My husband / Boyfriend is addicted to World of Warcraft, what should I do?

What do when your man won't stop playing World Of Warcraft?

The chances are you reading this because you are at your wits end. The husband/boyfriend has changed from the fun, exciting guy he used to be into someone you hardly recognize, stuck on the computer eight hours a day or more playing World Of Warcraft.

I say "him" because it is more likely to be a man than a woman, though many women do play Warcraft. Most of what I'm writing applies regardless of gender, though not all (see below).

Most of the content on the web dealing with Warcraft addiction is written for an addict who wants to get help. This is only of limited value to a spouse since her partner may be unaware he has a problem.

To understand how to help your husband break his addiction you need to understand that there are many reasons why players return again and again to Azerthoth (the Warcraft game world). The appeal of Warcraft is multi-level. You will not get anywhere by saying to your partner "Its only a game". That will just alienate him. It shows you have no understanding of what he is doing which will only cause him to see you as an "outsider" who doesn't get this aspect of his life. Nor, for that matter will calling him a "nerd" or whatever, in fact you want to stay very far away from saying anything negative.

The main reasons why people play Warcraft:

1) Escapism. World of Warcraft (hereafter WoW) is a very intricately designed world. Despite the cartoon-like renditions of the actual characters the world itself is very beautiful in places. Exploring it is fun.

A typical Warcraft addiction scenario has your partner coming straight home from work and playing the game. He may completely ignore you or any children, or pay you a few seconds of attention then leap onto his PC. He may relish the opportunity to get away from the real world(hereafter RL). He may have a difficult and/or boring job. Generally speaking Warcraft addicts love their partners and family as much as any one else but they may not wish to jump into the rigours of domesticity after an unpleasant day's work.

Part of the attraction of Warcraft is the "holiday" element of exploring new places. Warcraft allows the player to travel inexpensively and without the problems of RL travel. It may be a good idea to consider travelling somwhere new together in RL, it doesn't have to be a big foreign holiday, just somewhere you don't normally go.

2) Power. In life, most people feel fairly powerless most of the time. We may earn very little for hard work, and/or we may have a sense of powerlessness due to working under somebody. Many jobs do not give you much in the way of personal authority and restrict individual judgement.

In Warcraft, the only limitations on the power of an individual is that of his level, equipment and gold, all of which can be increased by playing more. In real life the player may be stuck in a dead-end job, in Warcraft he can always progress somehow.

You need to remind your partner that ultimately Warcraft is taking away his power over his own life rather than strengthening it. Be very careful not to sound negative. For example, you might comment "Wow-look at all that gold and experience you've accumulated. Pity its not real. I wish I could do that in real life...". Note the "I" here, not "you". "I" means the suggestion will be implanted in his mind without him thinking you are criticizing him.

3) The "Just One More Level" effect. Warcraft employs devious psychology in that power and riches and new abilities are always on offer at a slightly higher level than the player is at now, making it highly addictive since there is no real logical stopping point.

Whenever your partner hits a new level, ask him to explain where he is in the game. He'll probably tell you he needs to go up another thirty levels or something. Just laugh as naturally as you can and say something like "Hehheh they just keep you playing forever don't they? These games companies are smart". Make it sound throwaway like you don't really care.

4) "Social Networking". Warcraft has a social networking aspect in that many quests can only be accomplished by multiple players.

The extent of this interaction is a little overhyped in other media. Although RL relationships arising out of Warcraft do happen, they are very much the exception rather than the rule. So, you probably do not need to be jealous that your husband is hanging out with a hot Night Elf. Even when his interaction with an individual seems excessive, in most cases they will have nothing in common beyond the game, which could only lead to a very shallow and unworkable RL relationships.

That said, the bond of working together for a common goal is a very powerful one, one which we are rarely offered in RL, at least in the psychologically satisfying, very direct, manner in which Warcraft works. You may consider devoting a few hours a week to devoting time on a shared project with your partner so he feels less of a need to fufill this need online.Encourage him to develop offline activities with friends also.

5) In some cases people do make a living playing Wow. However, this is actually pretty unusual in the West. If your partner really does this, well then let him get on with it. But the chances are, if he talks about making real money but it doesn't seem to materialize, then he's just fooling himself.

Real Warcraft professionals tend to lead an incredibly boring existence monomaniacally performing mundane tasks over and over again. It is just a job to them. You need a quite different mindset from the typical gamer to that, highly focused and most who try it make sub-minimum wage. If your partner has delusions of grandeur in this regard, you need to point out that he could earn more money doing virtually anything else.

Finally, you need to consider your broader relationship. Do not be too harsh on yourself. WoW is a very attractive and seductive experience, it may well be that he simply enjoys it because it is fun and is in no way a reflection on you.

However, in a few cases I've known, the husband or boyfriend is clearly dissatisfied with doing a soul-destroying job all day and coming home to an unexciting and unfufilling home life. This can be particulary the case if you are overly critical of your partner or you treat him like a doormat. In that case WoW may just be the manifestation of a much bigger problem, in which case you need relationship counselling beyond the scope of this article.

Ultimately, in most cases people eventually snap out of their addiction and get on with their lives. Unlike most addictions, it is relatively simple to stay out of the game once you have decided to quit, because reinstalling the game and its add-ons, setting up fee payment and so on is not an instantaneous decision the way having a drink or a puff of a cigarette is. You should put the problem in perspective-people almost never die of video game addiction and there are generally no longer-term consequences.

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epearson 6 years ago from USA

Wow is very addictive. My wife expressed she wanted to spend more time with me so I gave it up. It was a pretty easy decision for me. Maybe a similar approach may work. Good topic to write about.

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