I have long been a raider, and even longer been a gamer. Defending my gaming life is something I have grown accustomed to. I suppose you could say it comes with the territory. Non-gamers just seem to not understand us. I am sure there are many people (most of my blog audience, actually) who can empathize with me there.
When I took up raiding, I never thought defending myself would become more difficult and more prevalent, but it has over the past several years, by non-gamer friends and family who do not understand or respect the commitment that I have made to raiding.
I look at raiding as I would any extracurricular activity, or even a class – something that I commitment myself to, because I enjoy it enough to make such a commitment. I would not ditch a class last minute just to go to dinner with a friend, a friend who could easily try and make plans with me later in the week. I would not shirk my responsibilities with a real life weekly appointment just because a friend of mine is not considerate enough to plan ahead. Similarly, I do not ditch friends in real life to whom I have made a time commitment if another friend asks me last minute.
I realize I am using the word “commitment” a lot, and probably will many more times before this post is done. Honestly, I think that word and its meaning are the most important part of the point I am trying to express. I think the other side of my point is the lack of respect shown by those who expect I will just cancel things at the drop of a hat to make other plans.
You would think the fact that I keep my commitments in a game would inspire hope in those around me that I would do so in real life. Right?
Instead, I get the lecture. Instead, I get the four ignorant arguments below without fail – ignorant arguments I am sure many of my fellow gamers can relate to hearing at some point.
1) “It’s just a game.”
Indeed, it is just a game. I am not going to go all psycho sports fan nut on the subject.
That is why if I were just planning to run dungeons by myself all night I would probably go do whatever inane thing was just asked of me. But the thing about online games is they also have this wonderful thing called “socializing”. So more often than not, when I am playing WoW, I am playing WoW with other people. When I play WoW with other people it is often through plans that were made prior to this very moment, unlike the last minute real life things that are usually toted as so much more important to my social life.
So needless to say, this usually leads to the next ignorant comment…
2) “They’re not real people.”
Really? Is this really even a logical argument? Apparently, all these years I have been surfing the internet and playing MMO’s with robots! This is quite a revelation to me. Especially considering all the people I have met face to face after meeting them online.
Yes, people on the other side of computers on the internet ARE real people.
Honestly, I think I have already devoted too much brain power and blog post to this idiotic comment.
3) “They won’t miss you for one night.”
First of all, see above and “commitment”. Then, see “respect”.
Sure, my guild could probably get by without me for a night or ten even, that is why we run a roster of more than 25 people. That is why we have a post out policy. That is why raiders come and go eventually. The point is, I have made a commitment, I have stated to 24 other people whose company I greatly enjoy that I will be there at X time on X day. I would like to continue those people also liking me and enjoying my company.
4) “You can do that any night.”
Play video games? Yes.
Just like in real life, it takes planning and commitment to organize 25 people in one place at one time. Raiding is not something where I can just jump on at 8pm and say, “Hey, guys! Let’s go raid right now!” Even if 25 people are on at that exact moment, they may already have plans, either in game or in real life. This is similar to how you don’t out of the blue call up 25 friends on the phone and say, “Hey, guys! Let’s go club hopping right now!” (And this is a really bad example, because to go clubbing does not require a specific number of people. Maybe a spontaneous wedding or something might be more appropriate? I dunno… moving on.)
There are only a few things I would actually post out or cancel for – holidays, scheduled events, and being sick. By scheduled events, I mean a kid’s school concert or someone’s graduation or a theatre ticket. These are once in a while things that I cannot really reschedule, and therefore, I make the occasional concession to not raid. Notice these are also items that planned in advance.
I can be spontaneous at times, but there is nothing that irks me more than people who do not respect my time. Popping something on me last minute, and then getting annoyed that I am either not in the mood or have other plans, is something I find hugely disrespectful of me.
I do not question someone else’s knitting or skydiving or nude finger-painting. Please do not question why I raid. Just respect that it is something I enjoy and something that I commit to doing certain nights of the week.