Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Other Side of the Couple's Coin

There has been some talk about gaming couples in recent weeks. I think most of it was spawned by Matticus's somewhat negative article about raiding couples. I got the sense that he doesn't care much for them. Yet, I can't help but think he's only speaking about one very specific type of couple. One very narrow-minded view.

My guild was founded based on couples. Most of the founding members were part of a gaming couple. It's why we took the joking name: Lothar Swingers Club. And it worked really well for us. We had very low drama. We succeed in progressing at our own pace. And we have a wide variety of couple types. Some of us talk... a lot. Some of us are quiet. Some of us, you can't even count on to have spoken to their spouse more recently than you have.

To be fair, I've know couples like the ones Matticus describes, but we just didn't have anyone like that. I would say we have everything but that. In fact, it was probably more often 2 on 1 against one member of the couple, causing more marital strife than in-game strife. It was not uncommon for a couple to go silent for an uncommon amount of time on vent, only to key in five minutes later saying: "Sorry, was yelling at my spouse across the room. He/she was being an idiot again."

Which brings up what I believe to be the biggest benefit of gaming couples, mechanics-wise: they're in the same room. When my wife is tanking, it's like she has a built in bonus camera in the form of the pew-pewing warlock. While she's watching the All Crotch All The Time channel, I can warn her of adds or other impending doom. Basically, two heads are better than one. And this sort of thing extends to a lot of other areas, but in-game doesn't really cover it for me.

Honestly, I think the biggest benefit is been the support network you get. Any married person can tell you that having other married friends is comforting. It's nice to know that all the yelling is normal, and that you're not the only one annoyed by who did/didn't do the dishes. And when one of you gets sick - really sick - you have a whole bunch of folks that are there for you and understand.

The support I've gotten from my guildies in the past few months has been unquantifiable. You cannot min/max it. It will never show up on a meter in-game.

I guess I just wanted to go on record with that. No way in hell would I avoid gaming couples just on principle. No, I just try to avoid unreasonable asshats based on individual experience. After all, you don't have to be a couple to be one of those. Does it surprise anyone that they might come in pairs? Just saying: don't throw out the baby with the bathwater here.

All in all, I think this: "On the other hand, you could just auto decline couples entirely and sidestep any potential drama problems that might happen later" is terrible advice. You could miss out on so much, and MMO gaming isn't just about raiding.

(Note: I don't think Matticus was really meaning to "hate" on couples, though it kind of came off that way. Instead, I think he was merely stressing that as a good GM/RL, you need to take someone's entire situation into account when deciding if they're right for your group or not. And that is not bad advice.)


  1. As couple playing WoW, you have one additional advantage over a solo player. You both play.

    My wife, unfortunately doesn't always understand when I want to logon early to meet up with my arena team partner (several time zones away). He's East Coast, I am West. Sure dinner isn't ready and the kids aren't in bed, but if I wait until then, he'll be asleep.

  2. I'd say me and the husband are Grizzly Penguins. We don't usually raid together anymore (I'm the raider, his schedule doesn't fit and he's fine with that), but if either of us are threatened or screwed over, the dire flippers come out (like when our now deceased ex-guild stabbed us in the back).

    But if he needs help on heroics, I'm there to back him up and provide support (he has more 85s than me).

  3. @Elk - Well, then I guess there's no danger of your spouse assaulting a GM/RL on your behalf then. From my experience with "solo married" players, I would say they tend to be more understanding of interruptions and such.

    @Cyg - Are you threatened by someone like a GM or RL trying to point out areas of improvement, or just when you feel "wronged?" I think there's a huge difference between when someone is being an asshat, and when someone is just trying to do the leader thing (even if it's not presented well). I also think it's easy to know the difference. On the first, I'd say go Grizzlies. On the second, though... take pity on your poor leaders. They try really hard (usually).

  4. @Ful - This was definitely a case of a toxic environment as opposed to miscommunication/misunderstanding. Believe me, we wanted communication and got rebuked for it. The husband's the one who usually lets everything slide off his back and tells me to take a deep breath and maybe I'm making a big deal of things (I tend fester and mentally take it out on myself sadly). So, when even he gets riled (and he's very slow to rile), then there's definitely cause for concern.

    Fortunately, we're in a much healthier guild now. And we're getting open communication (especially if things need to be improved on our end).

  5. So obviously a case of the "wronged" camp. I think that's understandable.

  6. I think you are dead on. My wife used to play and it was great. I think in guilds where there aren't many couples at some point someone does something stupid and they discover that most couples are a set and when you run off one you lose the other. It can be a head spinning thing for officers in the guild to lose a player they've never had a problem with because thier spouse left the guild. The good side is you have two players that communicate and work well together the bad side is you lose one you lose two. Having been in hardcore raiding guilds I suspect that dynamic is more of the problem than Matticus realizes. hard core guilds are usually pressure cookers anyway, if your spouse blows and the only real option is to leave you are going with your spouse not staying with virtual friends.

  7. It's really hard on guild leadership in that a good couple is usually low maintenance. But when something goes wrong and they feel the other is being attacked then even the most reasonable person can go Grizzly. Any body no matter how polite can get nasty if they feel the person who is the center of their emotional world is getting a raw deal.

  8. I guess if my wife and I were both to get into hardcore raiding, I would expect one or either of us to perhaps have to take advice on how to play. I did a short stint in a hardcore guild, and I see criticism as just one of the "perks." If its expected, then I wouldn't feel I had to run to my wife's defense (plus we're much more likely to just roll our eyes and keep playing). Maybe that's why I didn't stick with the hardcore group, though. :-)

  9. My wife and I were in a 30-something 10-man raiding guild in WotLK.

    My wife and I (lock, shadowpriest).
    Mage and Shaman healer (husband and wife combo). Mage's sister (holy priest) mage's brother (tank DK)
    A handful of other very good players. We were running heroic ten-mans with very little drama when they were still relevant. We downed Putricide pre-nerf.

    The guild folded (unfortunately) when I got sick and my wife and I had to quit playing. That's the drawback of couples raiding--if you lose one, you'll normally lose two.

  10. Yeah, though that can also be the upside: you gain one, you can two. :-)

    Unfortunately, right now we're in a similar situation where my wife is sick and we've not been able to play.

  11. The lose one, lose them all problem isn't unique to couples. I just think that couples seem to get the bad press for it. It also happens with friendship groups, other family members and real life connections. A lot of people play this game to be connected and value those connections above other aspects of the game. When you play the game to succeed and value success above connections, there is going to be something of a clash.

    My group of connections has built a whole guild out of connections. We rarely advertise and even more rarely recruit though advertising, at least not successfully. The vast majority of our raiders have always been friends of friends. That can mean that you lose people in groups, thats true. But it also means that while you are in those groups you enjoy the game all the more.

  12. Thank you for posting the upside to couples - my partner (a feral druid tank) and I (a holy pally) have been raiding together since BC, and the ability to coordinate cooldowns with him or know when he's out of cds or tell him when I need to hit Divine Plea makes us a incredibly effective team - you just can't talk on vent that much without cluttering vent up for everyone else. The extra raid awareness helps us both as well with the chronic crotch-view that you mentioned above (poor tanks). We know as well that losing both of us makes for a pretty tough raid night, so we put in a lot of effort to attend every raid.

  13. Yep, we're the same way. It's a benefit any good RL would be a fool to ignore.

  14. This is an excellent post. And I love the comments made by everyone. Oddly enough, in my last guild, we 'lost' our offtank early in Cata. However, his wife refused to leave guild just because he did. We also kept his sister and her boyfriend. It was really an odd situation!!