First of all, I would like to apologize for my lack of column last week. I may be good at balancing real life with WoW, but I have yet to master balancing anything with illness. I'm feeling a lot better now and looking forward to a WoW date with my husband, after not having played for a week.
Are you snickering now? Do you think that virtual romantic outings are unforgivably geeky? Well, if you don't think playing a video game makes you a bit of a nerd, go argue it out with Gabe. Those of us who are comfortable in our geekiness will be here when you get back. Regardless of the dork factor, sharing any hobby is a great way to keep a relationship going, particularly when the hobby is as time consuming as WoW can be.
Today, we're talking about established couples, not couples that are just starting a relationship -- WoW dating is a different topic which I will discuss in a future column. I've already talked about getting a girlfriend/wife to play WoW, so this is for couples who already both play WoW. I'm also not saying that WoW dates should replace romantic dinners and other traditional togetherness activities. But having romantic "outings" in WoW are a fun, low-cost way to supplement the other things couples do to keep things interesting. Spend your quality time together any way you like, but it's best to take care of the fundamentals to get the most out of it:
Make an Appointment: Set aside a day and time beforehand and don't be late. You both will appreciate having something to look forward to and the convenience of being able to plan around the session. Do not "play it by ear". This will make the person who is ready first feel neglected waiting for the other person to become "available".
Decide on the content when you plan the time: You don't want to waste your playtime deciding what to do. If you wait until the last minute, one of you may be in the mood to level alts, while the other may feel inclined to PvP. If you decide beforehand, you won't be subject to momentary whims and you are much less likely to ruin your together-time by arguing.
Two's company: Make it just the two of you. You want to differentiate this time from the time you spend with your other friends and the guild events you may participate in. An easy way to make sure that you don't alienate guildies and other online friends is to make characters on a separate server from your main server. This will also keep you in good standing with your guild leader if he or she expects all online guildies to participate in whatever event is currently scheduled.
Take care of in-game chores over an hour before: This is supposed to be time playing together, not time spent at the bank and the AH and checking the mail and getting your character to the appointed questing area, etc. Also, if you finish your chores an hour before your date, you don't have to worry about waiting for hearthstone timers or goodies to arrive in the mail. Which brings us to...
Send a gift! (optional): Have a gift with a cute/loving/sexy note waiting for your significant other in his/her mailbox. This is optional unless you have recently fought or one of you has really messed up. If you are the kind of guy who brought flowers and gifts to your early dates, this step is highly recommended because it will remind her of the feelings she felt when you were first finding love together. In-game gifts don't cost any real money (or shouldn't) but can mean just as much as any other hobby-related gift would. Just as your dad might appreciate a new pair of bowling shoes or a set of golf club cozies, your husband may want that alchemy recipe he has been eyeing in the AH. Personally, I cherish the Golden Dragonhawk Hatchling that my spousal unit sent me and keep a copy of the accompanying note in my crowded bank. I know the note and gift won't last any longer than my desire to keep playing WoW, but flowers and chocolates last even less time. Mmmmmm chocolate.
Following these simple steps will make the quality of your play-date similar to the quality of a traditional date. It will also help to vary your WoW play experience and keep it fresh. Next week, we will talk about a reader's success story of playing WoW with his wife (and any more good stories that I may receive hint hint) and in future columns, I will be discussing the strategies of working around different play-styles of couples.
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 or if you have a story you wish to share, please email Robin.Torres AT weblogsinc DOT com for a possible future column.