Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dear Matty: (Significant other and cosplay edition)

Mistress of Pain Conceptual Art (see link below)

Dear Matty,
I have a problem I think you can help me with: I love playing WoW, and have been playing for years. It got me through the boring times in college, and through some rough personal times, too, as an escape. My girlfriend says she understands when I say I have a raid on a Saturday night, but then I notice she will give me the silent treatment later. I want more than anything for her to play with me, to start a character. I've pretty much conquered what I need to, and want to hang out with her in Azeroth. I could help her level up fast, and it'd be so cool. And, there's this hot draenei girl* who's been flirting with my gnome warrior, and I'm feeling guilty. How can I convince her that it's fun and get her to play, too?

Torn Between Two Lovers

Dear Torn,
Oh, I hear this complaint or concern all the time. In fact, one of the most-read blog postings Sugar & Blood linked was an article to "It's Love at First Kill." I have counseled a few friends whose wives or girlfriends do not play, do not want to play, and will never play. This is a sticky area, for sure. I had a friend in TaeKwonDo whose husband and son became quite enamored with WoW, long before I started playing. The wife/friend and I could not fathom why anyone would spend so much time and energy in a virtual world with no tangible product. Playing WoW doesn't get the dishes done, to be sure.

Be cautious: If your significant other (SO for short) does start to play, you will have to balance patience without being patronizing. Not an easy tightrope to walk. It can often become a noose. On many occasions, my own SO was very patient, but also steered me clear of things I should have been doing, such as dungeons. Dungeons intimidated me so much, that they were something to be greatly feared, that since a year as passed I still get dungeon anxiety, and don't even get me started about raids. (Sometimes it's to the point where I am not even sure I want to attempt the end-game content, but then I'll listen in on Vent, if I'm not in the raid, and hear the same comments being thrown out to the more experienced players. Oh, wait. This isn't about me. It's about you.)

Women take criticism hard. This is a generality, and not gospel, but overall, it's true. We are hard on ourselves, and hard on each other. Even just walking a friend out to her car the other day, she apologized for it being dusty, and not having time to wash it. Any conversation two women have will include some commentary about what hasn't gotten done, and an apology, this preemptive mea culpa. I have avoided some conversations with my female friends and relatives because I don't want to hear about what hasn't gotten done, or that they can't lose those last five pounds. It does get tiresome. But neither do they want to hear about my Tier 12 gear or new mount. But my WoW friends and SO do, because they understand. As I listen to other successful female players in Vent, one characteristic they share is their ability to hear criticism, and shrug it off, or give it right back. They do so with grace and charm, two qualities I lack.

There is another aspect: it sucks to be taught anything by someone we are close to. Years ago, when a boyfriend offered to teach me how to ski, it was disastrous. As soon as I signed up for lessons, piece of cake. Was right behind him on the challenging slopes. Some things are best left to the professionals.

A few nights ago, I was watching a Blizzcon documentary. I can't locate it easily on the intertubes, but one married couples' response resonated: where the hefty wife and husband couple are quoted: she basically laughs and says, (paraphrasing), if both the husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend don't play, the relationship may not last. There is also a man who says WoW destroyed his marriage. He sounds so hurt. ("She knew I was a gamer when she met me!") But like anything, until you're actually in the life experience, you really can't know how it's going to be. Like a polygamist marriage, SOs of male gamers have to share their romances with the Princess of Persia, Lara Croft, and usually a draenei or two. You must balance your time with your other "girls" with your main, real-life girl. In other words, if you think by getting your own SO to play it's going to let you off the hook with her, think again. Balance, people, balance. Strong, secure relationships are best. They allow room for friendships, hobbies, and creative thinking.

Now: I will make this offer: If you do have a girlfriend or wife who is considering playing WoW, I would be more than happy to help them. Having been through the pain of leveling a character virtually on my own and getting a whole lot of eye-rolling along the way has been painful. I have been yelled at to JUST READ IT when it comes to Tooltips (again, it's one thing to read something and another to apply it, something I am still learning to do, especially with my tank and healer). I don't judge, I don't care if their car is dusty, and I certainly don't give a damn if they can't lose those last five pounds. If you really want to expose them to the nerd rage and dork-ness that is very much a part of Azeroth, if you really don't care if she comes to you in tears when a warlock calls her a f*cktard, or when she gets kicked from a dungeon, well, all I can say is be prepared. Just as any time she comes to you with what you think may be silly or inconsequential (THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!) she's hurt. Just shut up and listen. That is how you can be her true hero.


*this is statistically a man.

Cosplay Shout-Out:
Now, this is just cool: Look what this woman made - breathtaking: I want to tell this young woman, please - go to Hollywood or New York and design costumes for stage and screen. Skip to 8:21 to see what I am talking about:

 I was considering have my own set of draenei horns crafted for me by an extremely talented make-up artist/mask-maker and sculptor, Casey Love. I may even commission a sculpture of Mataoka or Luperci.

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