Friday, April 1, 2011

[4.0.6] How Much Time?

Leading up to my "retirement" in my guild, one of the key topics of discussion I covered with my wife, other officers, and myself, was the time commitment.

I am going to use the Grim Legion's expected raid time commitment as my example.  There are guilds with similar commitments, some with more, and some with less.  Grim Legion is not unusual in its time commitments, it is commonplace for a guild with any focus on progression to have one.  This is but one example.

In the Grim Legion, the current time commitment is 7:45 PM to 11:00 PM, three nights a week, every week, without interruption.  It is assumed that we are playing on holidays unless otherwise noted.  In the history of the guild, I think we have actually canceled a raid beforehand due to holidays a handful of times in the 4.5 years the guild has existed and while we might have discussed or declared a break from raiding prior to an expansion, in practice, it generally did not happen.  The only real breaks from raiding that I have seen were when a new expansion came out and we had to take a break while we waited for enough people to gear up.

"Just" Three Hours a Night

I remember when this statement seemed reasonable for me.  It was around the time when we stopped playing four hours a night.

I have a job and I have to eat, sleep, shower, etc.  On a good day, I have four hours to myself without depriving myself of sleep.  For me, this means my night is shot if I do anything for "just" 3 hours.  When you factor in things like daily quests or daily random dungeons (a necessity until you have all of your gear), it absolutely shoots the evening.

As a result, I can't plan any other activity on those nights.  I can't partake in a social outing for dinner, because it will take too long or I will have to excuse myself prematurely.  Errands and chores get postponed.

Obviously, it's not really just three hours either.  It's always more, typically at least 3.5 hours.  And real life is still there, giving you things to do, so even "just" three hours in a night can mean some minor sleep deprivation when real life is factored into the equation.

"Just" Three Nights a Week

I also remember when this statement seemed reasonable for me.  It was when we trimmed down from four nights a week and when there were still many hardcore guilds raiding five nights a week.

Now, it seems almost comical to say that.  That's almost half of your evenings shot.  That's a LOT.  Stop and think about that for a moment.  How many commitments do you have that take three complete evenings out of your week every week of the year, without end?  That's on par with the same commitment to earn a degree in night classes, except that college has breaks, sometimes for months out of a year.

Another ting you don't really appreciate at first, is the rigidity is imparts to your schedule.  Every week, you start with only four evenings open.  Yes, you can obviously choose to not show up to a raid, but you do start with that assumed commitment every week (and you might have a limit on allowed absences, as has been recently put in place in our guild).

The Eternal Season - Persistence is Painful

One of the key things that really gets me is the never-ending aspect of most raiding commitments. It's not every other week, or three weeks a month, or a three month "season" followed by a one month break. It's every week without interruption.

Of course, people want to have fun, and most people are going to spend more than 10-11 hours per week doing that, but that's a world of difference from a rigid schedule that obligates multiple, specific nights every week throughout the year.  Then it becomes a vocation.

And that is the primary nail in the coffin.  For me, only things that have significant real world benefits really warrant that level of commitment, in my opinion, e.g., work, family, health, religion, education, etc.  Having fun is good and doing the same thing for fun all of the time can be OK (although probably not ideal), but *committing* to a rigid, pervasive schedule that persists through every week of the year to play a computer game.  I am not sure that can be part of a healthy life.

So, Is There A Place in My Life For WoW?

Yeah, I think so, but right now it looks like only as a casual.  Even if I resumed raiding, I can't be that 100% attendance wunderkind.   Too many things to do, and too much to see in the world.

I soldiered through some pretty crazy time commitments out of a sense of obligation, but I just cannot do it anymore.

What If I Had More Free Time?

Well, the one thing this has really brought home for me was the sheer magnitude of time being spent.  So, I don't think it would change if I had more free time.  Sure, I could definitely consume it cheaply with WoW, but I think I would rather use that time to diversify my activities.

While everyone needs some good mindless fun, there are far too many interesting and/or beneficial things to do with my time and, frankly, a lot of other choices for mindless fun.  Why not choose some that strengthen my circle of local friends and family, or that make me more physically fit?  Or, at the very least, elect flexible commitments.

I still clearly remember that about nine years ago I mocked the very notion of playing a MMORPG.  I would say things like, "I don't want to get addicted to Evercrack."  Then someone invited me to play City of Heroes, then WoW, and boy did a lot of time whiz by over the years.

It's not like I haven't put a lot of time into something for pure recreation.  Oh my, those weekend-long Civilization marathons.  And those few months when I was assembling an army for, and playing, Warhammer 40k.  Yeah, a lot of time spent there.  But the key is that it was a spurt of activity, not a persistent year-round commitment.

And that really is the kicker.  I need it to be something I can drop at a moment's notice for an indefinite period of time, whenever it suits me, without feeling like I am letting people down.  You know, like a regular game. :)

I am happy with putting WoW in its place as just one of many computer games I have enjoyed.  Onward with the casual gaming experience... :)

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