I responded to Tam’s post at Righteous Orbs about the blogging clipshow and syphilis meme, as he was offering up topics to post about. And the lovely gent has given me the below:
Thank you kindly for the link to your blog, I don’t know how I’ve missed you previously. I sometimes hit major blogging blindspots, actually – but consider at least one of them rectified.
Actually, my topic for you is about guilds, since I notice you had some travails before returning to Flames. You’ve mentioned it briefly in posts and in the yearly round-up meme but what did you learn in your time away from Flames, and what advice would give people searching for a guild and situating themself in a guild.
What did I learn in my time away from Flames, and what advice would I give to those searching for a guild, and situating (I presume by this making themselves comfortable, settling in and fitting in) themselves in a guild.
I’ve never scouted out guilds. I’ve never hunted for the most progressed guild, the top server guild, the one’s pushing at the edge of progression. I am not, frankly, good enough.
Neither do I have the hours in the day to dedicate to top-server end-game progression, or the will to do it. I mean hell yea, I’d love to kill Arthas. I loved killing Kel’Thuzad, I got immense pleasure out of squishing Yogg and even if it takes me to level 100, I totally wanna kick Algalon’s ass. But only because I’d like to do it. Not because I crave to be the best or I want to push myself that hard.
I have immense amounts of respect for those that do. I think they’re amazing. I worship healing trees such as Beruthiel for being my ultimate branchey idol.
This sort of means that for me, the guilds I’ve ended up in have been by chance. I ended up in Justice League by chance (a friend of a friend, and all that). I ended up in Flames of the Phoenix by chance (there was a For The Alliance raid they were putting together. Let it be known there was major squishing of faction leaders that day.).
But I left Flames by choice. I made, what, when I now reflect on it, was the wrong decision. And luckily for me, they took me back. Very luckily for me! If not, who knows where I would have been by now.
I rejoined Respice Finem (a new incarnation of Justice League) out of a misplaced loyalty. As someone with a conscience the size of Kerry Katona’s rear end (that’s big, for you Americans), I felt bad that I had left Justice League, I felt bad that the new members of Respice had taken me through my first raiding adventures. I was guilt tripped into believing I had been geared up by this guild, that they had done many thousands of things for me.
Through the kind words and straight talking assistance of friends I came to realise I had put as much effort into those raids as every other person in there. If the other 24 people had geared me up, I had played as big a part in gearing them up. If the other 24 people had helped me out, I had helped them out too, as much if not more. I worked my arse off to help that guild advance, and I was unhappy.
And here lies lesson 1. If you are unhappy, it’s not good. This is a game. It is supposed to be played for enjoyment. It’s not a job. If the reason you are unhappy relates back to your guild it could well not be your fault. This is what it took me a long time to realise, majorly due to my real life personality. When someone asks to speak to me, my first inner question is ‘what have I done?’, and the first thing I usually say is ‘sorry’.
It took me until I left Respice and rejoined Flames that I realised things are not always my fault. Sometimes things just aren’t right. This doesn’t mean I’ve failed as a person, or a WoW player. It’s just one of those things.
So. I joined Respice Finem. But things had changed. The officers in Respice were different to those in Justice League. The GM was a really nice guy, but one who simply didn’t have leadership skills. The officer network was one mainly based around nepotism. Everyone in an officer position knew each other in real life. The GM and one of the officers were married. The other officer was the brother in law of the first officer. It was like some crazy network of inbreeding. The raid leader had been my main pull back to the guild, as it was him that pushed me into returning.
But things had changed for him too, and although his raid leading was still as exceptional as it always had been, a couple of mouthy officers “co-led” the raids, meaning that spark was lost, his spark and ability were lost and shouted down by those with big mouths.
Lesson 2: Make sure you fully understand the officers and their policies and their attitudes before you totally commit yourself to a guild.
Remember, you are trialling this guild as much they are trialling you. If things don’t work, if you simply do not get on with an officer because you find their personality abrasive, or perhaps you feel there’s a lot of nepotism, you don’t agree with their loot policies, things don’t seem to be working “fairly”, then you can move on. Give them a chance, but this guild is not the be all and end all. They are not the last chance you have of happiness, so to speak. Do not feel tied to a guild because they gave you a chance and let you in. Other guilds will too, and with ever equalising badges it is easy to get quality gear in a short amount of time.
I headed into full on raiding when back with Respice, although only 3 nights a week, not four-five like I had in Justice League. Unfortunately, I didn’t gel with one of the other healers (I found his slapdash attitude and nonchalance for research intensely irritating), and I wanted to throttle the mouthy mage who got allocated every single piece of tier loot that dropped.
I eventually talked to the raid leader about my concerns, although we approached the subject in a round-about way. And I found myself cornered. I was in the minority (a minority here of one…me), shouted down and upset. He made me cry, for god’s sake. Ridiculous I know, but true.
Later that evening, I whispered my old raid leader from Flames. I asked him if they would ever consider taking me back. His calming attitude, relaxed tone and reassuring words (something I have now named the “Nyo-Related-Calming-Effect – NRCE” (copyrighted to Elsen, Terenas-EU)) made me question why I had left an environment where I had felt so secure to one I felt so out-of-place and alone.
Lesson 3: some people approach this game differently to others. Since my departure from Respice, I have since had sensible, civil conversations with my raid leader. I had such a lot of time for him and respect for him, it really upset me when things went wrong.
I discovered he had seen the argument we had had that night in a very different light to me. He sees avatars and characters, not people. He is hardened to peoples’ attitudes in WoW, doesn’t see sensitivity and doesn’t put up with any crap, so to speak. His way of dealing with people in WoW is to treat them as anonymous players, practically NPCs.
Mine is the opposite. He had been one of the staples of my WoW life for nearly a year, and I saw him as a friend. It devastated me to hear (well, see) him talk to me the way he did, but he didn’t see it as wrong, because to him I was just an avatar, some pixels. Remember that if someone upsets you. Sleep on it, think it through and think about how they see WoW in comparison to how you see WoW.
Although there is no right and wrong in a lot of things relating to WoW, one of the things I did realise when I thought about how I felt in Respice and how I felt in Flames is that there is a right and a wrong for me. That style of guild leadership and raid leadership didn’t suit me.
It was then that I truly realised that I’d made the wrong decision and that how Flames was run suited me best. There was nothing wrong with the way Respice was run. I just didn’t fit in there.
Lesson 4: If you don’t feel like you fit in, try and find somewhere else. There is a guild out there for everybody! There is somewhere right for you, whoever you are and whatever you want from a guild.
This is what made me realise what it was that I wanted from a guild. I wanted somewhere where:
- things felt fair. Loot distribution, promotion from initiate up to raider, chance for a raiding spot.
- I felt I could talk to the officers. Somewhere I felt I could talk to an officer if there was a problem, talk to them as though they were on my level, they weren’t these high up beings we weren’t allowed to talk to or ask things of. I feel comfortable enough with my raid leader in Flames to swear at him when he kills me in Team Fortress 2, and to tell him he’s clearly breaking my computer to stop me playing TF2 because I am that uber. In Respice, I was told if I ever wanted to progress I had to be quiet, sit and listen on vent and never speak, or question. Essentially lose part of what makes me me, in order to feel part of the guild. This should never have happened.
- I felt like I could contribute and my contributions were valued. Be that in guild chat, on the forums, in a raid, in a group. Somewhere I felt wanted. In Respice you could ask in gchat if someone fancied tanking a heroic, being a DPS for you to help out, and there would be silence. Ten minutes later miraculously a group would form with those missing fragments and find themselves a PuG healer. In Flames, I feel like I am a valued (despite the somewhat shoddy level of my healing) member of the team, as a player and as a friend.
- I wanted to be somewhere I could move at my pace, prioritise the things I wanted to do, enjoy the parts of the game I wanted to enjoy and not be ostracized or ignored. The relaxed attitude of Flames made me realise that that attitude was what I had about the game overall. When it comes to a raid, I try my best and do my hardest, but it doesn’t mean I can’t have a laugh about it at the same time. And my God, when you down that boss and everyone is so happy, the feeling is incomparable to any others.
- I wanted to be somewhere where the game was just that – a game. It was there to be enjoyed as a game, personalities were allowed to be themselves without restriction and I could feel like I could speak out, make a joke, have a laugh, and not be criticised or looked down upon because of it.
Some things aren’t that important to me. Like I said before, I’m not in to cutting edge progression, server firsts or squishing Arthas before anybody else does. I want to raid at my own pace, relax with my friends and arse around on my alts.
Lesson 5: When you’re thinking of applying to a guild, think about what you want from your time there. Do you want a social guild that won’t get the server firsts, but may eventually get the kills at a slower pace? Or do you want to be at the very high-end of progression, fighting 6 hours a day during the day on patch day to be the first guild to clear the new content on your server? Think about what the different attitudes of players in those different sort of guilds may be.
I know a lot of guilds that are hardcore and high-end have very relaxed, happy atmospheres. But I also know there are a few that are brutally managed, with no thought for feelings or emotions, bad days and good days, friendships and relationships. Think about what sort of atmosphere you want to be playing in. Do you want there to be a no chat rule on vent? Or do you want to hear natter and chatter as trash gets killed. Do you want to have to sit around, waiting for an invite feeling too frightened to speak out on gchat? Or to feel comfortable enough to ask an officer if there’s any chance of an invite.
I’m not saying that any one thing is better than any other. I’m not saying that hardcore guilds will be the most sternly managed (Respice wasn’t hardcore, yet chat on vent was simply not allowed.)
What I’m saying is think seriously about what you want, and have a real in-depth look at the guild website and forums. Have a real in-depth look, if you get a trial spot, about how vent is run, what gchat is like, what raids are like.
To sum up this horrendously long post.
Settling in in your new guild. Be yourself. That’s the biggest bit of advice I can give.
It’s a little bit like dating someone new. You don’t let them see all your crazy at once, but don’t hold it back. If you are to feel comfortable in this new environment, in this new guild, you have to be able to be yourself. You have to be able to feel comfortable to chat, to talk, to raid, to game, to level. To be you in whatever way you play Warcraft.
Judge how you feel after a few days. Are these people that would grasp your sense of humour. If you accidentally had too much vodka and logged on, resulting in an in-depth conversation about…well, some very strange subjects I shan’t delve in to here, would you feel so ashamed you would /gquit right away? Or would you simply expect the screenshot to be posted on the forums the next day and laugh along with everyone else. Would people be disgusted at you for that, or would they just think it was perfectly normal?
(luckily I had finished most of my tirade and was about to log off…I don’t have any screenies of my own contributions…)
Flames accepts me and all my crazy. I felt comfortable in the guild straight away, and they were eager to have me back. I felt so happy being back, so ridiculously happy.
And they were pleased to have me back too.
Settle yourself in by being yourself.
And I hope wherever anybody ends up guild-wise in WoW, they are happy.
Because remember, this is just a game.
What’s the point in playing it if you’re miserable?
The social side of WoW is what keeps me coming back, all the time. And there isn’t anywhere I’d rather be to enjoy the game and the friends I’ve made, than in Flames of the Phoenix.