Oh this one is a doozy. Lately I've been escaping to Azeroth far too often. My real life has left me a bit uninspired, and though I adore my husband and children beyond life itself, I am finding that running around a fantasy game has taken attention from them. Last night, for example, the dog was out of food, the cupboards were empty, and the husband snoring on the easy chair, and all I wanted to do was run around with mages and warriors in my pretty robes. The fun is turning into guilt, though, as I can't seem to extricate myself long enough to pay attention to them. Every hour I've been in Azeroth is an hour I've neglected them, and it's starting to hurt. I feel so awful, Matty, what do I do?
Harlot Horde Woman
I hate mixing issues of the heart with science, but unfortunately, your situation is neither unique nor unexplainable. I have written many times about how women juggle husbands, children, work, and a WoW virtual life. It's no wonder that the demographic for WoW players tend to men in their 30s. Please -- men in your 30s --do not take offense to this, but sometimes "men in their 30s" do not see the big picture. They may love their girlfriends and wives, but if they find one who will take care of the details of life while he plays a game or does some hobby, he's on top of the world. CD Rogue, the man in my life, when he was in his 30s, was (and is) awesome, responsible, and great, but there were many, many "conversations" about child/house duties, and I didn't know I had the contentious obstacle that he was a gamer. I did not vow to love, honor, in health, and rez sickness. I tease him to this day about the 'lost weekend' when he rescued the original princess from Prince of Persia for 48 hours straight early in our lives together. It was a pivotal moment for me. I realized then and there I would sometimes be a game-widow. The good news is we still, from the beginning to now, are individuals who love each other very much, but know that our inner creative lives are important and sacred to us both.
But sister--get out of Azeroth once in a while. Do something different. Shake things up. If snoring husband can be talked into it, go out on a date. While you're on your way home, pick up the dog food, and take care of business. Having said that - please do not feel guilty for your time in Azeroth either. If you take care of your real life, and make yourself happy, whole and complete there, your time in Azeroth will be sweeter, unfettered by guilt. I remember a neighbor of mine who used to read Harlequin romances constantly. I have another older lady friend who read Fifty Shades of Grey, and if you saw her, you would think her sexuality had long taken the last train to Clarksville, but no, she enjoyed a spicy tale of tail too. (Damn, didn't mean to use a double entendre!) The chemicals of love replicated or induced by gaming are real, and add the Role Playing/social construct of WoW and you've got one helluva engaging cocktail. We belong to guilds, have friends, share stories, and spend time with others in a world where we share goals, even if they are pixelated ones. I guarantee if the princess in PoP had hugged back, CD Rogue might have flown the coop.
I was talking to a friend the other day about her involvement with Renaissance/cosplay, the original Azeroth, and the topic was boundaries between the character the faire goers created and their real friendships. Ultimately, that's what is important - boundaries. Your characters in Azeroth are in a real-time story of love, war, loss, victories, luck, fate, destiny...damn! If the most exciting thing you do in real life is get out of bed and breath sometimes that's as good as it gets, and that's pretty damn awesome. If your characters live a rich virtual life, too, and you feel happy when you're there, then you're doing it right. Balance, Harlot. Balance.
Here are two articles you might find interesting. One is about monogamy and the other about regret. WoW offers a double-edge sword on both of these issues. We balance our game/recreation time with time spent with others. As the regret article states, most folks confess on their death beds regret over not spending more time with friends and loved ones.Don't let time in Azeroth take away from the real people you love, and that includes yourself. It's okay to have a rich inner life, too. As the monogamy article proposes, it may not be natural to adhere oneself to only one partner. I am not suggesting you run off with the milkman (back off--he's mine!) but understand that your time in Azeroth like any time spent with friends outside of your marriage. Hell, I feel guilty when I neglect my shaman by playing my priest. And I have learned to never piss off my mage...
Now I've spent a lot of time writing this blog. I went for breakfast with a girlfriend of mine yesterday. There are fifty piles of laundry waiting to be wrangled. Has CD Rogue cared? Nope. Has he done the laundry, either? Nope. But that's cool. Did I have a million other things to do? Yes. Did it matter that I spent time on things I wanted to do? Hell no. Dishes get done. Groceries get bought. Life goes on. No regrets.
PS I am so glad I can't play other MMOs, cause of my Mac issue. Tome, you'll just have to defend Neverwinter without me. I'm counting on you!