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The Drama Mamas guide to teen video gaming and World of Warcraft

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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.

Lisa and I love it when parents parent and teens try to reason with them rather than just mindlessly rebel.
To the Drama Mamas,

I am a teen male who plays WoW and has for about a year and a half. I enjoy playing and have a joined a good guild with several good irl friends and enjoy the game immensely, however my parents don't seem to have the same perspective.

My parents limit the time I can spend on the game to about one hour every day which is not something I am particularly fond of.

I may not be the Mr. Outdoors my father hoped for, but I get good grades and am not involved in any of the bad things that occur in school or in my age group.
I mean I could understand them making me finish my homework etc first, but limiting me to one hour a day?

I also am not allowed to get on ventrilo, mumble, etc, because "of all of the people that could be bad", which I think is unfair as I'm not such a moron as to agree to meet a random person I met on vent somewhere.

I think part of it may be that they see WoW as a waste of time, please respond and tell me if I'm overreacting, what I could tell my parents to change their perspective on WoW, or what I could do to prove myself to them. (Or if it's just my hormones.)

/end message
Drama Mama LisaDrama Mama Lisa: I'm so glad you wrote in! There's so much more to responsible gaming for young people than "do your homework and limit your time online," and I've written a lot about it. It's balance that you're seeking here, and one hour a day for a hobby focused on gameplay sessions that normally take longer than one hour to complete simply isn't reasonable.

At my house, we'd probably be looking at longer sessions fewer times a week -- but what you need here is less a prescription than to help your parents understand that video gaming is a bona fide hobby worthy of their parental attention and support. One or more of these guides is sure to help them get it.

For your parents:
  • Log in to your kids' gaming hobby So your kid loves gaming. Give it -- and your teen -- the respect and support a beloved hobby deserves.
  • 8 other ways gaming is good for kids You've heard how video games help kids learn how to solve puzzles, hone their reflexes, and even practice reading skills. Now find out how video games like WoW help players gain important skills they'll use throughout school, business, and life.
  • A parent's look at World of Warcraft Here are the basics about the game -- an older article giving an overview that still holds true.
  • Is your child ready for MMO raiding? Make sure your youngster has the bandwidth to support adding another focused activity to his schedule. From there, you'll want to help him choose the right team with a solid coach and assistants, supportive teammates and an age-appropriate challenge rating and social environment. (If he's playing with this real-life friends, he's already way ahead of the game!)
  • The 10-step back-to-school gaming tuneup These simple tips and strategies will help your kids develop time management skills and a head for how to balance gaming with their other activities and schedules.
  • When enough is enough Asking the right questions will help you decide how your teen is handling the amount of gaming going on.
For both of you:
And finally, for you:
I can't emphasize enough how important that both you and your parents recognize that gaming is an actual hobby deserving of their involvement and consideration. Ignore the flood of trolls in the comments who'll stridently screech about categorically blocking teens from playing the game. Those are the people whose parents never helped them learn how to balance and manage their time, activities and interests as young people. The mature thing to do? Team up with your parents and tackle your entire schedule -- school, homework, extracurricular activities, a reasonable amount of physical activity, and hobbies such as gaming -- together.

Drama Mama RobinDrama Mama Robin: First of all, kudos to your parents! You should be proud of them being involved in your upbringing instead of allowing electronics to babysit you. Now your job is to educate them and convince them that you would like some added responsibilities -- under their supervision, of course.

Lisa's guides are superb, and I also have some guides that I've written up over the years on this very subject: But this just adds to the overwhelming amount of info we're trying to get to your parents. So let's tackle how to sell our advice to your parents, using this guide as a resource.

  1. Show your commitment to being responsible and mature. I cannot stress this enough. Don't hit them up for the team scheduling until you have gone at least a week of getting all your chores done without being reminded, showing some initiative for getting non-regular stuff done, and getting your school assignments done early. Which leads us to ...
  2. Get your schoolwork done early every time it's possible. Start studying early for tests. Get papers done as soon as possible after they've been assigned. Demonstrating excellent time management skills on your own will really help your case.
  3. Sign up for an outdoor activity. A geeky, completely non-athletic high school friend shocked me by joining the cross country team. They accepted everyone who wanted to try and was willing to work with the novices. It got her outside, bettered her health, and looked great on her college application. Find a low-stress outdoor activity that interests you and doesn't have a large time commitment. Join up. Your influence with your parents -- particularly with your father -- will skyrocket.
  4. Decide how and when you want to play. Pick nights that are generally low on homework and set aside blocks of time that are not daily.
  5. Create your own schedule. Include adequate sleep, the accomplishment of chores and homework before any playtime, family time, etc. State on the schedule that the leisure blocks will be flexible as needed. Have this ready as part of your presentation, and be very open to adjust as necessary. Cooperation goes both ways.
  6. Suggest moving your system into the family area. If they can listen to your Vent chatter and peek over your shoulder from time to time, they'll be more comfortable with your online safety.
  7. Pick a good time to make your sales pitch. Choose a time when your parents are at their most relaxed to ask to speak to them. If you choose a Tuesday night after dinner and your mom had a particularly stressful day, just postpone it until the next opportunity. Don't set yourself up to fail by sticking to a schedule rather than waiting for the right situation.
  8. Sell it. You want to be involved in preparing yourself for post-school life. You want to learn time management skills by creating your own schedule, under their supervision. You want to develop the self-discipline necessary to play WoW only when you can, instead of whenever you want. Tell them about the research and resources available to them and point them to our guides.
  9. Nibbling is better than gorging. I think starting them off with Lisa's back-to-school tune-up guide is your best bet. It's my favorite because it explains the advantages of making the schedule a cooperative effort, among other things that will help you.
Mastering time management skills and self-discipline will help you now, in college, in the working world -- forever. Balancing your WoW time with the rest of your life is an excellent way to do it. 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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