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Gamer Interrupted

Gamer Interrupted: Battle of the hobbies

World of Warcraft, Real-Life, Culture, Opinion, Gamer Interrupted


Every other week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs. I know, it used to be weekly and then it disappeared again. But I mean it this time.

This year, WoW Insider had all of their bloggers write an About the Bloggers post. When I wrote mine, I got the following comment from Supernoob:

Robin, my wife loves knitting but hates me playing Warcraft. Any advice on how to pacify a warcraft widow?

This surprised me, being a knitter, because I have found that the knitting community in general is pretty respectful of other people's hobbies. Knitters don't get a lot of respect from other hobbyists, so we are pretty understanding of people in similar situations. In fact, one of my first recommendations for guys with non-gamer significant others is to encourage them to get their own hobby.

There are a few things that could possibly cause this Battle of the Hobbies, and I will go over some of them and suggest solutions. But it is important to remember that in all relationships, communication is key. If you are in a similar situation, asking your MMO Widow what her specific concerns are about your gaming activities is the best way to start to solve the problem.

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Gamer Interrupted: Are you a Funsucker?

Culture, Opinion, Gamer Interrupted


Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs. Well, it used to be each week... and then stuff happened -- lots of stuff that made things go out of balance. But that just means more stuff to write about here... weekly.

Recently, the Spousal Unit and I got into an argument over this article about Blizzard's Naming Policy enforcement. In this post, WoW Insider's Daniel Whitcomb asks why Blizzard must be informed of every instance of a name like "Longjohnson", before they will enforce their policy on each one. I say people who blatantly name themselves against the policy are ruining the game immersion and are sucking other people's fun. The Spousal Unit says that the real Funsucker is the person who reports the name, unless he or she plays on an RP server. He says people who name themselves after pornstars and genital euphemisms are just having fun and that people who talk about game immersion are taking themselves too seriously. I say that I play games to escape from the latest train wreck and don't want to see a version of her name on a Blood Elf Rogue when I'm bringing up an alt.

The problem here is a difference in opinion of what fun is. We play MMOs to have fun (and relieve stress and escape), but when we are playing with a massive number of other players, the many views of what fun is can and do clash. So the question is, should we care about other people's fun when we are having our own? In my opinion, your "right" to have fun, in-game or out, ends as soon as you start infringing on someone else's fun. But this rule can't be strictly applied because some people's fun may not fit into the scope of the game... or reality. I've tried to come up with some basic guidelines as to when we should worry about someone else's fun and when it's OK not to without being a Funsucker.

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The Daily Grind: What's a good first MMO for a child?

World of Warcraft, Culture, Game Mechanics, Guides, MMO Industry, Club Penguin, Opinion, Toontown Online, Webkinz, The Daily Grind, Gamer Interrupted, Kids

Our Robin Torres writes a column called Gamer Interrupted, about mixing real life with gaming, and it's a wonderful read. In a recent post, the subject turned to how to make MMOs more child-friendly. A few specific titles were covered as well, including WoW and ToonTown Online, but it's worth asking if there are other good first MMO titles that are not only child-safe, but actively worthwhile for a kid to play, either alone or with a parent.

Obviously, we can mention Webkinz and Club Penguin, but are there others? Are there, in fact, any non-child MMOs that are safe for children to play?

Gamer Interrupted: Making MMOs safe for your children

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Opinion, Toontown Online, Gamer Interrupted

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs.

I have a lot of hopes for my two year old daughter. I hope that she will be more athletic than I am (which, frankly, won't be that hard). I hope that she will continue to be sociable and friendly and not the introvert that I was. And I hope that she will play video games with me because, well, it will be nice to have something in common with her if my other hopes come true.

Of course, I also have a lot of fears for her. There are a whole lot of scary people out there who have internet access. But, even if this were a crime-free world, there are still topics and language that I would prefer that she not be exposed to until she's mature enough to be able to handle them. And there is a lot to be said for letting our children keep their innocence for as long as possible. Not that I want to coddle her too much or keep her in a bubble, but she doesn't need to be reading R rated guildchat, either.

I really do believe that there are a lot of benefits for children playing MMOs with their parents and that there are also benefits from allowing them to play MMOs solo. The problem is that there are also a lot of dangers. I'm talking here about children who can read but are not yet teenagers. Teens are a whole separate issue. I can't wait for those years (sarcasm intended).

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Gamer Interrupted: Playtime Management Workshop

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Opinion, Hellgate: London, Toontown Online, Gamer Interrupted

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs.

Despite my chosen screenshot, I do not believe that money is the root of all evil. Nor do I believe that about video games. But if you're reading this blog, you are probably wishing you could spend more time playing video games and less time worrying about money and the other necessities of life.

Unless you are fabulously wealthy with no job, family or significant other and with servants to do all of your chores, you probably wish you had more time on your hands. Most of us have work and school or work and family or work and dating and not so much time to just play around doing whatever we like. While it is not a good idea to bring the stresses of work home with you, it is a very good idea to apply some of the skills and techniques you use at your job in your non-working life as well.

I'm not saying you should hold morning meetings with your family, write up your children when they misbehave or insist on the appropriate cover sheet for their TPS reports. I do think that using some basic project management techniques to help you balance your MMO playtime with the rest of your life may be very helpful if you are having trouble juggling it all.

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Gamer Interrupted: Playing together with different playstyles

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Grouping, Pirates of the Caribbean Online, Opinion, Gamer Interrupted, Roleplaying

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs.

Last week, we talked about how Duos can help you balance your gametime with your relationship building time. The comments pointed out an obstacle to pure couple-gaming bliss which I like to call the "Crunchy vs. Creamy" issue. Avid gamers who love the same game can still have trouble playing together if they have different playstyles. Back in the 80's, I heard of a relationship book that said a couple can't live together if one likes creamy peanut butter and one likes crunchy peanut butter. (No, I don't remember the book. Yes, I'm showing my age again. Get off my lawn!) Whether it's peanut butter or gaming styles, I do think gamers of different tastes can play together, but it does take some effort.

There a few general non-gaming things to remember here:

All relationships take effort: They do. Whether roommates or siblings or spouses or whatever, you need to be considerate of the other person and do things to nurture the relationship. If you don't, you will eventually find that your favorite hard-to-find food has been eaten or your mom has found out about that time you did that thing or you're facing legal fees and an empty bed.

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Gamer Interrupted: Duos are good for relationships

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Hellgate: London, Gamer Interrupted


Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs.

Sharing your leisure time with a friend and/or loved one is a great way to strengthen your relationship. This is not a controversial statement. But if that leisure time includes video games, we are getting into much debated territory -- though things are improving. Newer studies are finding that social games do in fact make people more social, rather than the basement dwelling stereotypes that exist. In my opinion, MMOs are a great way to spend quality time together with friends, family and significant others -- particularly when some are in different physical locations.

Couples can have in-game dates where they spend only the money that they are already spending on their account fees and with the kids sleeping nearby. Separated friends can spend time together even if they are in different countries. And, in my favorite story (though I am biased), brothers who have never met can get to know each other though they are hundreds of miles apart.

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Gamer Interrupted: Gamers behaving badly

World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Opinion, Gamer Interrupted


Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs.

Every time someone in the world does something horrible and is also a gamer, the media makes the most of it. I don't want to cite specific examples here because these acts don't need more press, nor do I want to point out the connections with gaming. I'll leave that to the always entertaining Jack Thompson, Virtual Ambulance Chaser.

I do think that it is natural for humans to try to find the "why" behind horrific crimes, it is just unfortunate that our hobby is the current scapegoat. We don't know what television shows the criminals watch, what books they read, what music they listen to (though all of these have been scapegoats in the past) -- but the media makes sure to mention if some kind of video game is involved. And that is another product of human nature: The Witch Hunt. When we think we've found the reason, we generalize it to every act we don't like. I haven't read that video games are responsible for global warming yet, but it's only a matter of time.

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Gamer Interrupted: How to turn your wife into a gamer

Culture, Opinion, Gamer Interrupted


Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs.

I aim to please. So, by popular demand, this week's column is about getting your wife or live-in girlfriend to enjoy playing MMOs with you. This advice will only apply to women who are non-gamers. Turning your WoW-playing wife into an EVE Online player requires a completely different strategy. And getting guys to play video games has historically been an easier task. Also, this is directed toward those who are sharing the same living space and expenses because you may not want to be spending a grand or more on outfitting the girl who turns out to be the one before you meet Ms. Right.

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Gamer Interrupted: You can be a great parent, spouse and gamer

Raiding, Opinion, Gamer Interrupted

Each week, Robin Torres contributes Gamer Interrupted, a column about balancing real life with MMOs.

There is an interesting article over at Channel Massive that states in very strong terms that "You can be a great parent or a great gamer but you can't be both." He defines a "great gamer" as someone who is in a hardcore raiding guild in WoW or a top level ranked PvPer. He compares gaming to other activities which parents indulge in to escape familial responsibilities. He also claims that these "great gamers" play more in their MMO of choice than the average person watches TV and that watching TV is more conducive to parenting than "hardcore" gaming is. He breaks down the hours that must be required to be a "great gamer" and that leave no time for being a great or even good parent, spouse, billpayer, etc.

Hi, my name is Robin Torres and this is the new home for my column about having a successful MMO life while still having a successful real life -- formerly Azeroth Interrupted on WoW Insider. I have a hard time with many of the opinions put forth by the article mentioned. I don't like the definition of "great gamer". I disagree with the playtime required to maintain a "great gamer" status. And I really dislike the judgmental tone directed at anyone who seems to be trying to achieve the balance of "hardcore" MMO gaming and living an otherwise successful life.

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