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Couples and WoW, Part 2

February 6, 2012

Dear Reader,

Today, we’ll look at six typical couple patterns and discuss their affect on WoW’s end-game.  Since the best test of what pattern a relationship takes is when it’s stressed, end-game play frequently provides opportunities for guildies to observe couples at their barest (well, perhaps barest isn’t the best word choice).

I dug and dug to find a definitive list of couple types, but pairing “couples” and “psychology” bore mostly sites about couples therapy.  “Relationship” with words like “types,” “patterns,” or “paradigms” similarly produced little.  In the end, I chose to adapt a list I found from a blog called Woman and Home, which asks you to “like” it to see the site.  If you wish to view the contents to see them unaltered, just reload and the annoying box goes away.

Mostly, my adaptations were to find animals that I felt metaphorically fit the paradigm so that they could be more easily discussed.  Some of my metaphors, I’m sure, are flawed, but I’m not writing a psychological treatise here, just discussing WoW end game.  For each, I’ll explain the couple type, how they can affect guild end-game activities, and tell a story or two about my experiences with these kinds of couples; we’ll look at three paradigms today and three in our next correspondence.  Last, we’ll look more in-depth into how to handle each type if you’re in a position where you’d need to.

Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs are couples that exist in a cycle of conflict.  It’s hard for people on the outside to understand, but they actually enjoy the fighting.  They nag, berate, bicker, and nitpick, but then they make up and are passionate again, until their passion turns back to fighting.

These couples can be difficult to deal with end game because often their fighting takes place in the public forum.  Whether in Vent, guild chat, or in character through /say commands, this couple can be a huge distraction to raiding.  If one dies on a pull (most of my examples will be PvE, due to my activities, but all are equally applicable to PvP end game), the other might fill Vent with accusations or criticism when what was needed was the raid leader deciding how (or if) to proceed.  Alternatively, they can appear to show major guild disagreement to new recruits who don’t understand that they are a couple or that their behavior is normal.  Worse than that, they can actually factionalize a guild when their misunderstanding – which they will privately resolve – goes unresolved in the public forum.

Way back in my first guild, Inner Sanctum, we had a Cats and Dogs couple.  They bickered, blamed, and name-called (particularly, calling each other “stupid” – and meaning it – frequently).  They had kids which is, I assume, why they stayed together, but it was clear that the kids were always her responsibility, which came out during raids because he was dps and she a healer, but when the kids were a problem, she went afk, even though it would have been much easier to progress missing a dps.

It got worse when the dude was drunk, and he was publicly emotionally abusive at times.  It became clear their marriage was dissolving, and one of my friends in the guild took it upon himself to comfort the lady at times, which of course only led to more problems.  Eventually, they vanished from WoW, and I haven’t a clue what became of them.

Penguins

Penguin couples are very tight-knit.  They switch roles as care-giver and care-needer, they work well together, but they are also comfortable as individuals.  They epitomize the “give and take” of relationships.  Penguins can seem disconnected from one another or even aloof towards the relationship (as when real penguins spend months apart at different tasks), but they are committed and simply comfortable being apart.

This can be an ideal end-game couple.  They are happy to play together when the raid composition allows, but don’t get upset when they cannot play together.  The other can simply pursue other interests while simply enjoying the company (and parallel play).  Raid and guild leaders can also feel more comfortable about having both in their guild, because it’s unlikely that either would have been “forced” (or “strongly encouraged through passive means like begging or whining”) to play the game, which often means poor performance and eventual disappearance from boredom.  Even if this couple may or may not be “ideal” in the real world (though it sounds pretty good to me, if occasionally a little chilly), they are probably the most ideal couple pattern for guild management.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to play with this type of couple.  It may be that I did, but didn’t realize that they were a couple, or that I’ve had one partner but not the other, but I would suggest that the often maniacal zealotry that WoW and end-game raiding sometimes produce are the polar opposite of what this couple is attracted to.  That’s not to say that no couples like this play WoW, just that they might be hard to spot in the rest of the mess.

Wolves

Despite the initial reaction to the idea of wolves, this animal’s metaphor was chosen due to the caring nature of wolves within their pack.  Wolves, despite their “vicious” stereotype, are one of the mammals that are the kindest to their old, their young, and their ill.  Wolves have been reported to share food with the weakest first, before the rest of the pack moves in.  I don’t know if it’s true; I’m no lycanologist, but it sure fits well here.  This relationship pattern is all about helping the weak.  The dominant partner acts as caregiver for the weak partner, which provides the dominant partner with purpose and achievement, while the “weaker” partner (which could be real or imagined) gets care provided and has things easier.

I have seen this relationship too many times in my game-playing days.  The stereotypical and sexist term “DM’s Girlfriend” was thrust upon me early in my D&D days.  The term implies favoritism of the shallowest kind, making sure loot drops are for the partner’s (and DM’s partner is surely a more appropriate term, if still cruel), the encounters play to the partner’s strengths, and monsters never seem to notice or want to attack the partner.  In my own games, if anything, I was harder on my then-girlfriend-eventually-wife because I knew she was a strong player and would enjoy the challenge. Still, that didn’t stop the term from being bandied about.

As for WoW, we’ve all seen couples where one is constantly justifying the performance of the other, or lobbying for loot, or making sure there’s a position for their partner.  There may be many reasonable causes for this behavior, such as shyness in one causing them to be repeatedly overlooked, but in the end, it often creates a “learned helplessness” in the “weaker” of the two.  I’ve had too many experiences to specifically name any one of them as they’ve all sort of melted together in time, but I can specifically remember being begged over vent to let someone into a raid we’d filled.  The player’s boyfriend had showed up late, was a mediocre performer, and frequently had to leave early (for work, so perfectly legitimate, but still causing a problem).  I don’t think I’d ever been truly begged before, and it made me very uncomfortable.  I said no, of course, and the other player “understood” (meaning was mad all night about it but got over it pretty quickly), but it stuck with me because I never wanted to be in that position again.  Whether avoiding those types of couples or the role of raid leader, I didn’t want to re-experience that moment.

Well, dear Reader, this has certainly gone on longer than I thought.  One piece of blog advice I got early on was to aim for 500-1000 words, so since we’re already at almost 1400, I think I’ll split this into two posts.  Next time, we’ll examine Crocs and Plovers, Grizzlies, and Angelfish couples.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and hoping I’m a penguin)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. AliPally permalink
    February 8, 2012 7:18 am

    I’ve twice had the misfortune to come across the ‘nasty’ couple. I’m not sure what animal you would use for that category. Basically it involves them both acting like total asshats, supporting one another’s bad behaviour, ganging up on people who disagree with them, and generally making life miserable for everyone else.

    • February 8, 2012 1:46 pm

      Check today’s and see if Grizzly might fit… or even Angelfish, since they sound like a pretty solid unit. Despite the fact that some of these carry a bit of negative connotation, the fact is that none of these pairings is inherently bad. All can function as good couples or bad ones, so look more at their actual behaviors, their togetherness, and how they related to each other to try to decide.

  2. February 9, 2012 10:39 am

    My fiancé and me are probably penguins… we play together on the weekend, doing arenas, dungeons and old raids or sometimes LFR, and we always help each other with achievements.
    On the other hand, I raid normal modes with our guild during the week, he does battlegrounds on his own (I don’t like them that much), and even when we play at the same time, it only together about 50% of the time.

    That said, we’re very (phisically) affectionate in RL, we go on dates, watch movies together, etc.
    We’re just not that intimate when we’re in a public place… like a MMO! ;)

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  1. The Double O Podcast » Blog Archive » Episode 17: Animal Attraction

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