Drama Mamas: When you need some breathing room in game

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Drama Mamas: When you need some breathing room in game
WoW players -- can't play with 'em, can't play without 'em. Most of us would agree that Azeroth is best when shared with a congenial group of others, but what if you find yourself saddled with overly needy or intrusive game buddies? Or perhaps you get along just fine for the most part, but things get sticky whenever you decide you'd like to chill out with some uninterrupted solo time.

Isn't there a nice way to tell someone to buzz off without hurting their feelings? There absolutely is -- so let's head off the drama before it happens with these techniques for friendly disengagement.
When I need you

If your movements are being hampered by a clinging vine, you may have planted those seeds yourself. Did you invite a friend or family member to join you in Azeroth, only to find yourself trying to give them the slip? Unfortunately, the problem's probably not them -- it's you. Inviting someone to join you in playing WoW does mean spending at least some time away from your usual in-game haunts and pursuits in order to have fun together. It's no surprise they feel lost and probably even hurt by your obvious absence.

Inviting someone to join you in playing WoW isn't about "my friend playing with me"; it's not even about "me playing with my friend." This is about "me and my friend playing." So buck up, be a friend, and spend some time in game together -- otherwise, what's the point?

But what if you have a Charlie on your hands? Good ol' Charlie's a buddy from the Drama Mamas Way Back Machine. He's the guy who managed to monopolize the fun of his entire guild: He needs help with this quest. He can't find X spawn. Will anyone tell him what talent his mid-level warrior needs to choose next? He still needs help with this quest. And that spawn. How about both? How about now?

Here's how you handle a Charlie: You tell him no.
True, before you get to the "no" part, you'll have to explain to him very clearly the type of things he needs to look up for himself. Come on, throw the guy a bone. Point him to WoW Insider, Wowhead, Icy Veins -- you know all the good spots, right? -- and make sure he knows how to alt-tab in and out of the game.

After that, don't waste so much emotional energy. Just remind him: "In the middle of a group, Charlie. Check Wowhead, 'k?" Or if he keeps asking for help and favors, more simply: "Sorry, busy."

To recap from our original advice to the OC (Original Charlie):

Oh sure, you can couch it a little: "Nahhh, he asked not to be called if he wasn't online," or "I'm not really up for that instance again tonight" – but ultimately, you must learn to tell this player "no." Don't allow Charlie to hold your attention and energy hostage all night. A firm, direct "no, thanks" to unwanted invitations and the sound of crickets if he continues to press too far will set a much more effective pattern than caving in to his pestering and demands. It could backfire, of course, and offend him so much that he leaves.

A whole herd of Charlies

If you find there are multiple Charlies in your guild or group of friends, you need a good set of rules. Rules that relieve you of responsibility for dealing with every Charlie in your life are one of the major benefits and protections of an effective guild.

Here are Robin's suggestions to protect members from mooching and pestering:
  • If you don't have rules posted, do it now. Include "no begging" and define that as begging not just for things but for help as well. My rule is that anyone can ask once for help. If no one responds, then asking again right away is begging. Begging players get one warning and then a kick if repeated.
  • Post ramifications. As I said, I give one warning. If you want to give three, it's up to you. But post what happens if the rules aren't obeyed.
  • Post a list of resources with a friendly "Try these first before asking in guildchat for answers." It's up to you if you want to enforce it as a rule, but a list of resources helps everyone -- especially the new players who want to learn.
  • Be strict about not carrying members through raids. If the Charlies want to be carried through raids, just say no. If players are not capable of listening to instructions or haven't bothered to get the appropriate gear and consumables, then they shouldn't raid. Tell them straight out, but without emotion. Sugarcoating it is just going to enable their behavior.

Unplug from the social fire hose

Often, players who've enthusiastically shared their BattleTags or connected via RealID discover it's hard to get away on nights they just want some uninterrupted peace and quiet. If you find this frequently describes you, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate your RealID or BattleTag presence. This kind of always-on, instant connection has just as many drawbacks as it does benefits for those of us who like a little chill time on our own.

As of now, we're still waiting for the much-anticipated Appear Offline feature for either of these services. For now, the simplest way to avoid having friends chase you across servers and characters when you just want to get away for some peaceful leveling is to pull the plug on your social connection. Simply let everyone know that you're not happy feeling pulled so many different directions by your wide friends lists and that you're opting out.

To unplug from RealID, go to Settings > Communication Preferences, then uncheck Real ID. Behold, all those connections will be permanently wiped out -- even your friends list, so take notes before you uncheck that box!

Changing your BattleTag is more problematic, because BattleTags are necessary to participate in cross-realm events. Blizzard allows each player one BattleTag name change; after that, you're stuck with what you have, and that's that.
Hello, I'm not here right now ...

You may find you need to fall back on the old-fashioned methods of setting /dnd or /afk commands. Once you set those tags, we recommend shuffling your chat tab out of sight and engaging your willpower to resist answering even repeated queries from friends who will undoubtedly assume your message doesn't apply to them.

Or take a tip from Robin and go AFC. "I have created a new acronym that I use for instant messaging: AFC," she explains. "I invented it. I don't care if anyone else thought of it previously; it's mine now. AFC means Away From Chat. You can use it without paying me anything. You don't even have to credit me when you do. Go ahead and consider it in the public domain."

To go AFC, type something in like /dnd Playing solo AFC (away from chat). You will be labeled as busy, and anyone chatting at you will get the message. Your Real ID status will also change to Busy -- congratulations, you're now AFC!

Get tough with pests

If despite your best efforts, another player continues to try to engage you in chat or a group, you can either ignore it or reply with something like, "I'm sorry, but I'm focusing on some solo activities right now. So I'm AFC. :)"

"You'll have to educate your friends as to what AFC means, but they'll get it pretty quickly," Robin explains. "If they won't take no for an answer, give them a time when you will be available: 'I'm up for some BGs this evening, but right now I'm feeling antisocial.'"

If your friends persist or get testy, it's time for a gentle confrontation. At that point, any last resisters should be considered prime subjects for /ignore, and take them off your RealID list. It stinks to lose friends, absolutely; hopefully you can make the break in game without affecting any ties that reach outside the game. But remember, you deserve to enjoy a relaxing solo session in WoW when you choose.

Go in peace!
Dodge the drama and become the player everyone wants in their group with advice from The Drama Mamas Drama-Buster Guide. Got a personal question for the Drama Mamas? Email Robin and Lisa at robin@wowinsider.com.
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