Time Burglars Anonymous

brbHi, my name is Nachos, and I’m a time burglar.

When I was a young man, I had plenty of time, few responsibilities and I liked playing video games. I have fuzzy memories of playing Starcraft and Diablo from dawn ’till dusk, heedless of what class or meal I may have missed. I am no longer a young man, and while I still like playing video games, I now have more responsibilities than time.

Although my wife would disagree, I consider myself a “casual gamer.” I bring my hunter out of the shed about 5-7 hours during the week, running the daily heroic and finishing some daily quests for some cash. I get in a little more time during the weekend, so that’s when my guild usually does its raiding. I’m cheating a little bit here because I’m not including the time I spend on Elitistjerks or Femaledwarf trying to optimize my toon. I do that stuff while I’m at work, so technically I’m getting paid for it.

But finding steady, uninterrupted playing time is not as easy as it used to be.

Around the same time I started playing WoW, my wife started a new job. It was a major career change, and she has been taking a lot of work home with her to keep up. So that basically leaves me to keep the house in manageable shape and to tend to the needs of a very precocious 3 year old boy and two dogs who still refuse to learn to use the toilet.

About half the time, everything runs smoothly. My son sleeps soundly. I clean up around the house and take the dogs outside to do their business. I check with my wife/shop foreman to make sure that everything is up to code, and then finally… I enter Azeroth. The night passes without incident, and after collecting some badges & gold, and sharing some LOLs with the guildies, I log off. I then maybe read a book, watch TV or silently ponder the pain I’ve been feeling in my right elbow.

The other half of the time..?

That’s when I turn into a time burglar.

Sometimes it’s my son waking up from a bad dream or just wanting a drink. Sometimes it’s a choice between taking the dogs out again or having to deal with the “aftermath.” Sometimes it’s my dad on the phone desperately seeking help with the “Microsoft” on his computer. Sometimes it’s “Honey I need your help with something RIGHT NOW.”

Through intuition and hard-earned experience, I’ve learned that the line “I’d really love to help you and/or attend to our crying child, but I’m trying to kill Anub’arak right now – would you mind doing that yourself?”, will fail 100% of the time. Not only that, but the wife aggro that it builds can neither be misdirected or removed by feigning death (I’ve tried the latter.)

So I do what any responsible adult would do.


The time I’m gone ranges from a few minutes to forever, and all the while, my loyal guidies are left cooling their heels. They run around or dance, throw balls or pumpkins at each other, being ever so gracious and patient. If I’m lucky it only happens once, but there are nights when I am bombarded and it feels like I’m AFK after every fight. I’m then forced to choose between making my party wait some more or forcing them to look for someone to take my spot. Either way, it sucks for everybody.

Now I realize that this problem is not unique to me, and that some of the more weather beaten players go through this as well. The thing that gets me is the guilt. My colleagues’ time is just as valuable as mine, and I feel bad for wasting theirs. I’ve tried to stay out of groups because of this, to avoid inconveniencing them, but for some strange reason, they keep calling, and I keep joining.

Maybe that’s just the way of WoW. There’s no pause button, and life will constantly remind us that it’s still there. Most of the people who are in it know that, so hanging out for a few minutes waiting for me to switch the laundry might not be the worst thing in the world. Maybe that’s even a good thing. Who knows?

Now if you’ll excuse me, the dogs need to pee.


5 thoughts on “Time Burglars Anonymous”

  1. I completely understand. I got into WoW just a couple of months before my wife became pregnant. Like a lot of people I quickly became “addicted” to the game. But I’ve learned how to adjust my game play around my “family time” and don’t have a problem with it.

    There are times I’d rather just go enter a 5 man then deal with a screaming baby, or take out the trash for my wife. But I think that’s normal. And it’s nothing unique to gaming. The exact same could be said about somebody preferring to watch TV, or go to a bar, or hang out with friends, or whatever instead of dealing with “real life.” It’s just a different escape / hobby that gamers have.

    I’ve had to try to explain more than once that WoW can’t be “paused” all the time and that if it’s important I can stop, but if it’s just something like take out the trash today then that can wait. As she’s recently become addicted to “Farmville” and other Facebook games she’s starting to realize a bit more about what I like about WoW (even though they couldn’t be more different) and doesn’t give me a hard time about it any more.

    At the end of the day video games are just like any thing else. They are fine in moderation and as long as you understand that and get some other things in your life it’s not a bad thing at all. It’s when you start doing too much of it that it becomes like any other addiction / problem. It will start to take over your life and that’s definitely not a good thing.

    Relationships can be tough. But if you have an open conversation with your friends / family about your gaming you should be able to easily work out some sort of compromise about still being able to do your gaming and keep your real life intact.

  2. Been there, seen that. I’m on the same boat and -honestly- I love being married + childrened (2x). WoW time is reduced (no guild, no calendars, …) but man… I LOVE my gameplay time!

  3. It’s the exact same for me. I’m not in a guild right now because I can’t stop my real life to commit to most guilds early raid times.

  4. I know how that is although I try and play when the kids are napping/in bed for the night. The nice thing about the new dungeon finder is that if you vanish it is pretty easy to find a new person to take your place.

  5. I am not a father yet, not a husband either (yet^^) but I totally understand what is it to run two different lives seriously.

    We just ended a four year relationship, in which we had several phases : playing together at first, then she got enough of raiding and wanted to do other things, to take better care of “us”.

    “ok you wanna stop, but i don’t! I do understand your concerns and I agree our avatars are less important than you and me, but WoW is also my pleasure, my way escaping the little troubles of everyday life. I also have friends over there – wait, what… i’ve never even seen their faces, like it’s important ? We share way more than just a simple game, and we often meet ourselves only on teamspeak, just to chat, to see how we are doing, just to talk.”

    That kinda was my reaction, I was ok to stop playing that much, but it was non negotiable for me to stop playing. I really did what i told her, from playing 5 to 6 nights (plus all week end long) a week i got to play 2 to 3 nights a week and just a little on week ends. The problem was that she became kinda allergic to the game, she could not stand to see my back, while i was playing with headphones (in order to not disturb her)…

    Then I decided to use, let’s say, my last card : i have absolutely no problem talking about wow, at a time when mmorpg are kinda in the bull’s eye (geek, nerd, nolife, etc…). What I mean is that it is our generation, we grew up with video games, why should we stop now ? Why should we be ashamed of it ? “Oh and btw, I might be a bit geeky on the edge and it is something quite new and maybe weird to understand but on an other hand, i am not an alcoholic, i don’t beat you up, i take care of you, i don’t spend more time with friends than with you, i m not out every night partying with some naughty girls etc…” Kinda lame you think ? Nobody is perfect (duh) but if one of my “main negative sides” is spending a bit more time on my computer than the average guy we know… Well it could be worst no?

    It kinda worked, i didn’t really know what was then on her mind, but i guess she understood my point of view, and maybe she disagreed with it, but she respected it.

    To conclude I would say that our biggest problem as gamers is to get the people that love us to understand our new activity. It is also our duty to act as grown adult when it is the time.

    As i’ve said in a previous post, english is not my native language, so feel free to correct me if you want, or to ask me some part that may have been troublesome to understand.



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