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Azeroth Interrupted: Reader Mail -- Overcoming fears of raiding

Before I get to Roberth's Reader Mail, I would like to announce that I'm transferring Azeroth Interrupted over to Massively under the name of Gamer Interrupted. It's going to be the same column, except it will be about balancing real life with playing MMOs in general, not just WoW. I'm not leaving WoW Insider -- in fact, I've started writing a new weekly column called WoW, Casually which I hope those of you who have a limited WoW play time will read as well.

So please come visit me at Massively on Tuesdays for Gamer Interrupted. And those of you who won't, I miss you already! I love you guys! sniff

On to Roberth's email:

Dear Robin,

First, let me say that I thoroughly enjoy your posts...my wife and I play WoW (me since Day One, she since I surreptitiously installed it on her computer last year) together and are glad to have found a source of enjoyment we both love! Anyway, the issue I wish to seek some advice on:

I've been raiding in WoW ever since MC was the only place in town and am starting to do the TBC raids (took awhile for me to level my Priest up to 70). I'd like to see my wife raiding with me and it seems she enjoys the level of camaraderie in raids (I catch her hovering nearby my computer when raiding, listening in on the Vent chatter) but the couple of times I've brought her along on raid events (largely just ZG) she seemed either out of her element or just not comfortable. I'm not sure if it's because it's a different role she needs to play (she's a Warrior and I think does fabulous in it) in the raid environment, or if its something as simple as clashing personalities in the larger groups.

Thus, what do you think would be the best way to introduce my wife who's never gotten into the raiding environment pre-TBC (she hit 60 about a couple months before TBC and never really got to raid MC, BWL, et al) to raiding in the Outlands?

Thanks and keep the good posts coming along!

Roberth the Holy Priest glad to have a Warrior mate

Dear Roberth,

First of all, I'm sorry it took me so long to respond to your request (you asked this in July!). Hopefully, you don't need my advice anymore, but I'd like to address it for anyone else who may be interested. The fact is that I fear raiding myself. So I'm going to offer the possible reasons to be afraid to raid and some suggestions for overcoming them.

My husband's first reaction when I read him your email was "Hey she plays and she lets you raid! Be grateful!" It does sound like you appreciate that your wife shares your hobby, so that isn't a problem. Though he does bring up a good point. She may never want to raid and that's OK. As long as you both get what you want out of the game and you get enough together time, then really that's all that matters.

And that's the first thing to determine. Does she really want to raid? If she doesn't, then I say leave it at that. This is about having fun after all. If she does want to raid but has too many reservations to enjoy it, then we need to determine what they are. And that's the next thing to do, ask exactly what is bothering her. Because I can't ask her directly, I'll talk about the things that bother me and how to address them.

Raid noobness:

No one likes to be a noob. Education is the key here. Have her read up on the raid online or at your guild's designated strategy site. Also, Amanda Rivera did an excellent series of Learn2raid guides which she may want to read.

Unfamiliar territory:

If it is my first time in a raid zone and everyone else has been a few times, I feel overwhelmed and embarrassed about being the noob. The best thing to do is to have her sit next to you while you do the raid instance in which you eventually want her to join. Play tour guide as you go from place to place and explain each boss battle beforehand. When you succeed, explain what went right. When you fail, explain what went wrong. It won't fully sink in until she does it herself, but this can build a great foundation to help alleviate her discomfort.

Unsure of raid role:

It's not as simple as being designated Main Tank or Off Tank or whatever -- there are a lot of little things that she needs to know about her role in the raid. When you are giving the raid tour to familiarize her with the territory, have her be watching the person who is doing what she would be doing if she were in the raid. And allow her to ask questions if he or she is willing to answer them (most people are very willing to show off what they know).

Uncomfortable with strangers:

People you don't know very well are hard to read over the internet, even with voice chat. Her reticence to play with your fellow raidees may have nothing to do with personality clashes, it may just be a simple fear of embarrassment in front of strangers or just a general discomfort with barely known people. And there is also the fear of being misunderstood -- people often don't get my sarcasm, for example, and that can lead to very awkward moments. Captain Obvious comes to the rescue here. Turn the strangers into familiar acquaintances. In between raids, arrange to group with as many of the regular raidees as possible. The more familiar she is with them and they are with her, the easier it will be for her to acclimate to raiding.

Fear of making mistakes:

This is a biggie. I am terrified of making a huge blunder and wiping the raid. You can tell me that everyone makes mistakes or remind me that death in WoW is not so big of a deal, but I still don't want to let everyone down. The solution to this is group, group, group! Practice makes perfect. (Captain Obvious snickers in the background.) It sounds like you two do a lot of duo questing -- which is a real blast. Some of the best times I've had playing WoW has been the questing from 60 to 70 in TBC with my husband. But I can't tell if you two grouped with others too much. Regardless, she should PuG it up and group with your fellow raidees as often as can be arranged. This will not only be good practice for her and make her more comfortable with strangers and the people she will be raiding with, it will also help her to get better gear.

Lack of perceived support:

It doesn't sound like this is a problem with you, judging from your email, but I have encountered this when gaming with significant others over the years. Sometimes a boyfriend or husband will treat his loved one differently in front of people than how he treats her alone -- this applies to real life and gaming. Also, he may be far more patient of others than he is with his wife. Your moral support, communication and patience can make a huge difference in whether your wife enjoys herself raiding or considers it a chore.

Stress level:

When raiding, the stress level is much higher than soloing or questing in pairs or grouping for instances. And a lot of people, me included, think it reduces the benefits of playing WoW for a leisure activity. You are right, however, that the camaraderie and the strategy and the loot and the sense of accomplishment do make up for it. The more often she raids and the more fears that get addressed, the less stress she will feel and the more fun she will have.

If your wife has the time and the desire to raid, then identifying and overcoming her fears about it is the path to success. It seems to me that she has good support with you and together the two of you can enjoy all that the TBC endgame has to offer. But if she really doesn't want to try or she tries it and doesn't want to try again, then respecting her feelings is extremely important. Raiding isn't for everyone.

Good luck and keep in touch.

Robin Torres juggles one level 70 Tauren Druid, multiple alts across multiple servers, two cats, one preschooler, 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 Gamer Interrupted column.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Azeroth Interrupted

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