Doctor Mark,

There's something that's been bringing me down about my WoW life, and after reading your article on The Escapist 'What's your Cataclysm?', I feel like you could relate to what I'm feeling.

I started playing in April 2008. Soon after, I met a young woman. Eventually we met up IRL and became friends, but spending almost all our time in-game completely inseparable.

We embroiled ourselves in the story of the Scourge of Lordaeron. Me being Undead and her being a Blood Elf, our characters went through the same disasters in the Warcraft series, and we spent a great deal of time talking about and experiencing the aftermath of it all.

However, near the beginning of the expansion, November 2008, she was diagnosed with cancer and given a short time to live. In June 2009, she died. Before that, we made a promise to each other that she'd pull through and we'd defeat the Lich King together - the one responsible for the Scourge of Lordaeron.

So I started raiding, determined to fulfill my promise to my friend and my guild finally defeated the Lich King in Icecrown Citadel. The thing is, I died near the start of the encounter, and thus didn't get to fight him myself until I was resurrected near the end.

So the thing is, doctor, I feel despondent that I didn't contribute to the defeat of the Lich King at all, and therefore that I didn't fulfill my promise. I've been trying to convince myself otherwise, but I can't get rid of this feeling that I let my friend down. Should I just try again?

What do you think?

When I try to help non-gamers understand why people become so involved in gaming, I emphasize that many important psychological needs are met through playing. You can argue whether this is the best or healthiest way to meet those particular needs, but if gaming is someone's chosen coping mechanism, it's worth trying to understand it, rather than merely hoping it will stop, or tearing down the whole hobby as a waste of time and energy.

You developed an intimate personal relationship through gaming. It's not clear whether there were romantic feelings involved, but it doesn't matter much. You found someone you could really connect with and you shared an intense preoccupation. This is a tremendous, wonderful, and magical achievement. That it took place through the medium of online gaming is impressive and important, demonstrating yet again that this is a very powerful means of bringing people together.

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