Why Jennifer Is No Longer A World of Warcraft Widow

From the forum…

Forlorn:  I just wanted to say that in my experience playing social online games like World of Warcraft can be seen as a big Display of Low Value (DLV).  Not good for the Alpha at all.

Athol:  I don’t think the games themselves are a DLV. In fact I’m exceptionally skilled at some of them and it impressed my wife that I can play at the very top tier level of play in World of Warcraft if I want to. And I do mean very top tier as in being in a top 100 guild. It’s impressive it its own way. You’re “winning” at something.

The downside comes from the sheer volume of time invested, detracting from you doing anything else to maintain your Sex Rank and Alpha Beta. You’re basically an addict at that level and that ain’t attractive. The “entry fee” into top tier raiding is about a 40 hour a week commitment, plus another 20 or so hours of actual raiding. It’s just extreme.

At my best/worst I had 103 “days played” on a single character in the first year Warcraft was out. So around 2500 hours of play time… on just my main character. Probably another 10-15 days played on my alts.

That’s what nerfs your Sex Rank and is a DLV. There’s simply no time for anything else.

Switching World of Warcraft for MMSL was in some ways swapping one addiction for another, but this is a productive activity and has paid off in real world money instead of fools gold.

Ichabod:  Hahah just wait till Mists of Pandaria comes out, we’ll lose @Athol_Kay for at least a few weeks for guild firsts…

Athol:  Alright, run the preview movie… (it’s good!)

Okay I’m a little misty-eyed for the old days…

The thing about playing an MMORPG is that you’re not just playing a game, you’re playing a game with a group of people who become your friends. After a certain point, those friendships become more important than the game. Some guilds even move from game to game as a fairly intact unit. At one point I played with a group in World of Warcraft who had crossed over from Everquest for example.

Friendships are important and precious things. One of the most wonderful things about playing World of Warcraft was a sense that I’d finally found my people. There’s were over 12,000 people on my server and there were about 100 servers. On release day… 11/23/04 there were so many people playing that we had to spawn camp Level 1 wolves trying to get a kill lol. I just had this epiphany where I new that we’d reaching a social tipping point somehow and the geeks had won.

That last month of 2004 and all the way through 2005 was our Woodstock. I don’t ever think Vanilla WoW will ever be topped in gaming. Sure more people play it now, but it’s not the same as it was.

I had my own guild in WoW and myself and a couple other key players carried the guild. I spent far to much of my own time helping my friends level up and it took forever to reach Level 60 on my mage. Then once they reached 60, all those weak players I carried were weak 60s that always needed help. As such, my kindness created a weak guild that never progressed anywhere.

After a while the good group got tired of the slow people and they all moved up to a mid-range raid guild. After about two weeks I went with them, just had to, too tired of carrying losers and my better friends were in the new guild. All was good for a few months and then that guild imploded when the guildmasters girlfriend deleted the guild bank and /gkicked everyone in a rage. After the mess we reformed and we started rebuilding with many of my inner core from my old guild running the show. My friends. The guys I met one afternoon in Loch Modan. My best gaming friends ever.

Then I did a bad thing.

In secret I contacted the #1 guild on the server and ended up auditioning against four other mages for a raid spot. Three were bearable, one was excellent. Halfway into a Molten Core run the mage officer messaged me…

“How are you keeping up with us on damage? You shouldn’t be able to do that with your gear.”

“The warlocks curse of shadow creates a negative resistance to arcane. It ups your damage a lot with arcane missiles.”

“No it doesn’t.”

“Try it.”

About five minutes after that, I got invited to the top guild on the server. I just had to dump nearly a years worth of friendships to get in. So I did, I wanted my epics and I wanted them now. I was greedy.

Now being in the #1 guild is a vastly different experience than anything else you can do in the game. When every single player is essentially over-geared and wickedly skilled, the game basically becomes broken in your favor with the exception of the raid encounters you’re learning.  Tanks holding aggro is never a problem and the damage dealers can just can blow every cooldown. Bosses melt in front of you.

Geek speaking for a second…(Jennifer: No dear, this post is ALL geek speak…)   A typical raid night would be Onxyia to get the buff before clearing MC in about 60-75 minutes before heading to BWL for the actual “serious raid”. Plus trash clears (bosses all killed) of MC in about 45 minutes for Fire Resistance mats before BWL three times a week. You were expected to come totally equipped and ready for raiding with Flasks of Power etc, no spending limit to repairs and zero gear weaknesses that could be addressed outside of raiding. If that meant you had to run Dire Maul fifty times to finally get a book drop for a +10 fire resistance blue… you ran Dire Maul fifty times. All in all it was about a 30-40 hour a week commitment just to be ready to raid.  Jennifer: Lol I can’t proofread any of that…I don’t know what it says…English please??

Raiding on the bleeding edge of content is different too. Raids would stop for ten minutes every so often on new bosses so key guys could program a new warning mod. Plus we’d see the stealth nerfs to encounters from one week to the next. Blizzard does not tell you everything lol. After I was gone, the guild would eventually split for the lesser raids and do two MC and BWL runs selling ride-a-long spots selling drops to people without guilds to fund the Naxx runs. Naxx was a consumable shithole.

I say “after I was gone”, because when Jennifer got her bad mammogram, I stopped playing for 5-6 weeks to take care of her. False alarm, no cancer, but a horrible biopsy experience she took a long time to recover from. When I came back to play, I was guildless. There simply is no weakness in the #1 guild allowable. Girls were allowed, but they couldn’t flirt or smile their way out of crappy healing lol.

So anyway…

In the end, I ended up screwing myself out of my best online friends for time in the Big Show. After walking out on them I wasn’t really welcome back in the old guild. It never was quite the same playing after having been in the top guild either. Everything so slow, people making stupid mistakes, raids starting late and so on and so on. I could still do impressive stuff, like tanking LBRS on a mage, but that was fun only so many times.

Plus there was just something about feeling like Jennifer was possibly going to die of cancer that pulled my focus out of the game and back to reality. I never really put in the same amount of time after that. I still played, but not like I did. Then Burning Crusade came out and in an instant all my hard won raid gear was all but worthless. All that effort for nothing. It was all so pointless.

So I deleted my mage. By then, around 3000 hours of play. Gone. I quit.

The old joke is that “Quitting World of Warcraft is easy. I’ve done it five times.”

A few months later I rolled a Paladin on the Horde side. It took some adjusting, but eventually I turned into an outstanding healer. My dad started playing to, so some of that was just to play with him and chat. He was a truly awful player but I never told him lol. Like baby sitting a toddler more than anything. Ran a bunch of characters to 80 in Lich King, but standing in Naxx for 10 man was emotionally empty and I never wanted to go back. Dad said Cataclysm looked interesting and fun, but he wasn’t sure if he’d make it until it came out. He didn’t.  I’d love to say that there was some final awesome message between us via in game mail, but there wasn’t. Just “player not found”.

I didn’t play Cataclysm for a long time. Rerolled a mage, leveled up to 85 and it was kinda fun, but I could tell where the gear check was starting to kick in and called it a day. Did a priest and a shammy too.

So anyway, the Mists of Pandaria expansion for WoW… I guess I’m interested in an abstract sense, but I think that time of my life is over.

Honestly it kinda feels like MMSL is “my guild” now, especially since the forum started. I’ve learned that friendships and people matter, even if it’s “just online.” I don’t carry the weak to the top, but I do tell them how to be strong and the quickest route there. Some make it, some don’t. If people drop out of sight for a while with a real life issue, I just welcome them back when they return. Even if they ignored my advice the first time around. I know that it really hurts a guild when the main tank leaves or quits for no reason, so I’m still here and not going anywhere. As odd as it may sound, World of Warcraft was a wonderful training for what I’m doing now. Somehow along the way, a geeky fantasy addicted introvert finally figured it out…

….fight for home and family. Preserve balance and bring harmony.

Jennifer:  I should have kicked his ass about his play time lol. He would have stopped or cut back if I asked him to or even said anything about it. Lesson learned for me too. He really did just drop the game when I got sick. I can see how it all helps him now though…and he and oldest daughter can bond over WoW stuff, with her gloating that mom has no clue what they are talking about.  The depth of my true understanding of the game can be summed up in two words…”Ooooh!  Pretty!!”


  1. Lol, I have no idea what any of that means! But I’m glad you are spending more time with your family. I hated it when dh played his games-I felt so ignored. Thankfully, he hasn’t played in 10 years or so.

  2. I’m a hard core geek and that was NOT geek talk! I couldn’t understand a word you said, and I’ve been using and obsessing over tech since I was a wee lad in the 1970s. I have never been a gamer (I like games, but as you pointed out explicitly and implicitly, the time commitment needed to be a serious gamer is ENORMOUS), though I did hang with friends who were into D&D (back in the 1970s and 80s) and got into gaming as it grew and matured. However, I am interested in economics and started buying REAL gold and silver back when it was still cheap, so I have that up on you gamer types who sought to accumulate fake blips like it was real. LOL. Btw, I still suggest buying the same today. Not as cheap today, but still smart.

  3. I never got to kill Onyxia :(

  4. Man, that’s the first time I’ve seen the cinematic. There’s definitely a sense of “I wish I could go back”, but the difference between 0 kids and 3 is substantial. I wouldn’t even have time to get out of the starting area.

    The times, they are a’ changin’….

  5. “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

  6. the above is from 1 Corinthians 13:11

    I knew the quote and I must have remembered it from some lesson I barely paid attention to in the distant past. It’s funny how as one gets older, the wisdom I couldn’t understand as a youth becomes clear.

  7. I watched my wife get drawn into this fantasy world, when she first started playing WOW she was so excited and I was happy she found an activity she enjoyed. When she got into the guilds and raids, over time she seemed to become more grimly determined than happy, if she wasn’t playing it in her free time she was on the WOW forums reading up on all the latest gear/spells/ what evers. Unlike Athol, she allowed the game to take over her whole life, used as an escape from what ever her own personal issues were, she ended up choosing the game over her family. As far as I know she’s still playing, 46 pretending she’s 20.

  8. @Athol: I really look forward to the blog posts but other than the bits relating to Jennifer, I feel like I just lost a chunk of my life!

  9. @Dido lol I know wht you mean. Think of it this way though, the expansion is coming out soon and a lot of people are going to be tempted to be dragged back into the game. It’s for them.

  10. I actually had a friend who got so caught up in WoW that his wife was having an affair with another man in the house WHILE HE WAS PLAYING and only got caught because the other man started to feel bad about it and tipped him off.

  11. That, unfortunately is by I never really got into WoW and other such games, the time commitment to get good, to make serious progress is just too much. If you have anything else going on that you need or want to pay attention to, you most likely will never progress much beyond rank amateur level.

  12. In my men’s group with Dr. Robert Glover (No More Mister Nice Guy fame), he frequently mentions WOW addiction and the countless unconscious men that are wasting huge amounts of the adult life playing WOW. No wonder there seems to be a lack of available men for dating when so many are playing WOW. I know everything in moderation but this is a place to hide, just like porn and sports can be a way out of a crappy relationship.

  13. there is no alpha at all in WOW. none. not a drop.

    I played “TELEARENA” back in the day, the last great MUD before Everquest came out and ruined the text based games.

    I lost a pretty hot girlfriend back then because of how much time I put in on that game.

    And never ever dared to check out everquest or WOW

    alpha winning must come from something in the real world

  14. I’m going to defend what Athol did . . . because WoW and other video games are no more a “waste of time” in the lives of most people than say watching movies or going to the spa is a waste of time.

    Understand, firstly, that a primal masculine need is the need to compete. The form of the competition will change from man to man, depending upon his particular talents, but the need for competition and achievement exists regardless of other factors. It can either be used . . . or it atrophies.

    There’s not much to be said for a man who lets his competitive sense atrophy.

    Video games fulfill a vital aspect of masculine need, as does porn. And while both can be taken over the top quite easily (and usually do, at one point in our lives or another) mostly they serve as an important and much-needed escape valve from a culture which punishes competitive endeavors as elitist and inegalitarian. Sex and violence are part of the masculine soul — put a dude in a cubical for 50 hours a week without that outlet, and bad shit happens. I think we all know what I mean.

    Now I limit my own playing time considerably these days, as any spare time I have should be devoted to writing the three books I’m in the middle of instead of chasing electrons across the internets. But I still crank a couple of hours a week (at the moment on the very simple Stronghold Kingdoms with my 8 year old) just to stay competitive, think in competitive terms, and indulge my love for a good strategy/simulation game. Without that release, I think I’d be an order of magnitude more ornery. While flushing huge amounts of time and money down the wire seems like a waste on the surface, the fact is it’s a fairly cost-effective way of getting your ya-yas out without recourse to therapy. The key is to not let it get out of hand.

  15. There may not be many alpha’s in the game, but there is a lot of cases of men and women starting EA’s with “Soul Mates” they’ve met playing, many ending up going thousands of miles to hook up. My theory on this is that it’s like the “Band of Brothers” thing, even though it is a game your brain see’s this battling and reward situation as being real to it, the same chemicals and hormones are involved, producing the same bonding.

  16. Ok, sharing MMORPG experience? I got that.
    My poison was Eve Online, proud member of The First Foundation corp, which ran (and still runs) with the Solar Dragons alliance. Same as Athol in WOW – in EVE:O our corp was part of top tier ally, now belonging to one of 3-4 real superpowers there is in all of Eve world (which is a joint megaserver with over 300 000 subscribers, with peak number of simultaneous customers logging in to this megaserver at around 60 000)

    It was an obsession. It was a grind. It was complete inability to do anything on your own – as Eve:O punishes single player and punishes it HARD. The running joke about Eve: O among the players was “It’s a second job which you have to pay for”

    Eve: O is 100% PVP focused, so it’s quite the obvious if you are better or not – if you survive the encounter and the other guy does not, you are better. Maybe smarter, maybe more cunning, maybe more ruthless, maybe less moral – but in the end you get home with your spaceship intact and the other guy learns that in the vast reaches of space noone can hear you scream.

    And than at one point I realized why I was playing – for the sense of achievement. For the sense that I can do something BETTER than other people. I told myself:
    “Hey, that is a GOOD thing. That’s called ambition, the driving force behind all that is good in humanity (and half of the things that are bad). Good boy!
    But answer one question please – can you put anything that you achieved through this ambition on a shelf? Can you touch it? Can you show it to a complete stranger – and will this stranger understand its value? No? How sad.
    Than maybe – since you don’t really care about the game in itself, since you ONLY care about satisfying your ambition – you should try something more physical? Something more real? Something that would lead to results, that can impress more than 300 000 people in the world of 7 billion?”

    That was the day I stopped playing MMOs. These games survive purely on fulfilling ambition, feeding our hunger to feel superior to other people.

    And I consider this hunger in me to be too valuable to spend it in videogames.

  17. Instead of sitting in front of a computer having a virtual life, you should be out experiencing a real life. You will be a better person for it. It’s as simple as that!

  18. Sorry, Athol. Disagree that being good at a video game is a DHV. Ever. No matter how good you are. A real man’s gotta be good at something physical in real life…which makes real-life muscles that get my panties real-life wet.

    Yet here you are reading my blog day after day… :-P

  19. The sad thing is that if anyone put the effort into their RL that they did playing games like WOW, they probably would have no need to escape RL, they’d own it ;~) My wife often claimed she wanted to upgrade her skills and go back to school,,the hours she blew online she could have had a couple of PHd’s by now …

  20. I just realized you’re going to know who I am.

    I’ve been reading your blog for about 6 months now. But before I was where I am today, I was the lead content guy at Wowhead.com…meaning there is a relatively high likelihood that before I was reading your blog, you were reading mine. :D

  21. For many people, expending their ambition in MMOs is the only way they can feed that hunger-they’re generally in make-work cubicle jobs and otherwise meaningless lives that aren’t going anywhere. To actually achieve anything of significance outside the game is either too much work for their liking or beyond their talents.

    It’s also why these games are a serious draw for dateless guys. Between the game and porn, most of their needs get fulfilled without them having to subject themselves to rejection while trying to get to get with women.

  22. Ian hits the nail on the head, as usual. IMO women sense (correctly) that video games are proxy status competition for loser males who can’t compete and achieve real status against men in real-world dominance hierarchies. Because of a cultural quick, though, watching sports is the very same thing but isn’t demonized.

  23. *quirk

  24. i cannot imagine any women being impressed with gaming accomplishments. i just cannot relate.

  25. You’ve never dated a woman who ALSO played games. :)

    If you’re married to a woman who is a hardcore WoW player—of which there are a few, though not a lot—then suddenly being a hardcore top tier raider as Athol is (was) is a sign of HIGH value.

  26. What? No mention of the real masters of the MMO? The Bot creators? If you think the moderators and coders catch the people using computers to play or enhance their play, you’re mistaken. Just like the cartels setup decoy marijuana plots in our national parks with no intention of actually harvesting them, just to keep law enforcement off their tails, the bot creators unleash “botwork” for the masses to give the server operators plenty of flack to deal with.

    I had a friend who created a ridonkulous bot program, and at one time he had it hooked to his alarm-clock to wake him up in certain situations so he’d never be caught sleeping.

    The cheaters and their unstoppability is what got me off the MMOs. It was fun when we first started out, but it got old just dominating all day, and playing fair seemed even less fun because then you weren’t dominating.

  27. The funnest part became the laughfests reading the reports that the “botters have been caught” and “you can be assured all cheaters will be caught.” While never EVER getting caught or banned.

    We were our own alliance. (IT guys have access to many IPs on many subnets, and understand routing protocols)

    Like I said, there’s enough people cheating poorly to give us plenty of cover.

    Looking back on my life, its when I’m cheating or “outsmarting” other people and their expectation that everyone play by the rules, that I have my greatest self-esteem. Quitting pot smoking destroyed a lot of this. I really got off on the fact that I could burn all day long, do better work than my counterparts, and work amongsr sheriff’s officers and never once get caught. Working on getting healthy self esteem even through legitimate accomplishments in an online game probably yeilds more lasting results.

  28. my wife has a much more common attraction….she is into albino midgets.

    maybe that is why i had to read MMSL twice, i am too tall and dark complected. were i much shorter and pailer, i wouldn’t need MAP.

  29. Man. I’ve got 80 hours in my main in Diablo III, and you STILL lost me about halfway through all that talk of aggro raids and tank proc builds or whatever the hell you were talking about.

    It’s always good to have a reminder that I’m not nearly as deep in the rabbit hole as I think I am. (-:

  30. Whether or not online gaming is a DLV probably depends more on the woman than the man. Age of the women probably has something to do with it as well… I’d wager that for most women over 30, a man who spends much time at all playing online games takes a noteable hit to his sex rank. In my case, the mere mention of WoW turns my wife’s vagina to dust.

  31. RedPillNewb says:

    I absolutely do not get the attraction of virtual competition, virtual sports, and virtual violence. I get the real thing, and I think mastering the skills required for even the most artificial and regulated of real-life sports has all kinds of benefits. But mastering the skills required for online winning? I can’t imagine wanting to.

    But on the other hand the people who have figured out how to convince others this is a good thing are much richer than I am in real life: winning! (for them)

  32. Females playing healers are all sluts once you take it to private messages. That is all.

  33. Athol – I was a female priest! But now I totally understand why I got so many suggestive whispers from fellow male raiders. Funny. Maybe if I had gone with a tank, I would still be wondering what cyber sex is like? Hahaha……>.<

  34. @ATHOL

    LMAO. Yes, I still read your blog in spite of your misguided attitude towards video games. :P
    The vast majority of the time, your advice is spot on.

  35. You played this game 40 hours a week? And Jennifer did not divorce you? Or even complain? And she wanted to have sex with you because you were good at it?
    And you still deny she is an Olympic unicorn dressage gold-medalist?

    We’ve already said multiple times that Jennifer was too tolerant of some of the things I’ve done along the way. You’re trying to spin her character flaw as an amazingly good thing. It wasn’t.

  36. I went through my Facebook friends list and I counted: I can specifically name 21 different women who would be impressed by Athol’s WoW resume.

  37. I’m not trying to spin anything. It’s just, well, you have wife whose ‘character flaw’ allows you to continue to have a good sex life and a good marriage while you spend 40 hours a week playing computer games – which she does not do herself.
    For most of us here that is totally unimaginable. For most women (or men) that would be a deal breaker.
    I value your advice and your blog greatly. It’s the only place that has offered me anything useful. I am hopeful that things will work out for me and for all us others here. You are doing good work.
    But your marriage is from a world that I don’t live in.

    It was a deal breaker. But she didn’t say anything so I continued. Plenty of men and women tolerate things they shouldn’t for far too long.

  38. Video games are for children. Just my opinion.

  39. This is a great post for those that can relate. I picked up WoW after quitting First Person Shooters (they made me angry and elevated my blood pressure when I played them). Ian is spot on about the competitive aspect of it. If I didn’t end a round of, well, depending on the time period, Doom, Duke Nukem, Quake 1-3, Unreal, Tactical Ops, Counter-Strike, Half-Life, etc. in the top 3 on top-level servers or first on mediocre servers then I was *pissed*. Finally I just decided I had to quit because it was making me an angry dude far too often as I was just too competitive when I played. But then WoW is such a major time sucker to the Nth degree I had to quit that as well. And it’s impossible pretty much to just pick up a few minutes here and there and actually do anything interesting. So, I quit WoW a few years ago as well and have never looked back. I look back with regret on all the wasted hours that disappeared down the rabbit hole of over-played video games

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