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Drama Mamas: Is That Guy abusive or obsessed?

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

First of all, I would like to thank this week's letter writer for the signature that allows me to embed one of my favorite songs of all time. Secondly, I would like to remind you that if you wrote in and your email got answered, you can be included in our roundup column by sending in an update on what happened in your situation to DramaMamas@wow.com. And thirdly, well, there is no thirdly. Let's get right to it.
Dear Drama Mamas,

About a year ago, I found out that one of my real-life coworkers and her husband played WoW with their in-laws. I was excited! The server I was on no longer had any of my friends on it, as they had either quit or transferred. So I bit the bullet and moved to this new server. Things were going great! We raided, PVPed, quested, and crafted together -- all five of us. We were the perfect 5-man team and never met a dungeon that we couldn't beat together.
Once we started on ICC though, things started going downhill. My coworker's husband was the raid leader. At first this was good because he had all the strats researched, and if it didn't work, we tried something else. Over time, though, he started letting the power get to him. He would push when we needed to call it. He would accuse rather than inform and assist. He became an elitist jerk (not to be confused with the wonderful website).

It got to the point where I finally told him he needed to slow down the drive. It was not a race and it was not a competition. (I dread the phrase "go go go.") He threw a tantrum and said he was quitting WoW. His family that played talked some sense back into him and he came back to the fold about a week later. I had hoped that he would have figured out that I wasn't mad but needed less pressure. Being the main tank is hard enough. For about a month it was good. We downed LK and did 9/12 hard modes!

At this point it was about two months from Cataclysm, and most of us took a break from raiding to have fun in the pre-release events and catch up on some achievements. But the competitive attitude didn't stop. He started trying to beat us all in achievement points. Now for the last few months he has been proudly proclaiming that he has been being a real jerk to random players. This attitude is making it hard to want to run with him and I am not alone, as his attitude has been affecting his extended family too. But I don't know how to address the situation. Not only do I have my WoW life to consider but my work life too.

To top it all off, he has been the healer for our 5-mans and raids. He does a great job. I rarely die when he is healing me. But he decided that with Cata out now, he wants to become a tank instead with a DPS off-spec and never play his healer again. This has thrown all our guild's raiding plans in the drink. (We are constantly short of healers.) I don't know if I can take the competition that he will try to bring to the game.

Sincerely,

Under Pressure

Drama Mama Robin:
Under Pressure, I'd like to break down the things you are telling me about your raid leader:
  • He has progressively gotten more controlling over his relationship with the guild.
  • He is making accusations.
  • He is insisting you all keep going after it ceases to be fun or productive.
  • When his way is challenged, he threatens to quit his life on Azeroth.
  • He is belittling you all repeatedly.
  • His insulting and condescending behavior is carrying over to strangers.
  • He is now threatening to quit his life as a healer and take your job as a tank.
When I look at these behaviors, I am reminded of the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Only, he doesn't just have one person that he is abusing; he is abusing his entire guild, and that includes you. The thing that really sent up alarms for me was the threat to quit WoW and his family taking the bait and begging him to return. Ugh! This is a classic controlling technique: threaten, get enabled, reward. He graciously rewarded you all with his kind, generous behavior and leet skills when he returned -- for a while. But now he's back to his controlling ways and his threats to break up your raid. I'm sure you're all telling him what a great healer he is and how you need him to raid, giving him all the power to control the situation as he sees fit.

I know this isn't as serious as a domestic abusive relationship, but it is still damaging. Listen to yourself: he is affecting both your WoW life and your work life. You cannot continue putting yourself through this.

Happily, he has provided you with the perfect opportunity to leave. His latest threats to never play his healer again and to take over your job allow you to exit gracefully from the situation. Don't be confrontational. Try to remove all emotion from the situation. The main points you want to get across are:
  • You all play to have fun. He does. You do. If he is not having fun being a healer and thinks it would be fun trying a tank, great. But since that conflicts with your fun, you need to find a new home for your tank.
  • You still wish to keep up your friendship with everyone.
If they try to convince you to stay, please don't. You are not trying to get him to go back to being a healer so that you can remain. You are not pulling one of his moves and making an idle threat in order to gain more control. You are trying to leave this abusive situation and stop enabling him.

If you do decide to stay to remain with your friends, which I completely understand although don't recommend, please don't continue to feed into his behavior. Unfortunately, some of the suggestions in that link are going to exacerbate the drama, but it's better than just letting him ruin your fun. Remember there are plenty of other good guilds with competent healers out there that are not run by abusive jerks. This is not your only choice. You also may want to keep an eye out for the signs that this behavior extends to your coworker's home life. /hug

Drama Mama Lisa: It's possible that this guy is a control freak, true -- but given his early, more laid-back approach to the game, I suspect something different. This guy presents the classic symptoms of WoW obsession. Completely fixated on achievements and progress, he's clearly fallen utterly into the clutches of the progression and rewards treadmill. Things toddled along merrily enough until time for ICC -- and that's when the big guns (and loot, and achievements, and prestige) rolled out. The epic carrot is irresistible to many players, and they lose sight of the things that originally made the game enjoyable both to themselves and their usual groupmates.

That's not to say he's really in the wrong. Discovering an interest in hardcore raiding isn't a sin; neither is indulging it. It's all a matter of pursuing these goals at the right time and the right place -- and he no longer apparently seems to be in either. Obviously, he's pushing this interest on the wrong group of players, and it's making at least one guild member (you) fairly miserable.

There are two ways this can go. Someone (you? his wife?) can talk to him and convince him that a hardcore endgame guild might be more his speed. Or you can choose to remove yourself from his personal campaign to conquer Azeroth. A new expansion and new characters provide the perfect opportunity for re-evaluating and making such a move.

If you do decide to stick around, keep in mind that as enjoyable as it can be to play with friends and coworkers, sometimes you have to accept compromises in order to preserve relationships. You've seen how sticky the social ramifications of diverging in-game goals can be. Consider what parts of your game time are most enjoyable and rewarding to you, and you'll know whether or not you should hang tight and continue rolling with your workmate or cut the strings and look for a fresh group to play with.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. 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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