Explaining Our MMOG Progression to the Non-Gaming Inclined

Chatting about MMOs in real life can be an interesting challenge, and one that I typically can avoid in favor of RL topics that are more relatable to the general population. But when games become a default way to fill our free time, it can lead to some awkward moments with friends and family curious about what we’ve been up to.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the stigma that gaming tends to carry, although that certainly is a related topic. But regardless of that, I find that it can be a challenge to explain an MMO world to someone who has never experienced anything like it. Usually, such conversations go something like this:

Friend: (Finishes explaining the details of a date she went on the night before)… So, what have you been up to?

Me: Oh, not much. Lots of work around the house. Yesterday I was able to take a break and get in some gaming.

Friend: Sounds like fun. What kind of game, like Farmville or Angry Birds or something?

Me: No, World of Warcraft. I’ve been leveling through the new expansion’s content and running some dungeons.

Friend: (wide eyes of confusion)

Me: It’s a lot of fun. You get to form groups and play with other people, and find new items to power up your character, explore the world and collect pets and armor, things like that.

Friend: (clearly doesn’t understand even with the simplification of game terminology) … … Sounds fun?

Well, you can’t always win, I suppose. I’m clearly not ashamed of the fact that I enjoy gaming. I write, and tweet and Facebook post about it. I want to share my experiences with the people I care about and revel in the details. But then you risk completely losing your audience, like comedian Nathan Anderson up there. Sometimes, even when put into the clearest of words, it’s just that nothing can explain the experience of an MMO better than actual gameplay.

I suppose that’s part of what makes writing about WoW so enjoyable for me — I get to relate things that I enjoy or that irk me about the game to an audience that understands, can relate and sometimes even writes back. So, thank you for that.

How do you explain your MMO experiences with friends and family who don’t understand? Or do you avoid the topic altogether?



  1. I explain my gaming in detail, and most people my age know at least the name of the game I’m referring to, although older people get quite easily lost.

    Then again, as an 18 year old, most of my peers have grown up with video games and as such are not ‘casual’ gamers, however, are not ‘hardcore’ either. It’s something that is always there in their life and they choose whatever they have interest in.

  2. Yes, I think it definitely depends on the people who are around you. If others are completely aware of the gaming world and the lingo that goes along with it, then it’s much less of a problem :)

  3. I find the use of metaphor in constant use to explain to non-gamers what I do with my time.
    When I relate something to a real-life example such as I play games, MMO’s. I mention I play in virtual worlds with my avatar. This usually elicits, “o’ that’s like the movie, Avatar’. A good movie that explores an mmo seriously and entertainingly could be a great success and would get a lot more people to understand what the heck, I, as a gamer, do. Even casual gamers are beginning to understand mmo’s with farmville, and clones. Big Bang Theory also did a lot to reaching a mass audience with their episode on Penny playing and becoming hilariously absorbed into an MMO. The more that sort of thing happens, the faster I believe more and more people will come to understand mmos.

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