You play WoW... a lot. Your non-playing friends and family don't understand and feel neglected. So you have the perfect solution: introduce them to WoW! Be careful what you wish for. You may find that your brother (or bestfriend or significant other) has a not so pleasant online persona. Here are the most common categories of noob inductee to watch out for:
The Timesucker: This person is usually playing while working or parenting. You make an appointment to play with her and she's there: on time and enthusiastic. But then the phone rings. A little later, a child needs discipline. You finally finish a quest and an afternoon snack must be prepared. So many understandable priorities take precedence over WoW and you end up spending an hour or more hanging around the Valley of Trials all dressed up and no one to power level.
The Parasite: In real life, this person can change his own oil, balance his checkbook and program his DVR, but in-game he is unable to function without asking you a question first. He learned /w instantly but can't seem to master the immensely difficult rightclick or the equally challenging capslock. And while he seems to have no problem reading what you type, he can't read a quest to save his life. Important Note: Do not get The Parasite a guild invite unless you hate your guildies and are planning to /gquit soon.
The Drama Queen: She (though not always female) seems to play the game just to have something about which to complain. The graphics aren't as good as this game, the pvp isn't as good as that game, the roleplaying isn't rich enough, she has so many friends still on EQ2 (ok, she's not always honest). It doesn't matter what you say, because she just moves on to the next whine. This is also not a good person to invite to your guild unless it happens to be short of attention addicts.
The Funsucker: This person is often the youngest of the pool of friends and family you considered inviting – though not always. Regardless of his maturity level on Earth, you probably weren't prepared for what a jerk he could be in Azeroth. He ninjaloots, he griefs, he ganks lowbies and defiles their corpses. His name is embarrassing and his general chat even more so. He gets belligerent when his bad grammar and spelling are pointed out to him. He is the embodiment of Barrens Chat. He is on your ignore list and coming to dinner this weekend.
The Good Friend: He is self sufficient and seems to really have fun playing the game. He researches things that even you didn't know. He plays his class well in a group, is courteous to strangers and converses well in guildchat. So what is wrong with this persona? You. You promise to start a character with him on a new server but never play it past level 10. You arrange to play your alt with him, then spend half an hour fixing your UI and noob it up because you haven't played that class in months. You repeatedly break appointments to play with him because your Guild needs you or your Arena team is playing or you just don't want to play an alt when you are trying to farm enough gold for your epic flying mount... And your friend starts to think that maybe your real life friendship isn't worth the effort.
So, does this mean you shouldn't encourage the people you care about in real life to play? No. Participation in activities that are mutually fun, whether virtual or "real", build relationships. But, just like anything else, it is best to be prepared for the worst. Here are my suggestions for handling the above situations:
The Timesucker: This is easy, even if The Timesucker is oblivious to what she is doing. Make appointments to play with her only after the most common interruptions can happen. Pick a time when she's home from work, she's fed and the kids are in bed -- and just be unavailable at other times. The best way to do this is to start a new character with her on a new server and only play that character with her.
The Parasite: I have two words for you: Leveling Guide. I use this one myself for leveling alts (got it from here). It really holds your hand with maps and coordinates and where to bind your hearthstone. Hook him up with one and make yourself unavailable for a week or two. He will either stick with the game and become more self-sufficient or quit. Either way, you are both better off.
The Drama Queen: Drama Queens in game are usually similar in real life, so invite them at your own risk. Regardless, if you do invite one to play WoW, choose a busy roleplaying or PVP server to recommend that she play on so that she has plenty to complain about and a full server of people to complain to. In small doses, she should still be fun to play with.
The Funsucker: If you are related and older than The Funsucker, like a big brother or uncle, then some tough love is certainly called for. Otherwise avoidance of this person both in and out of WoW is probably your best bet. If The Funsucker is your child, then the rest of us would really appreciate it if you would level your parenting skill.
The Good Friend: It's possible that you are on the receiving end of the flakiness, but doubtful if you are the one who did the inviting. Get him in your guild, run him through instances and don't make any in-game appointments with him that you aren't going to keep. Plan some out of WoW activities with The Good Friend (though they don't have to be "outside"), so that you both remember that friendships are based on things other than those that require usernames and passwords.
Remember, guilds fall apart all the time, but real life relationships, if nurtured, will last forever – or until the next big game launches.
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.