Monthly Archives: July 2011

When "World of Warcraft" helps a marriage

Playing “World of Warcraft” helps my marriage.

A couple of times a year I see an article around the internet discussing how a husband’s gaming addiction resulted in divorce. Friends talk about how their significant other spends more time on their Playstation than with them. I knew one man, one of the most considerate people I knew, who ranted for 20 minutes about how his girlfriend wouldn’t get a job. She sat around and played MMORPGs all day and night. Yes, video game addictions exist, but not everyone who plays has a problem.

My husband and I play “World of Warcraft” together. It’s actually saved us money. Paying $14.99 a piece to play each month is cheaper than going out when we need something to do. We still go out, but not as much. It gives us something to do together. We don’t play every day, but several times a week. We tend to play PVP more than run raids or dungeons.

I wouldn’t call us “hardcore gamers,” even though we play a MMORPG several times a week. We don’t follow WoW news. We don’t know everything about the game even though we’ve played it off and on for several years. As we play, we pick up details of the lore, but neither one of us can tell you the whole story.

I suppose we fall under the “casual gamer” umbrella.

Could I become a hardcore gamer? Sure, but I don’t want to. Video game lore tends to exaggerate circumstances a little too much for me. I prefer to keep a touch of realism to the fandoms I follow closely.

At some point, BioWare will release “Star Wars: The Old Republic.” My husband has followed this game for years. And while I fully expect him to become a “hardcore gamer,” I won’t. As much as I love Star Wars, my passion lies in the post-ROTJ era. He wants to try all of the classes. We plan to roll two characters to run around together. My vote is on Chiss Imperial Agent. Anyone who knows where my passion lies in the Star Wars Expanded Universe can guess why.

More couples are playing MMORPGs together. It’s a hobby, that when managed correctly, can bring two people closer together. Those hours spent running battlegrounds or raids are an effective bonding activity. It takes some work to find a class balance between the two of you. For example, I know of a couple who ran as a healer and tank for years. When someone would criticize the tanking or healing, the other would jump to defend, regardless if the offending party was right or wrong. Often the group would break up and that was it. We tend to stick to DPS classes.

A stigma comes out when some players find out that a woman is controlling the character. I’ve been asked if my husband helps me play, or if I play because of him. The thought that I actually enjoy the game seems foreign to some players. Some players assume the reason I’m not a hardcore gamer is because I am a woman. I am not a hardcore game because I don’t want to be. It has nothing to do with what sex I am. I’d rather spend hours reading about the war with the Yuuzhan Vong or Corran Horn’s training with the Rogue Squadron than the details behind Deathwing the Destroyer’s return.

It’s all about choice. I play the game because I enjoy it and it provides my husband and I with a fun hobby. It’s better than sitting in silence in front of the television watching sitcom reruns. I can’t tell you the story behind the Lunar Festival or Jaina Proudmore, but I know how to be that “F****** mage” people rant about the battleground and that’s enough for me.

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Filed under Gaming, MMORPG, SWTOR, WoW

Forceclap? Invisibility? Not in my books!

Imagine if Obi-Wan Kenobi slipped into stealth mode during his fight with Darth Maul in “The Phantom Menace.” He creeps up behind the Sith Apprentice and takes him down with a “finishing movie,” ending one of the best lightsaber fights in the franchise. Fast forward to “Empire Strikes Back.” Luke Skywalker turns invisible during his duel with Darth Vader. He appears suddenly and stuns him, stopping Vader from attacking right away. Horrible right?

Yet, we see character’s turning invisible in “Star Wars: The Old Republic” and it works.

Now, this type of action is fine in a video game. That being said, I hope that it never finds its way into a book or movie. Imagine if Jaina had gone invisible, decapitated her brother and that was it. Many readers would throw down “Invincible” in annoyance at such a cheap final confrontation.

The events of the Star Wars video games are a part of canon. However, only some of what is in the video games works in canon.

In a MMORPG, it’s necessary to even out the classes somewhat for fair play. A smugglers needs to possess an ability to render a Jedi Consular helpless. Without considering those, the game loses subscribers. Video games allow players to complete impossible feats. These feats cannot find their way into canon, though, or the franchise will fail.

Drew Karpyshyn said in his May 18 blog entry, “To put it bluntly, Revan in the book will not be the uber-powered death machine you controlled at the end of the video game. You might have min-maxed your character to smack Darth Malak down in seconds without breaking a sweat, but in a book that battle would have been a brutal, hard fought affair spread over multiple pages. In a video game it’s fun to kill hundreds of Sith Masters, but in a book that would just be boring. It would suck out any drama or conflict or tension, and as an author I have no interest in writing that.”

He can’t make it any clearer. As fun as it is to watch your DPS fly up as dozens of enemies fall to your feet, that’s not literature. It’s a game. If Luke Skywalker defeated the Lost Tribe of the Sith by annihilating them in one fell swoop in the Fate of the Jedi books, it’d be a travesty.

I’ve spoken before about the importance of suspense in storytelling. A battle in which two opponents have to work to survive is more gripping than throwing a thermal detonator. Are there times for that in books and movies? Yes. We all remember the infamous scene in “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” where Indy shoots the man in the market rather than engage in a lengthy fight. The scene worked there, but that man was not the main villain.

Some of the best encounters in movies and books occur when the hero is beaten down or her weakness exploited. She finds the opponents weakness and uses it. Obi-Wan Kenobi took advantage of Darth Maul’s smug behavior and overconfidence to defeat him to defeat him.

While I’m not arguing the decision to consider the overall story in “Star Wars: The Old Republic” canon, I don’t want to read about Jedi stunning an enemy with a Force Leap. Keep that to the game.

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