No. That’s it. That is your answer. Diving into MMOs (massively multiplayer online) the way you used to is no longer an option when you become a mother. It’s a hard truth, and it’s one that has been particularly hard for me to with World of Warcraft being the game I absolutely poured myself into for years…until shortly after I became a mother. That being said, I’m two kids in, and I’ve learned a thing or two about motherhood and preserving my identity, and that includes things I love, like MMOs.
We are going to start with a picture of where I’m coming from. There is a long-standing precedent set on mothers in particular. In what society would perceive as a typical household, mom takes care of the home, the errands, the appointments and of course, the kids. There is no time for sleep let alone self-care, time with friends, and most certainly not gaming. If mom is home, she should be cleaning, doing laundry, playing with the kids, and if all else fails, worrying about the kids.
Yes, there are absolutely fathers and partners out there who do more than their fair share. But when you watch TV, read comments online, or even feel the judgment from people in your own life, it just isn’t as acceptable to take time for yourself as a woman. Often, we are shown fathers gaming with their kids, or playing their own game while the children entertain themselves. I’ve made a career out of gaming, and I’m still looked down upon because I’m a mother. If you don’t believe this is the pressure put on moms, then you aren’t listening to the ones in your life.
Then you get the judgment about playing video games in general. Whether it’s an MMO like New World, an FPS like Modern Warfare II, or an adorable sim like Potionomics, people who don’t game have a tendency to look down on those of us who do. Binge-watching Netflix all night is perfectly fine, but picking up a controller is ridiculous, but I digress.
Having said that, it makes it pretty hard for a mom to sit down to play her favourite video games, just based on guilt and judgment alone. Now what if she’s an MMO player? How in the world can that work? MMO’s take place in real time. There is no pause button in WoW or Lost Ark. So how can a parent, who may need to stop at any moment, take on a game that doesn’t let you come and go as you please? Like I said before, you can’t. Not the way you used to anyway.
Recently I’ve been on an indie sim game kick, simply because you can put those down, walk away and come back with no issue. Mind you, I’ve absolutely let far too many days pass me by in Stardew Valley or Let’s Build a Zoo. But as a parent, I don’t believe you should have to change what you love, or settle for anything less than what makes you happy. Sometimes that means being a little more flexible.
Now, Fortnite isn’t technically an MMO, but it is massive, and multiplayer, and online. That makes it hard to play when you have other responsibilities. For those of you rolling your eyes about playing video games when I’m with my children, one, I play Fortnite with my son regularly, and two, parental responsibilities don’t end when your children go to bed. You regularly need to find a place to hide, or hop out of a lobby because of a bad dream or someone who doesn’t want to sleep. You’re always a parent, 24/7.
The reason I bring up Fortnite is that it feels a little more casual than a standard MMO. In a game like this, the stakes aren’t quite as high as a raid or dungeon in WoW. Chances are high that you’re playing with friends instead of queuing up with strangers (though both are possible), so if you have to disappear for a minute or two, or maybe there are some tiny humans screaming in the background, people you know tend to be more understanding. I’ve come back to my character in a safe little box more than once after tending to my tiny humans.
“MMOs and motherhood don’t go hand in hand, because we don’t want to let anyone down.”
I started playing World of Warcraft 10 years ago when Mists of Pandaria first launched. I didn’t know it at the time, but for the following 5 years, I would be hooked. I mained a hunter (Beast Mastery, Marksman and Survival, have been swapped out many times), but I also had a resto shaman. This meant that if I needed to pop away during a dungeon…everyone was dead.
When I started raiding more seriously, even as DPS instead of heals, it was evident that you can’t just step away. Yes, you should have a team that understands things happen (though a lot of these teams are VERY competitive), but stepping out could mean you miss an important mechanic wiping a raid, and wasting the time of 10 to 25 people.
MMOs work in real time. Real people are sitting on the other end waiting on you. Real people are ready to attack if you’re AFK in PvP. Real people are spending their very precious spare time to play a game just like you are. So no, MMOs and motherhood don’t go hand in hand, because we don’t want to let anyone down.
“My son is seven, and I stopped really grinding MMOs before he was two. I never made it to Battle for Azeroth.”
None of that is even considering what a massive time sink MMOs can be. Levelling, questing, collecting, grinding for gear or XP, PVP, PVE, dailies, dungeons, raids…I can keep going. With limited time, a parent will have to pick and choose what they want to get done in-game, and that can make diving in even more intimidating. It would be like playing a standard RPG and only doing the main quest, who wants to do that?
Of course there are workarounds. You may not be able to raid as seriously in WoW or queue up for random dungeons in ESO, but you can play with a group of friends who understand your situation. You can schedule night to grind levels when your partner or friend is there to let you tag out for the night. You can enjoy the quest lines and dailies, preferably on a PVE server. There are options.
Now why is all this on my mind now? My son is seven, and I stopped really grinding MMOs before he was two. I never made it to Battle for Azeroth. I dabbled slightly in Shadowlands, and so much of the game has changed since I left. I miss the game. Every new announcement has me filled with nostalgia and the newest expansion has been taunting me. With World of Warcraft: Dragonflight finally launching on November 28th, I’m going back to Azeroth. As a mother.
This means that during November, I will be basically relearning an entire MMO, parenting two kids whose school just closed (so online learning?), working full time, and gearing up for Dragonflight. On November 28th, I will dive into the queue of 40,000 (I swear that happened for Legion), and make my way to Dragon Isle.
MMOs and motherhood don’t mix in theory, but stay tuned for not only the World of Warcraft: Dragonflight review next month, but an update on how-or if-I did it. Being a mom does not mean giving up everything you love, and I intend to prove it.