Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.
This week, I am answering an email from Bonechiller:
I am a 15 year old that enjoys playing WoW in my free time. School starts for me in 6 days and my mom informed me today that I won't allowed to play WoW during the week. I play in a raiding guild and would like to raid Sunday-Tuesday (3 nights a week). I don't understand how. It is not fair, I have a 4.1 GPA and do not do drugs or drink. I also play in the marching band and on the school tennis team. She won't listen to anything that I have to say about this game, I mean, it is so much more productive than sitting there watching T.V. or starting at a wall. All she does is read the threads of the people whose lives have been ruined because of this game, about 1% of the game population. Is there anyway that I can convince her that it should not be a problem that I can play 15 hours a week? She just doesn't understand what this game has done for me socially, and it reduces my stress SO much. I just don't know anyway to make her understand or let me play, do you have any suggestions?( You are a mother, but you do play the game =))
~Bonechiller- 70 mage, Eitrigg US~
P.S.- I want her to read what you have to say, since you are a mother and can relate to her, in motherly ways)
First of all, you're not going to want to hear this, but I applaud your mother for being an active parent and I can see her concerns about your active school/extracurricular schedule possibly being compromised by school night gaming. With patience and constructive communication, however, I think the two of you can come to a compromise that will make both of you happy.
I don't think your smartest move would be to direct your mother to this article. She really has no reason to respect anything I have to say -- I'm some stranger writing about WoW on the internet. I think she would be much more impressed and convinced if you go to her armed with good arguments in your own words, accompanied by tangible examples of your being able to get things done while still being an active WoW player.
You make some extremely valid points. I agree that playing a video game in general, and an actively social MMO like WoW in particular, is a much better expenditure of your time than watching TV. You are puzzle solving, developing strategies and practicing social skills while playing WoW. The most you can get out of TV is possibly learning some new facts on one of the semi-educational channels like Discovery or History -- without being able to interact and ask questions. You are also correct that there are many temptations as a teenager that you are avoiding with your busy school and play schedules. I congratulate you and hope you keep it up.
Your mom has obviously instilled you with good values and you seem to respect her authority -- even if you don't agree with her rules. It seems her ambitions for you (and hopefully yours) lean toward a college education. She knows that at your age, school is getting harder and more time consuming. She also knows that your grades and your extracurricular activities will decide what quality of university you will get into and whether you will qualify for scholarships. These are very important things to be thinking about at your age and your guild's progress in the endgame content is not a question you are going to find on a college application. So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to prove to your mother that you are working toward common higher education goals and that playing WoW responsibly -- even on a school night -- will not hinder those goals and will even somewhat help your time management skills as well as your self-discipline practice.
Bargain: Your first step is to bargain for playing on Sunday nights. If you promise to complete all of your assignments due Monday before your Sunday raid time, ask if she will allow you to raid on Sunday nights. Even if she says no at first, keep up your end of the bargain and show your mom every week that you have finished all your schoolwork and your Sunday night is free. It is important that you show your mother the actual work and not make her take your word for it. She may trust you, but it is very convincing when the incontrovertible evidence is before her and it will really help her realize that you are at least as serious about school as you are about gaming.
Don't Procrastinate: Complete all assignments ahead of schedule, whenever possible. This is a good idea even if you don't want to fit in schoolnight gaming. With this strategy, any tasks that end up taking longer than you anticipated will still get done on time. And if you show your mother that you have completed work that isn't even due for a couple of days, she will realize that you are already showing time management skills that you will need to succeed when you get to college. You particularly want to get your work done so as to show that your Monday and Tuesday nights are usually free for leisure activities.
Keep up the good work: Stay in the band and on the tennis team. These activities really balance you out as a person and will also look awesome on your college apps. If you drop one of these because you don't have time, there is no way your mother is going to let you raid on school nights and may cut your gaming out entirely.
Be flexible: I know you want to raid every single Sunday through Tuesday, but sometimes you are going to have to study for things due on Tuesday and Wednesday the nights before. Understanding that your WoW time has to be more flexible than your study time really demonstrates maturity and proper priorities. Once you get your mom to agree to Sunday night gaming, your next bargain is to ask for a flexible school night schedule. If your work is done for the week and you show that your test and assignment grades are good (actually show her any teacher comments and/or scores), ask for permission to play on nights when you've got nothing else to do and would otherwise be watching TV. Again, if your mom says no, keep doing the work ahead and demonstrating the good grades and the free nights. Keep up your end of the bargain, no matter what, so that your mother will want to reward you.
The Ultimate Goal: Though purples and end-game progression are pretty important goals for you right now, they really are nothing in the big picture. You most likely want to have a nice cushy job in the future where you can afford to buy yourself a top of the line gaming system for your nice house in an upscale neighborhood with a flashy car in the driveway -- and have plenty of time to do server firsts for whatever new expansion is out at the time. WoW may not even be your MMO of choice post college -- who knows? The best way to achieve your goals (regardless of whatever highschool dropout success stories you hear) is to get a college degree. (Plus, university life can be a ton of fun and I recommend the experience to everyone.) If you agree that getting into a good college is your biggest real life goal, then voice this to your mother when you are making your bargains. Tell her that you want to work with her to achieve this goal and that school night gaming -- when it fits into your schedule -- is just your immediate reward to help motivate you toward your longterm goals.
College Practice: If you end up living on campus or at least leave home to attend college (again, an experience I recommend to everyone if possible), you will have a lot of freedom and no one to make you get your work done on time. It will be up to you to properly schedule your schoolwork around your other activities and keep yourself disciplined. This is where a lot of very bright people fail, because highschool was so easy for them they didn't have to study and never really learned how. Often, the people who struggled a bit in highschool are the ones who are most successful when they get to college because of the study habits they picked up in order to get decent grades. Getting work done ahead of time so that you can show your mother the results will teach you the kind of discipline you will need to succeed when you are on your own. And you can use this info when trying to convince your mom to schedule raid time along with your other activities.
Your mom's job is more than just to make sure you have food, shelter, a WoW account and clothing -- and she seems to know this. She wants you to thrive as a human being and she is trying to give you the skills you need to make it out on your own. If you sincerely demonstrate that you both have the same goals, you are going to have a much easier time getting the more immediate gratification goodies that you ask for. Don't ask her to trust that you will do a good job, prove it to her and ask for the specific reward of raiding on school nights -- when possible, without adversely affecting your other activities.
You are fortunate to have a mother who actively cares about your present as well as your future and she seems to be equally lucky to have a well balanced, bright teenager. I wish you the best in both school and your raiding endeavors and I hope you keep us up to date with your progress.
Robin Torres juggles one level 70 Tauren Druid, multiple alts across multiple servers, two cats, one toddler, one loot-addicted husband and a yarn dependency. After years of attempting to balance MMOs with real life, Robin lightheartedly shares the wisdom gleaned from her experiences. If you would like to ask Robin's advice or if you have a story you wish to share, please email Robin.Torres AT weblogsinc DOT com for a possible future column.