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.