191: Those Left Behind

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Those Left Behind

For every story of an MMORPG bringing a couple together, there's another where a game has pulled them apart. Logan Westbrook recounts how his wife's World of Warcraft habit has put some strain on their marriage.

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It's certainly true that any obsession can have serious effects on a relationship, and WoW just seems to be one of the worst things to be obsessed with, because in order to keep raiding and whatever, you have to be there at a certain time, and there's little flexibility.

Playing together can be awesome, but it can also be extremely painful. I don't tend to play with my boyfriend on anything other than co-op fps, so it doesn't lead to us not speaking to each other.

Man, maybe I'm just childish and don't get it and stuff, but seriously, this doesn't seem like such a big thing. I mean, I'm quite the droid type- u know play a lot of games all the time- but come on, it sounds pretty embarassing to realise that a mere kind of entertainment f**** up your relationship with someone. Though, if that's the case, I'm really sorry for you.

I played WoW from Jun 2005 - Jan 2009. In that time I quit the game a total of 7 times, for the last time this year.

During that time I gained a lot of weight, lost a high level of fitness and physical strength that I prized, and wasted a lot of time on something that is ultimately intangible. Hell I even got this from playing the game "hardcore" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilonidal_cyst - and I had to go under the knife. I was your atypical WoW addict - no question. And like all addicts I denied this claim.

It wasn't until I moved away from the city (and a broadband connection) that I truly began to see the full range of effects that my addiction to this game had on my life. My wife I'm ashamed to say has suffered the most because of it, and just about everything mentioned in this particular article I remember having happened between us.

What really broke it for me was 1 day realising, although I wanted to play other games or do other things, I couldn't because then I would fall behind in leveling, grinding gold/mats, pvping etc etc. And that this game will never change, it will just continue to be added to and updated until it no longer makes money.

The only redeeming feature this particular game has in my opinion, is the fact that players from multitudes of religious/racial/national/sex & age backgrounds can work together as a team to achieve a common goal, and usually the only discrimination is based on your skill level.

Truly a good article on how people can get lost and leave those behind for other connections kinda like a certain...forum. Anyway it was very enjoyable to read and of course I did love the picture of the groom and tauren bride. I hope you special little moo moo will get over WoW soon enough.

If this would be any game we're talking about then it wouldn't be as serious as your problem with WoW. I love RPGs and WoW is exactly the kind of game for me but I skipped it knowing the possible time consumption.

I think you should be a little more straightforward to your wife. This is your relationship after all, if you don't act now and improve it will only get worse. Take some control and set things straight with your wife to get some more time with her. I guess the problem is that you can't really play WoW on a non-permanent basis, maybe cold-turkey is best for you and her.

A good piece, and one that does remind me of when I was somewhat hooked on a MUD (don't laugh ... or at least, not too hard). Anyway, this is the problem with virtual world leisure times - they take you away too much from the troubles of this one, so much so that your real life can suffer badly. I got off lightly, and I didn't have a wife to worry about leaving me, but I can easily see how such activities can led to wrecked lives.

Reading your piece, I have to wonder if, when I eventually find myself with a girlfriend or wife, if I should give up or reduce gaming (although I'm not on any MMO), or if I should go the opposite way and try and draw them into it.

One of us....one of us....

Yours is an interesting perspective, and honestly one I've never seen before. The "WoW-widows" I know tend to be the nongamer type. The only truly hardcore player I know well is married to a very old friend of mine, and as she's the product of a family of rabid female gamers, she seems to take it pretty much in stride.

I'd guess a little more balance on both sides is probably due, but as someone who's trying to get her own inner WoW-fanatic in balance, it's hard to say. Best of luck to you.

TomNook:
One of us....one of us....

Jooooin usssses.

No actually, I dont have an addictive personality, I let my guild members know that despite how much they groan and gripe, my real world activities will always be my top priority, and thats how it goes. In return they'll recieve a nice, mild mannered, fair player at all other times. It can be anything from babysitting my little brother an evening to popping outside for some air and a chat with a friend down the road.

I see that as a fair exchange. I hate how some players pressure other people into obsession by making them feel bad about 'not doing this raid, or this instance' at their designated time. Thats how it gets to you. And I'm not gonna let it, I laid down the rule for my participation from day one.

I don't know how to appeal to your wife, try little things, like going out together normally. Something outside of games might shatter both of your perspectives into rethinking daily activities.

~Charli is a female WoW-er with a New BF who gets roll-eyed about it now, so I almost see where it's coming from. I like WoW, I don't like people who dismiss it just based on articles and social retards, it's a good game, and if you're smart, you can play it without the community 'getting to you'. And hell maybe enjoy it while you're at it.

This article really made me think about how I've been neglecting my parents lately.

I really need to do something about that..

not to be insensitive but "It's a strange thing being married to a hardcore WoW player, a hearty blend of frustration, irritation, worry, resentment, loneliness and, as I mentioned, no small amount of irony. WoW represents a breakdown in our marriage, not in the sense that we don't love each other anymore - nothing could be further from the truth - but in the sense that I feel like am in some way competing for her attention. Imagine starting a conversation with someone only to discover that they're on the phone. Now imagine that the person with whom you want to speak constantly has the headset to their ear, whether they're on a call or not, and you can never tell whether they're listening to you or to some disembodied voice on the other end of the line." lmao its like hes the girl and shes the dude! she won't listen to me, i want attention!

also, i really think you are being really hypocritical i one sentence you said "but when you've cooked dinner for someone in pans that you had to clean yourself the night before, only to have them let the meal go cold while they grind their fishing skill" If she wasn't playing wow, wouldnt it be her feeling that way with you playing another video game. I think before you get up set about "losing" your spouse from a videogame you yourself should quit playing videogames, cause in all honesty if she didnt play wow then she'd be the one feeling these feelings.

chickenlord:
also, i really think you are being really hypocritical i one sentence you said "but when you've cooked dinner for someone in pans that you had to clean yourself the night before, only to have them let the meal go cold while they grind their fishing skill" If she wasn't playing wow, wouldnt it be her feeling that way with you playing another video game. I think before you get up set about "losing" your spouse from a videogame you yourself should quit playing videogames, cause in all honesty if she didnt play wow then she'd be the one feeling these feelings.

Your general rudeness and sexist attitudes aside, did you actually read the article all the way through? I ask, because you seem to have missed the part where I answer the question you asked.

I used to play WoW hardcore, but I don't do it in Wotlk anymore since there's no reason to, because epics are so easy to come by. I just log in 2-3 times a week and raid and that's it. Back in TBC, there were still viable grinds available you could do, so I put on a audiobook in my media player and did a 6 hour session grinding honor or rep or cash.

Gaming itself can be a simultaneous bonding activity and point of division. Altogether, though, it's just proof that human nature strikes us where we least expect it. Sometimes that escapism really is just a good break from reality. Granted, it's a break that can also come with lounging on the couch with a movie in the DVD. The draw of MMOs is they're always there. 24/7, there's someone out there that you can hop on and run off with.

The key to mingling with a fanatic is finding a homeostasis. If the wife is playing too much WoW for your comfort, then ask how you could ask her how she can be encouraged to spend more time with you. If you feel you're shorting her of her own time, then adjust plans so that she can enjoy herself in that way. Without finding the middle-ground, though, someone is going to be miserable.

Sometimes, the MMO just appears in lieu of other plans. When you compare the chore of doing dishes with WoW, then the latter will win-out without fail. If you plan an outing to the park for a picnic, it doesn't strike me as too likely that the level 80 instance that was about to be run would win out over quality time. Though if it seems to bother you as much as the article suggests, then the gap's going to grow without some input.

Marriage is a fanaticism of its own, and needs just as much input as any MMO. If not more-so.

I also used to play WoW, fortunatly I had better things to do than waste my life, social skills, athletic prowess, ect...

nilcypher:

chickenlord:
also, i really think you are being really hypocritical i one sentence you said "but when you've cooked dinner for someone in pans that you had to clean yourself the night before, only to have them let the meal go cold while they grind their fishing skill" If she wasn't playing wow, wouldnt it be her feeling that way with you playing another video game. I think before you get up set about "losing" your spouse from a videogame you yourself should quit playing videogames, cause in all honesty if she didnt play wow then she'd be the one feeling these feelings.

Your general rudeness and sexist attitudes aside, did you actually read the article all the way through? I ask, because you seem to have missed the part where I answer the question you asked.

I'm sorry if i offended you by any means but i was just stating what i thought about the circumstance. From what i saw in that post i wasn't being deliberately sexist in any way if i was I'm deeply sorry! Edit: Oh,and my post before that one...was really sexist...sorry about that...i would take it off if i could :(

ps: i did read the article, and i think that videogame addiction is serious business, that we all on this website are currently in :P but if the problem isn't at an extreme i don't see the problem with a little Wow crazy.

Well, it's a little thing, but I'd suggest a switch from headset to speakers (dealing with feedback left as an exercise for the author). I've never WOW-fished, but perhaps it's possible to fish, eat and chat? Maybe even going so far as to change the location of the computer, or the table it's sitting on. But this is all ramps-for-the-wheelchairs.

Otherwise, you could get her a bot: kill two birds with one cup!

Anoctris:
Hell I even got this from playing the game "hardcore" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilonidal_cyst

Please give us a warning next time you link to that.

Am I the only one who thinks there could be SOME insult implied that it's a female tauren in the picture? I mean... he's talking about his woman... and representing her with a COW....

I'm a very bad person, I know x_x

I've lost a lot of friends to that infernal game. I love gaming and it takes up a good part of my time but apparently the game took up more of their time. It got to the point where even when I did manage to talk to them they refused to talk about anything but the game.

It even managed to cause me to lose a big portion of my life, I played it about 9 months and missed out on a lot of opportunities to play it and fill that need. I've played other MMOs that I genuinely enjoyed and even play them now, but none of them seemed to have as negative an effect as WoW. It may have to do with the people on the games; on WoW it quickly changed from playing the game because I liked to to playing it because people in the guild needed me to--like no other MMO I've played.

Its funny that after quiting and not coming back I realized how mediocre and boring it was, even compared to other MMOs. What really helped me quit the game was quitting my guild.

To Logan, I wouldn't say give your wife an ultimatum to throw out the game or anything but you need to call attention to it and make sure you're heard. Maybe structure a limit to how much she plays or how much both of you play games a week. Ensure that both of you have set time together to do something other then video games. Don't let a game distroy your marriage.

A touching story. I really did feel my heart wrench at a point or two.

WoW addiction... such a topic... where to begin??

I'm a fifteen year old high-school student. I began playing World of Warcraft shortly after the Burning Crusade upgrade. I continue playing it to this day, only taking a single month away from the game.

About two months after leveling my first character to seventy, all hell broke loose.

I stopped eating healthy, I stopped paying attention to my schoolwork, creative writing, friends, family, and for a few days at a time, even personal hygiene. This only lasted for two weeks, but it was truly the worst two weeks of my life. After this week, I immediately canceled my account, and went back to enjoying my life.

After a month had passed, I returned to the world of Azeroth. Only this time, I came wiser. I came with a limit determined by myself. I came with the knowledge that I wouldn't turn into a, as they've been called, an "amorphous blob of flesh and cheetos."

I've been playing since then, and maintain a 3.45 GPA with two Advanced Placement classes. I creatively write, run a successful RP here on the Escapist, maintain a healthy relationship with a beautiful member of the opposite sex.

What I'm driving at is that World of Warcraft only does these things to you if you allow it to. For me, WoW is now a way to waste time when inspiration runs dry, the homework bin is clear, and the lady is away from contact. And that's the way the game should be; just like any other.

Well I successfully quit wow about 2 years ago,
My cousin got me into it when i was just going in to grade 7
I think the best way to quit is to find a way to be genuinely bored with it
if you have other exciting things going on around you, then you will realize that grinding your fishing/mining/uber-farming skills up to max for 8 hours isn't that appealing anymore

the best piece of advice i can give is to focus on things in your wife's life that are outside of WoW and take an interest in them

You just nailed my fear right down the ground with this great article. This is exactly what I fear if I ever get into a relationship with another gamer. That something like WoW is going to put a 10 m electric fence with barbed wire on top between us. I really hope this doesn't happen to me, because this seems like a rather big problem.

I hope you'll manage to get out of this without breaking up, Logan.

Man, I used to get so pissed off playing WoW...
"To see her slamming my old wireless mouse into the desk because it died on her..."
Yeah, I know that feeling all too well. Thank god I stopped playing, for some reason, it always inflamed my temper like no game I've ever played before. It wasn't fun, it was just a very engrossing addiction.

Logan: Good luck.

Don't think it's childish, it can be a very serious thing as the gamingwidow website demonstrates. It's not any less of a problem because the woman is obsessed with video games instead of the man, if it the situation were reversed you'd be hearing:

"Stop being an immature little kid and grow up!"

"I'm not going to be your maid while you play video games all night again!"

"we don't spend time together anymore, spend money on me somewhere expensive to vailidate my importance!"

"Get off your ass and help me around the house!"

"I feel left out, its either the games or me!"

Divorce and cheating on him for not 'meeting her needs' would be acceptable while her girlfriends give 'you go girl's and other-double standard nonsense. If it's this big of an issue, talk to her about it. You aren't whining, you aren't being childish, and you aren't in the wrong. A hobby is fine, but being sucked into it that much, ignoring your spouce, and neglecting chores around the house and making the other do them are NOT ok. Being critical of your wife isn't keeping womankind down.

This game is terribly addicting. I tried the 10 day trial and am now thoroughly hooked. There's just something about it that makes you want to just get that last quest done or just reach that next level.

I just hope I don't lose myself (too much) in the world of warcraft.

Flying-Emu:
A touching story. I really did feel my heart wrench at a point or two.

WoW addiction... such a topic... where to begin??

I'm a fifteen year old high-school student. I began playing World of Warcraft shortly after the Burning Crusade upgrade. I continue playing it to this day, only taking a single month away from the game.

About two months after leveling my first character to seventy, all hell broke loose.

I stopped eating healthy, I stopped paying attention to my schoolwork, creative writing, friends, family, and for a few days at a time, even personal hygiene. This only lasted for two weeks, but it was truly the worst two weeks of my life. After this week, I immediately canceled my account, and went back to enjoying my life.

After a month had passed, I returned to the world of Azeroth. Only this time, I came wiser. I came with a limit determined by myself. I came with the knowledge that I wouldn't turn into a, as they've been called, an "amorphous blob of flesh and cheetos."

I've been playing since then, and maintain a 3.45 GPA with two Advanced Placement classes. I creatively write, run a successful RP here on the Escapist, maintain a healthy relationship with a beautiful member of the opposite sex.

What I'm driving at is that World of Warcraft only does these things to you if you allow it to. For me, WoW is now a way to waste time when inspiration runs dry, the homework bin is clear, and the lady is away from contact. And that's the way the game should be; just like any other.

I had about the same, played hardcore for a while untill a few months before WotLK. I went back a month before WotLK with the exactsame attitude: it's a game, not a second job, don't treat it like that. So I simply didn't, I raided every now and then (not on a regular basis, only when I felt like it), I leveled a second character (even though I played pretty hardcore, I had just 1 level 70) and I enjoyed the game casually. Best thing was: my guildmates excepted that, were cool with it. That was pretty important, because I've been with those people for almost all my post-70 ingame life, so I was very happy to be able to play with good and friendly people in a casual, fun manner. Then WotLK came and everything went just as well. Untill januari, when 2 things happened: I ran out of content, seen all the dungeons, cleared most raids, seen most of the quests and explored the whole new continent (I loved it all, every bit of it) and the mentality of my guild changed to a "hardcore" stance (they didn't allow friend ranks anymore, so I got kicked and the guild fell apart over it, yes I was a well known and respected member). Those 2 things combined made me leave the game, not being able to play with the people I like and basicly nothing else left to do then farming the same content over and over again. I enjoyed my stay in WoW, maybe I'll check out a new expansion when that comes, but untill that I won't play it anymore, I've had my fair share.
Bottom-line is: the game or any game only becomes a second job because YOU treat it like that, if you don't want it to be a second job simply don't treat it like one. It's all a matter of having the right mindset. Heck if you ask me, the second job mentality rather ruins the game. Rushing through all that beautiful made content for what? A few raids, and especially lots and lots of epeen? Shame really, the game deserves better.

Anyway, to the writer of the story:
A sad story indeed, your wife has to realise that moderation is the key.

A sad story, one i've experienced from both sides. although i've never dated a gaming addict i've dated a soap addict.
I wish you the best of luck with trying to get your wife to get some time in the real world.

I recently left a relationship with a girl who was a soap addict.
Religiously she would watch about 3-4 different soaps. She would whine if she missed an episode (even though she would read all the details on what was going to happen at least a week prior) even on several occasions she would stop, mid-conversation with me to watch the show as the adverts ended.

She, like many stories of WoW addicts have also depicted, became scarily violent about these. A bus was late home so we missed the first few minutes of it, and she was furious. Also if i ever touched her, just to cuddle or hold her hand, she would literally growl at me in annoyance.

I did understand where she was coming from though, which is likely why i stayed as long as i did. I've been addicted to various games, whether its power-housing through a FF game or grinding for that epic on WoW.
I've been addicted to WoW 4 times now, and still have an active account. To help me deal with this i've tried setting myself limits, such as only playing with RL friends and not getting too involved with guild raiding etc.

It's an interesting dilemma, and I have found myself in this sort of problem, but usually it was an online sweetheart that was out of sync, as you might say. I was playing WoW for a bit, then I had other life events that prevented me from playing it. I come back to see that not only did most of my guild leave me behind, she started a new character on a new server and had gotten pretty high up, and was on the wrong (alliance) side. Then there were the times she said she would level with me, she got ahead, and I calmly asked her why she did that, and she bit my head off and accused me of being like someone else she knew. She still plays Wow, and we're pretty much just friends now, and it seems that she'd rather do her own thing anyway.

I don't see it as being hypocritical, as being more self-aware. I've played both sides of this story several times, and I realize what might be the cause as to why I'd escape into an online game some times, and be the neglected person in others. It also didn't help that some of the women I knew were the kind to disagree or deny things, whereas I was expected to own up to everything. It makes for quite an interesting time, for sure.

I can just imagine the sexist remarks to what I'm going to say next, so I'm going to put on my flame-retardant suit. You'd know her better than anyone else, so I recommend thinking back to things she really likes, and kind of bombard her with them as sort of a distress signal; start out with the more subtle things and work your way up to pretty much giving her physical feedback (backrubs, kisses) that might trigger her memory of physical affection.

It may just be an addiction, or there might be something going on that she's escaping from. I suppose it's difficult to know which it may be and not really sure if knowing is half the battle in this case.

I do applaud you for bringing this to light that it can also affect men, gamers or not. May you avoid the mortars of machismo and be immune from flames of ignorance. Godspeed.

A great article, i especially liked the ending. I play MMOs, but i have the self control to step away when other things need my attention. If i have school work or friends that want to hang out, then i wont bail out on those things because of some raid i need to do. The only time I work with a team in an mmo is when i have time set aside for that, not when i should be doing other things. It is all too easy to lose yourself in a game like WoW, its not for the weak of heart.

A really great piece. Thanks for making me feel less alone. Though the "EQ" addiction my husband suffered is years behind us, I too struggled with the sense of selfish-ness since I was a gamer too.

As such, things like WoW Widows (which didn't even exist then as far as I know) were not for me. After all, I don't hate gaming. I love it. ^_^

Great read man, reminds me of that Modest Mouse song 'Baby Blue Sedan':

And it's hard to be a human being
And it's harder as anything else
And I'm lonesome when you're around
And I'm never lonesome when I'm by myself
And I miss you when you're around

If you're really that worried you should sit your wife down (again) and really express your concern. Try to take her out somewhere nice, get her away from the comp for a bit. I myself play WoW but haven't yet gotten into the whole raiding/PvP thing as of yet. Mostly because I suck at PvP. ;P

You should try explaining to her that you're feel a bit left out of her life because she's spending so much time on WoW. Try to get her to do some other things with you. You're a gamer and she's... well not quite a gamer in the same respect. You're married so you must have things in common otherwise there wouldn't be a relationship. Why not go back to those things that you must have in common?

*EDIT*
I forgot to comment on something else. The VOiP thing is actually kinda common. It's happened to me (in the reverse) a number of times. I use it as a casual thing, not just for gaming however. I talk to people all across the world and often times people nearby become confused and try to respond to a question or comment I made that wasn't directed at them.

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