Gamer Interrupted: Battle of the hobbies

Robin Torres
R. Torres|06.10.08

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Gamer Interrupted: Battle of the hobbies

Every other week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs. I know, it used to be weekly and then it disappeared again. But I mean it this time.

This year, WoW Insider had all of their bloggers write an About the Bloggers post. When I wrote mine, I got the following comment from Supernoob:

Robin, my wife loves knitting but hates me playing Warcraft. Any advice on how to pacify a warcraft widow?

This surprised me, being a knitter, because I have found that the knitting community in general is pretty respectful of other people's hobbies. Knitters don't get a lot of respect from other hobbyists, so we are pretty understanding of people in similar situations. In fact, one of my first recommendations for guys with non-gamer significant others is to encourage them to get their own hobby.

There are a few things that could possibly cause this Battle of the Hobbies, and I will go over some of them and suggest solutions. But it is important to remember that in all relationships, communication is key. If you are in a similar situation, asking your MMO Widow what her specific concerns are about your gaming activities is the best way to start to solve the problem.

So here is my conjecture as to what could possibly be preventing an SO with her own hobby from respecting yours. For the purpose of this discussion, I will assume the gender to be female, but this could easily apply to a male. In fact, if you are having trouble with friends or family with hobbies not respecting your gaming, this may help you too.

She is buying into the hype: A couple years ago, I was being trained as a cashier at a major retail store. The otherwise competent trainer informed me that I could not sell video games to children because all games are horrible and contain pornography. This person had seemed pretty down to earth and not prone to emotional outbursts, but the look in her eyes warned me not to cross her on this. Her demeanor when talking about evil video games was almost scary. The media is working the ignorant up into a frenzy about videogames and it isn't going to stop any time soon. If your MMO Widow is believing the bad press, educating her about the positive aspects of gaming will help her gain respect for your hobby.

She feels the "Friend Gap": Your MMO has a community. You have your friends and your guild and acquaintances in the global chat channels. You have the forums and fansites and blogs to read and participate in. You belong to a large group of people with whom you interact regularly and she may not have anything similar. Your participation in the social aspects of the MMO could very well make her feel left out and she could be envious of the vast number of friends you have compared to her. The internet is definitely your friend here. Her hobby is most likely represented by just as many blogs and forums as yours. If she is a knitter, she should join Ravelry which is a free and magical place where most of the knitting community hangs out. Encourage her to make online friends in the community for her hobby and she will be much more understanding about you participating in yours.

You are neglecting her: You don't have to be an addict to neglect your SO, you just have to mismanage your time and be inconsiderate. As we at Massively have said before, you need to properly balance your game time with your together time and the best way to do that is with a schedule. Don't log on automatically when you get home and every spare moment you get. Agree on certain MMO session times and only play during those times. Schedule an appropriate amount of together time as well. If your SO gets to participate in the schedule and gets guaranteed time with you than she will be much more likely to respect your playtime.

She wants to spend more together time: OK, let's say you are not neglecting her, but she wants to spend almost all of your free time together. The great thing about knitting is that it can be done while you do other things, like watching TV together (or playing MMOs even) so she can have her hobby while still spending time with you. The best solution for this is to try to convert her to playing your MMO with you. Participating in a hobby together is a great way to strengthen a relationship with the added bonus of having your gametime also be together time. It doesn't work with everyone, but if done with patience and love, just the attempt will help her be more understanding about the time you play without her.

There is a spending gap: In order to play your MMO(s), you have to have a computer system that can play it, an internet connection that supports it, the software to initially install the game, any expansions that come out and a montthly fee. All of this costs money and lots of it, with the exception of Browser and Free to Play games that may have free software and/or no monthly charges. How much does your SO get to spend on her hobby? Is it even close to equal? If you are spending 15 bucks a month on your MMO, then she should be able to spend 15 bucks a month on yarn. Any perceived spending gap will only cause hostility toward you playing your game.

You don't respect her hobby: You really can't expect her to respect your hobby if you don't respect hers. If you are condescending about her embroidery or mock her scrapbooking, she may be less than pleasant to you when you are all excited about your new dress. Just like you don't want to hear "Are you playing that again?" and "Playing games is so immature!", knitters don't like to hear "Don't you have enough yarn?" and "Isn't that something only grannies and crazy cat ladies do?" Treating people the way you want to be treated is a good way to play and live in general, and it definitely applies to this situation.

She is being unreasonable: If she is resistant to all of these solutions and is still hostile about your game, she could just be an unreasonable person. But I doubt it. If either person in a relationship is unreasonable about something, it is usually because of a much more serious problem. If you are having other issues in your relationship that are not being resolved, then she is not going to be understanding about your playtime. As long as you are not neglecting her or your responsibilities and have tried these and other solutions to ending the Battle of the Hobbies but she stubbornly refuses to budge, then you may want to take some time off of gaming and put some time into finding out what is really wrong. Taking an MMO break to show your commitment to improving your relationship may be just what is needed to be able to play your game while living in harmony with your SO.

Leisure time is necessary for us to be able to handle the stresses of the rest of our lives. Our hobby is really just as valid as most other hobbies and less expensive and healthier than quite a few. Often, an SO without a hobby is much less understanding of MMO playtime, because they don't have something else to do while you are playing. So instead of battling it out with your loved one over which hobby is more valid, take advantage of the fact that you both have activities that make you happy individually in order to increase your happiness together.
    Robin Torres juggles multiple characters across multiple MMOs, two cats, one preschooler, 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.
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