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Drama Mamas: How to spend time in WoW alone

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.

With Real ID and Battle Tags, solo time while playing any Blizzard game is more difficult than ever. But can playing alone still be accomplished?
I get that WoW is an MMO, and that many games are multiplayer or have multiplayer opportunities. Most of the time, I don't mind playing with other people. I like dungeons and raids and grouping for battlegrounds.

But sometimes, I want to play alone. I don't like to quest with other people because I have a certain way of doing things, and I don't like to be redirected or slowed down. Likewise, when I'm learning a new class/game/spell/mechanic, I want time to flounder on my own (or in random groups) to figure out how things are going to work for me before I jump into a group with my friends, where I feel the stakes of my failure are a little higher.
Up until Real ID, this was not a huge problem. Sure, I had friends that would ask me to group for things I prefer not to group for, but I'd either tell them I didn't feel like it right now, or I would offer a polite excuse. If I really didn't want to play with anyone, I'd roll a new character on a different server. Through a series of unfortunate events, I ended up with people on my Real ID list. I love being able to chat with them across games and servers, but I hate being asked to do things when I don't want to, and this time, there's no way to escape to a different server.

This has all become extra relevant since I started playing Diablo 3. Now I'm in a situation where I'm learning a new game (which I prefer to do on my own), but I've got Real ID friends asking me to do things with them or popping in and out of my party unexpectedly.

I hate making people feel like I don't want them around, but the truth is, sometimes I just want to explore alone. Is there a delicate way to tell my friends this?

Thanks,
Solo Player in an Multiplayer World

Drama Mama Lisa ImageDrama Mama Lisa: You're so right, Solo -- it's time for you to wriggle free from Real ID. That kind of always-on, instant connection has just as many drawbacks as it does benefits for those of us who like a little chill time on our own.

Don't let anyone make you feel bad about it, either. My husband and I have somehow become the social centerpiece for our gaming group, and wherever we choose to play is where our friends tend to end up too, all the way down to spur-of-the-moment faction changes and the alt of the month club. We struggled with this idea a long time, trying to keep certain characters hush-hush so as not to activate the stampede effect. But we finally figured out that while we love our friends and our friends love us, we simply can't log in to voice chat or invite to our group when we don't feel like it for the mere sake of being polite. We keep things honest when we're not in a social mood. It works! In the end, nobody gets sore. (Disappointed for an evening, maybe, but no lasting hard feelings.)

The simplest way to get out of the whole Real ID tangle is to simply get out of Real ID. Paint the issue as globally as possible. Robin and I have offered up ideas before for ways to break the news to friends, but I don't think you need to fall back on even a gentle excuse. Simply let everyone know that you're not happy with the way Real ID makes you feel pulled in so many different directions and that you're opting out.

Then get the heck out of Dodge. Go to Settings > Communication Preferences, and uncheck Real ID. Behold, all those connections will be permanently wiped out -- even your friends list, so take notes before you uncheck that box!

Drama Mama Robin ImageDrama Mama Robin: I agree with everything Lisa says. I definitely think you should drop Real ID. But if you don't want to, there are still things you can do to make your solo time more comfortable.

Before we go any further, there is a way in Diablo 3 to prevent friends from just hopping in with you. Just go to Game Menu > Options > Social and uncheck Allow Quick Join. I love my friends, but I don't want them bopping into my game without warning. Ugh.

I have created a new acronym that I use for instant messaging: AFC. I invented it. I don't care if anyone else thought of it previously; it's mine now. AFC means Away From Chat. You can use it without paying me anything. You don't even have to credit me when you do. Go ahead and consider it in the public domain.

I like being logged into IM for a variety of reasons. But when I need to get some work done, I politely inform whomever I'm talking with that I have work to do and I'll be AFC. My friends have been very understanding so far and even use it themselves.

The same will work in-game. First, type something in like /dnd Playing solo AFC (away from chat). You will be labelled as busy, and anyone chatting at you will get the message. Your Real ID status will also change to Busy. I couldn't find something similar to /dnd in Diablo 3, but you can still set your Real ID status to Busy from the drop-down box in the upper left corner.

If someone chats at you or invites you to an activity, ignoring your status, then politely say something like, "I'm sorry, but I'm focusing on some solo activities right now. So I'm AFC. :)" You'll have to educate your friends as to what AFC means, but they'll get it pretty quickly. If they won't take no for an answer, give them a time when you will be available. "I'm up for some BGs this evening, but right now I'm feeling antisocial." If your friends persist or get testy, it's time for a gentle confrontation: "I'm sad that you won't respect my choices. :(" Hopefully a little guilt trip will snap them out of their badgering.

Bothering you further means that you have drama on your hands, no matter how much you've tried to avoid it. Take any friends who are too persistent off your Real ID, and put your friendship on time-out, suppressing emotion. It sucks to lose friends, but friendship includes understanding when you want to be alone. If they don't respect your decision, they aren't really your friends. It's small consolation, but it's not your fault.

Again, I think Lisa's advice is the one you should take. But if you're married to Real ID, my response should help your situation. Good luck!

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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