Breakfast topic: Gaming with muggles


Not exactly a Shared Topic, but WoWInsider recently brought up an interesting Breakfast Topic. How do you deal with people who don’t get our gaming hobby? There are quite a few comments on that one, and I’d like to take this post to share my own family experiences in that regard. Lots of the comments were about parents, somehow especially mothers, so here is my tale, and it’s a very positive one!

There is a trip down memory lane straight to nostalgia valley ahead, so feel free to skip this post in case that isn’t your thing. Also, pointless rambling.


My first contact with the world of computers was an ancient (then brand new) Schneider CPC that my dad brought home from the office. He used it mainly to write scientific papers, but naturally a few games found their way on floppy discs. (Years later, there’d be an expensive hard drive with, I think, two whole MB storage!) He even wrote simple games for me himself, mostly math games, or mastermind clones.

The first real gaming PC was an intel, again, brought home from the office for work reasons. And as long as he didn’t need the PC, I could play – games he brought home. He even joined in on occasion, mostly for the old MS flight simulators. My mother, though, didn’t understand computers (back then, mind you, now she’s really computer-savvy!). That didn’t keep her from sharing the experience, watching us play and generally accepting it as a ‘toy’ for me. Of course, that was when the internet was still a myth, so the WoW typical problem of “can’t you just pause the game?” never came up.

A few games though, both really got into: The old Hero’s Quest (re-named to Quest For Glory later) and Space Quest sagas by Sierra. We spent literally whole nights together in front of the computer, fighting goblins, solving puzzles and finishing the story. Also, that meant by the time English was introduced as a foreign language at school, I already spoke quite a bit. Well, read a bit of it. With much guessing. But boy, was it an incentive to really learn the language!

Treasured moment of the era: Visiting my grandparents (some 800 kilometres up north), returning home after a few weeks and finding… a hand drawn map of the whole game-world of Quest For Glory, painstakingly explored by my dad and mapped out with little graphics and notes by my mom. I used that for each and every re-play of the game until it, sadly, fell apart.

Internet gaming really came into my life almost a decade later with the advent of Counterstrike. In the meantime, though, friends would often visit, bringing their PCs with them and connecting first via serial cable and later via hub and switches. So again, the concept of “pixels on-screen can be people in a different room” came quite naturally. My dad’s office at the university was already fully connected, so no problem there.

Enter the internet age. Granted, it was a very, very difficult time to get a modem running. Or later the switch to ISDN. However by the time DSL came around, she welcomed it, because that would mean more than two concurrent lines available. Enter the Counterstrike Mania. Both my parents took the time to learn about the basic goals and gameplay, and as my best friend and neighbour was the one I spent most time online with, leading our clan, they soon also saw the team-play / sports-like aspects of it.

That was also the time where a few school killings happened in Germany, which were (of course, and please don’t get me started on that topic) linked to Counterstrike. Yes, my parents talked about that, but we all agreed that I was mentally stable and mature enough, and besides, by that time, it was also more of a competitive sport for me.

I think that this mindset, ‘it’s more of a sport, really’, clicked – after a few short explanations, both would wait for the current round to be finished when asking me to do something. And the reasoning ‘I’m in the middle of a league match’ even meant two uninterrupted hours, except for emergencies.

Big moment of the era: Going out for dinner, then a walk with the dog, having a great time. And then my mother says: “We should hurry, didn’t you have a league match in half an hour?”. And she was right and I’d have completely forgotten.

Funny moment: Getting a call from a co-leader, when I wasn’t home. My mom answered, so of course he told her his proper name. Later she would ask me, who this guy was. I shrugged and said “Redwolf from our clan”. Her reaction? “Oh, he could’ve just said that, that would’ve been less confusing.”


Which brings me to my parents and World of Warcraft. Again, the groundwork was laid back when I played Ultima Online. But I think they both ‘get’ it. My mom even reads this blog from time to time and asks if I’ve taken any more pictures of that world or what the game is like or if I already got the new expansion.


So, the point of this pointless and rambling post?

Mom, dad, you’re the best parents a boy growing up into the computer and internet age could have wished for.

Also, look, a picture! I just love the new Stormwind park area.


click for full size



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