Is WoW Your Escape?

I used to play WoW every chance I got. Either at home, at work, or whether I had anything else to do that day or not. It just didn’t matter. I remember sitting and playing for huge stretches of time and not even noticing. 3pm came around, and I still hadn’t eaten breakfast. When I did recognize that I was playing way too much, it was something I got defensive about with anyone who brought it up.

For me, WoW was filling the void left behind by my daughter. It was a way to escape the pain of everyday life. It was a way to banish the tedium of responsibility that got lost in my depression-fueled haze. I’d rather stay inside and WoW, than to go outside and be reminded everywhere I turned that I no longer had a daughter. Seeing little children reminded me. Seeing parents reminded me. Looking at my rearview mirror and seeing an empty car seat reminded me.

A lot of my WoW playmates have stories similar to mine. They’ve lost a loved one or they’re unemployed or they’re unhappy with their life. They desperately want to fill a void and they’re using WoW to do it.

It can’t possibly be like that for everyone. We can’t all be running from something. For some, WoW is something they do to hang out with friends or to blow off a little steam. It’s not so much an escape as a way to enable greatness.

I can’t help but think that there’s a far more valid explanation for our playing habits, whether we’re addicted to the game or not. Because is gaming really an escape? There’s still loss in games. There’s still failure in games. There’s still responsibility and accountability in games and all of it feels just as real as it does in the real world.

I don’t know if games really allow us an opportunity to escape at all.

They allow us an opportunity to fix these crippling problems that we can’t fix in our out-of-game lives. There’s no fear of losing your job because there’s always something to kill for some extra gold, and since you’re a complete badass you can do it whether you’re sick or pregnant or you have a bad back. You may not have the best social or leadership skills in the real world, but you can master something in WoW and earn the admiration of tons of other people. And if you lose someone in game, all it takes is a quick rez to get them back on their feet. Or worst case, a couple minutes’ run back to their body where they are restored to fit and fighting shape.

WoW helps us conquer troubles we could only dream about solving in the real world. It makes us a better, more capable version of ourselves, and who wouldn’t want that?

Therein lies the problem, though. It’s not easy to stop running from something, but stopping and turning around to face our worries is a heck of a lot easier to accomplish than figuring out how we’re going to manage to deal with this, that, and the other without superhuman abilities.

The trick to beating it, I think, is in understanding that you do amazing things every day. Maybe losing your job was the catalyst you needed to take a leap and go back to school or be your own boss. Maybe in experiencing loss firsthand you can be the strong, sturdy shoulder for someone else in need.

“Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.” -Joe Paterno

I don’t think we’re all running from something. I think we’re just a little stuck on the path and looking for the best way up. The secret is taking what you learn from your climb in WoW and applying it to your everyday life. Set small, tangible goals and reward yourself when you reach them. With the right motivation you can be just as awesome in the real world as you are in WoW.

Over the past few years I’ve focused more on day to day achievements, rather than what I accomplish in game. Teaching my kids values that will stick with them their whole lives. Raising my boys to grow up to be men. Supporting my friends when they need a helping hand. Being that “strong woman behind every man.” Some of these achievements aren’t immediately tangible, but I know it will all pay off in the end. I keep focusing on the end result.

It works for me, but what do you think? Are you using WoW as an escape, or as a way to push past your problems? What are you great at in WoW that you wish you could carry over to the real world?

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15 Responses
  1. TheMadHatter says:

    This is both an inspiring and thought provoking post.

    I am not only addicted to Warcraft but I confess I too most definitely use it as an escape. Although, as you said the game can provoke its own negative emotions but sometimes it’s better than the ones I have to deal with IRL.

    I would rather stay up til 3am farming minerals, and killing bosses than being kept awake but all consuming thoughts about how frustrated and unhappy I am.

    I also feel ashamed that my concerns and the things that get me down are the mistakes I have made and my horrific retail job and the fact that I waited until I was 24 to go back to school.
    I am not a mother. I have never birthed or lost a child. So I can only imagine how unbearably painful that must have been for you and your spouse, and your other children. My condolences, by the way.

    After reading this blog I see that you are an intelligent and thoughtful human being and commend you on your ability to differentiate game from reality and realize that it may not be a true escape nor is escaping the right thing to do.

    That’s all I wanted to say. I apologize for rambling.

    Chantal

    • Lilpeanut says:

      I appreciate your kind words. Thoughtful I may be. But intelligent? Ha! Don’t fret so much about getting a later start with school or your job. None of that shit really matters in the end, does it? Since my daughter’s illness and her death, I choose what and what not to stress out about. Life’s too damn short.

    • Wils says:

      Chantal,

      I am glad you are going to school now. I waited a long long time. I am twice your age and going back now is pretty difficult, to say the least.

  2. TheMadHatter says:

    That’s excellent. I wish I was capable of that. :(

    May I ask what happened to your daughter? If you don’t feel comfortable, then you do not have to answer.

    • Lilpeanut says:

      It’s ok that you asked. I don’t mind talking about her. She had a very rare bone marrow disorder called Aplastic Anemia where her bone marrow didn’t make enough blood cells (platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells). She was completely healthy until the age of 2. She died shortly after her 3rd birthday. I should really write about my experience but I thought it might be too depressing… I don’t know… It brings back emotions that I try so hard to suppress. But it could be good for me and I’m sure other readers are wondering too. Are they? Hmm…

  3. Cym (@Cymre) says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us and if you want to write about it, even if it’s more for yourself then I say DO IT! It would be a cathartic exercise regardless.

    I do agree that you have some inspiring words there and offer some good points. One main point for me playing is that my game partner is also my RL partner but since we live in different countries there’s really not a lot we can do together and it’s the closest thing I can think of to actually interact with each other…silly as that may seem.

    But being the start of a new year, I just wanted to wish you and your family all the best for a positive year.

    • Lilpeanut says:

      Thanks Cymre! Having a few topics in mind to write about for future posts, including the story of my daughter, I sat down to write yesterday morning. I just couldn’t do it. I will one day, and one day soon. On rare occasions I wake up and feel like we can conquer the world. I’ll do it on one of those days. I’m sorry to hear about your honey. :( WoWing to be with your RL partner doesn’t seem silly at all. I’ve been there before too.

  4. AliPally says:

    WoW is an escape from some of the less pleasant aspects of my life I suppose, but it is also a place where I have friendships with people whom I would never have met otherwise, and that in itself is amazing, and the reason I still play.

  5. Shiftea says:

    Great post as always! Sorry it’s taken me so long to post on here. I can relate to most of your post in one way or another.

    People who don’t love to game, don’t understand the connection what gamers have with it. For most of us, it’s a way to escape our everyday, boring, hard, lives. In games, we can be anyone we want to be. We can be the hero, be a person who makes a difference, be liked, be wanted, needed, and gain some level of “fame” that we don’t have in our real lives. People who don’t game, will never get that. But the same can be said for movies or anything else that lets us live out our fantasies and escape reality.

    And you are also right in saying that games can help us find talents that we might not thought we had. I know several people who like most of us are reserved in real life but have found an outlet through games and have taken up blogging or vlogging. Some even go on to be very successful at it and obtain some level of fame and even make a career out of it.

    Anyways, enough of my philosophical rambling. Very well written article. I look forward to reading more….

    ~Shiftea

  6. Shaddzz says:

    Very well written article. I agree life can become a burden and painful and games can be an escape from “the real world” that is only half of it though. Shiftea, you say games like WoW give us the possibility to be anyone we want to be and in terms of “the game” yes we can create any avatar we want but is the addiction really from the gameplay itself or the social interacting that happens within it and in that social interaction are we being anyone we want to be or just merely letting our walls down being ourselves through the anonymity of the computer?

    • Lilpeanut says:

      I think there are different aspects of the game that people get addicted to. It’s different for everyone. (Addicted to the accomplishments, addicted to the satisfaction of killing things, addicted to getting rewarded for hard work, etc). And as far as the social interaction, I think it can be both. We CAN be anyone who we want, and that includes being ourselves.

  7. DW says:

    I found while I was playing the game that sometimes it was just to feel the satisfaction of having a goal set, working to accomplish it, and see a solid and certain completion to it, something that seldom occurs in my daily life. I have focus problems and a family, which results in deeper focus problems. And I like to play the game and think of myself, for a little while, as a carefree hunter, a tormented (in the cool, heroic sense) death knight, a holy and powerful paladin, a self-satisfied, sarcastic, no-nonsense rogue, instead of a timid artist/mom with absolutely no power over how many people tailgate or the teachers who just don’t get my children… there’s an escape for you! But I also found that I felt less interest if the quest didn’t have a good story, or I could get very caught up in completing a quest with a compelling story to it (Pamela Redpath, anyone?). I realize that what I loved best was a good story. And I have found that the one thing I enjoy more than someone else’s stories, is creating my own. Maybe someday I’ll actually finish one…

    • Aria says:

      My reasons for playing WoW are very similar to DW. In WoW you CAN be more badass than you really are. And that is fun, feels good, and satisfying. The only downside is that you really AREN’T accomplishing anything IRL and that’s what really matters. I do admit that I feel that I play too much. I play in almost all my spare time. When I have four to six hours to play I’m disappointed because I “don’t have enough time”. Also, strangely, it’s me and my boyfriend’s favorite thing to do together. But we really should go out and live life IRL!! I do have a hard time balancing real life with my fantasy one. I don’t know why. I don’t have sad stories like some of you. I don’t FEEL like I play to escape. I really just LOVE playing. I can have these adventures that I feel like I don’t have the time or money to do IRL and never like that. I guess then I am filling some kind of void. This is a very thought provoking article. Obviously you got me thinking. XD

  8. Wils says:

    I agree with you about setting goals, even small ones, that you can do each day. I am not quitting WoW because I enjoy it but I have always tried to add just one more thing to do in real life that will bring a sense of acheivement, only we don’t get that little BLING when we accomplish stuff in real life.

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