25 February 2011

The Ultimate Guilty Pleasure

Image by Jack000
This is going to sound odd coming from a guy that raids two or three nights a week, runs dailies unless totally off-line, and also blogs about playing World of Warcraft. But I have to wonder if I’m actually ashamed of the time that I spend on WoW!  If I’m going to bare my soul here, then I’m forced to admit that both playing the game as well as doing WoW-related stuff out of the game (forums, this blog, Twitter, my Google Reader) are things I do in at least relative secret and typically in the dark when nobody else is around.

Is WoW a guilty pleasure? For me? Well... yes!

Guilty Pleasure
Wikipedia defines “Guilty Pleasure” as:
A guilty pleasure is something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The "guilt" involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one's lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes...
Can you sense the conflict? One the one hand, I'm trying to establish a blog about WoW and thereby legitimize my "Ironforge street creds". I'm effectively shouting to players "Read me! Read me! I know what I'm talking about!". I’m promoting my posts via tools like Blog Azeroth, Feedburner and Twitter to encourage readers to stop by and visit. At the same time, however, I'm hiding all of it from my real life interactions.

I made a post earlier wondering if age impacted game play, and I have been overwhelmed by not only the response to that post, but also the sheer number of players who dropped by to comment that they’re past the age of 35 and yet still active in the game. I wish I knew y’all in real life!

See, my friends, while great folks, just aren't into computer gaming, let alone MMOs. The sense is that gaming is something dads do with the kids. The actual dads themselves are supposed to have other, presumably more grown up, hobbies.

When I actually have said that I play online fantasy games, the looks I get are priceless. Mix incredulity with sheer incomprehension, and you get the idea. I am usually able to shrug it off by saying “it’s an outlet to relieve stress by beating up on virtual monsters.” That helps, but there’s still that lingering judgement from my peers.

At work, I'm protective of my privacy. Often, I work in front of clients performing consulting activities. I'm friendly and engaging, but all within a business context. I'm paid to make people comfortable and get them to trust my recommendations, but outside of work I need my own space and my own time. It's also necessary -- would you pay someone an hourly rate for thoughtful recommendations if you saw them totally wasted at dinner out of the office?  Maybe, but it would make you at least consider the character of the person you've hired! So work stays at work, and my professional relationships stay distinct from my personal ones.

Would I lose respect from my business clients if they knew I played games all night?  Maybe, maybe not. But, I'm not willing to risk it.

At home with the family, I’m typically online when the rest of the house is asleep. When the kids are up, I’m spending time with them. I try to capture some quality time with my wife, because I do enjoy being married and I’d rather do something stupid by risking that time for a game. So it's not like I'm hiding my gaming time, but it is that I'm not gaming when other stuff is going on at home.

Circling back around -- playing this game is something I’m doing at night (in the dark) when nobody is around to see me. Kinda creepy, no? And pretty much descriptive of how one would treat a guilty pleasure!