A timely discussion among colleagues leads to a new understanding of what World of Warcraft is and why and how it may impact a divorce and child custody case. Attorney Shawn Hunter of Orlando, Florida asked whether the family lawyers in our ABA discussion group had ever been successful in obtaining by subpoena World of Warcraft records. Another lawyer asked why this might be important. I was very interested in the response because I have a child custody case in which obtaining the records will be very important.
"Dad says 'I was an attentive, involved parent. I should have the child most of the time or, at least, 50% to continue in that role as super-dad.
"Mom says 'All you did was play WoW all the time, from the moment you got home until the a.m. I have been a WoW widow for the last X years. I fed the child, bathed the child, got the child up in the morning, put the child to bed at night, etc. Why would your care-giving improve now?
"Judge is not wowed by the he said/she said. But WoW records agree with Mom's version of events."
Family lawyer Samantha Chapman said:
"I had a case this fall where I subpoenaed WoW records, with a similar set of facts. Yes, Blizzard did recognize the out-of-state subpoena and they accepted service by fax. There was a bit of a delay in getting the records because they wanted to give the player/opposing party notice that the records were being subpoenaed. However, the information that I got proved to be really helpful and quite extensive (log-in dates and times, and duration of play time since the account was created). Apparently there are support groups for "WoW widows."
Until I undertook representation of my client, I had absolutely no clue about WoW. I know only what my research has told me: According to Wikipedia,  World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) first introduced as Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994 by Blizzard Entertainment. Players all over the world log on to WoW on the Internet to play. Blizzard Entertainment has introduced many new versions (or adventures ???) since 1994. WoW is currently the world's most-subscribed MMORPG, having 10.3 million subscribers as of November 2011. WoW holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG by subscribers.
There are other on-line MMORPGs. Many of these on-line games are paganistic and very violent. The players engage in fantasy role-playing. The games have as primary themes Power, Control, Accumulation (of weapons, gold, etc.), Competition (Winning), Provocation, Domination, Fantasy, Escape from Real Life, Socializing with others (virtually) and making friends around the world, and Avoidance of Real Life Problems.
I imagine this is not an inexpensive habit. World of Warcraft requires a subscription fee to be paid to allow continued play, with options to pay in one month, three month or six month blocks, although time-cards of varying length are available both on-line and from traditional retailers.
Family lawyer Elizabeth Sadowski said that there is a South Park episode dealing with WoW. [It's an old episode from 2006 when there were only 7 million players.] I strongly suggest that anyone who has an interest in learning more about this cultural phenomenon watch the South Park episode. Caution: This is not for the faint of heart. Do not watch while there are children around. The language is profane and strong. I'm not sure whether that's WoW or South Park, never having had exposure to either. In addition, the characters' nudity or near nudity and the violence is not really something you'd want children to see. [So why are parents playing this game with their children in the same room or in the next room?]
After this learning experience, all I've got to say is: Hey Man (or Woman--both sexes play this game)! Get a life! Why would people 30 and 40 years old be playing this game for hours and hours and hours? Oh right, as stated above . . . "primary themes Power, Control, Accumulation (of weapons, gold, etc.), Competition (Winning with a capital W), Provocation, Domination, Fantasy, Escape from Real Life, Socializing with others and making friends around the world, and Avoidance of Real Life Problems."
As is stated early in the South Park episode, "we're dealing with people who have no life." Check this out, family lawyers!
 Read Blog post here about citing Wikipedia as authority. Or . . . call that 18-year-old who has no life across the street or that person who is 42 going on 6 as a witness.