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Filed under: Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Reader Mail -- Overcoming fears of raiding

Before I get to Roberth's Reader Mail, I would like to announce that I'm transferring Azeroth Interrupted over to Massively under the name of Gamer Interrupted. It's going to be the same column, except it will be about balancing real life with playing MMOs in general, not just WoW. I'm not leaving WoW Insider -- in fact, I've started writing a new weekly column called WoW, Casually which I hope those of you who have a limited WoW play time will read as well.

So please come visit me at Massively on Tuesdays for Gamer Interrupted. And those of you who won't, I miss you already! I love you guys! sniff

On to Roberth's email:

Dear Robin,

First, let me say that I thoroughly enjoy your posts...my wife and I play WoW (me since Day One, she since I surreptitiously installed it on her computer last year) together and are glad to have found a source of enjoyment we both love! Anyway, the issue I wish to seek some advice on:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Reader Mail -- How to tell your friends about WoW


Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

This week, I'm answering an email from Sylvanra:

Dear Robin,

How do I tell my friends about WoW? It isn't a common topic of conversation, but when it does come up I usually get a little negative attention for playing, then the conversation goes on. Because of this, I kind of play it down, but I answer questions about my hobby truthfully, I certainly don't want to jeopardize my real life relationships! But I would like to somehow let them know more about WoW and why I play, without getting the negative attention I have gotten in the past. I love my friends to death, but we certainly don't agree on how we spend our free time!

-Sylvanra


Dear Sylvanra,

I'm very open about my WoW habit. I wore my Wrath of the Lich King t-shirt to Disneyland this past weekend, which got me accosted by a young kid outside of the Snow White ride who wanted to make a character on my server so he could chat with me more there. A Disney castmember even interrupted his safety spiel to shout out his love for the game when he saw what I was wearing. It's obvious that there are a lot of WoW-lovers out there who are dying to talk about it. But there are also a lot of WoW players who prefer to keep their hobby on the down-low, including one or two of my friends who thought that wearing a Blizzard t-shirt to Disney was just a bit too fangirl.

I don't know if Blizzard is paying for product placement or if shows are trying to reap South Park-like rewards for WoW-related episodes, but mainstream mentions of WoW help those of us with friends who give us grief for our hobby. Not that we should be embarrassed about spending our leisure time in Azeroth, but I agree with you that some friendships are worth keeping even if they don't understand your choice of recreation.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Escape from Los Angeles



Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

I love L.A. I really do. But there are times, like these, when I'm glad I'm a gamer and have a wide variety of ways to escape.

I don't know if you non-Angelenos know what I'm talking about. Our local news gets all silly when a few drops of water are planning to fall from the sky, so it's hard to gauge reality from hype. On the other hand, celebrities have had to flee their homes! So there's a good chance that our local wildfires caused by high winds and a long drought have caught more than just local attention.

I'm fine and my family's fine, but there are inconveniences and the air isn't so healthy and I just want to escape into my favorite game and relax. But I'm afraid that WoW is not going to provide the immersive experience I need right now. And I don't think it's Blizzard's fault, though there are some aspects of Azeroth that contribute to the problem.

It's the WoW players.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: It's OK to AFK

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

We all know that Real Life takes priority over WoW and if you don't, you need to hang out with Captain Obvious more often. Even if you have all of your obligations taken care of before sitting down to play, however, sometimes a Spontaneous Real Life Interruption (SRLI) can occur and you find it hard to break away from WoW to resolve it. Maybe you're in a raid or getting revenge on that ganker or fighting the quest boss -- the SRLI doesn't get the attention it deserves. Subsequently, the most responsible, attentive people can have responsiveness issues when faced with an ill-timed SRLI.

Of course, not all SRLIs require immediate attention, but you are not always able to ascertain that without taking at least some attention away from your WoW activities.

So, remember this basic rule when faced with an SRLI: It's OK to AFK.

Why is it OK? Because death in WoW has a very minor penalty. It really is only a penalty of convenience and the ramifications for ignoring SRLIs are usually far, far worse. It's OK to AFK because WoW death is EZ mode MMO death.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Using WoW to teach children values

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

Kids on the internet is (or at least should be) a pretty scary thing for parents. There are predators, perverts or people with questionable ideas that you just don't want to expose your children to. I find it odd, therefore, that so many parents let their elementary school age children play WoW unsupervised. They must see it as an electronic babysitter like television or single player video games rather than what it really is: having your child be babysat by 9 million potential weirdos. These children attempt to get much needed guidance and attention from whatever stranger happens to be nearby. But players don't know how old unknown, needy players are -- they just see them as a nuisance and verbally abuse them accordingly.

More than just exposing children to negative influences, these parents are missing out on a great opportunity to teach their children some very important life lessons. Children go to school to get educated, but they are supposed to learn their values at home. I believe that playing WoW with your children can be a great way to instill them with some very basic yet important values. My daughter is not even preschool age yet, but when she is ready, I plan to play WoW with her -- probably after playing Toontown and maybe CoH first(there's no death, just defeat). I will play MMOs with her because I've seen the result of parents actively playing MMOs with their children. For example, there was Bigmo.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: How to tell it's time to take a WoW break

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

Omigawd! I sound like such a twinkie on our WoW Insider Podcast. I'd like to blame playing dozens of levels as a female Night Elf with all that bouncing or blame my move to The Valley this year, but a good friend assures me I have always sounded like a twinkie, even though I'm not one, so it's ok. Regardless of my twinkie status, I had a great time with Mike and Turpster and we got to discuss all sorts of interesting stuff. And, when it comes right down to it, it's all about fun.

That's the reason why we play video games in general and WoW specifically: fun. Otherwise, why spend so much time immersing ourselves in Azeroth and Outland, if we aren't enjoying ourselves? I get the idea from the comments, forums, general chat, guild chat, etc. that there are a lot of people playing the game who are currently not having fun, however. I'm not talking about the restlessness most of us are feeling in the extra long gap between content patches. There are many vocal people who seem to be very unhappy, even with all of these fun changes coming up in the next few weeks -- or because of some of the changes. So, if you aren't having fun, why are you still playing WoW?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: It really is ok to play WoW



Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

I've noticed that there are a lot of commenters each week whose solution to every problem is "ZOMG! Get your priorities straight! Stop playing WoW!", particularly when I answer Reader Mail.

At the same time, the general public (including non-gamer significant others and parents) may not buy into the media hype that video games are the root of all evil, but the best they believe about gaming is that it is a juvenile waste of time.

So the non-gaming majority and some sympathizing WoW Insider readers (who presumably play WoW themselves) are working together to try to make us feel guilty about any time we spend playing our current favorite MMO.

Who really cares what strangers think about our leisure time? The problem comes when the people we know get in on the act.

Should we feel bad about playing WoW?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Reader Mail -- Balancing WoW and a non-gamer girlfriend

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

This week I'm answering an email from Guilty Gamer:

Dear Robin,

My problem's not too much school or work, but a girlfriend who'd rather have me in bed (we live together) than leveling in the wee hours. As it is, I sneak WoW into my life. If she's got a one-hour class, I've got time for five quests. But my play is ruined by the fact that I have to hide. I'm not looking at porn for crying out loud. I just want to enjoy my game.

I want to sit down for a whole evening and sink in to an instance, but it seems impossible considering we always plan so much. Her hobbies/interests can be accomplished in an hour or less while mine eat a whole evening. She's not geeky like me. I tried to get her to into WoW and it made no sense to her (fair enough). I usually get an evening a week but even then she's mad or distant if I'm not talking and paying attention to her while I play.

At points, I wish I could play so much more or just give up the game entirely. I really enjoy WoW and love my girlfriend. I don't know how to find harmony between them. I'm always either deprived of my time-consuming hobbies or guilty for enjoying them.

Sincerely,

Guilty Gamer

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Reader Mail -- All work and no WoW...

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

This week, I am answering an email from Gabe in Venezuela:

Dear Robin,

I'm Gabe, and I come to you with a question about balance. I'm 17, live in Venezuela, study in an international school (that follows the format of an American High School) and am doing something called the International Baccalaureate Diploma. Needless to say, this Diploma is one of the most challenging high school diplomas in the world, taking up countless hours of homework a week, and not letting me enjoy my game. Don't get me wrong, I have my priorities straight, I know school comes first. All my fooling around is recreational, and strictly on weekends, so you could say I'm a fairly responsible person (at least in that aspect). What I don't want to happen is for my homework and school work to be my whole day. I enter school at 8:30 am, and leave at 3:30. After all this time of work and class, I come home to a pile of paper that I need to work on that lasts until 8:00 pm. Of course, as you can imagine, I'm exhausted by the time I'm done.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Reader Mail -- Is playing WoW on a school night ok?



Each
week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

This week, I am answering an email from Bonechiller:

Dear Robin,

I am a 15 year old that enjoys playing WoW in my free time. School starts for me in 6 days and my mom informed me today that I won't allowed to play WoW during the week. I play in a raiding guild and would like to raid Sunday-Tuesday (3 nights a week). I don't understand how. It is not fair, I have a 4.1 GPA and do not do drugs or drink. I also play in the marching band and on the school tennis team. She won't listen to anything that I have to say about this game, I mean, it is so much more productive than sitting there watching T.V. or starting at a wall. All she does is read the threads of the people whose lives have been ruined because of this game, about 1% of the game population. Is there anyway that I can convince her that it should not be a problem that I can play 15 hours a week? She just doesn't understand what this game has done for me socially, and it reduces my stress SO much. I just don't know anyway to make her understand or let me play, do you have any suggestions?( You are a mother, but you do play the game =))

~Bonechiller- 70 mage, Eitrigg US~

P.S.- I want her to read what you have to say, since you are a mother and can relate to her, in motherly ways)

Dear Bonechiller,

First of all, you're not going to want to hear this, but I applaud your mother for being an active parent and I can see her concerns about your active school/extracurricular schedule possibly being compromised by school night gaming. With patience and constructive communication, however, I think the two of you can come to a compromise that will make both of you happy.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Casuals are good players too

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.



Last week, I talked about how raiders can be successful both in-game and out by applying professional skills such as time management to their gameplay hours. I had no idea it would be a more controversial topic than when I tackled religion in game. One of the big complaints in the sea of comments was that I was making my categories too narrow. I don't think that everyone falls neatly under the labels of casual or raider, but they are convenient, commonly defined categories to use when describing 2 opposing groups of players. Last week's topic was directed toward the people who believe that all "hardcore" raiders must neglect the rest of their lives in order to see so much of the endgame content. This week I want to talk to the "serious" raiders who think all casuals stink as players. Some do, certainly, but just as there are successful raiders vs. wannabe raiders, there are also a very large percentage of casual players who are skilled at playing their class in a variety of situations. For this discussion, I will refer to them as "Skilled Casuals".

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Raiders have real lives too



Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

At BlizzCon, Lead Designer Jeff Kaplan (Tigole) said a lot of interesting things. He called Arena gear "Welfare Epics" -- that raiders earn their gear. He censored himself after describing fun times when world bosses popped in EQ and the phone calls at 4:00AM to his buddies that resulted -- he didn't want to influence any kids in the audience. And he also said people who do the endgame raids have lives too.

There is a big rivalry between the casual player and the raider. Raiders don't want casuals in their guilds, raids and often groups because of their lack of experience. And casuals are contemptuous of the time raiders seem to spend in order to get as far as they've gone. The two biggest accusations made by casuals toward raiders:
  1. You are in the minority
  2. You don't have a life

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: Life Lessons learned from BlizzCon

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

Well, I'm back home from BlizzCon and am reunited with my family. I feel that aside from the WoW info I absorbed there, that I have also learned some valuable Real Life lessons -- and I hope that other attendees learned some, too.

Family First: Ok, I knew this one already, but BlizzCon reinforced it. Because I knew my daughter was well taken care of by her other parent, I was able to relax and enjoy myself. But also, Blizzard made their convention very family friendly. There was plenty to do for the whole family, including jousting. I saw babies strapped happily to parents and children enjoying a kind of Halloween in August, like this young Tauren pictured here. Unfortunately, my daughter is too old to be carried all day and too young to sit still for too long, but it is good to see that there will be plenty for her to do if we go as a family when she's older -- perhaps at BlizzCon 2010.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted, BlizzCon

Azeroth Interrupted: A plea for tolerance

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

This past week, I was browsing the WoW European forums and came across a post about the Evil Children of Goldshire. For those of you who don't know, there are some children that sometimes appear on the second floor of the house outside of Goldshire. They are arranged in a pentagram and there is a 666 on the fireplace. Also, some eerie music plays when you are in the room with them. Someone complained about this kind of content being unnecessary to the game and the rest of the posts devolved into flaming him for his religious beliefs.

Coincidentally, a similar incident happened this past week in a knit-along that I am participating in. A brief explanation for muggle readers: a knit-along is a list group or other online communication tool where people follow a pattern at the same time and discuss their progress, etc. It is kind of like MMO knitting. This particular knit-along is the Mystery Stole 3, where we don't know what the item is going to look like until we finish it and we don't know what the theme is -- this designer always has a theme or backstory behind her designs. But, of course, people like to guess ahead of time and one of the guesses was that it was demonic in nature. So someone in the list group of 7000+ people complained that if that were the case, she didn't want to continue on something that was against her religion and then a similar flamestorm to the WoW post occurred.

What it all boils down to is that we all don't want to be offended in our refuge from the issues we have to deal with in real life. WoW is an escape and when we get offended and/or personally attacked, then our escape becomes another source of stress instead. The best thing to do, of course, is not to bring up religion at all, since it is an extremely volatile topic. But it happens and I'd like to break it down in detail to help both sides tolerate each other and possibly reduce the occurrence of these religious flamewars. Yes, I am sometimes unrealistically optimistic.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

Azeroth Interrupted: WoW couple success stories

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Azeroth Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with WoW.

Last week, we talked about some basic guidelines for having a successful WoW playdate with your significant other. This week I want to talk about some examples of couples playing WoW together.

From last week's comments, we have a few success stories and one not so happy ending. Diana received a tiny red dragon for Valentine's Day (I want one!). Scott and wife, fellow SWG refugees, have characters they level together. Erica and husband watch fireworks in Stormwind together and and play a bunch of duos (an excellent idea). And Jasperwind romances his betrothed in Azeroth and bought her a pretty dress there.

Rudathin coaxed his bride into playing and highly recommends dedicating characters for duoing. You can read about their exploits in their blog. (RP Alert) He also directs us to The Daedalus Project where there is actual hard data supporting WoW as a "place where existing RL ties are being strengthened."

Dan, I'm sorry to see that you did not have a positive experience playing with your girlfriend. You are better off without someone who has a wandering eye. Playing WoW together can enhance a relationship, but it won't change people from their true nature -- however much you may want it to.

This brings us to my very first piece of reader mail. (Yay!) After writing my first Azeroth Interrupted, I got a great story from Baroes and Reighlei.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Azeroth Interrupted

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