On being a widow of World of Warcraft

How one woman lost her boyfriend to blood elves and orcs
February 7, 2007 1:53:49 PM


There has to be some sort of support group for this. I am a woman scorned — not for the love of another woman but for the love of Warcraft. The World of Warcraft, also known as WoW to its denizens, is the medieval-themed, multi-player, online role-playing game that picked up where Dungeons & Dragons left off, imprisoning the minds of more than eight million players and siphoning them from the arms of their loved ones.

I know. My boyfriend has been playing the thing night and day for more than a year now.

WoW is more than just a game: it’s an all-consuming mania that starts as a lark and turns into an addiction, as evidenced by the thousands of online message-board postings from wives, husbands, parents, and friends who have been abandoned for late-night “guild meetings” and all-night point-accumulating “quests.” And after last month’s release of the game’s much-anticipated expansion, fervent gamers have more dungeons to raid, lands to quest in, and mobs to slay, making the future pretty bleak for significant others.

It’s not that I mind that my boyfriend never comes to bed before 3 am anymore, that he’s stopped calling back most of his friends, or that we can barely have a conversation without him bringing up the cool new Blood Elf he met during last night’s “burning crusade.” I really don’t mind that stuff, not much anyway.

I fall asleep better on my own, and he always comes to bed eventually, waking me with a kiss on the forehead every night. He’s meeting interesting people, I suppose, and I equate the glimmer in his eyes when he tells me about his character’s new plated armor to the one I get when I show him the sweater I scored at Filene’s Basement. He doesn’t glaze over when I tell him about my bargain shopping; he at least deserves some feigned enthusiasm for swiping a spear and magic helmet off a dead troll.

The problem isn’t the game itself; it’s that I feel I’ve been had.

Virtual trumps reality
This is a guy who used to navigate through conversations with enviable skill. He could talk about anything from woodworking to Lead Belly, to fine art, to surfcasting. He was dynamic and indefinable. He was a poet in a Red Sox cap. He could change a tire while eulogizing the merits of Riojan reds. He was the last guy you would expect to lose his soul to a video game. He seemed so strong, so vital, so immune.

Now I look at a shell of the guy I fell in love with and see a drone in his place. Sometimes it’s like a parasite has sucked the life out of him and inhabited his frenzied mouse-finger. Warcraft has become more than a quirky pastime; it’s grown into a complete lifestyle.

For months I’ve been strategically leaving out books and articles that I hope will distract him for a night and break the Warcraft spell, but he prefers to devour the contents of his Warcraft Atlas and Encyclopedia instead, memorizing every map and battle cry.

Rather than grabbing a beer down the street with the guys, he’ll opt to meet up with a friend online and head to the Stonefire Tavern for a cyber-brew and a quick chat with his fellow Paladins. And he’d choose a stroll through Warcraft’s Terokkar Forest over a hike in the White Mountains any day. He even went so far as to ask me to sit with him and watch the “moon over the water” on his monitor. It’s sweet that he wants to include me, but he couldn’t understand why I suggested it might be nicer to look at the real moon outside.

“But this moon is full. The one outside is barely a sliver!” he implored. Point taken.

He spends so much time online, I wonder sometimes if he is cheating on me with the village wench. I see her sashaying around the square in her corset and billowing cleavage, enticing men with her frothing mugs of ale. Do I need to get myself a character and kick her cartoon ass?

Under its spell
Clinical psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School Dr. Maressa Orzack has been quoted as saying that she believes at least 40 percent of Warcraft players are addicted to the game. Orzack has even gone so far as to say that Warcraft, and games like it, should carry labels similar to those on cigarettes, warning of their potential harm to users.

Warcraft’s lure is so potent that it has earned the nickname “War-crack,” and Orzack has said that these games can pose a serious threat to a player’s professional life and personal relationships. All I know is that my boyfriend gets more satisfaction out of being dubbed a “master blacksmith” than he ever got from any real-work accolades, and he seems to bound into bed with adolescent vigor after a particularly bloody raid.

I want my old boyfriend back, but I have no one to blame for losing him but myself. One of my oldest and dearest friends turned him on to the game — and I introduced them. My friend’s wife goes through the same turmoil I do. We listen to plans for upcoming quests over dinner dates as we try to psychically plot a take-back of our men. I dream of kidnapping the two of them and forcing them on a weeklong golf and fishing trip with the guys. No wives or girlfriends — and no video games — just fresh air, exercise, and real human interaction.

But my boyfriend insists that I have the better of the two worlds. He tells me that being a golf widow would be much worse, and that if I tried Warcraft I’d like it. He even muses that it could be something we’d do together. It would be, he says, a bonding experience.
Sorry honey. It’s sweet that you think this could be a way for us to share some quality time, but I think this might just have to be a case of “you do your thing and I’ll do mine.”

Janelle Randazza is an elfin princess who lives on the distant shores of Gloucester, where she works as scribe and oracle for a number of area publications. She can be reached at .


i freakin love it.. so much i read the whole thing, laughing and smiling my way through.. so thats what happened to Liam! i wondered why i never hear from him--while he works directly below me.. what a trip.. the best part is, i have gone through similar struggles involving battlefield 1942.. of course, im was no where near as addicted (denial).. i sucked actually... i didn't understand how to "jump constantly" to avoid bullets.. if i were in battle during "real reality", last thing i'd be doing is running across a field, jumping the whole way, randomly spraying bullets...  of course my method of sitting patiently with a sniper rifle does nothing against the virtual pixies that were for a brief time my "friends" oh did i mention my virtual name had to be beefed up.. no one fears a Judson.   I  WAS J Bauer (thats right, from 24) so yeah, we all suffer addictions.. this is why i boldly erased 1942 from my drive when i needed space.. knowing it only brought me fights with girlfriends and a whole lot of unnecessary depression as i rolled into bed at 4am only to sit and think of shooting bouncing nazi's in the desert, or on the moon what a fun article! judson

POSTED BY AT 02/08/07 1:44 PM
this is excellent! classic stuff!

POSTED BY bcoles AT 02/08/07 2:00 PM
So true and so cleverly written. You've summed up what many partners are experiencing -- but with humor, which probably a few partners lack. :) Too bad your guy isn't into a Wii game, as that might be the only fun solution.

POSTED BY Marya AT 02/09/07 12:47 PM
Those people that find themself being ignored for a game should try to become more interesting than the game. The bottom line is that people will pay attention to what interests them the most. If WOW is more interesting than you, then you will be ignored.

POSTED BY Mortikai AT 02/09/07 12:50 PM
Interesting thought, Mortikai, is that kind of like the "Be the Ball Theory" from Caddyshack? Because I'm trying to get Janelle to wear her level 30 troll outfit to work in the effort to make her more interesting.

POSTED BY adamrobert12 AT 02/09/07 1:30 PM
A very funny read! I sometimes find myself feeling neglectful of my wife as I indulge further into WoW. It lasts only briefly however because when a Fel Orc comes bashing one upside the head... well that must be responded to swiftly. Then there's the odd moment where my wife complains about my gameplay and I do play a lot (lvl 68). Then I remind her that *she* bought me the guide to Burning Crusade. Isn't that akin to aiding and abetting or feeding the addiction? Not that I'm addicted mind you (sleep deprived) as I do stop playing to take in drama shows like Grey's Anatomy and Lost, the letigious humor of Boston Legal and even Desperate Housewives with her. Why I even (against my better WoW judgement) do family event things that take me away from the lands of Azeroth for hours at a time. Although admittedly, with the Warcraft soundtrack playing in the car, I'm never too far from my virtual home.

POSTED BY SirAsana AT 02/09/07 8:28 PM
wow.. this is great, i was laughing the whole way through, i feel sorry for ya. im a guy i play WOW but not this intense. if i was intesive here is what would work to get my ass up. often enouhg after like an hour or so after starting i tend to get borded.. only temporarly mind you. well arguing might only make him cling to it more, as being a scorce of comfort. i agree with Mortikai, you can also try to make him want to spend time with you.. one way is spend more time away from him. he will wonder why your gone all the time and he will become curious/suspicous and want to see for him self. if you try to put your self in the posistion of him chooseing you or spending less time on the game, while doing this in a neutral none threeatining way, he should choose you, after all its just a dam game. he played games before and got borded of it, this might give him some incentive. for this bad of an addiction tehy should have a WOW patch, pop a cd in to install a program to limit WOW play time. also if that doesn;t work.. you can show him this (its mean i know).. i will put a little note in incase you want him to read it. i know im being really harsh but if sutulty doesn't work then strick his man hood. ok dude i play wow i got a 44 druid and 38 rogue. working on a sham. i played a shit load of games, halo1+2 all of the zelda, elder scrolls, FFXI, ect... i use to be a big gamer untill i decided that i should be more fit and loose weight, if your not fat good for you, i know gamers that are as skiny as a stick. i got a younger bro addicted to WOW not as bad as you (so yea your more pethetic then a 16 year old, but hay ya got a 68 something or other. grats thats awsome...). get your ass away from the dam computer or you will not only loose her, but if you manage to get someone else (i dont see how if your infront of the computer all the dam time), you will lose others aswell. yes playing it is fun. but dont obsese over it. think of how your girlfreind must feel, it's like if you had a great set of armor but when you try to gain a lvl to wear it your level jumps down by 2. if you want to play less fine then start by spending 2 days of the week not playing it at all, or talking about it, no looking online at any info either, dont spend anything with anything close the the game. and every so often (let your girlfreind decide) increase the amount of days. untill you just feel like playing only a few hours, less then 30 hours a week playing. if your thinking but your playing it.. no im not. im dorming at a college, and WOW is at home. so i went cold turky. but seriously man.. playing all night long... talking about battle plans at the dinner table wft are you 10... o gess. me and my bro never talk about it much, if im watching tv and he wants to show me something i tell him shut up and leave me alone. have some freging will power man. you got a gal you obviously love you... i would love to have a girl like that. she puts up with so much stupid shit from you, watch the moon on the computer, pls what were you thinking? pls tell me your drunk at least, or high. you seriously thought that that was a romantic gesture.. dam man. i love to have a good game, i get a little addicted to but i dont let it mess my relationships with freinds and family. do other funn stuff. heres a cool idea why dont you work out? i dont mean go to a gym or anything, jog/walk around a track, you'll feel better and feel younger when you get older. and hay you can jog/walk with your gal, i bet she would be happy. Come on man be one less. im one less addicted gamer and prod of it. Power to the off switch. o.. if anyone else wants to repost this anywere goahead. use it as you feel fit.

POSTED BY TommyG AT 02/09/07 11:59 PM
This makes me really sad to write, but its an explination from someone who plays, and is addicted, to WoW. Im not as good of a writer as the original poster, but it should give you some insite to the sinkhole that is gaming addiction. Over the last two years that WoW has been out, I have logged approxamately 200 DAYS playing the game. Yes thats 200 days of the last two years sitting in front of my computer. Now mind Im not your steriotypical "geek" or anything like that. I have a good job, lots of friends, a beautiful partner and two children. Unfortunately through battles with constant depression, lack of goals or any real sort of focus, and no real direction in life I have found myself lost in a game. Its an escape from the sad reality that I live. I can log on and forget my job, forget family troubles and responsibilities, and just simply escape from everything. Of coarse most people play MMORPG's because of the feeling of friendship and community that it gives you. people dont judge you or care about anything you have in your real life. Noone cares about your shortcommings or anything like that. its a place you can escape and portray yourself as anyone or anything you want to be. I have "quit" WoW twice now. once I even threw away the game, my computer, and moved out from my roomates home because he played as well. But here I am, back playing again. Im falling behind at work, parenting from my computer, ignoring all of my RL friends. My girlfriend got so tired of talking to the back of my head that she bought the game and a new computer just so she could type to me and I would actualy listen. I feel like I have let down my children, my girlfriend, and my friends and family that have watched me sink into this hole. I dont know how to walk away. Last night I was watching this drug intervention show, where they take people away to camps and teach them how to be proactive in there lives. I swear if someone would do that for me Id do it. its a really sad thing to see happen to people but understand that on many levels is just as bad a addiction as alchohol or drug use. If your significant other is truely "addicted" to a game you need to do something because simply asking them not to play anymore, or expecting them to walk away anymore just isnt going to happen. Sorry Im rambling but I guess Im just kinda spilling out my thoughts to give anyone who reads this an idea of what its like. Best of luck.

POSTED BY MeldrumAndrew AT 02/12/07 5:49 PM
Well I play WoW - and so does my boyfriend. He introduced me to the game when it first came out and I have playing ever since. I was really into it at first, stopped playing for 6 months, and now I play occassionally (even with the expansion out). Personally I would say give the game a try. Dont knock it untill you have tried it. Plus playing this game is better then being on the streets causing trouble, or having a drinking problem, or any other type of bad thing that one person can do. Thats my personal opinion. I know people are addicted to the game, more so that others. But for me I know moderation and I live my life outside of WoW. Just wanted to add my 2 cents - and wish you the best of luck.

POSTED BY Jamie318 AT 02/13/07 8:04 AM
This is difficult for me to even wirte. A few years ago, I met a man who I thought was the one. When we started dating I was living in LA and he was down in Orange County, so he would spend a lot of time up at my place. After a couple of months of dating, everything was great, we would go golfing, to baseball games, and the movies and dinner. When he moved up towards me in Los Angeles, he brought his computer to his new place. That is where I should have seen the red flags. He consistantly played WoW, or Warcrack as I learned from my threapist. There was no getting him off that game, and if I made a comment about it he was very defensive. I wished that I realized how serious it was before I accepted his proposal only 5 months later and married him a year after that. The whole time we lived together, he was on that game. He went from one job to another and for a period when we moved in together, he did not work, nor was very proactive on finding a job, or calling for his unemployment. I support us until I found him his job in the paper. I would come home everday from work and find him sitting on the computer playing that dumb game. It was so severe, that he did not even want my friends over at the house. Soon after we were married, I received a transfer to another city within my company, he begged to go, it was less expensive and he had not been working since we came back from our honeymoon. He had an 'illness' which prevented him from working. Yes, he did have a legimate illness, but it was only serious for the first month. However, he spent so much time on that game. He was on the computer from the time he woke up to long after I would go to bed. After moving, I was the sole supporter of the household. He could not even call to get his disability because he did not want to sit on hold, while plaing his game. It got ot the point, that this was the fcus of a lot of arguements, as I paid bills, borred money from whomever I knew, made excuses to my friends and family. The breaking point was when I would come home and he would come out for dinner that I prepared, since he was so busy playing and would eat for 20 minutes, then proceed back to his office to play. I was crying on a daily basis since this not only affected my marriage, but affected my relationships with everyone else. I ended up leaving my husband of only 18 months, and preceeded with filing for divorce. He had said to me that he was looking for someone serious to have a family...but what kind of life would I have had if I had to constantly compete with WoW on a daily basis?

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POSTED BY 9bian AT 05/22/07 4:36 AM
I have been married for two and a half years and we have a 5 month old baby daughter. My husband used to spend so much time with me and our friends.He had a positive outlook and a promising future. Not to mention he always had a job to pay his own bills and take me out. About a year and a half ago his friend opened an internet gaming center and introduced him to world of warcraft. He started playing all the time. He quit his job that he had worked at for the past year. I never saw him. He was up all night and slept all day while I worked. I worked two jobs just to pay the bills and I was still drowning in debt. I talked to him,pleaded with him and still he couln't tear himself away. I finally moved out and let him be evicted. At that time he came to me and promised things would change. I gave him another chance. Nothing changed he was always at the gaming center. It was a record if he kept a job for a month. What is worse during this time I found out I was pregnant. I thought maybe this would be a good thing. Maybe he would care enough about his baby to step up to the plate. All these months later and I still get ignored. I go to bed alone and spend weekends with my friends. Our old friends who are not into the game. We no longer have mutual friends. He doesn't work or watch the baby. If I want to go on a date I have to pay. I get nothing for anniversaries or birthdays. He did not even attend my birthday party. I work two jobs and attend school while he sits at the computer. I have tried everything and still nothing changes. I am now ready to leave even though I love him. I hope one day he comes into reality and becomes the father his daughter deserves.

POSTED BY sgg3090 AT 08/21/07 1:43 PM
I'm a WoW widow - my husband has done everything you describe and more. This week I found out he has struck up a relationship with another woman through the game - they have shared sexually explicit chats within the games and emails and he has given her his phone number. Gawd, I hate this game - it has destroyed my marriage.

POSTED BY Gena AT 11/08/07 7:46 PM
This article is so true. I am engaged to a WoW addict and his friends girlfriends and I have started the Women Against WoW....WAWoW lol. It just got to be too much when we would go out to restaurants and the whole conversation was about PvP'ing or what level their characters are.

POSTED BY jenniferj1981 AT 12/06/07 7:53 PM

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