MMOs & Motherhood Part 2: Gearing up for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight

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So, today marks the launch of World of Warcraft: Dragonflight and I have spent the last three weeks attempting to master “MMOs & Motherhood”. If you weren’t here for part one, you can read about what makes being a gamer—especially an MMO player—so difficult as a parent, in my case, a mom in particular. Now the launch of Dragonflight is here, and I will spend the next few weeks diving into the live WoW expansion, but this is a little bit about how we got here.

At the beginning of November I decided to take the journey back into MMOs with WoW. It took me over a week to jump in after my last column, simply because I just didn’t have the chance. The delay didn’t bode well for how the next month would go. Funny enough, one of my Facebook memories the day I started was reminding me about the Warlords of Draenor launch where I took several days off work only to be met with thousands of people in line to log onto the game. My first thought was: “How will I handle launch wait times with children at home?”

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World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

Convincing myself to sit down and play WoW was harder than I expected. There was so much to do. I needed to write, edit, do the dishes, and probably about a thousand other things…but I could justify this as work, right? Once I did finally get the chance to sit down while my son was at school and my daughter was playing, I was amazed at how much World of Warcraft had changed. I felt like it was a whole new MMO, and I wasn’t sure where to start.

I kept very rough notes while getting back into things. It was filled with things like “Where the crap was I?” and “I am stuck in a scenario, and I want to go to bed.” I couldn’t believe how many things I needed to relearn before I could do a single quest. After an hour and a half, I still hadn’t been able to play. My gaming peripherals needed some serious attention.

I have started using the Razer Naga V2 Pro that came out recently, and this was its test drive, so of course, it needed firmware updates, plus Razer Synapse updates. When that was done, I had to start setting up keybinds. The 12-button side panel is where I hoard all my spells, so setting that up took some time. 

I also use the Razer Tartarus, so we needed to get those keybinds ready too. Since these are ones used more for movement and cooldowns, it’s important to make sure they are accessible. I wanted to make sure they were similar to the keyboard binds just in case I ever needed to play anywhere other than my home PC. Though the Tartarus is more comfortable than the keyboard, it doesn’t travel well. After that I was ready to play.

Just kidding, World of Warcraft needed an update. After all this time spent just trying to get my PC gear set up, it was almost time to start making dinner. It was what felt like a wasted afternoon. Things got worse when I remembered that add-ons and a customized UI are things I would need again too since I was starting the MMO fresh on this PC. Off to CurseForge. There I got my trusty Deadly Boss Mods, GTFO (yes, I need it), and more. Normally I’d opt for Bartender too, but this update has brought an entirely new customizable UI, and I have to say, I’m liking it so far! But alas, more set up time before I could play.

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After all that, and dinner, baths and bedtime, I sat down actually ready to dive in this time. I wanted to head into Shadowlands to see what I missed and any quests I may need to complete to unlock flying in the area at least. Just logging in I was met with multiple new races in the game, all with special quests or achievements I will need to complete to play them—add that to the list. I was lost somewhere in Azeroth I didn’t recognize; apparently, I had jumped into Shadowlands (and maybe Battle for Azeroth) at random intervals, and I had no idea what I was doing.

“Something else players need to think about when playing an MMO is community. I had to find a guild in time for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight.” 

Cut to several different play sessions over the next week because none were quite long enough to figure much out, and we are looking at my character. My main is a Hunter, and if you’ve played World of Warcraft across multiple updates, you’d know that which spec is the most efficient can change at a moment’s notice. Not only that, but your stat priority can change just as quickly, which means all your gear can be rendered useless. Though this isn’t a major issue when playing on my own, I’d rather get some practice with the proper spec—thankfully, it was still Beast Mastery, so no new changes there!

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Something else players need to think about when playing an MMO is community. I had to find a guild in time for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight. Finding one isn’t hard, but finding a good one can be. I ended up in one with a pretty active Discord and players who wanted to help. Great. Except I’m a mom. People didn’t seem to understand no matter how many times I mentioned I couldn’t jump into voice chat. I need to be able to hear my daughter. I need to be able to walk away at the drop of a hat if she needs me. Plus, no one wants to hear a screaming three-year-old (usually happy screams). 

I explained my series on “MMOs & Motherhood” and the struggles I’ve had playing video games as a parent to one of my guild mates. He said, “It’s not hard. It’s prioritizing…Need to carve time out for YOU. You can’t take care of anyone else if you can’t take care of yourself.” Well, yes, that is part of the issue. Letting that guilt go can be nearly impossible. But the issues are so much bigger than that. I can’t jump into Discord and ignore my daughter. I can’t play whenever I feel like it and dump my responsibilities. I can’t jump into a dungeon because someone invites me. After all, my priority is my children.

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World of Warcraft Dracthyr Evoker

So the “prioritizing” myself has to come after dark when everyone is asleep. That leaves me two to three hours a night to do everything I NEED and WANT to do. To put it into perspective, a night of raiding in Warlords of Draenor was usually at least three hours. That’s catching up on TV, writing my column or spending time with my partner. Sometimes it’s cleaning the kitchen because dinner was a disaster or doing the laundry I missed during the day. But that is the entire point of this, isn’t it? MMOs & Motherhood, it’s not as easy as you think.

Jumping into a new MMO expansion is always an exciting experience, but when you’ve been out of the game this long, it can be daunting too. Wish me luck over the next two weeks as I see how deep I can get into World of Warcraft: Dragonflight (or even luck getting into the game). 

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