On Priorities, Elephants, and Desire

Let’s talk about the white elephant in Cyn’s room.

On July 4th, I walked away from Warcraft, my blog, my twitter account. I vanished with a single note: Unplugging and taking a break. Back in a bit. /afk. No notice, no warning, no signs of trouble. I uninstalled my Twitter and blogging apps off my phone, disabled Cynwise’s email accounts, and pulled Warcraft off my Dock.

And I walked away.

Contemplating a future without Cyn, laying aside the mask and leaving it behind, was scary. Over the last two years Warcraft has become a big part of my life – not just the game, but the community around it, around the blogs, around Twitter. I’ve made a lot of friends, some of whom are good friends, through this hobby. I’ve found writing about WoW to be very personally rewarding, of making me a better writer, a more flexible debater, a better teacher.

But I walked away.

I didn’t walk away because I was unhappy with Warcraft. It wasn’t dissatisfaction with the state of the Warlock, or PvP gear fiascos, or anything.

I walked away because my hobby made my spouse cry.

That is probably the most personal detail you’re ever going to get out of me.

More so than how much I love my kids and my wife, more so than where I live, or even my name and face, now you know this. My somewhat measured, careful relationship with Warcraft is straining my relationship with my spouse. I was okay with my kids, but not the one who I’ve chosen to spend my life with. It takes me away from her for hours at a time, the only hours she has to have adult contact.

I will not forget her, crying, yelling at me that she couldn’t even ask me to stop because then I would resent her for it. And I knew she was right.

I will not forget.

So I walked away. She didn’t ask. She didn’t have to.

Here’s the thing, internet. In a battle between you and her, you have to lose. There shouldn’t be any question about that. I can’t even joke about this, because there are plenty of people who don’t make that choice, who choose the wrong answer, and who pay the price.

I didn’t even tell her I’d did it until mid-week, but she’d already noticed. I did other things to keep busy. I played some games on my iPhone. I cleaned up some things around the house, and on the network. I set up my Kindle and read a few books. I went to bed early. I said it was only for a week, but after a few days, I started thinking maybe not.

Holy crap, going to bed early when you have a 6AM child-induced wakeup call feels great.

She didn’t ask. She never asked. I had to remember that a lot, she never asked. I did it because it was the right thing to do. Without Warcraft in my head all the time, I was more focused at work, more engaged with the kids, more present for her.

It was good.

But here I am, typing at you from behind the mask again, internet. I picked it back up again. How can I justify that?

Two things happened.

During that week, I closed down a weblog which had been going for 5 years. Five years! It had spluttered to a stop a year or two ago, but once upon a time it was central to my identity on the internet. I hung my hat as its proprietor. It wasn’t big, but it was me.

And I hated it.

It was a failure, not commercially – it paid for a lot of Warcraft art! – but personally. I looked over its archives and looked at it with a critical eye.

  • How did this website help people?
  • What did I teach anyone with it?
  • Why did I think people cared if I added no value?
  • Did this website have a positive impact at all?

That website was an aesthetically pleasing complete waste of fucking time and bytes.

Then I looked at CBM, and the differences couldn’t be starker. I am really fucking proud of Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual. You know why? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the pageviews.

I keep an early email in my inbox from a reader to remind me why. It’s about my Children’s Week Posts.

Then I ran across your post, and was amazed.  (I also enjoyed both of the ‘Proposal’ entries)  So complete, well-written, and enjoyable.  Your attitude and strategy helped me to screw my head on straight and realize both how silly it was to get so bent out shape, and how to have fun while trying for the achieve.

I helped someone get their head on straight, get perspective and a good attitude, and make it work. That’s pretty good.

I have been thinking about how much your post changed not only my enjoyment of WoW, but my attitude in general.  Just wanted to say thanks, and to let you know that you convinced me of the joys of battlegrounds. Thanks agin, I hope I get to heal you sometime!

I get a lot of comments like this now. “Thanks for explaining things.” “Thanks for helping me out, I get it now.” “Thanks for showing me how to have fun, this is a blast!”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t get that kind of feedback from my work often enough.

I talked with my spouse about this a lot that night I shut down the other site. She was right – she couldn’t ask me to give it up. I would resent her for giving up the good parts of all of this. I would resent walking away from something that was personally fulfilling – not the video game, but the weblog. The mask.

The other thing that happened was that, after a fantastically productive week at work, I realized that I’d burned out at work. I had done 2x the normal volume of work on a busy week and was burned out again. My job isn’t that interesting. It’s kinda lonely working remote, and the WoW community is very social and fun.

I missed y’all!

So I picked up Twitter again, gingerly, like hey, sorry I was gone, I didn’t mean to cause worry, but I needed to go away. It was really nice coming back to friends.

Things were good. Spouse was happy. Cyn was happy. Had gotten my own head on straight.

And then I checked in on the WoW news, and was like… what? are you kidding me? They did what to PvP gear? I busted my butt to get a complete Conquest set last season and now it’s not even worth the same as Honor gear? I have to grind it all over again?

I very nearly quit that night. It was interesting, writing a post on CBM, trying to get a conclusion, when it came out – were it not for my son wanting to see how Gilneas ended, I would have quit on the spot. It came out, in a public forum, something I never thought I’d say.

I find it interesting that I walked away from WoW for reasons that had nothing to do with the content of the game, but as I was gingerly coming back to it I got slapped in the face with an unexpected gear grind, and that’s what made me really want to quit.

It’s not that the changes made me want to quit, but the changes might keep me from coming back. Looking around at my free time made me value it more, and spending it playing WoW doesn’t always appeal. I can find other things to do now, which surprises me.

And one of those things is, surprisingly, blogging a lot more.

I enjoy writing about Warcraft. I have a lot of things that I want to write about. This site is one of those things. I have a map of changes to CBM that I can’t wait to get started on. I have stories that I want to write. There’s a lot of positive things still to do, and I want to do them.

Blogging isn’t something that takes me away from her for hours at a time.

Hopefully I’m done with the negative posts about the PvP gear debacle. I say hopefully, because I don’t know what Blizzard is going to fuck up next. Maybe they’ll get it all straightened out, but I have a feeling it will just take time to blow over. I’m done covering it. I’d like to get back to posts that help people have fun. I got my own shit to do.

I’m not going anywhere. I’m playing very casually right now, and that’s been an interesting transition for me. Instead of 4-5 hours a night, it’s down to 0-2. I’m not logging on some days at all. It’s strange to revise your goals from “Arena 2200 or bust” to “fiddle with my UI and play a BG to test it.” I’m still blogging, and if today is any indication, I’m blogging a lot.

I’m slowing down with actually playing Warcraft, and I’m okay with that.

There are some things you cannot forget.


Filed under Cynwise's Field Notes

16 responses to “On Priorities, Elephants, and Desire

  1. zosima

    “In a battle between you and her, you have to lose. ” That’s the only thing you said that I disagree with. You didn’t lose at all. You completely and totally won! You made the decision that made you happy, allowed you to live up to your previous commitments, and restored balance…and all without shifting blame. Nope, I don’t see loser in there anywhere.

  2. Ttrinity

    I can relate in many ways to this post. First of all, the pulling back. Due to health issues for my parents, I pretty much stopped writing much and had no desire to write during that time. WoW took a back seat as it should have. Seeing people you love in ICU like that is a huge reality check. That has passed. Now i come back and I look at this patch and the fucking gear regrind and the daily quests and shudder. I have lots of alts and I came to the conclusion that this part in my life, I can really only love on one. Raid on one. Really play one. The rest is just really noise. Blizzard has made it near impossible for me to play more than one toon due to this patch. I know that they ‘encourage’ us to have lives, to gather rested state, to have balance. Yes, that is true. And now, with summer in full swing and hundreds of marks of the damn world tree avatar rip off … I’ve pulled back…from twitter, from playing insanely double druid and priest and mages on my server. This is a good thing, but probably not Blizz’s intention. If the goal was to hook me back, i shun the bait.I also pulled back from Twitter. I am a fringes personality and it was getting a bit overwhelming to try to even stay caught up with that feed. No one noticed. Or asked where I was. That’s cool. I didn’t expect it. I still visit here and there, but not as much, to be honest. Glad I saw this post today by chance :)I love to read your stuffs. I love to read good blogs and yours is one of them. Keep writing. ❤ Ttrinity P.S. Sorry this is a BOOK! UGH! /grin

  3. Snack

    I had this blurb filled like, nine times with all kinds of different notations, posts. Full length CBM posts, really.Just. Sometimes, it’s okay to stop chasing perfection in anything and be content with what you have. But you have to stop to look at what you have once in a while, or you’ll lose track of it.

  4. Sideshow

    Congrats to you on finding the perfect balance. I know Syrana feels similar about having walked away after years on intense playing and blogging, though not from exactly similar circumstances. I know she’d love to play now, but she has found new love in our 9-month-old daughter and blogging in a new community.I’ve been playing the exact same way for a long time now (though I never actually played that much to begin with), 0-2 hours a night, maybe some TB, maybe some BGs, maybe some low-level alts. I find it much more fun to not feel obligated to get things done…and no one should, really.

  5. Psynister

    Yes, your wife is a Conquest Arms Warrior and the rest of us are Warlocks wearing quest greens.You already know most of my situation, so I won’t bother with many of the details. Over the last week and a half I’ve spent less than 2 hours in-game, with most of that being checking auctions while I say hi to whoever’s online and then logging off. I can honestly say that I don’t miss the game very much at all. I do miss the entertainment value, when I find myself otherwise bored, but that’s it.

  6. Cynwise of Stormwind

    @zos: ah, I meant that in any choice between the internet and my spouse, the internet must lose. Not me. I warned folks that I wasn’t editing these. :-)@ttrinity: Hopefully, your parents are doing better? I hope that they are.Interesting metaphor about shunning the bait – I think that is a good way to put it. I see all the hooks and am like… eh. No. Maybe I’ll go level an alt, or work on my UI, but that’s about it. Addon problems make me go, screw this, I’ll go read a book. My patience with WoW is low, because my time to spend in it is low.I always wonder when I haven’t seen someone for a while on Twitter what is up. Sometimes people disappear without a trace, and other times they just check in occasionally. I’m glad you checked in today. :)@snack_road: This is a full length CBM post! CBM comments are okay! I wonder if I can ban editing comments, too. :-)So what was it that I put into words you’ve been thinking for weeks (Re: twitter?)@sideshow: Thanks, man! I don’t think I’ve found the perfect balance – I think I’m sorta careening around, trying to find my equilibrium again. But I’m getting closer, which is all I can ask.I know it was tough for Syrana to pull back, but she seems really happy now as a Mom. That’s what’s important.@psynister: She’s a warrior with a pocket healer. We may as well just fork over our CP now. :-)I don’t know what to say about the simultaneous disengagement of you and me from the game. Life happens. Not playing WoW for 5 hours a day doesn’t take people away from us.Man, it feels good to have this off my chest.

  7. dakotarick

    I am glad you feel better. Finding in game balance and family balance can be difficult. I have several rules for myself that I follow and so far that has worked well for family time. In game time has been another issue but I finally think I have found the direction I need to go.Good Luck finding yours.

  8. Psynister

    A pocket healer or a second Arms Warrior? Either way, we know we don’t stand a chance. We’ll turn our negative experience into a positive and say the timing was perfect because of our 2’s experience. ;)I was reluctant to post mine, I even waited a while a good while before sending it through just in case I changed my mind. In the end, I knew it was a step I needed to take. For me just as much as everyone else. It doesn’t do anyone any good to keep negative thoughts inside, and people will relate more often than you’d expect when they see they aren’t the only ones struggling.

  9. Poneria

    I too have been contemplating stepping away from the game. I’m damn near an addict if not actually already.But I’m having trouble getting used to a Pon that doesn’t raid or isn’t the most fantastic warlock she can be.But I’m really have fun relaxing with friends. And it hits me over and over again that I log in because of the people there, and finding old things (esp old raids) is fun for me. Or doing solo projects with my tank.And that’s where I figure I will end up.

  10. Nochecazador

    Understood and welcome to a clear reality. I hope all works out now and there is the balance that everyone in your household needs. 🙂

  11. ccmcgregor

    Thanks for all your writing, and this new stream-of-consciousness blog seems a perfect middle ground.You are right to be proud of CBM – easily one of the most positive, readable, and researched sites around. Ambassador at 19, twinking, battlefield maps, Hard Knocks, Fight at the Flag. All memorable and bookmarked. I removed a whole lot of feeds from my reader when they started to fill up with complainers. But CBM stays put. And I don’t even PVP!

  12. Rezznul

    This is a wonderful and gutsy post to make.As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the proud father of three children, 10 years, 3 years and almost a year. I’ve constantly tried to struggle the balance of game and the demands of being a father (and husband).I really started playing as a way to have a bit of control in my life. My Mom had just passed away (brain tumor), and my Dad was being treated for bladder cancer (diagnosed just months after my Mom died).The thing is, I was blissfully drifting in the game, not doing much. This also gave me the luxury of time. That is, I didn’t have anything I *needed* to do, so it was easy to balance things.I played a ton, but a lot of it was late at night. I was a serious insomniac back then, so it was that or late-night infomercials for the most part. I love to read, but the way my brain was fried, I just needed some simpler fun. My nooby antics were the perfect antidote to the poisonous stresses that accompanied my parent’s illnesses.Things began to change after my second turned one, however. She and her sister were getting into a good routine (well, as good as you can expect), and I made the decision that I wanted to give real raiding a try.I talked it over with my wife, and she gave her blessing, as the schedule didn’t seem that bad. If all I had done was just raid, it would’ve continued that way.However, as I improved and got involved with the guild, I gravitated towards helping out the guild as I could, which led to being invited to become the recruitment/guild relations officer. My nature of wanting to help led me to accepting.In retrospect, this is where the time balance became an issue. Before, I’d be on because I had a free moment, or no one else was up. Now, I felt compelled to be on, because I had *responsibilities*.I loved my ex-guild (and still do), so I worked my butt off to help out where ever I could. There was plenty to do. We were a 25-man guild at that time, so trying to help juggle our raid roster, all of the personalities, loot disputes, new recruits and anything else fell on me quite a bit.My wife has never demanded I play less. The stress I had been going through manifested itself quite badly on me at times, and she did see it as a way I could have an outlet. But, there were times she asked me to throttle back.However, it was my oldest daughter, when she asked me, “Do you have to raid tonight?” in a sad voice, as I was getting ready to run an alt-raid with guildies (helping them with yet another alt) that shook me. I never realized what she thought of it before. In fact, she wanted to play at times, and helped me create a few of my alts.We sat down and talked, and I realized that what was happening was that if I logged on “for a minute,” I’d come on and find something to take care of or help with, and minutes became hours.So, I needed to throttle back on things, which I did. I reserved nights for family only, I resisted the urge to check on things, I would log on for raids only.Then came Cataclysm. We decided to transition from a 25-man guild to a 10-man guild near the end of LK, but the transition was horrid. One reason was that I knew we had a lot of nice people that wanted to raid, but the interest in getting reasonably balanced raid groups was not the interest of the rest of the leadership. They were burned out and just wanted to raid and progress. They didn’t want to deal with helping other players improve.I still wanted that, so I worked hard and stressed out trying my best to make everyone happy. That is, everyone but me.It got to a point, I was on Twitter, and I was having a grand time there. It was a reconnection why I started playing WoW in the first place: the social interaction and the fun of playing.So, I did something I really never considered doing before. I rolled a serious alt on a different server. I went to Medivh, rolled a Worgen Druid and joined up with Waypoint.The interesting things was, I had my old GM on RealID, so he knew where I was. I was spending any free time leveling Rosavin, and having a blast doing it. The people are so nice, witty and fun, I just felt relaxed and at home.Back at the old server, I had chatted with the GM, and he was expressing how he was burned out. I told him directly, “Look, you need to figure out what would make you happiest. Don’t worry about how it impacts the guild right now, if you’re not happy.”Granted, I was giving this advice and really ignoring it. I was seriously considering keeping my officer job AND raiding with Waypoint, as the raid schedules didn’t overlap. I said to someone, “Well, one raid is work, one raid is fun.”Her response to me made me think, “That’s sad, don’t you think?” I sat back and thought, “You’re right, that is sad.” I gave some great advice to my GM, but would I follow it? No, of course not, I’m different. I’m worse.The GM came back to me the next week and said he decided to give us his post, and that I was the most logical to take over. No one else was willing to take on the GM role (which I expected).I spent a minute considering it, then realized that it wasn’t worth it to me anymore. I could’ve taken over the guild, tried to fix it, poured all of my time and effort into it and burn to a crisp. I know I would’ve done that.Instead, I declined, told him why, and transferred Rezznul to Medivh to start a new life. I think it was then I realized that my duties were a security blanket to help me cope with the stress of living. I also realized that you can’t hang on to your blankie forever.

  13. Cynwise of Stormwind

    I’ll be honest; the comments on this post make me a little teary.<3 you all. 🙂

  14. Windsoar

    It’s damn hard to walk away from a game. Especially when you’re immersed in a whole community: blogging, twitter, e-mails, all that jazz. It’s just bloody hard. I’ve never been this involved in my game activities. Oh sure, I’ve been gaming from years, and it’s been difficult to walk away from some games (and people) that I really wanted to stay involved in.But you did it. And honestly, that initial break is the hardest, because you can always look back on it and know that as much enjoyment the experience might give you, it’s just not that bad.I’ve been juggling with this a lot recently, not because my spouse isn’t gaming, but because we haven’t been doing it as a team in a long time. Even thinking about shutting down my little sphere of the blogosphere makes me a bit nervous. I love the people, the place to talk, and I just plain love talking video games. I’m so glad to see that you’ve been able to re-negotiate your gaming/blogging time and expectations in relation to your other goals, because I think a lot of players/bloggers worry about this kinda stuff.