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Azeroth Interrupted: How to tell it's time to take a WoW break

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

Omigawd! I sound like such a twinkie on our WoW Insider Podcast. I'd like to blame playing dozens of levels as a female Night Elf with all that bouncing or blame my move to The Valley this year, but a good friend assures me I have always sounded like a twinkie, even though I'm not one, so it's ok. Regardless of my twinkie status, I had a great time with Mike and Turpster and we got to discuss all sorts of interesting stuff. And, when it comes right down to it, it's all about fun.

That's the reason why we play video games in general and WoW specifically: fun. Otherwise, why spend so much time immersing ourselves in Azeroth and Outland, if we aren't enjoying ourselves? I get the idea from the comments, forums, general chat, guild chat, etc. that there are a lot of people playing the game who are currently not having fun, however. I'm not talking about the restlessness most of us are feeling in the extra long gap between content patches. There are many vocal people who seem to be very unhappy, even with all of these fun changes coming up in the next few weeks -- or because of some of the changes. So, if you aren't having fun, why are you still playing WoW?

There are some people who play the latest and greatest big game so that they have an audience to complain to. An audience potential of 9 million is a bit hard to resist for those who enjoy attention of any kind. And there are people who have so many online friends in Azeroth that they don't want to let their account lapse -- it's more of an expensive chat program for them. (Flashback to my last months in EQ, all those years ago.) But the players who don't fall into those categories and are still playing through the pain may be in such a habit of playing WoW that they don't realize that their leisure activity is no longer providing the benefits that it should.

A vacation from WoW may be just what you need to bring the leisure back to your life now and the joy back to Azeroth later... if you return. Is it time to take a break from WoW? Ask yourself these questions:

Are your grades or work performance declining or other responsibilities being neglected?

If you aren't getting your real life taken care of properly, the stress will severely reduce the enjoyment you have in any leisure activity -- not to mention that you are endangering you or your family's basic survival. Captain Obvious to the rescue! Cancel your WoW account now. After you have real life back in order, scheduled your time more wisely and gotten into an established routine that successfully balances responsibilities with leisure activities (it may take a few tries), then you can replace some of your leisure time with WoW time.

Are you considering buying gold or an account or a powerleveling service?

It is actually pretty easy to get gold without spending real life (beer/manga/yarn) money and risking getting your account banned. The daily quests are specifically for that, but there is also playing the AH, providing crafting services for pay and doing all those quests in Outland that you skipped over while leveling to 70. Using a leveling guide (link goes to my favorite Horde one) makes those pre-60 levels go much more efficiently and, I think, more enjoyably. Once you get to 58, leveling in Outland is almost too easy -- with so many quests that you can do different areas with each character. If none of this sounds like fun to you, then what are your plans for your new character (or your old character with the new epic flying mount) after you give your real life (beer/manga/yarn) money to someone for playing the game for you? Questing, achieving and acquiring is the whole point of playing WoW and if these aren't enjoyable to you anymore, it is time to spend your leisure time elsewhere.

Are you upset that all of your quality AFK time in AV has been eliminated?

What were your plans after collecting all that unearned honor? Hitting autorun in the other Battlegrounds so you could collect marks one at a time? And then what? Standing in a cave, pressing spacebar while you watch TV is a waste of your 15 bucks a month. Cancel your account and come back when 2.3 is released so that you can do the PvP daily quests. They will be a much more fun way to get honor and the Season 1 Arena gear will be available for honor purchase instead of Arena points.

Are you upset about the new ratings requirements that will be coming for the Season 3 Arena gear?

No, you aren't going to be able to get the same weapons and shoulders in Season 3 by losing 10 games a week that players who win 10 games a week will be able to earn. But grinding Arena losses can't possibly be fun. If you don't have the time to practice with your team so that winning games can be your goal and you don't have fun doing anything else in WoW, then it may be time to find another home for your video game hours. Please do remember, however, that while the Season 3 weapons and shoulders will be more uber than the Season 1 and 2 gear, the Season 3 set bonuses will be retroactive to the previous season gear. Also, all other Season 3 gear will still be available to you without rating restrictions. Therefore, while the high achievers in Season 3 will undoubtedly look cooler than you, they will not out-gear you by too much.

Is "Blizzard can't get anything right" your mantra?

There is a very easy way to make them pay for their transgressions and stop the madness -- quit giving them your money. If enough people agree with you and cancel their accounts too, Blizzard will have to work harder to "get things right". Now, I'm an unabashed Blizzard fangirl -- I think they do get most things right. But I'm also an MMO veteran. I've had my newly crafted goods pickpocketed from me when I tried to sell them in UO. I've lost levels when dying in EQ. And I've spent hours playing AO when it was so buggy, it was in worse shape than most of the games I tested when I did video game QA for a living. For me, WoW is the best MMO I've played (though the months I played Galaxies before Sony ruined the game were true gaming bliss). But I have a lot to compare it to. If you feel that Blizzard is getting everything wrong, but have too much invested in the game to just give up on it, then take a break and go play another MMO. You can play Anarchy Online for free or try out the betas for upcoming contenders. If you have the spare cash, City of Heroes/Villains is a blast (at least for the first 20 levels or so) and there are a lot of other MMOs out there trying to coax you away from Blizzard. If you play another game for a while and still feel Blizzard got it wrong, then the time away will make it easier to press the Cancel Subscription button.

Leisure time is supposed to be fun time. It should be a break from your stresses and an escape from your troubles. Your leisure time should give you enough relaxation so that you are more refreshed when you tackle the less pleasant parts of your life. If WoW is not accomplishing that for you, then it is time to step away for a while. We'll be here wearing our Eyesight Enhancing Romance Goggles (hic) if and when you come back.

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.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

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