time (though probably not much before Cataclysm releases). I’ll also be happy to answer any questions people may have, though my experience will go out of date fairly rapidly. Overall, though, I’m very content. I’ve re-arranged my priorities, and my life couldn’t be better.

 Posted by at 4:33 pm  Tagged with:

  59 Responses to “Coming clean (metaphorically)”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I have found myself in an almost identical situation — wife, new child and other responsibilities. I share all of your frustrations. You’ve been my favorite wow blogger, and I appreciate the time you’ve spent helping me improve my game. I have been away a while as well and will most likely be taking a more casual approach moving forward. Wishing you the best!

    • Thanks for the compliments. :)

      A month ago, the thought of me going “casual” would have been anathema…but now, it’s not really a big deal.

      (I hate the terms casual and hardcore, because they”re too indistinct, but I don’t really know better ones.)

  2. Thank you for sharing Alaron. I have found my self pretty much in the same situation. I have 3 children, a good job and other hobbys and I suffered some problems similar to you. Everything was Wow: no playing with my children, no photography, no reading, etc.
    I used to tell to my self “I have the right to play Wow after all day working” but the worst thing is the feeling of guilt that many times I had playing Wow. Finally I decided not to play Wow while my children were awake, only when they were sleeping, but I always ended breaking that rule.
    Finally, after a discussion with my wife I quit Wow temporarily, but I don’t know what happens with Wow that after 3 months without playing I still missed, it is like a siren’s song.
    Anyway, just my experience. I wish you that you can manage your time better from now on.

  3. Hey Alaron,

    RL always has to take priority over WoW no matter how much we want want to slay pixels. Good to hear that rl is getting better for you and your family.

    Ive found that with WoW just like most things in life its getting the balance right that is the hard part but once you nail that you can happily do or try to do all the things that you want to.

    Thanks for all the guides and info that uve put into the Feral class and no matter whether you are on the bleeding edge or not your insights will always be welcome when / if you decide to post again.

    Good luck with everything that you decide to do!


  4. Hi Alaron

    Grats to you for finding a shift in perspective and realising RL issues take priority. I too had a similar experience to you, and I swore I’d never go casual, but it turned out to be ok in the end.
    Now the way the game is, the gap between so called casual and hardcore player is much closer together, and having the occasional play of the game to relax and enjoy (but not be a life foucs) is how it should really be – just a game. Let it be that, but no more than that.
    Good luck mate and I appreciate your honesty and courage in sharing your experiences thusfar.
    …Oh and your stuff about how to play a feral Druid, yeah that is very cool too!

  5. ~thinks~
    ~thinks again~
    ~growls about the feeling in the pit of his stomach~
    ~leaves the page~
    ~comes back~
    ~stares again~

    I salute you, sir. For this and for your service to our country.

    I have a lot of thinking to do…

  6. I’m sorry that you’ve stopped writing for entirely selfish reasons, but it’s definitely the right choice you’re making. Raiding is a commitment, and it’s a hard one when you’ve got so many others. Finding a balance is never easy, but ultimately it should be the first thing that gets cut. You did the right thing, and your family will be paying dividends for years to come because of it.

    Best of luck in the future, come back safe on the deployment, and good wishes to your family :)

  7. Isn’t life without Wow great? I’ve been out of the normal sequence of raiding 3-4 times a week to none. Just log on to do what I want to do. Or just don’t log! and watch a movie. Lovely!

    Have fun is my motto now. And I hope more will follow!

  8. I’m with you too Alaron. I have 2 kids and now play WoW 2 nights a week when I raid with a great guild. Even these 8-9 hours a week seem to cause issues and conflict from time to time with my wife. I totally agree about the timesinks too. I have really enjoyed the latter part of WotLK, specifically ICC as I had completed most of them by then. No more charging about on a friggin horse with a lance day in day out, and no having to log in every day to avoid feeling like I’m not getting anywhere quick.

    I am much happier with the balance now than when I was playing 20 hours a week and so is the missus but it can still be tricky. I hope the rebalance continues to work for you.

    Looking forward to your posts in Cata and wish you and your family the very best in the meantime.

    Cheers dude.

  9. Hey Alaron,

    I’m glad to hear that you have found inner peace. I have found that playing wow a few nights a week after the kids have gone to bed is the right balance for me.
    Sharing wow time with your partner seems to keep the experience fun but we have both had to have a serious look at priorities in the past…Kids/family & friends>work>housekeeping>leisure time(wow).
    Apart from the 2 nights a week raiding with the guild, I don’t feel obligated to log in.
    I have made some good friends from playing wow and hope to avoid burnout as long as possible, I would really miss them, having a captive audience for my bad jokes over vent is worth the monthly fee alone:)

  10. I do find it a bit funny when people say stuff like, Since playing wow, I have stopped reading books, watching TV …

    You havent stopped, you just found something that interests you more.

    My mom finds it odd that I spend so much time playing video games, but her weekends are spent going to quilt shows, Quilt courses and yesterday I was told she had to go to her Quilt Guild meeting.

    Another friend of mine who runs a garage, who shows up for work at 6am, and usually is home around 9pm everyday (saturdays included) and I am the weird one for playing 3 hours at night (at home)

    As for your wife, I feel for her, but would you not playing wow would have made a difference? maybe you wouldn’t have been at home, maybe at the park with the kids.

    I fell off a ladder installing a garage door opener, no one heard the fall. and I was 40 minutes trying to get the door open while laying on the floor in agony.

    The headphones is something I wont do, but lately my wife is asking me to put a pair on for watching TV so it doesnt bother her and I answered that by saying, sure but your snoring is ridiculous, and I want you to stop that by getting those tapes or laser treatment.

    I agree WoW can be all consuming, but so is everything else.

  11. I followed a link from a friend’s blog and found this.

    My husband and I started playing Wow together in the beta before we were married and over the years he has bounced from MMO to MMO, coming back to Wow in the end everytime. I never left.
    Last year I was raiding with a guild only twice a week, but then I was asked to help with ten mans and then I was asked to do other things and before I knew it, my entire week’s evenings were filled.

    After a long and serious discussion with a disgruntled and neglected husband, I quit raiding.
    I stepped away from Wow for a good long period of time and returned recently.

    I made a few rules that I hold myself to such as never allowing myself to schedule something in the game ahead of time. This allows me the freedom of picking if I WANT to log in or not instead of feeling obligated. This also allows my husband and I the freedom of watching a movie together instead or going out. The other benefit is that if we do want to play Wow for a bit together, I don’t have other people who command my attention because there’s a guild crisis I need to resolve or whatever.

    It’s nice to know we’re not the only ones who went through something like this. I’m always hesitant to mention the fact that Wow caused issues for us because people are already so judgmental of the fact that I play video games, I feel like I’m just confirming their negative view.

    Regardless, thank you for this post. It’s really nice to know we weren’t alone in this situation.

    • Marie,
      Thanks for sharing. I completely agree with the bit about not wanting to share because people are already overly stereotypical about gaming in general, and that’s why it took me a long time to write.
      I’ll be doing the same, I think…no more scheduled time. (Except for bedtime. I’ve found it’s important to schedule that or bad things happen.) :)

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