Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friends Who Don't Play WoW

I had a friend ask me for my TwitterID so we could keep in touch on Twitter. This guy isn’t a WoW player, and I was reluctant to give him my Twitter ID since I a lot of my tweets are WoW related. I suddenly felt like George Costanza from Seinfeld in the episode where Elaine meets Susan. “Worlds are colliding!” he shouts.

Suddenly someone from my real life was going to get a peek into my WoW life. It made me a little uncomfortable. The world where I'm known as by my real name was colliding with the world where I'm known as Honorshammer.

I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to explain to some of my non WoW friends that WoW players really aren’t that different than who spend their evenings watching The Office or American Idol . You basically sit in front of an LCD display for a few hours and watch the stories of characters you are emotionally invested in.

I could tell the message wasn’t exactly getting through.

There are things in our culture that are just more socially accepted that others. For instance, it’s socially accepted to be excited about the new season of a popular TV show. It’s not as socially accepted to be excited about the season (patch) of your favorite MMO.

It’s socially accepted to stand around the water cooler and discuss how your favorite team defeated a tough opponent last night. It’s not socially accepted to stand around the water cooler and discuss how your raid team defeated a tough boss last night.

Watching TV turns your brain off.

"Psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland found that after just 30 seconds of watching television the brain begins to produce alpha waves, which indicates torpid (almost comatose) [slow] rates of activity. Alpha brain waves are associated with unfocused, overly receptive states of consciousness. In fact, Mulholland’s research implies that watching television is neurologically analogous to staring at a blank wall. Once again, regardless of the content being presented, television essentially turns off your nervous system." (

Yet, TV is more socially acceptable activity. Perhaps it’s because it’s been around longer.

If you are my age (mid 30s), your parents generation was the first to see the Television enter the home. My generation has never known a time when the TV wasn’t part of the living room landscape. But there was probably a time in your life before the computer became part of the landscape. My own daughter has never known a time when the computer wasn’t part of our living room.

Perhaps in another 20 years, when today’s children are tomorrow’s adults, MMOs will be more socially accepted. Until then, we enjoy our secret lives and hope our non WoW friends either don’t find out about our ‘other lives’ or that they still accept us when they do.


Bristal said...

I'm in my mid FORTIES and not surprisingly have no RL WoW friends. Took me a long time just to get comfortable with chat, grouping with anonymous players, and just the whole "idea".

Loved the game play immediately and it was oddly comforting that there were people connected to all the players I saw running around while I leveled. Solo console games can feel very lonely and pointless at midnight.

I had NO CLUE what I was getting in to. And I mean that in the broadest sense.

Now I'm in a guild that I feel loyal to. I e-mail the GM a few times a week. I use in-game voice chat. I'm actually toying with going to Blizz-Con next year. I actually feel like WoW is a PLACE that I go to do things and interact with both strangers and people I've gotten to know in some small way.

If I had spoken to anyone who was in deep like this before I started, I would have thought it interesting, but quite eccentric (OK, maybe nuts).

My wife is the only non-WoW person I can talk to in depth about the game. She thinks it a bit eccentric (OK, nuts), but she loves me and lets me go on about new mounts and DPS and guild drama and my admiration for my GM and just the IDEA of the game which for an oldster like me who paid $85for a "programmable" calculator just never gets old.

I still have a very active life. I run, cycle, snowboard in the winter, travel a lot, & work a very stressful job in healthcare. But before work and every Wednesday night I'm in another world. Running errands, crafting stuff, selling stuff, getting ready for the next raid, levelling alts, doing dailies or just helping out here and there.

I work IRL with the elderly, and I guarantee you, my time to go will be when I can no longer type on a keyboard or use a mouse.

The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

It is even more fun explaining to your 50-70 year old peers and friends that you like video games.

It is equally fun explaining to your video game buddies that you have to stop raiding because the grandkids have come over.

Well, this is not going to be a problem in the future. Let's hope we both live long enough to see the end of this issue!

Rhabella said...

Excellent post, just a couple days ago some people were talking about lost and saying things about time travel or something. I really have no idea since I’m not a fan. Anyway, I listened intently, and then proceeded to tell them, there would be no more talk about me being a WoW geek. I even forwarded your post to them.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Honors.

As you say it's a generational thing. People up to my age (33) seem to get WoW, LAN parties, and gaming in general. Once you get too far past 40-ish, there's a steep drop off.

A guy at work (age 45) was asking me what we do at WoW LAN parties. I explained and I could tell it sounded very odd to him.
Right before I completely lost him I ask if he goes deer hunting. He perked up and said, "Definitely! I look forward to that week each year!"
It's a lot like that, I told him. Just my hunting is virtual. And a lot warmer. :D


Jacko said...

This post made me LOL because it is so true! My girlfriend is addicted to reality TV yet makes fun of me for being a "gamer". I hate that label. Not because there is anything wrong with gamers but because I am not one. I play one game...WoW...that's it.

The one that makes me uncomfortable is when somebody invites me to a party or out for dinner and I have to say "I have other plans, sorry" because I was already signed up for ToC that night. Anyone else been in that spot? There is no TiVo for WoW...

Fish said...


I have sort of the opposite thing going, I started playing wow because I was recruited by real life coworkers. My gf doesnt exactly understand my Wow time, but I've tried to tell her it's no different than her watching project runway. For me, its a cheap way to kill time between work and personal obligations.

Lonster said...

I have an Alliance pin, I wore it on my shirt for a week at work, and found 5 people who play WoW within a week (naturally, none of us on the same server). No one else commented on the pin.

I think there are a lot of people who play, but rooting them out is hard, because like you said, it's not acceptable to talk about.

Since I'm married, we just coordinate social schedules ahead of time. It means that around the holidays I play less, 'cause there's more "mandatory" family and friends events, but that'd be true if I had bridge night or bowling night, as well.

I have had to quit a raid 'cause my daughter just threw up in her bed. I've never had anyone give me a bad time in game for family events.

Capn Skillet said...

People are always saying they wouldn't have time to play games like WoW, yet those same people spend that time that they supposedly don't have doing other things such as watching every single football game that's on TV, watching every episode of several different TV shows, or maybe talking on the phone or texting.

Anonymous said...

My facebook has become a strange mix of people in my life, and me moaning about a piece of tier gear or a fail Ulduar run is like speaking another language to those not in the know. I talk about a wow blog, and they smile and nod - I guess though the trick is to surround yourself with people of like mind to fulfil your 'need' to talk about what you love doing, and I think I have found that in bloggers.

Jessi said...

Unfortunately, this is the exact reason that I ended up with 3 different Facebook accounts (which I don't stay on top of at all), dozens of email address, and several various usernames that I use for specific topics. I just don't want to mix some of my different groups of friends or try to make sure everything I say in mass (like on Twitter) is appropriate or understood by a large portion of the audience. Bleck.