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Drama Mamas: The burden of guilt

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the 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@WoW.com.

Burnout burns (yeah, we see how that word works), but guilt grinds. We've talked about burnout here before. The only way out is -- well, out. But when your friends and guildmates still want to dive into the surf, how do you handle the guilt of leaving them high and dry?

Dear Drama Mamas: Since the beginning of Wrath, I've been the main tank of my guild. It's what I've always done and I've really enjoyed it. I MT for two raids, one being a very casual 25-man (only 7 bosses in ICC) and the other being a 10-man that's a bit more hardcore (did Alg in Uld, various raid achievements, downed LK, etc.). I've enjoyed both raids very much for different reasons. The 25-man is very laid back, with many of my friends, and the 10-man sates my need for challenging progression.

Recently, the leader of our 10-man decided to call it quits for awhile, just to take a break from
WoW before Cat. is released. Not a problem for me, in fact, I've also been feeling a bit of WoW burnout and also thought it the perfect time to take a break. A few others in the 10-man also felt the same way. So no hard feelings there.

The problem is my 25-man raid. I've been one of the anchor members for a while and have helped out quite a few other tanks that have come and gone. I've also been told repeatedly that the raid performs horribly when I am not there. In fact, I almost left this raid once before when I was recruited for a much more hardcore raid but was convinced by many of my friends to stay on.


So here I am, wanting to take a break -- not from
WoW completely, but at least from the raid scene for a bit -- but I am ridden with guilt. I feel as if I am letting a bunch of my friends down by not being there those couple nights a week. I'd feel horrible if I contribute somehow to that raid breaking up. For some of my friends, that is the only raid content they get to see. (I love 'em, but they aren't all the greatest players.) So I'm not sure what I should do. -- Torn Tank
Drama Mama Lisa: Torn Tank, meet Torn Healer ... Yeah, me. I went through this not too long ago myself. My regular group was "taking a break," and I was discontentedly missing the madness of strategizing on the forums and AIM all day and logging in the evening with my husband at night. Problem was, he still felt "done" with WoW. After more than two weeks' worth of nocturnal debates at hours when sane people should be sleeping, I convinced him (our then-MT) to return with me. We re-energized the guild and began pushing into new territory we'd always intended to tackle.

Only there was a problem: The very first night we came back, I realized that the burnout that had stalled us in the first place was still in full force. Encounters made me feel as if I were still at work: Get this done before the deadline, fix that right now, come over here to this meeting ... Stressss. But how could I quit after being the one who convinced everyone to come together again in the first place? How could I leave the group without their strongest healer? I gave it two more tries, in fresh content that should have felt like frolicking through the fields with my friends. Same results -- so I held my breath and bowed out. Yes, the group was completely taken by surprise. Yes, my husband was immensely disappointed (and probably more pissed than he let on). And yes, my departure tanked the raid's healing.

The thing is, everyone recovered. I wasn't instantly ostracized or struck dead the moment my gear fell behind everyone else's. My husband kept playing quite happily without me. The guild reorganized their class mix and got on with progression. I found several new in-game projects that keep me logging in. And even though the chaos was indeed "my fault," we all got through it.

Torn Tank, your friends' raid group may go belly-up -- but it may not. After all, they're already managing to struggle ahead on nights you don't log in. And even if they don't manage to keep going, the ones who really enjoy the game will tuck in somewhere. It's a pugger's world now, baby. Even if your friends scatter to the four corners of Azeroth, Cataclysm's right around the corner, waggling a tempting finger and offering a rallying point for more adventures and good times.

Go in there and tell your friends what's up, Torn. Don't make a big deal out of your feelings and your reasons and your explanations; that's adding drama to the pot. Just shoot it to them straight: you need a complete break from raiding for a while. Then go put your feet up somewhere and enjoy the time off ... We'll see you again in Cataclysm.

Drama Mama Robin: Torn, if these really are your friends, they will understand if you tell them you need a break. And if they don't, they'll get over it. You aren't playing for them. You are playing for you, just like they are playing for themselves. Here are a few tips for making this easier:
  • Keep it simple. As Lisa said, the more straightforward and concise you are, the less drama you will cause.
  • Give them a return date. Think about how much of a vacation you want to take (a month? two months?) and tell them when you'll be back after that. If you like, say you'll only be back one night a week for a while when you do return. Giving them a date to look forward to will make them realize you intend to return rather than have this just be a way to bail on them permanently.
  • Don't sweat it if you have to extend the return date. You aren't signing a contract. Just give them a new day and go back to chilling.
  • Play elsewhere. If you really want a break from raiding and to lessen your guilt, go play on another server. You'll enjoy your playtime more if you aren't in fear of a whisper telling you how poorly the raid is doing without you.

If they feel they can't go on without you, a break from raiding isn't going to hurt them. And you will probably all enjoy it more when you return. Relax and have fun!

Drama Buster of the Week: Emoticons ("smilies") lend emotion to your chat and ensure others know when you are just kidding. Even if you're not the perky, smiley type, a smattering of emoticons in your chat text covers your bases and can prevent hurt feelings. Pro tip: Beware of the hidden dangers of "LOL," which can just as easily be taken to mean you are laughing at someone instead of with him.

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@WoW.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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