My husband, who plays WoW 5 to 6 hours a day at a minimum, informed me the other day that playing video games in general and WoW in particular was very unproductive. Most people would give him the Captain Obvious award, but I consider the timing of the statement a bit odd, considering WoW Insider just hired me to write a regular column (yay!) about balancing real life with WoW. Certainly, playing WoW can range from being a very pleasant escape to ruining your life, but that is actually the case with any hobby or recreational activity. The fact is that, with a little effort and planning and lots of learning from mistakes, you can successfully balance real life with WoW and even use WoW to make real life better.
There are many examples of WoW players using their hobby for being productive, and I am not even talking about the despised and pitiable gold farmers. I'm also not talking about the Blizzard employees, because anyone in the video game biz can tell you that working on a video game can not only ruin your fun in that game, it can make you not want to play any video game at all for a while. But there are people who use the social aspects of WoW for professional networking, there are the professionally sponsored arena teams and there are people who actually put their WoW playtime on their resumes.
Of course, there is more to life than just making money and WoW can help there, too.
WoW can help you make and keep friends from all over the world. It can be a family activity or the rp game keeping your college D&D group in touch and gaming together. And, once you've made the initial investment, it can be a very cheap way to spend your leisure time if you are on a budget, particularly considering the cost of movies these days. Unfortunately, it can also be a way to lose friends, ruin relationships and lose your job.
My name is Robin (aka Freja aka Laurel aka Boadicea...) and I have played a multitude of MMOs over many years, from Ultima Online to City of Villains. Those of you who joined me in the Anarchy Online beta, laugh with me when we hear people complain about the bugs in WoW. And I hope you former EQers who complain about having to regen mana in a minute or two, remember the days of ten to fifteen minutes between battles when soloing as a caster. Ah, if only I had my yarn addiction then. MMOs have drowned my sorrows and caused them. A romance ended because of one and a very, very, very scary romance began there a bit later. I tested video games for a little at a development house (which sadly went out of business) and for a longer time at a publisher, which is where I met the level 70 Tauren Shaman loot addict that I married and with whom I spawned a minigamer (pictured above). I have made many mistakes during my tenure as a gamer chick and have gained a lot of wisdom from them. Hindsight is, in fact, 20/20.
My goal with this column is to impart advice on what to do when life on Earth interferes with life in Azeroth, but if I end up just being an amusing cautionary tale, that's ok too.
Robin Torres juggles one level 70 Tauren Druid, multiple alts across multiple servers, two cats, one toddler, one loot-addicted husband and a yarn dependency. After years of attempting to balance MMOs with real life, Robin lightheartedly shares the wisdom gleaned from her experiences. If you would like to ask Robin's advice, please email Robin.Torres@weblogsinc.com for a possible future column.