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Drama Mamas: Addiction or no?

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.

Have you had your letter answered here on Drama Mamas? If so, please drop us a line at robin@wowinsider.com and let us know how things are going. We'll round up your responses into our annual results column.

Let this week's drama commence.
I have an issue that's probably not uncommon to some readers of WoW Insider. I play WoW. I adore it, it's the most fun I've ever had with a computer. I live with a person who LIVES WoW. I don't mean that in a glancing-blow type way. That's what she does. She wakes up, goes to her computer, and plays WoW, then goes to sleep when no one else is online. She wakes up in the middle of the night to check guild chat on her phone. Her daughter is failing Math? It can wait, Raid is in an hour. Full raid gear on one character? Time to level another and get that one geared too. Relatives living in the same house want to talk? Hang on, quest turn-in time. You see where I'm going with this.
Sadly, I'm the one that introduced her to WoW, and I hate myself for it sometimes, because it's snowballed into this otherworldly obsession that's sucking in other people's lives who have nothing to do with the game. How do you tell the person you introduced to WoW that it's time to log off, look for a job, and quit being a parasite, when they've never heard the word "NO" in their life? How do you deal with a person who's become addicted to WoW, when you're the one that caused it?
Drama Mama RobinDrama Mama Robin: First of all, stop blaming yourself for Ms. Addict's behavior. You introduced her to the game, assuming she would play responsibly. You aren't the one forcing her to play all day, every day. Also, World of Warcraft is likely just the form of her current addiction. She would have probably filled up her time with another escape if she didn't have WoW.

It would be easier to give advice if I knew your relationship to Ms. Addict. It sounds like a lot of related people are living in the same home. Is she your sister and you both are living with your parents? If that's the case, then it's important to get the parents involved. It must be frustrating that they aren't doing something already.

Regardless, you cannot control Ms. Addict's behavior. If she's going to play WoW obsessively, you can't stop her from doing it. You can stop enabling her, however, if you are. Do you make excuses for her when she misses appointments or backs out of social engagements so she can be in Azeroth instead? Don't. Are you helping her to pay for anything? Stop. Do you have conversations about WoW with her? No, just no. Seemingly harmless chatter about anything WoW-related only encourages her.

It is hard to stop enabling someone you live with. The electricity bill has to get paid whether Ms. Addict contributes or not. The internet is necessary for so many things other than gaming; turning it off for the household is likely not an option. Suggesting she get kicked out of the house is not possible since she has a daughter to take care of -- well, that the rest of you are taking care of.

I'd like to tell you to go ahead and tell her "to log off, look for a job, and quit being a parasite" because I think it's something she needs to hear. But if her parents or the main breadwinner in the house is going to keep letting it happen, you'll just be causing unnecessary drama. Do have a quiet talk with the chief enabler, though. See if you can convince him/her/them that Ms. Addict needs help. I recommend professional help for her at this stage. Or if that's not going to happen, perhaps you can all help her work on her time management skills.

You are in a very tough situation and I sympathize. Good luck and let us know what happens.

Drama Mama LisaDrama Mama Lisa: As a WoW player yourself, you obviously know better than to vilify gaming for causing this situation. We've all seen this happen with people who enjoy TV, reading, partying, going out with friends ... The more deeply some people dive into these kinds of activities, the more difficult they find it not to to shuffle the rest of life aside.

I'm going to ask you to rely on your understanding and experience with these concepts when I ask you to consider whose problem your relative's WoW playing really is. You've mentioned several issues such as not dealing promptly with kids' school problems and a possible need to contribute more to the household economically. However, it's not clear if any of these issues are actually a result of her gaming.

Make no mistake, it does sound as if your relative is deep in the clutches of a love affair with WoW, one that definitely could be harmful if indulged over a long period of time. But unless playing WoW has directly caused the situations you're identifying as problems (such as not having or looking for a job, not paying as much attention to others as you think is appropriate), then you're blaming her gaming for a pre-existing situation.

Azeroth makes a wonderful place to take a break from life's demands and challenges. Sometimes it's a healthy, positive thing. Sometimes it's not.

If you want to help your relative, then, you need to be clear about which of the issues you've mentioned are actually problems. Is there an explicit household agreement that everyone should contribute economically? Would she agree that she needs to get a job? Is her daughter getting the help and support she needs to succeed in math (although perhaps not at the exact moment you would have liked)? How many of the things that you are upset about were actually happening before you introduced her to WoW?

Ultimately, to help solve your relative's problems, you'll have to address the actual problems -- not her gaming. Make sure you've identified the true issues before you open a conversation with her, and if gaming truly was the thing that caused them, then be able to show that clearly as well. Let us know how it goes.
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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