Relational (online) video games are lucrative business. The extremely popular Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, World of Warcraft, boasts over eight million paying users. Video games are also a lightning rod for criticism and contempt by news media, parents and policy makers as the number of mass shootings increases in the United States. There is some research suggesting violent video games increase violent cognition and behavior. There is other research arguing no relationship exist between violent gaming and aggression. The same dichotomy of views exists within the discussion of how relational video games impact intimate partnerships. The purpose of this study is to continue conversation into the possibility of using games like World of Warcraft as interventions in individual, couple and family therapy. This autoethnorgraphic work examines researcher experience in World of Warcraft and its impact on violent thought, behavior and intimate relationships. In addition to researcher self-exploration, extensive interviews were conducted to provide additional context. Throughout the course of this work, three themes of World of Warcraft culture emerged: Work, Nostalgia and Connection. The theme of connection was most pervasive to the researcher and the participants. Video games like World of Warcraft may present supplemental opportunities for clients to practice healthy connection. Concerned parents should monitor their children’s online gaming relationships as they would any other. Future research in this area may benefit from an experimental design where video games like World of Warcraft are used in the treatment of PTSD and Social Anxiety Disorder.


World of Warcraft, Online Video Games, Video Games, Violence, Social Media, Media, Marriage and Family Therapy, Autoethnography, Ethnography


Acknowledgements: Please note that permission to conduct this study was granted by the Appalachian State University Human Research Protection Program (IRB) and was funded through the Cratis D. Williams Graduate School and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at Appalachian State University.

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