Monday, May 15, 2006
Most men, young and old, respond to a call for food with Pavlovian reflex, a pounding up or down stairs in the general direction of the kitchen with a stop for washing hands only when reminded by their wife or mother. That is most men not playing World of Warcraft.
Hey guys, I say to my husband and sons, What do you say to some pancakes or waffles for brunch this morning? I know the brunch part is pushing it—not a man-thing at all—but they’ve been at it for a couple of hours and I assume the bowls of cereal they had earlier have worn off by now.
Umm, sorry Mom. No waffles. We’re in an instance.
An instance? I don’t know what this is, but I know what it means for me. I am one of the many many women across the globe who has become a Warcraft Widow. This is not a new term. It is not one that I have coined. If I knew whom to give copyright credit to, I would do so, although I believe you can’t actually copyright a title or proper name. Anyhow, what I do know is, in this particular instance, I will be eating my waffles alone.
Men like computer games. Women, as a rule, do not. Now I’m sure I may get a few irritated comments from female computer aficionados, and I’m sure they’re out there. It’s just that I personally, have never met one.
When I was in high school, two of my best friends, Amir and Bill, used to drag me to arcades for Pac Man and Space Invaders and as I watched them dump countless quarters into the machines I would oftentimes find myself thinking, Gee, I could be chewing on broken glass right now instead.
The only thing more boring than watching someone else play a video game is watching someone else surf the internet—but it’s funny how it always takes a while before you realize, I’m watching someone else surf the internet and it is really really boring and there are just so many better ways for me to waste my time.
This family World of Warcraft fascination began with my husband. His twin brother introduced him to Warcraft several years ago and I’ve never forgiven him. My brother-in-law, that is. I try to tell myself that it could be worse. He could be addicted to something harmful—like beer, or the Gilmore Girls. At least he’s in the basement on the computer not out gallivanting around town in a state of inebriation. But still, it troubles me. Especially the times he refuses food. Or to stop for other things I deem important. “I’m sorry Kim, I can’t lift the bookcase off your leg—I’m in a group. We’re in an instance.”
So while my husband proceeds to not let down his Warcraft buddies by staying with the group (which I presume, unbeknownst to my husband, is actually made up of my old friends Amir and Bill), I proceed to free myself from under the bookcase by gnawing off my own leg.
He liked to play on weekend mornings and our boys loved to watch. Are you listening? The boys loved to watch someone else play a video game. It wasn’t long before they had their own characters and were traveling through fields and towns fighting the Alliance as members of the Horde, wielding night-elves at each other and taking care of their virtual pets, which only made me wish they’d take such great care of their real ones.
Now my sons play Warcraft with several of their school friends. And don’t think I don’t feel the reproachful glares of their mothers. The game can be a little violent—but I tell myself, not any more violent than Saturday morning cartoons—and at least with the video game, they’re learning valuable skills, like math and how to vanquish mortal foes with a long sword. Just show me the boardroom where these skills wouldn’t come in handy.
Still, I worry the boys play too much. They speak their own language, and it’s not the twin language of their toddler years. Now they speak Warcraft.
“I’m a level 36 Warlock! I can’t run you through the wailing caverns.” “Let’s do some quests in Hillsbrad, maybe we’ll run into some PVP’ers.” “Okay, but we’ll have to watch we don’t get ganked.” Ganked? Do you see why I worry?
Even their “real” play is fraught with references to this game. “I’m an Orc and I have 26 strength and 14 life. I need 100 gold to buy that armor from you.”
Maybe I really should be happier. How many mothers get their Saturday mornings to themselves? I can write or go to yoga or sleep-in. I shouldn’t begrudge the men in my life this time together, off in virtual worlds, fighting virtual battles together, but quite selfishly, I kind of do. I suppose I could always grab a long sword and join them, become a level 1 Rogue…
Then again, maybe not. It’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to eat my waffles all by myself.
Posted by Kim Strickland at 12:00 PM