14.2.11

Coping with Limited Play-Time and Lofty Goals

If you have been following me on Twitter, you may know that my wife and I are expecting our first little Dwarven Battle Baby pretty much any minute. I have taken to calling her the Dwarfling, and she represents an upcoming shift in my personal priorities. Apparently my new priorities in life are going to revolve around poop for a long while, and an 'Epic Wipe' is going to have an entirely different meaning than it does now.

A newborn Dwarfling is a wonderful thing that is, aside from poop, full of endless possibilities and uncertainties. The one thing that is absolutely certain is that my WoW playing time is going to be far more constrained than it is now, assuming Mrs. Fannon lets me anywhere near the computer in the first place.

However, even given the limitations on my free time, I still have very lofty goals when it comes to WoW. I still want to continue raiding with my guild and stay on track for getting all the current raid content down before the first major patch. I still haven't abandoned my priestly namesake who needs to be leveled and geared yet. Not to mention the Druid and Shaman that are withering from lack of attention (I can hear them now; the level 18 Shaman is saying in her weirdly sexy dwarfish brogue, "C'mon, lemme heal somethin'", and the level 6 Druid is saying, "Please get me out of these clown clothes already").

And I want to continue writing for and growing this blog, since I have enjoyed writing about WoW as much as I enjoy playing it.

So then, you may ask, what is my strategy to do both? I have been giving this some thought over the past few weeks, and since a lot of people have jobs and children and spouses and all sorts of different things that restrict their playing time, I thought it might be helpful to share my thoughts with everyone.


PRIORITIES FIRST, PLEASE

Firstly, it's important to set priorities. I realize that WoW is just a game, and as such, necessarily needs to take a backseat to what's happening in the real world. If the Dwarfling is crying, poopy or having any of the issues that babies are prone to, my raid team is just going to have to wait until she's taken care of. The bosses aren't going anywhere, and will be there when I'm done.


GETTING THE BOSS ON BOARD

I should mention at this point that despite my best efforts, my Wife does not play WoW. I've tried, believe me, but she just doesn't have any interest in the game.

If you have a spouse, it's important to get them on your side. WoW has a reputation as a nortorious relationship killer, and while that certainly can be true, it's no worse than any other time or money consuming interest that you don't share with your spouse. If I spent all my time out at a bowling alley instead of playing WoW, that could present just as much of a problem. It's important to talk to your spouse and let them know how much you enjoy WoW and what it does for you (relaxation, stress-relief, escape, etc). If they know that it is important to you, it is far more likely that they will give you the time that you need.

My wife and I have discussed my WoW time at great length and various volume levels during the years that I have been playing. I still don't think she quite understands how or why I enjoy the game so much, or how much of a stress release it can be (the stress of an entire nights worth of wipes, notwithstanding). But, after all this discussions and arguments, and I think we have reached a point of mutual understanding: She knows that she has precedence, but allows me my stress relief as well. Well, at least until the dishes need to be done or something.

Communication is key. If you don't talk to your family about this game and why it's important, it will always be an irritant if they feel that it's getting in the way of their time with you. Share it, talk about it, even if they don't play try to involve them in it to some degree. I tell my wife about all my raids, and even through her utter disinterest she listens. She doesn't care, and thinks that killing Internet Dragons is silly, but the fact that I want her to be a part of it means something to her. It's just like telling her how work went, except with shiny purples at the end.


SCHEDULING FOR DUMMIES

I have found the best way to ease the tensions between my wife and my WoW is to set aside specific times of the week for play time. The rest of the time is spent with her, either relaxing and enjoying each other's company, or doing household tasks that seem endless. The arrival of the Dwarfling means that there are a lot more things to do, so scheduling play time becomes even more important.

As of right now, I have two raid nights a week scheduled and essentially an hour of play time per night. It's never set in stone, of course, since Life Comes First, but it's at a point where I have regular play times set aside and the stress and arguments have been drastically reduced. I get the feeling that there will be some renegotiation when the dirty diapers start piling up, but if she knows that my game time on Sundays and Mondays always ends at 9 o'clock, then she can plan things around that. It's all about being respectful to your family and their needs, as well as taking care of your own.


MAKING THE MOST OF THE TIME YOU'VE GOT

How many game sessions have you spent sitting in Stormwind or Dalaran or wherever, just standing in front of the bank, not really sure what to do? I know it happens to me all the time. Sometimes I'm not sure whether I want to hit a heroic, farm some ore, play an alt or whatever, and I just end up idling in the city and commenting in guild chat at how idiotic trade chat is.

As anyone with limited availability will attest, this is an atrocious waste of your precious game time.

When you have a limited time budget, it's ideal to have a plan on what you want to do before you sit down and log in. By setting a goal or at least an activity you will be able to waste less time doing nothing. Frankly, I'm horrible at this, but it's something that I need to get better at. And quickly, too.

My plan is to focus on one thing per evening. I don't really have time every day to do all my dailies, run my daily heroic, farm the ore I need for Jewelcrafting and at the same time level three alts. To be time efficient, I am going to focus on one of these tasks each play session, with the highest priority going to the daily heroic in order to stockpile the valor points I need to gear up. When I only have an hour or so, or at a time when I could be pulled away at any moment, I'll focus on the other things.

The nice thing about leveling alts through questing is that you can stop and log out at any moment without inconveniencing anyone else like you would in a raid or heroic. This makes alts ideal for people with limited play time. If your goal is like mine and you want to be progression raiding however you need to be careful of this, as alts are a notorious time-sink and can take your focus away from your raiding characters. But it's a great way to sneak some play time in when you only have a few minutes to play.


QUEST REWARDS

World of Warcraft is a hobby. As something I enjoy it becomes a bit of an escape from the trials and grinds of the real world. As such, it's a great incentive to use to movtivate yourself to get unpleasant things done so you can have more time having fun in Azeroth. It's also a bargaining chip that you can use to negotiate play time with your significant other, if needed.

When I sit down to spend some time on my computer playing, the last thing that I want to do is to have to stop in the middle of something and go and take out the trash, or pick up the dog crap in the backyard, mow the grass or whatever. The interruptions make getting anything done, both in Azeroth and the real world much harder and much more frustrating. There is nothing worse that telling your raid leader that you need to go and empty the dishwasher and nobody is really going to mind 15 minutes of their flask time ticking away for no reason, will they? Raid leaders know a lot of very colourful four-letter words, and they save them for moments like that.

So, using WoW as a reward for getting your jobs done is a great way to maximize the chances of uninterrupted game time. Baby is asleep, diapers are thrown away and wife is all happy? Great, time for a little WoW. Had a particularly stressful day at work and need some PVP pwnage to make you feel better? Mow the lawn first and then go kill those rogues and warlocks.

I find there is nothing worse than having a task of some kind that needs to be done looming over my head when I sit down to play. It's far better to get things done before playing, and not after. This is also something I need to get better at.


CAN THIS ACTUALLY WORK?

I think so. I think it's possible to still have enough play time to do what I want to do in WoW and still be a great father and husband to my family. They key is to set realistic expectations for yourself, and to be mindful of your family and their needs and most importantly, place them first. If it's your job or other activities that are restricting your time, rewarding yourself for getting everything else done is an excellent way to ensure that you have some uninterrupted and guilt-free play time.

Remember, WoW is a recreational activity. It's really no different than a bowling league, or a chess club or anything else. If you want to play, then set aside some regular, scheduled time and do so.


9 comments:

  1. I was doing some heavy duty raiding with Mortigan up until my daughter was born. It's funny to see achieves dated right up to when she was born. Then I decided to focus 100% on being a dad, and I ended up quitting WoW, Twitter, and my Wow Blog simultaneously when I realized I wouldn't have time for it. But now, a little more than a year later, I'm starting to have time for things again, and so Mortigan is back. A bit out of fashion, but back. I still may not be able to carve out 3 to 4 hours for a raid. We'll see. But ultimately, WoW will take back-seat to any RL needs of my family. And for you, it sounds like you've thought things out fairly well. And should you decide that you have to log out indefinitely, I can promise you that Azeroth will still be there, and the second you finally log back in - even after being gone more than a year - within seconds you'll get a whisper: "Dude - you're back! Wanna group?!"

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  2. Best of luck to you and your wife with the dwarfling :)

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  3. Congratulations and good luck!

    WoW time will change from month to month, or more often, as the Dwarfling moves through various stages. I know I got plenty of play time early on during nap/sleep times. Then there were the 'not quite sleeping through the night' times when I'd have to jump out of my chair a few times every raid.

    Babies are really wonderful. Enjoy!

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  4. I hope everything's going smoothly - since you're at the hospital right now ;) I wish you the best of luck trying to juggle everything! As you know my sproutling arrives soon, but my guild's not raiding so I won't feel guilty for deserting them and I'm pretty much ready to put the game aside for a little while until the little one is ready for me to have a bit of "me" time...

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  5. You sound like you have thought it all through, which is great!

    I wanted to add a few thoughts since I've been there in the last year (raiding and wow playing with a baby)

    Take all the sleep you can get even if it means you miss dailies/ daily heroic etc. Sleep deprivation is a horrible feeling and you both will be feeling it.

    Don't feel bad if you can't do the things you have planned out in wow for that time set aside. You might need to totally change what you wanted to do if something baby related comes up. Unfortunately babies don't give two hoots about what you have planned and when.

    There can be some emotions that you might not expect (I didn't) - Jealousy, frustration, annoyance - all caused by wow. Jealousy that the others can play wow as much as they need to when you can't even get time for a heroic (and they don't understand how you can't drop everything in the middle of the day!) Frustration and annoyance when people waste your precious time or moan about being bored.

    I'm hoping you get the easy time of things with little stress caused by the above!

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  6. I've been following your tweets dude, congratulations!

    Finally got around to reading another one of your posts.

    Really like the effort you have put in! I did have a much longer comment lined up, however FF decided to restart!

    Though the main point is you will get where you want with this attitude. Many can learn from it themselves.

    Jamin

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  7. I've been playing WoW since December of 2006. In that time, we've had two little baby Z's come our way. Our first is 3yrs old, and our second is 7mos old.

    This is what happened to me:

    First off, I took some WoW time off. During the first baby, I didn't play for a couple of months. When getting back into it, I learned what it means to really schedule my WoW time. It took learning the routine of the newborn (and mother), but it makes the difference. Basically, they all go to sleep between 8-9pm. Usually, the wife is on the couch, sleeping through NCIS, but you get the picture. I have fairly uninterrupted play from 9-12(midnight).

    I've learned one other thing though, kids get on a schedule, and you really need to work around that schedule. My oldest wakes up between 5:30-6am...always. My youngest is sleeping till 7am (thank elune!).

    So, no matter what, I'm still getting up this early. This means that I rarely, and I mean rarely, play past midnight.

    And just be certain, that it will take the first couple of months before some sort of pattern really materializes in the household. In the beginning, things change more quickly that can even be imagined. The kid is developing at a rate that makes goblin rocket fuel seem like a slow burn. And, his/her patterns are changing just as quickly. So, just go with the flow. WoW will still be there, and your guildies will understand!

    Zwingli

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  8. Good luck!

    As a wow player and father of a new born, with a raid leader in a similar position, I'm lucky to have an understanding guild. That said, some tips:
    1) volunteer to be the one to get up and sit with the offspring at night "to give your wife a rest". This is the perfect time to do pug 5 mans.
    2) insist that she has the opportunity to go out and do things so that she doesn't feel like her whole life revolves around being a mum (although some DO want this) - offer to look after the little'un to give your wife some personal time - this is an ideal time to do pugs!
    3) Alternatively use this as an opportunity to level alts, professions or farm. If you have a mid level toon, convert it to a farmer, as you get a lot of xp from farming, you can do it in short bursts, and it generates income for the repair bills when you are running your 5 man pugs.
    4) And on a more sensible (? - these methods work!) note, a bean bag with some beads taken out is a great cuddle substitute if you need to put them down.

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  9. This reminds me so much of my situation with my wife. I set aside 3 nights to raid, the rest is spent with her unless she is doing something else where I can play.

    With my knightling on the way (hopefully tonight) my priorities will definitely be changing, at least until some schedule is established.

    I do plan on leveling alts during the early days of my daughter so I can still feel connected to the guild, but definitely not raiding.

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