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Woman Loses Her Children After Neglecting Them for World of Warcraft

This woman lost her kids due to an inability to separate herself from her games. Don't let it happen to you.
This article is over 10 years old and may contain outdated information

Video games are important to many of us. We put them before a lot of other things in our life, and that’s okay. It’s our hobby, and it’s what makes us who we are. But if you take it too far and aren’t careful, you just might end up crossing a line that you should never even approach.

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The Idaho Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court decision to remove custody of three children from a woman who not only approached the line, but ran across it, guns blazing. As a World of Warcraft fanatic, the woman (who was only named as Jane Doe) spent hours upon hours playing her favorite game, like millions of other people. The problem was she played the game rather than tend to the needs of her three children, and even failed to provide a safe home for the children to live in. When police arrived on the scene at their house after a noise complaint, they found the house in disarray, and even a butcher’s knife lying on the floor next to the four-year-old’s toy. The youngest also had lice and severe tooth decay, and the home was reported to not have enough food in it.

This is sad.

And I mean really, really sad. Think about those kids, who ranged in age from 4-14. Children, especially four-year-olds, need constant attention and care from their parents. Sure, occasionally parents need to make the kids play on their own so they can get some work done around the house or tend to the other children.

But playing World of Warcraft probably would not land higher on many people’s list of priorities than spending time with their kids. That young girl, from the sounds of it, was reduced to playing with butcher’s knives while her mom butchered members of the Horde (this woman was CLEARLY a member of the Alliance…. just a little WoW joke people, relax). I won’t even let my five-year-old hold real scissors yet (and yes, I know, I am completely overprotective).

I play a lot of games, and I may even be pushing it based on how little time for sleep I get. But I certainly don’t let the games get in way of the kids. That’s not to say I’m perfect and don’t even think about games while I play with my kids. Hell, I’m not even close to perfect. I’m so exhausted these days, thanks to working 40 hours a week at my day job and writing for a couple different websites in the evenings, that I occasionally will half-ass my playtime with the girls and end up regretting it later. But believe me, I do my best every day to give them all of myself, and the games can wait until they’re in bed.

Finding the Balance

It’s definitely a tricky task to balance the time you spend with the kids and time you spend on yourself, which is certainly important as well. Kids need your full attention, they feed off your creative ideas for play, and they learn just by being around you. Likewise, you need time for yourself to recharge and be happy. You can’t be an effective parent if you have to sacrifice EVERYTHING you’ve ever loved. My wife and I agreed I never had to give up gaming, I just had to be more flexible about when I play. So, as a result, most of my gaming is done between 9 PM and midnight, which may sound pretty late for a parent to be up gaming, but it’s great. I get a few solid hours to spend decompressing from the day and to let my mind wander. It’s peaceful, relaxing, and is plenty of time.

It didn’t have to be World of Warcraft that this woman was so addicted to that she couldn’t even take care of her kids, because gaming in general can be pretty hard to tear yourself away from, and I know from experience. Even today I’ll become so engrossed in a new game that I look at the clock and realize it’s almost 2 am, and I’m certainly too old for that anymore! But you have to know where to draw the line for yourself. If you have people that depend on you, you need to shut down the console or computer until they are asleep before logging back in. It sounds easy, but I know from experience it’s not. There’s always one more level, one more round, one more dungeon… but we have to learn when to say enough is enough and put the focus back where it belongs.

Make the Right Choice

I hope you never have to decide between games and your children like this woman did, but if you do, please choose your kids. Games will always be there (especially WoW, it doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon), and you can always find time to squeeze in some time for yourself after the kids are in bed.

But your kids may not always be there for you if you don’t give them the time, care, and attention they deserve. Heck, if you do it right, they might even grow up not completely hating you, and may even join your guild! Could there be any sweeter reward for being a good parent than having your kids grow up and be into the same hobbies as you? Families that game together stay together after all, right?

Just make sure you take the time to be a parent before hopping back into Azeroth.

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Brian Armstrong
Proud gamer parent and freelance journalist (and fundraiser). I cover anything and everything that's interesting about the gaming industry, and even some stuff that isn't so interesting.