Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.
Why do you play World of Warcraft? If you don't know what you want to get out of playing – if you're just surfing the wave after being swept up by the current – you'll be vulnerable to making poor choices when something that happens in game or even gaming itself conflicts with something else in your life. What is it that you value most about your WoW time? (Do you relish mastering raiding content with your guild? Do you savor the downtime of ticking off levels and achievements on your alts? Do you simply want to deflate after a long day by hanging out on Vent with your buddies?)
Prioritizing what's going on in your game is the first step in prioritizing what's going on in the rest of your life. Things get especially tricky when you're trying to balance your hobby time with your own family. This week, the Drama Mamas help two readers tighten their focus. One young player discovers that there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything he'd like to plus play WoW, too, and another reader struggles to figure out how to balance tells from a pesky young relative with enjoying a relaxing evening.
Even a Naughty Illidan loves his mum
Hey hey Mamas, I need some help, please! Now, my mum and I agree that it's cool for me to play World of Warcraft -- and I do, but there is one minor problem: She doesn't want me getting on the computer until all my chores are done, and then it's time for dinner, washing up and then I'm off to my room for some game time with guildies.
I know, I know, that's cool, but there is still one problem ... She gets upset that I don't spend time with her, and as she is a single-through-the-week mother, she makes me feel like a naughty Illidan on the inside. I've also chatted to her about when she wants me to be spending time with her and she simply says, "It doesn't matter, so long as you're happy." Please help! Sincerely, Possibly Naughty Illidan
Drama Mama Lisa: Possibly Naughty, I don't think you're possibly naughty at all – I think you're quite the perceptive young man! Most of the problems we address here at Drama Mamas stem from players' not being able to see the forest for the trees, but you've already spotted the exact tree that needs attention. Kudos to you for your insight.
The reality is that sometimes there aren't enough hours in every day for WoW. In your case, it's spending time with your mum – but other players find themselves balancing time with significant others, family, work, other hobbies ... You've already recognized the futility of trying to fit in time with your mum on top of your other responsibilities and a busy play schedule. It just doesn't work, and you're going to drive both of you crazy as long as you persist in trying to pound that square peg into the round hole.
Take a deep breath and re-evaluate your weekly schedule. Have you ever chatted with your mum about what guild events are like and how long they typically take? What nights is your mother free or have the most energy in doing things with you? What nights are guild events? Carving out some offline evenings removes the pressure of "hurryhurryhurry-so-I-can-go-log-in."
Let me add that as painful as it can be to peel time away from something you really enjoy, you simply can't replace time spent with people you care about. Give yourself the space to relax and embrace it, even on nights when nothing spectacular seems to happen. Oh – and give your mum a hug from the Drama Mamas, will you?
Drama Mama Robin: Hey Possibly, you did the right thing about asking her when she wants to spend time with you, but obviously she wants you to take the initiative. Though Bonechiller's situation was a little different, this advice I gave him about playing on a school night may help you too. Basically, you want to approach her with something concrete - a proposal to negotiate from.
- Create a schedule for the week and fill in non-negotiable blocks: school, your mom's work, etc., so that you have a good view of your free time.
- Schedule in good times to complete your chores.
- Pencil in the times you want to be playing WoW: regular raid times, when your favorite groupmates are on, etc.
- Using Lisa's suggestions, figure out when would be good times to spend with your mom, and pencil those in.
- Take the schedule to your mom and work together to schedule regular mom-time that works for both of you - even if it means giving up a favorite raid time.
- Keep to the schedule! Your game time should be flexible to adjust for things with higher priority, which is pretty much everything else.
Oh, boy – not HIM again ...
Hey, Drama Mamas: My nephew has started playing WoW and is playing on my server. His mom, my sister, is not a gamer. I like the kid and I sometimes run him through stuff, but he is very frustrating to play with. He's late to our meeting spots. He goes AFK all the time, usually without warning. (My sister often calls him away to do stuff.) And he bugs me all the time when I'm raiding: "Are you done yet?" "Is it over yet?" I am getting afraid to log in any time I think he may be on. Help! Signed, Uncle Gamer
Drama Mama Robin: Hey Uncle, your nephew is a classic Timesucker. This can also happen with parents or people who play at work. They may have great priorities, but not-so-great time management. And because they aren't good with their own time, they are even worse with yours. This is completely understandable in a child, but of course, very frustrating for you.
The best thing to do with a Timesucker:
- Schedule playdates Work with your sister for good playdate times, where they agree (as in the case of Possibly Naughty Illidan, above) that if he does his important stuff first that she will allow him to play uninterrupted.
- Make a duo Roll characters together on another server and only play those characters during your playdates. If you level together, he will learn to be more self-sufficient and you will be less of the supervisor in-game. Once a week would be very generous; twice a month would be really cool.
- Become unavailable on your server This will be the hardest part to implement. Of course, you want to keep chatting with him and answering his questions, but save playing with him for your playdates. If you do meet up with him on your server at all, make sure you are clear that you cannot do it after raids. If your nephew has no expectations for your raid time, he won't bug you (much) during it.
- Explain raid etiquette and demands. Kids may not understand why you can't or don't want to answer them when you're raiding. Explain it! Also make sure he knows when you're likely to be raiding, how long raids typically last and how to check your location before he sends you a whisper.
- Talk to your sister. Explain how long common activities you and your nephew enjoy take, explain the effect of constant interruptions – and most importantly, ask if there are any specific times that she would prefer you not play with her son.
- Help your nephew respond to interruptions responsibly. Teach him to respond to his mom's requests clearly: "Sure, Mom, but I'm doing some quests with Uncle Gamer right now and this will interrupt our progress. How long should I tell him I'll need to be gone?" While you're at it, teach him not to AFK without talking to you about it first – or that if he does, you're likely to move on to other activities in game or offline.
- Screen your whispers. While it's true that it's polite to answer whispers whenever possible, it's not a moral imperative. If you're raiding when your nephew pings you, reply once: "Hi! Haha, that was a funny joke. Hey, busy raiding right now, will talk after 10:00 when I'm free." (Notice the concrete time? Give him an idea of how long you'll be busy; pad it, if you like.) Then don't reply again until you're out of the raid.
- Set your expectations. Even with improvements in the above areas, your nephew probably won't be as prompt and reliable as an adult. Don't set up a playdate with him unless you're willing to see it through in all its time-snarfing glory. And be open to alternatives – it's perfectly cool to just chat (in whispers, group or on Vent) while you're doing things in game separately.
Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.