Drama Mamas: Is WoW cool? Should you care?

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Drama Mama Lisa got a letter from a fan, and we've stolen it for this week's drama.

Hi Lisa

My name is Joe. I'm a 15 year old student from the UK. I've been a reading of your blog for a long time now and have been enjoying it for just as long. I'm writing to you today with a WoW related issue that I need advice on and I've come to you as not only do I want a experienced professional but also long-period, friendly WoW gamer.

I played World of Warcraft for around 2 years, then I quit but got back into it. Last December I quit my subscription again and haven't played since. I have only recently began reading Wowinsider again and have been engrossed with the posts for 2 weeks. Now, I'm also watching cinematic videos, gameplay videos and anything recently on Wowinsider. This has confused me about whether or not to re-join the World of Warcraft community. I really need some advice.

The reason I quit WoW in early December was because I felt bored with the game after playing for such a long-haul. Even with the new Cataclysm environments, I felt like I was paying to much money for something that I didn't get enough enjoyment out of. Also, I felt like I wasn't fitting in with a certain crowd, I almost felt like World of Warcrafts 'general' stereotype was becoming heavy on me. Another reason so because I planned on getting an Xbox 360 for Christmas, not only because it is my favourite gaming system, but because I feel like it is more socially acceptable. Why? I have no idea. I hate the fact that people see World of Warcraft as a 'geeks' game however in contrast to lets say Call of Duty: Black Ops or Halo Reach, which people spend massive amounts of time on, its 'cooler'. I don't agree with this at all however I think this is one of the reasons that at the time main me choose to quit.

Another reason for me leaving was the amount of money spent on it. In contrast to Xbox Live £40 for 12 months subscription, World of Warcraft costs £95.54 for 12 months. I don't know whether this is reasonable for the experience or not...

I see World of Warcraft as nothing but a superb game with an incredible system and outstanding content. I pretty much love it. It is one of the few games I've been able to lose myself in for hours at a time. I'm not against this game but more against the ideas people have about it. So at the minute, I'm on the fence about what to do. Should I continue with my Xbox Live account or choose to purchase all of the WoW content? I just don't know...

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever felt in all your years of playing that for what you are paying, it dampens your experience as a gamer or do you believe that it is absolutely reasonable? What are your views on what people say, what they think about the game and quitting then re-joining in general?

This may seem like a small matter but I would be extremely grateful for your advice because its beginning to get me down. Thanks.

Drama Mama Lisa: Hi, Joe! Figuring out what you want to play when the options are so attractive and so plentiful can really mess with your head, can't it? It happens to everyone -- and yes, I count myself among them (although I'm finally, finally settling into the groove with my worgen priest). Let's see if we can't knock this down to a set of factors you sort out a little more easily.

  • What can you afford? For some players, the cost difference between WoW and the Xbox system is the ultimate deciding factor. For you, it sounds as if cost is merely one consideration. I've found that the cost of playing MMOs generally pales against what you'd pay for a similar amount of time spent in other pursuits. Also in my experience, the overall time spent with other game systems doesn't generally compare to the amount of time spent playing MMOs, thus balancing out the slightly higher cost for the MMO subscription. Still, if the cost of a WoW subscription ultimately isn't a problem for you, perhaps you shouldn't weigh this very heavily in your decision-making process.

  • What are your real-life friends doing? If all your real-life friends are having a blast in game worlds you can't join, you're going to feel lonely, no matter how good a time you're having in your own game world.

  • What are your in-game friends doing? If you belong to a guild or group that's working through content you enjoy, you might have more fun hooking up with them rather than forging your own way in another game.

  • What game fits your schedule better? Raid schedules, blocks of time, frequency of play times ... All of these can affect how you play and how much you enjoy it. Can you commit to playing WoW or the Xbox games you want to play at the level you want to play them?

  • Are you open to playing casually? It's never been easier to step in and out of Azeroth at will. WoW no longer has to be a long-term commitment. If it's just a taste you want, run up a new character to check out the new content while the rest of the playerbase is getting more endgame gear and strategies under their belts. Once you're kitted out at level 85, join the crowds of players who PUG heroics and early raids for a month or two (not so many now but surely more by the time you've leveled a new character), then head back to other gaming pastures.

  • What do you enjoy most? Don't beat around the bush -- this is really the most important question to ask yourself. All other things being equal, you're going to suffer from Grass is Always Greener Syndrome if you choose to play the least personally appealing option.

Now, down to brass tacks: It sounds as if you're more worried about what other people think about your gaming than what you actually enjoy. This one's up to you, Joe -- do you want to play the game you enjoy the most, or do you want to play games you think that other people think you ought to play? You say you disagree with the idea that WoW is somehow less cool to play than Xbox games, so it's clear that what other people think is the real bone of contention here.

At this point, many folks would cry, "To heck with what they think! Follow your heart!" I think that's sound advice, too -- but I also think that if other people's opinions about MMOs makes a difference in how they treat you, then your personal comfort factor is certainly worthy of careful consideration. Does the fact that certain people in your life think less of WoW actually affect your relationships with them? You're young, and there are people in your life (parents, teachers, family members) that you simply can't tell to shove off. If these people are seriously messing with your mojo over your game choice and the choice really isn't that big of an issue to you in the end, I'd say that certainly merits a bit more consideration than the basic "To heck with what they think! Follow your heart!"

But a final warning: Be certain that all those negative perceptions from others are as concrete as you think they are. It could be that you're projecting your own half-formed fears onto people who really don't give a whit what you play or do. Once you figure out if what these people are thinking about you and how much (if any) it's actually affecting you, it should be much easier to figure out whether their perceptions should be a factor worth including in your decision about what game to play. Either way, the most important factor remains what you think is most fun.

Drama Mama Robin: Joe, Lisa's right about the cost of WoW, in that it usually ends up being cheaper. You can't just compare it to your Xbox Live fees because that isn't the entire cost. WoW comes out with expansions every two years or so, but how many games will you be buying to play on your Xbox over those two years? Are you only going to be playing the same ones you have now?

Unless you have some independent income that is not normal for your age, I think that the best people to talk to about the cost aspect is your parents. If they are the ones paying for it, they should be given the big picture and help you decide. And if they say "play both!" ... well then. Just make sure your schoolwork doesn't suffer. /maternal finger wag

Now, who are these people who say WoW is uncool? People in general? Cool people at school who are your friends? Cool people at school who aren't your friends? And the more important question: Have they played? Now is the time to hone your anti-uninformed-opinion skills. You will need them forevermore. If these badmouthers haven't played the game, then they don't know and therefore shouldn't be listened to. And that pretty much applies to anything creative like movies, music, song, TV, etc. "It looks stupid" and "Cool people watch this, not that" are not good reasons for you to shun something. If you determine that you like something that is not doing you nor anyone else any harm, then please don't listen to the badmouthers.

Also, I know it seems a long way away, but you're going to look back on this time and have certain regrets. If you're anything like me, your regrets are going to be about things you did because of other people's opinions rather than your own. I know it can be hard dealing with the constant abuse of funsuckers, but the friendships you forge when you find people who enjoy the same things you do are worth it. And the only way you'll find those people is by enjoying the things you enjoy.

So yes, I am definitely one of those folks crying, "To heck with what they think! Follow your heart!" And I think that a few years from now you will wish you could go back in time and tell your current self the same thing.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at