191: Those Left Behind

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Heh, it really is rather ironic that finally an article about this "airs" so to speak. It is usually the girls complaining about the guys. MMOs are a lot of things. They make and break relationships more often than not break em. But still... just give her a small talk about moderation, and hope it drives the point. If not, hope your relationship lasts long enough for wow to shut down and resume your lives later. As idiotic as that sounds.

As they say, all things are great when taken in moderation. I've been playing wow since 2005 and I know how damn addicting it could be, but I find it hard to ignore what's going around me in real life. Maybe I'm just lucky or I'm a "casual," but it's easy for me to stop playing and go do something else when need be.

I spent 3 years as a religious WoW player, I've been clean for a month. It reall is an all consuming game, and despite all the tips and tricks people give you to try and kick the addiction (yes it is an addicition for many people), the only way you can stop is when you come to apoint where you have to decide. The Game, or your real life. Most of the time this manifests itself in the form of couples having babies, students seeing their grades in school start to slide, or you job requires you give it more attention than you have in the past.

As much as I loved the game and the interesting people I met through it, I look back on those three years and have to feel that it was like being held prisoner in my own mind. Every-other thought was about WoW, what kind of gear I needed, quests to complete, how much time would I have to play tonight, is ther any homework I can forego for more play time, what dungeons do I need to run before X date, how are the upcomming patch changes going to effect me, how can I level X profession cheaper and faster. The thoughts go on on and on, and this was every day, I never had a moment of peace from it. It even became so bad that I would have dreams of playing (complete with VoIP voices of guildmates). It could definatley be said that as time wore on I truley did begin to feel sick.

The argument arises that I need to learn some self-control. The problem with that, and any addiction for that matter, is that somewhere along the way self-control is lost. Sitting down at the computer and booting up the game became almost instinct. For the last year and a half I have fought the instinct tooth and nail. A subconcious fight it could be called, a voice in my head that would plead with me not to turn the game on, but a stronger one that would whisper back a fear of falling behind the progression curve (though that was losing battle anyway).

In my time off from school I could go day with the only seen sunlight being that which trickled through the slits in the blinds on my small window. As said before I had turned myself into a prisoner of both the mind, and in my own house. 100+ days of played game time(the /played command really does make you feel played when you read it). In that time I've gone from a generaly happy person who always had smile, to a grumpy and bitter man who's heart still contains the essence of who he once was but is buried under a pile of negative influence. I lost my last 3 years of high school, became socially insecure, have no love life to speak of, and missed out on many memorable experiences from the last days of my childhood. It is time I will regret my entire life.

Under its glossy exterior and inviting gameplay, WoW is a monster that waits in silience for the time when you finally let your guard down. If you're smart person you won't ever pick up a trial version of the game, because its a slippery slope from there that many never truley recover from. I had fun, I live in a world of valor and fantasy, but I lost so much more.

EDIT there is much more to this story than I've put here. Maybe I'll make a thread with the full story in the near future. Also, any really bad grammatical errors are due to the fact that I typed it during a programming lecture and hardly looked at the screen.

Iv always wondered something... whenever we talk of video game addiction, WoW seems to be, in my mind anyways, the first thing that comes to mind. as someone who has played WoW, and I can honestly say...I dont see what it is that people find addictive. i mean sure, its Fun, but I can honestly picuture myself playing till 4:30 in the morning. I realize im a bit off topic, and I wish you and your wife the best of luck

I went thru this a couple years back. this all sounds eerily familiar. we were both gamers, though of different types. but neither of us had any prior mmo experience. of the two of us I was the only one who had played regular rpgs, and tabletop rpgs too. maybe thats why I Dont like mmos, no story driven by anything I do :p


it was somewhat stable, we had compromised on a WoW schedule, but over time she grew dissatisfied with that.

when her professional situation took a downturn she entered the skipping work and forgetting to eat/hygiene stage

watching someone you love completely breakdown like that and not care about it themselves is a horrific thing to experience. Intervention would have been difficult because we were in a new city, she had lost all her friends outside of the game and her family doesnt believe in this sort of thing. I consulted an old rooommates' wife who is a social worker, she said as long as she hadnt yet been fired Intervention was premature. In retrospect the social worker was wrong a) she didnt understand gaming anyway and b) in my ex's line of work, termination was extremely rare and unlikely.

in the end she left, and ended up at her folks house for awhile still putting in 100+hrs of WoW a week. hope they believe in it now.

dunno where she is. wherever she is I hope she's more...balanced.

but I know what it is like to not want to give up, to want to fight for her, fight for US.

but sometimes...it's already too late.

I tried, and I begged, I used math to show how many hours in the week were left for us (less than 5 coutning wow, commute, work if she went, etc), I knew she was unhappy at work and with the situation in general, but she didnt wanna talk about it or do anything. nothing except raid.

I hope you two can find someway to work this out. from my subjective and biased perspective however, it doesnt look good. if she won't listen, if she won't moderate because you asked her too, try to find a marriage counselor who isn't 20 years behind the times, failing that...Bail.

it's not just her life she's wasting, it's yours too. you made a commitment and I respect that but SO DID SHE. and she is NOT respecting that.

any relationship is a two-way street. if you're the only one putting any effort in...then she is already gone.

and if she thinks that her fair amount of effort in the relationship is to put up with you bothering her while she raids...then it's time to go.

sorry I dont have something more positive to say. best of luck.

i've only just quit playing WoW this february and this thread has just totally reinforced my decision to quit! it really can take over your life.. having said that i played for over a year and i have never ever had that with a game before where iv been so comitted to playing for so long. maybe its due to the subscription... i dont know but either way you can get hooked so easily

This game is terribly addicting. I tried the 10 day trial and am now thoroughly hooked. There's just something about it that makes you want to just get that last quest done or just reach that next level.

I just hope I don't lose myself (too much) in the world of warcraft.

I have never had any long term affair with an MMO - in fact WAR was the first (and still only) MMO I ever played long enough to get a mount in.

I played WoW in it's earlyish days (December 2005), and for about a month I devoted a great deal of time to the game. Then, just as suddenly as I was gripped by the "must kill more orcs on the off chance of shiny things!" it was gone, and never returned. I had the same experience with Anarchy Online and LOTRO as well (though LOTRO held out longer than either Anarchy or WoW, and it had nothing to do with my liking or disliking the Lord of the Rings). My reaction to WAR was much the same, but the PVP aspect kept me playing for a few months, and recently I started again when the Knight of the Blazing Sun was introduced. Then, I stopped playing again, but not because of anything the game did wrong - in the largest and most exciting battles, my system slows to a crawl and the game is all but unplayable - and until I decide to upgrade the ole paperweight I play other games.

Maybe I got out my desire to grind in Diablo 2, since I played THAT game about like your average WoW addict (and I STILL never got a level 99 anything)

I'm not in to giving advice as many have here, its not my place but thanks for sharing.

Although I think a posivtive example of warcraft will help here. I have a good friend who met his wife(he's british while she's dutch) on warcraft two or three years ago now and after marrying they still play it together to this day, they would have never met otherwise i see this as a wonderful thing that this sort of game offers. I'm in no way saying play it with her or anything, with my frind and his wife they play apart at times he's a heavy raider and pvp'er she likes a little raiding and collecting pets and doing achievemnt stuff.

I think that although it may be a worry for your self its a good sign that gaming is cross gender now rather than just a realm of the dude. You've just got to put a little more effort in the relationship plan evenings out around her raids and stuff... Oh damn gave advice well nevermind but I hope you find a confortable medium in your life with wife and warcraft.

P.S yes i play it and have since EU launch, i'm not as fit or healthy as i was at the start but in the last few years i've pulled myself back towards a better state of health and fitness and still enjoy the game, its hard to find balance but its possible and soon i'd like to be competitively running again so we shall see :)

I play WoW, and I have several friends who also play WoW, mostly casually, or raids slotted around work schedules. But my other friends (most of whom play video games) are either totally indifferent/ignorant/uninterested in the game, or they have quit/refuse to play it on irritatingly smug moral grounds that they have not succumbed to the "popular." I don't raid because my work schedule simply doesn't allow it, but I have a serious idea of the time commitment you enter once you have gotten geared up.

When my last roommate and I, who was also a best friend, lived together, he and I would often talk to one another over skype or vent even though we were in the same house, because we didn't want to move our computers and bottom line: were really lazy. We did this even when we weren't playing WoW. It is not the same solution as being able to talk face to face, but it did give a more connected feeling than yelling at one another through the apartment or trying to figure out if someone was having a conversation with someone else. Also, it didn't require both of us to be playing WoW. That isn't really a solution for all the time or even to save communication in a marriage, but at least it would be clearer sometimes that you were having a conversation With Her. If her guild isn't comfortable with you, who probably is not a guildmember having access to vent, there is always skype or some other thing that could be your own private channel when you are both doing things at different computers.

Now, I have another idea for you. Use WoW to your advantage. In her WoW calendar, with her consent and help, schedule days and times where she pulls some weight around the house, like dishes, or cooking, or laundry, or all the other mundane garbage that someone has to do--hopefully as a team when there is more than just one person living in the house--so that you don't get frustrated right as she's grinding through Naxx for the 40th billion time. AND so things get DONE before raiding that don't involve Alchemy or the Auction House. This way, with them in the WoW calendar, she can see her WoW Raiding schedule AND her House Raid schedule. You can point out that if she needs to up her professions and fishing, she can schedule doing stuff around the house around the amount of time she wants to spend on those things too. Like throw a load of wash in and fish for awhile in a tourney and when the wash is ready to be switched to the dryer, she can work on whatever needs doing for Tailoring, etc. until it's done in the dryer. She doesn't sound like she's Achievements crazy, but you could always make them part of the theme for doing stuff around the house if she is with small rewards built in to your week and budget like going out to eat, or a movie on a non Raid night--but seriously that should happen anyways with or without things getting done around the house being hinged on it. You are adults after all. Also, the two of you should sit and look at the WoW alarm clock/timer controls on this one. Just check them out. If having a clock tell her to take a break is something she can use (I don't know because everyone's personality is different) then it is worth looking into. Work WITH her to manage her WoW time and her IRL time, using the danged game with either time management mods that independent people have developed or with the new stuff that's been added by Blizzard themselves.

And seriously, seriously, plan a real vacation like everyone's been saying! Budget for it, pick a place you both want to go where you both agree not to take ANY electronics with you, talk to your work and get it all arranged so you have some time to look forward to. That way she can also plan with her guild (This game is seriously like a second job, I know) and they will know not to count on her for that week or two week period.

I don't think you should have to join the game, especially if there is pressure for you to grind your way up to 80 and start raiding with her. There is a lot to do and enjoy in WoW that don't involve seeing all hardcore end game content and the chores that come with it like gear and rep and all the rest. I took ages and ages to level up to 70, and got there just before Wrath came out, and I'm still taking my time, despite leveling being even easier to do. Everyone plays this game differently and the beauty of it is that you CAN play this game a lot of different ways. But if people are out there, who want you to play, and want you to play so they can play with you THEIR way, I don't think that's very fun or appealing. And I know very well that people who are in a certain groove of playing WoW can be very resistant to just goofing off in the game and enjoying it for what it is--a game. My advice: Stay out of the game unless you can play it however you want, no strings attached.

Good luck with IRL Raid management!

Great article.

I played wow from stress test beta 1 to November 2008. I quit 3 times during that time. The only reason I ever quit was due to taking seasonal gigs out in the vast wastelands of New Mexico where you are lucky to find a cell phone connection let alone broadband.

I remember each time, the whole thing would piss me off when I got back from these jobs because I would be so far behind. I was fortunate to have some fairly great server cred so friendlies were more than happy to bring me back up to snuff for any pvp or pve content I wanted to enjoy, but rolling up to the third and final /camp...it just wasn't worth playing anymore.

To do it all in WoW you can't have a life. For me when I was in the 18-23 demographic...that was fine. I had so much free time it didn't matter.

To Logan, don't give up hope! WoW can't go on forever. I think if you really wanted to break the chain, try to take your girl on a really long vacation, somewhere for a long time...find out something she's always wanted to do in life and find a way to do it. Making her choose between a place she's always dreamed of visiting vs. not going to play WoW may give her some grounding...or at least help her see how the game is influencing her life.

I like your advice at the end. I love gaming, but I'll never place myself in a position again where I sacrifice my real social life, for one on a game.

I would just like to put in here that no blame should be put on Blizzard for making such a good game. The blame belongs on those who lack discipline.

Interesting article. Is it not possible to play WOW on a more casual basis? I'm not necessarily saying that your wife should play WOW on a more casual basis - but is it a particular guild or group of friends she has to keep up with? I can't imagine having to play anything on a nightly basis. If there aren't any now, surely there's an opportunity for a guild that plays once or twice a week. Luckily, my wife seldom plays more than an hour or two at a time (and never WOW), although I'm really good at occupying myself anyway and, after twenty years, it's not like either of us needs a lot of attention.

Chickenlord, men who cook generally do so because they enjoy it. Men who don't enjoy cooking and whose wives don't cook order pizza.

What an interesting read. Good story, though a tad depressing.


Hell I even got this from playing the game "hardcore" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilonidal_cyst

Please give us a warning next time you link to that.

Be thankful I didn't link a Google Image.

WoW i never thought Wow could really impact ones marriage like this. It's a good thing I'm single

I have to thank you for this article, as it has shed some light on my own flaws in terms of gaming. I don;t play WoW ( Grinding is my mortal enemy) but I do have problems of my own. Mostly involving to much time on computer and not focusing enough on schoolwork. I think my problem is, is that im trying to do to much when I don't have the time or space to do so. I Feel rage when I play games and whenever I can't use my Microphone I'm unable to vent it. I think moderation is needed and force it on, no matter how much it is resisted.

Take to drinking cope with your neglectful spouse.

My wife and I had the same situation. I quit and she kept playing for another year. I'm not sure if she was as hardcore as your wife was, but there might've been a few days where she spent way too long on there. I was lucky, though. We commuted into work together and always had dinner together, so we did spend time together. And when it was game time for her, it was game time for me. I had a library of games to catch up on, so that's what I did when she played. It was sad that we were in two different worlds, yet only a few feet apart.

But, its okay. She quit WoW. Now we play WAR together. Will the same thing happen again?

Well with any luck she will just one day burn out on WoW. That's what happened for me. At some point it just started to be repetitive an unfun and I just stopped. I guess some people really do get addicted though. One big thing is when you get attached to "fake" online friends. People you probably will never meet. You start playing just to help them an feel like if you stop your letting them down. You should'nt let yourself get that close to online people an if you quit they will survive. You should make sure she knows that.

Marriage is an equal partnership. Your needs are just as important as your wife's. At the end of your article, you sound resolved to just "suck it up" for the sake of not rocking the proverbial boat. That's the exact same (and wrong) attitude that many spouses in an abusive relationship resolve to. You are not so different from those spouses. Except you're not abused; you're neglected.

If this is a problem and you don't address it, it's not going to go away. It's just going to fester within you until one day it all comes out in an explosive or implosive way. And that won't be pretty.

You have two options, if you want to stay in this marriage.

1. You talk to your wife (in a calm, very NON angry way) and make it plainly known (no hinting, dancing around, or implying) how much she is neglecting your needs and how much it is hurting you that she is placing the computer as more a priority than you.

2. You let it go. You completely and totally (100%) accept your wife and her game playing and re-evaluate what your needs are and bring them in line as to how she is fulfilling them.

I don't recommend option 2. But if you go that route, you can't harbor resentment. At all. Anywhere. You have to accept your wife unconditionally, because you made the choice to go with option 2.

On the flip side, you also have to meet her half-way. If some of her needs aren't being met by you then you've got to step up. Like I said: Marriage is an equal partnership.


I've never met a girl gamer (sigh), but I've lost contact with my best friend from high school, and his last words to me were "I'm going to try out Ragnarok Online, it looks really cool."

MMORPGS devour lives.

I been a gamer for years but when I went from Warcraft 3 to World of Warcraft in 2006 man did I neglect stuff in life, when I look behind the years I spent on one game, I simply lost interest in WoW itself in late 2008. Hope people can do the same and stop neglecting relationships with wives, parents, friends, etc.

I actually cried abit while reading this article...

/runs away from desk to give wife hug

I mainly don't play mmo's because of this, not because I don't think they're good, I'm sure they're great, I just know myself well enough to know that I have to stay away from stuff like that, I'm the kinda guy that can get addicted, so rather having to fight the craving, I just don't start that battle at all, already have those battles with other games, and they aren't even mmo's.

Your wife needs a WoW Intervention...Just send me all of your money and I'll make sure that she can't afford to play WoW...Bwa ha ha! Bwa ha ha! *cough* *wheeze*

Funny things this whole addiction business. It's like alcohol. Should I feel bad everytime I take a drink because there are alcoholics?

Likewise, should I feel bad for playing video games, because some people are addicted to them?

I don't think it's so much the lure of living a different life through a video game. It's the mindless grinding that takes hold of your brain. My wife is obsessed with Facebook flash mini games. Not addicted, but obsessed with her Facebook pet non the less. But it is hard for me to pass judgement, since I play video games for the last 20 years.

A sad tale and a well written article. I might only be 16, but I know what you mean, though from the other side.

I never got into WoW, mostly because, by the time it came out, I had realized that I had an addictive personality (plus my parents aren't into (read:violently opposed to) the whole "online gaming" thing). However, there was a time when I was addicted to, well, Pokemon of all things.

I'll give you a moment to stop laughing at me.

Done? Okay. In my defense, I was 9 and only had a Gameboy. But my parents realized what was going on when I nearly failed the 3rd grade, and promptly sat me down and explained to me that our family has a history of addiction. They explained how they both had been smokers for a long time, before I was born, and how my Mom cannot drink because of a few incidents when she was younger.

Since then, my father has started smoking again, and I bought a PSP a few days ago...with my own money. I found that paying for things out of pocket was the only way I could limit my intake of anything, from good food to video games. I haven't even opened my PSP yet because I haven't paid my Mom back for the money she lent me to cover the cost of it. The only way that I have found to break the vicious cycle was severe self-discipline. I still sometimes slip as far as food goes, hence my slight pudge. My point is that, if you have an addictive personality, no one can help you but yourself, though others can give you a push in the right direction. It has taken 7 years of self-deprivation to get to the point that I feel I can safely play again. Not total self-deprivation, I still played avidly at my friends' houses, and my friends always bring their consoles with them when they come over.

But it was still 7 years of no console of my own, not even a portable for long car trips.

I hope that your wife can bring her addiction under control, and I also hope that she doesn't have to resort to the extreme measures I had to.

It's certainly true that any obsession can have serious effects on a relationship, and WoW just seems to be one of the worst things to be obsessed with, because in order to keep raiding and whatever, you have to be there at a certain time, and there's little flexibility.

Exactly. It's not just games that lead to unhealthy obsessions, either. For some folks, if it wasn't WoW, it would be something else online. Some people have an obsessive personality.



I'm a bit unclear on one topic in the story. You purchased WoW for your wife in hopes of playing together, right? You never mentioned why you left the game or how playing together worked out for you. All I read was there was one night of play, and then there were problems. Where's the in-between?

After 4+ years of playing, stories like this still make me kinda sad.

WoW is certainly fun to play, but it definitely draws out addictive personalities in droves.

Not that I'm one to talk, when I play, I do dailies "obsessively', but I also take breaks from the game from time to time.

I hope you guys can find a bit of a middle-ground with this. :)

I don't think something like Wow could make one obsessed. If that would have been the case then every Wow player would be like that. There are big, deeper reasons behind addiction.

Very very sad... hopefully all turns out well. I'm sure you've sat down and talked with your wife about it, but I definitely think there are some warning signs. I've played WoW, and unfortunately had my "phase" when I was playing the game way too much, but I was single at the time, so it didn't matter, and I got through it. When you are in a serious relationship or a marriage however, it will adversely effect your partner when you choose to spend time with the game over him/her.

I don't think you're being selfish or childish, this is a serious problem. I had a guildie who played WoW obsessively, and ruined his marriage because of it. My hopes are that she will be more aware of what she is doing. Best case scenario, she sees how she is affecting the marriage, and abstains from the game because of it. In the long run, fanatic WoW gaming never brings anyone happiness.

EDIT: One last thing... even though WoW breaks relationships, it can also make them. I have made many fantastic friends on the game, both near and far away, and I met the person I'm in a relationship with in the game. Sometimes I curse the game for the time it has taken from my life, but I wouldn't take any of it back. I've made mistakes and learned many lessons, learned a lot about the nature of people and myself, and that's something worth keeping. Besides, I never would have met my boyfriend otherwise. ;)

Am I the only one who thinks there could be SOME insult implied that it's a female tauren in the picture? I mean... he's talking about his woman... and representing her with a COW....

I'm a very bad person, I know x_x

Haven't you heard the term "femtaur"? The female tauren are very sexy. :P I actually thought the picture was very cute, its what drew me in to read the article.

(I've been at the escapist for a few months now. Decided to stop being lazy and register :P)

Loved the article, sent it to my beloved gamer - we are psychology students and he's going to do a research on gaming addiction (the widows shall be useful to him)! I've been gaming since I was little, but I don't remember being addicted to a game... - perhaps ragnarok (I know, I know... but it was girly and it had nice hats!) when I was quite young, lol... Oh, the shame!

My family was almost teared apart by a gaming addiction (I can't count second life as a game, but... x.x') - daddy got addicted to it. While my parents clearly love each other, they almost got divorced.

I don't feel like telling the details, but it is still bringing us problems.

I wish you good luck with your wife!

Thanks for bringing up this subject! Really interesting article!

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