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Part II……….seeking balance April 9, 2010

Posted by Barbara in Gamer Mom, Warcraft.

This may seem a little backward, but I still enjoy Warcraft.   Even after 5 years.  I’m grateful for the experience, because I’ve gained a great deal from this silly game.   Near the top of the list, I’ve learned that it really is possible to make ‘real’ friends via internet.     No, it isn’t everyone who becomes a ‘friend’ on your Facebook or that you add to your ‘friend’ list on Warcraft.  Like the friends you make in real life and can hug once in a while, real friends made online are selected carefully over time, vetted through many interactions, share values and are supportive, not demanding.    Without having learned this for myself, I would not have been able to guide my son in learning how to deal with online relationships.

Also important, it was, in part, online friends who helped me to regain balance in my real life.  They reminded me that I remain a person of value and that age really doesn’t mean much.  They reminded me how good it feels to laugh out loud. They expressed caring when I was down and shared laughs when I was up.

Oh.   That’s what ‘real’ friends do, isn’t it?  (Thanks, guys.)

Another important part of my ability to control my play is that I helped to start a pretty unique guild in Warcraft.  (For non-players – a guild is a group of people who play together.  They generally share play-style and goals and agree to a group of guiding principles.)  Our guild started with the premise that real-life is more important than game playing, requires that all chats remain G-rated, and requires players to show respect to others as they play.   It’s been a true pleasure to see a guild with these guiding principles grow and remain stable over the years.

Starting our own guild was a part of practicing what I preach to my kids:  you are responsible for controlling your own environment.  You choose your own friends and what you will or will not welcome into your world.  I still believe feeling individually empowered is a strong requirement for safety as well as personal enjoyment both online and in the real world.

Since we made a continuing public statement about real-life being more important than game-play, it’s pretty common for our members to take long breaks from gaming, maintaining connection to online friends through occasional postings on our guild forums or in other ways.   Take heart in knowing that real friends don’t disappear when you change your playing patterns or move on to other fun in life.   Our guild members encourage one another in seeking balance – even if we each struggle with it in our own worlds.

But this brings me to the point:  the challenge we seek is in finding and maintaining balance in what we do.   It isn’t a simple matter of refusing to use the internet or un-installing a game.   Like a crash diet, those quick-fixes wouldn’t fix anything and the rebound would leave you feeling less and less in control.   For a few truly addicted souls, those steps may be necessary as a part of a continuing renewal – but for most of us, internet use is like eating.   We want to do it well and in moderation, but cutting it out altogether would be a bit self-defeating.

Part III – The Dream

Part IV –  Climbing Mountains

Part the Last  – Baby Steps

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ”    ~Albert Schweitzer



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