Some World of Warcraft players have a chronic problem with accepting raid invitations and failing to show up to them. It’s a problem I’ve seen before in Dungeons & Dragons, as well. The player is of the “it’s only a game” mentality — since it’s only a game, it doesn’t matter if he shows up or not.
While it’s true that it’s only a game, such people fail to see is that it’s not about the activity you engage in. It’s about the people on the other side of the table — or internet, in the case of WoW. We could be planning a huge cake-baking session, for example, and if the guy bringing all the flour decides at the last-minute that he’d rather go see a movie with his friends, well… sure, we can get flour somehow. It’s likely to take at least half an hour, though, and that’s several other people’s time wasted because one person was inconsiderate. In business terms, if you wasted half an hour of nine people’s time at the example wage of $10 an hour, then that’s 4.5 hours or $45 (plus the extra taxes employers have to pay).
And in the case of a WoW raid, the absence of a key player (such as a tank or healer) can cause a raid to fail to get off the ground altogether. That, then, is nine people’s plans for the evening ruined. Players have to block of a 3+ hour block of time for raiding, usually. If someone simply doesn’t show up, opportunities have been missed for the other nine people to do other things that evening. Maybe another member of the raid got invited to see a movie, too, but since the movie and the raid started at the same time had to decline; by the time the raid breaks up 45 minutes after the scheduled start time, the movie is half over. If he’d known the day before that the raid wouldn’t happen, he could have gone to see the movie and still had a good time.
What it really boils down to is that you are making a time commitment to your fellow raiders. Forget the game — that’s just what you guys have chosen to do with your time. If a real emergency comes up now and again, that’s okay. Your raid group will understand (unless, of course, they’re assholes). But if you can’t give your raid leader at least a day’s notice of cancellation so he can try to find a replacement for you, you should prioritize your commitment to your raiding friends over last-minute invitations to hang out with your face-to-face friends.
Unfortunately, your face-to-face friends may get offended because “it’s just a game”. If that happens, you should either point out the dictates of courtesy to them and make them deal with it, or choose not to commit yourself to the raid group. Don’t, however, use courtesy as an excuse to let your face-to-face friends and significant other completely fall by the wayside. Keep in mind, also, that it goes both ways — if your raid leader sets up a raid on a day on which you already have plans with someone, tell him you can’t go to raid that day because of a previous engagement.
Be responsible. Be courteous to all of your friends. Have fun.