During an intense discussion with some fellow gamer parents, I found myself on the opposite side of the street when it came to the issue of raiding in World of Warcraft. They argued that they could not commit to raiding regularly because of other family obligations. I found myself posing the following question to my beloved gamer friends:
You are all absolutely, 100% correct in saying that this is a video game and that it’s fleeting. Do you know what else is trivial and fleeting? Sports. Team sports, in particular. Raiding is a team sport and team sports are a commitment. Sure, raiding in our guild is more like a casual bowls league, where you rock up with mates and have a bit of fun — winning is secondary — than it is like the NFL playoffs or whatever, but the core fundamentals are still the same. You make a commitment to your team that you will show up every Friday night, assuming someone isn’t sick or it doesn’t clash with an important life event. Would your families get angry at you for going bowling once a week? Or is bowling different because it’s a “real” sport?
Raiding As A Team Sport
For me, raiding checks all the same boxes that my old Netball team did, with the exception of feeling sweaty and sore afterwards:
- Work with other people to achieve a goal? Check.
- Everyone plays an important part and are crucial to the team’s overall success? Check.
- Real sense of accomplishment when a challenge is overcome? Check.
- Real relationships form with team mates? Check.
- Different levels of skill — Casual raiding/C Grade, Hardcore raiding/A grade? Check.
- A group of people getting together to do something they enjoy? Check.
As a woman with a young child, a husband whose work roster was all over the place, and a support network roughly 2,000 kilometres west of our location, attending a regular training session or game would have been nigh on impossible. Since a physical sport was out of the question, the perks of a virtual one were very appealing. I could still get most of the benefits of a team sport from raiding without leaving the house! If my child needed me for any reason, I was just down the hall.
Where The Theory Falls Down
I suspect that the lack of physical involvement, and indeed the perk of being at home instead of out and about, are what greatly contribute to “wife aggro” and general disdain towards those who choose to raid. While the similarities and most benefits are certainly there, it’s the differences that make the raid = sport pill a hard one for many people to swallow. Here are some of the negatives:
- No face to face contact – my husband seems to feel that this a big issue for non-gamers (I guess VOIP doesn’t count).
- No tangible results for your efforts such as trophies, certificates, team photos, etc.
- No health benefits.
- No real spectator mode: You can’t make a family event out of watching Mummy raid like you can with watching Daddy play Football.
- Misconceptions that equate raiding to watching TV — After all, you’re just sitting at home in front of a screen!
Children are exposed to sports from a young age, and for good reason, too! Not only for the social benefits, but for the physical benefits as well. Obesity is a big issue in our society, and I only need to look in the mirror to see why raiding is inferior to netball. However, most people who raid are not children. Should these negatives even matter to adults who (mostly) know better?
What We Are Left With
For my husband and I, we have planned our schedules to make raiding work for our family; we only raid well after our son is in bed and are on different teams so that someone is always free to tend to him should he wake — it’s no different to how we act when my husband has Jui Jitsu training on a Tuesday evening. However, the answer I got from my guild mates shows that society is still a long way off seeing it our way. While my friends could see my point, they argued that their spouses just cannot (or will not) wrap their heads around raiding, so they have to act accordingly. I hate that they feel that way, but I completely understand that family comes first.
It is clear now that, at least in this case, what works for my family will not work for others. Perhaps as “Geek” becomes more mainstream and corporations pump more money into eSports, raiding may be considered a team sport in the future. However, with wide spread misconceptions and cynicism being what they are now, that day is not today.
How do you and your family balance hobby time? Do you ever think that society will accept gaming as a legitimate hobby? Share your thoughts in the comments below.