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Sanctioned

September 23, 2013

Dear Reader,

I’ve bumped into another sticky guild situation, which fortunately has little to do with me but certainly got me thinking.  Last night, I logged on just to fool around and saw that there was a full guild raid in Siege of Orgrimmar.  Well, this isn’t the first time people have thrown together a raid that I’ve been offline for the start of.  That’s hardly anyone’s fault but my own, so I didn’t pay it any mind.

Then I got a whisper from another member who’s become a buddy of mine.  This member, let’s call him “Rodney” (since he in the end kept quiet and I don’t want to out him) asked “Are you feeling left out like I am?”  I responded that I didn’t understand what he meant, but in retrospect it should have been obvious he was talking about the raid.  He was hurt, he said, because this was not a spontaneous event.  Apparently, calendar invites were sent out to a select few, and those were the people who got to go.

I checked, and I don’t believe anyone in there was an officer, though that one loudmouthed neanderthal I’ve mentioned before may be a “junior” officer, and he was in there, so I’m not sure whether or not it should be considered a “guild” event.

Now I’m very torn on the issue.  I don’t like exclusivity in things like gaming.  Most of us early adopters fled to gaming from the “real” world because we were being excluded in the first place.  I don’t think gaming should be something that makes you feel bad, either, so when people’s behavior within a game does, I feel like that behavior’s out of place.

But here’s the thing.  It didn’t really bother me that I hadn’t been invited.  From a legislative standpoint, if there were no “real” officers involved, and if it wasn’t a “sanctioned” guild event, then I wouldn’t want to be told I had to invite everyone to something I was organizing; I’d damn sure not invite that one fellow I don’t like, for example.

Still, my healing buddy was upset, so regardless of how I felt, I suggested that he speak to an officer about it because they might not even be aware of the situation.  This member didn’t want to, though, as he was very frustrated.  It seems the matter cut deeper for him than just this one raid.  You may remember, dear reader, that I mentioned our foray back into Throne of Thunder.  Since we didn’t flex with the 18 or so that showed up, the “best” of the players – who “don’t need gear from ToT” -dropped raid, ostensibly to “let the people who need the gear get the gear.”  On the other hand, they didn’t have to put up with a wipefest all night, like the rest of us “lower tier” did.  Well, those were a majority of the people in SoO normal last night.  So they don’t have to raid flex with the “weakerthans” because they can just make their own normal raid and go without us.

Now please understand this is all paraphrased from my discussion with my guild buddy, and while there’s some truth to it, it doesn’t fully reflect how I feel.  Not fully – but I do recognize a kernel of truth at the middle of it.  The hard facts – the people who didn’t go to ToT were the ones in that private raid – stand on their own.  I interpret them a little more kindly, perhaps, but I can’t ignore them.  On top of that, the GM rended a lot of these same people two weeks ago (at release) because they’d done the same thing, minus the secret invite (that’s the one I missed just for being offline at the time).  However, he just had a newborn and has other priorities, so this is going on while he’s away.  It certainly seems a bit suspicious, so I figured I’d dig a little and see what I found.

After my buddy logged, I did my normal and very convincing “play dumb” act and asked in guild about the raid and how it was going, and sure enough someone mentioned that not everyone was “invited,” which allowed me to privately ask an officer what they meant by invited – was this an event I had not been “invited” to?  The officer either also played dumb to avoid drama, which honestly I can respect, or truly didn’t know that they’d done calendar invites.  No one seemed to know except my healing buddy, who’d overheard them talking about it in vent the night before.

So I don’t know.  I know I wouldn’t want to be ordered to invite everyone to everything I do.  I don’t want to play with incessantly negative, vulgar, or bigoted people.  I also know that hiding things and excluding others usually doesn’t end well.  So I’m not sure, really, what to think.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and torn)

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Tiggi permalink
    September 23, 2013 1:26 pm

    So many red flags from this guild man, I can only say what I would do but its getting obvious there’s issues here probably deeper than what you’ve even noticed. I’m not sure how many Red flags I’d cut my losses on but they are really starting to add up…

  2. Beshara permalink
    September 23, 2013 2:46 pm

    Hiding things is certainly a red flag that future drama could occur. It’s possible that those people want to do normal mode and are testing it out while the GM is away and can’t stop them. They may only want certain people, and not have to worry about being forced to bring others. Doesn’t make it right, but it is a possiblity. The concern in my opinion would be how it plays out in the future. Starting something in secret tends to create hurt feelings and guild tension that could have been avoided by being up front and honest.

    At this point, with the information presented i would keep it in mind and see how it plays out. Optimistically, It could end up creating a normal mode group that raids alongside the flex group. There’s also the possibility it could threaten to break up the flex group in order to focus on normal mode. It’s not a bad idea to prepare for the worst.

    • Beshara permalink
      September 24, 2013 12:04 pm

      I will say that my opinion is based on my personal experience, which has recently seen things like this cause major problems in this expansion and previous expansions. It is actually a similar situation that burned me badly in BC and made me not want to be an officer in a guild ever again. I don’t think you should turn tail and run, especially if you are enjoying the guild so far overall. I just like to have backup plans when I start seeing warning signs.

  3. September 23, 2013 4:56 pm

    Days like this remind me why I look for games that don’t harbor exclusivity as a matter of course. I think, past a certain point some drama is inevitable once the game’s design fosters it.

    For your guild’s case specifically, I think it’s more a question of who were the organizers of this little “secret” raid. It might be possible to just treat it like a larger subset of players running dungeons with their friends in smaller cliques within a guild – which does happen and is generally not a problem unless it’s the guild leadership doing it.

    Or it could herald a future potential fracturing where the “hardcores” decide they’ll take their A team raid somewhere else and make a new guild that cater more to their preferences. Which also does happen… would losing them gut the guild or were they not a big part of the life and soul of the guild in the first place?

  4. September 23, 2013 6:03 pm

    There’s a way around some of this drama. Make your own guild and be very selective of who you take on board. That’s how my brothers and I work in MMORPGs. We test individuals extensively before they get an invite (we lose some due to the length), and we alone invite people who “pass” – no one else. You’ll end up with a much smaller team but it will be a good one. Our guys and gals have even followed us across games many many times now. :)

    PS – Our “tests” aren’t of skill or game strength – that usually improves as they keep playing, but rather the “character quality” of the real player behind the avatar.

  5. Sven permalink
    September 23, 2013 10:37 pm

    Seen this happen sooo many times before. Betting that those raiders split from the guild and form their own within a month. And that their new guild dies an inglorious death within three.

  6. September 24, 2013 12:15 am

    I vaguely keep track of these inner-guild drama articles, but having read this I had so many thoughts. Most aren’t directly related to what you wrote here.

    My question to you is: exactly what quality of guild do you think you can find in a game like WoW? Seems like all the quality is long gone. The players you describe are merely playing the game the way it’s designed. That is, avoid the whole “guild effort” thing, the whole competitive slant to everything, the “i’m fine without you” environment …these all seem to me behaviors the game fosters. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m saying if I played WoW right now I feel certain it would be near impossible to meet anyone or guild of any good quality. And forget regularity. That all seems from a bygone era that the few diehards left are clinging to, but which is …gone.

    I think you’re probably lucky to have found what you did, alarming as it is lol. Not saying you should “deal with it.” I’m mostly observing and just typing out my impressions. Sorry for the kinda ramble.

    • September 24, 2013 9:23 am

      Nothing to apologize for, and I agree with your basic premise: that WoW has repeatedly made efforts to destroy its community, often as a result of unintended consequences. I also tend to agree that I’m lucky to have what I have, particularly after the officer intervention that I’ll likely write about on Wednesday.

      How goes the NBI relaunch? I’m very interested in helping if you need extra hands. Just let me know.

  7. September 24, 2013 1:50 am

    “Seems like all the quality is long gone. The players you describe are merely playing the game the way it’s designed. That is, avoid the whole “guild effort” thing, the whole competitive slant to everything, the “i’m fine without you” environment …these all seem to me behaviors the game fosters.”

    “And forget regularity. That all seems from a bygone era that the few diehards left are clinging to, but which is …gone.”

    I strongly disagree with these statements.

    There are already over 10,000 guilds who have beaten the first four bosses in SoO on normal in the west alone. Over 18,000 killed normal Lei Shen last tier. Even if we look at the SoO numbers, that’s at least 150,000 players in regular guilds with guild effort — and that’s assuming only 15 players on average per guild (more 10s than 25s). Factor in social members of those guilds and friends and such and you probably have at least 300,000 players who are active and engaged in PvE raiding alone.

    “I’m saying if I played WoW right now I feel certain it would be near impossible to meet anyone or guild of any good quality.”

    Get your gear to a reasonable level and post on the guild recruitment forum that you’re looking for a spot with feasible expectations. You’ll get plenty of responses.

    (I realize you’re saying you aren’t playing right now, but if you WERE…)

    • September 24, 2013 6:34 pm

      @Balkoth: Well of course, you certainly have a point as well, I don’t want to be “right” about it. The players who still play WoW today seem to me to be playing in the legacy of what the game used to be. It’s kinda what I described in an article I wrote last week on Industrialization of MMOs. It’s the McDonald’s of the MMO world. Surely McD’s burgers were better in the 1960s, but no one remembers that. They only remember the name and the comfort it offers. The quality of the food matters less than the fact that it’s ubiquity provides a norm along with all the comfort and reassurance one gets with a brand. So it is with WoW in my opinion.

      I’m not saying the game isn’t actually fun to anyone. That can’t possibly be true. I’m saying fun is almost irrelevant; people play it because they know it.

      @Stubs: We can use all the help we can get with the NBI. If you have your own original ideas of what you’d like to contribute, the door is open. Likewise, there’s events we will need a definite hand with. Please email me or hop on the NBI forums!

  8. September 24, 2013 3:02 am

    So many red flags.

    The secret calendar invite is one. The fact that the officer didn’t openly discuss about it is another. This means that cliques have started to form in the ranks, which is a big no-no in a guild.

    This will not end well. I’d say grab your healer buddy and try to find some greener pastures.

  9. September 24, 2013 8:52 am

    I just wanted to say once again (I think I’ve said it before) that I’m really enjoying this series about your adventures in your new guild. :)

    Mostly I wanted to chime in this time though to present a different viewpoint to most of the commenters above. I keep seeing comments about how this or that is a “red flag” and how you should run for the hills asap. Personally I have to admit that I haven’t really seen anything particularly out of the ordinary in your posts so far.

    Are the situations you’ve described ideal? No, of course not, but any guild of a certain minimum size and ambition will have personality clashes and players pulling in different directions occasionally. That simply happens in that kind of environment. Any guild worth its salt will also have mechanisms in place to deal with that kind of thing, and if I recall correctly the one you’re in now has been around for quite a while?

    I enjoy your posts as case studies of the type of conflict that can arise in a guild, and you should certainly always maintain awareness of potential problems, but I’d certainly take all the advice you’re getting about always assuming the worst with a healthy grain of salt.

  10. September 24, 2013 10:21 am

    My response to this depends 100% on the accepted guild culture and, like Shintar above, will somewhat conflict with the other comments based on my own experiences over the years.

    Back-story. In the days of yore I was in a raid group that was more or less a bunch of friends and pugs. Some were guilded together but we were a mishmash of people from 4 or 5 different guilds for a 10-man raid. So, not a guild raid by any means. None of us had problems with our guilds for participating in that raid.

    At one point most of us found ourselves guildless for various reasons and we all went to one guild together with the intention to continue raiding together in our 10-man. This was communicted to the guild when we joined – we’d operate semi-independently, they’d get the benefit of our progression and we’d get the benefit of being in a good guild (I think this was before guild perks) and we’d try to give and get first priority for fill-ins to/from guildies whenever possible. We also joined the guild 25-man run as well on those or other toons (separate lockouts at that point).

    This was never a problem… that guild (and all other guilds I’ve ever been in) didn’t restrict private/alt runs within guild or outside of it. We could raid with other guilds as long as we weren’t locking toons that were supposed to run with the sanctioned guild raids. If there was ever an issue with anyone in the guild that they didn’t have access to our 10-man, I never heard about it and since we raided with the full guild in 25s, it probably would have come up at SOME point. We also regularly threw together alt raids, even for current content, without having to clear it with the officers. It was just never an issue that I saw.

    However, there are guilds who do have a strict sanctioned-only policy because they want to be fully inclusive or want to control access to content so everyone’s on a level playing field. That’s fine and if that’s how things are set up, it should to be enforced. That’s a DIFFERENT TYPE OF GUILD, though, and it should have a specific policy set up restricting ad hoc events. It shouldn’t just be assumed that a guild operates that way unless it’s in the guidelines/rules/charter/etc. Problem is, some folks may assume it is even if it isn’t, especially if that’s how things have generally worked in the past. That’s also a type of guild that I would never join personally, I have no problem committing to a run but I have no interest in being locked to only that run, or only that guild’s sanctioned runs.

    http://eightyearsinazeroth.blogspot.ca/2013/05/3-4.html

    (not a guild I have any affiliation with but a good example of that sanctioned-only policy in action)

    Unless your guild has that type of sactioned-only rule in place there shouldn’t be a problem with that raid happening but as indicated it can lead to misunderstandings and differences of opinion if the lack of that policy isn’t communicated. It shouldn’t be too much to expect an officer to give an actual indication of whether that type of thing is okay or not, that the officer you spoke to didn’t seem to provide clarity should be at least slightly concerning, guild policies shouldn’t be vague, especially when (somewhat) directly questioned about them. Either that type of thing is acceptable or it isn’t, there isn’t any middle ground there.

  11. October 2, 2013 12:27 pm

    I think the primary point that should be made here is that it is a select group that chose to do this. Now I know for me I’ve been fairly silent about my opinion on this sort of thing within my own guild. I have NOT however ever been silent of how I’ve seen it played out in other guilds of the past. I won’t go into all the details and post links to past articles and such; suffice it to say, if a sub group of people feel they know best/better than usually – eventually – they splinter off on their own. Their new guild which they rave as the greatest thing ever and that since it will be done their way it will be the right way, usually fizzles and dies. AGAIN….is this what this group will do in your guild, I have no idea…..just what I’ve seen in other guilds in the past. Take it for what its worth.

    Exclusionary methods are ALWAYS exclusionary. Its all well and good when 10 or 25 people agree on the exclusionary list until they find themselves on the wrong side. That weakest DPS gets replaced from a new recruit who is great at DPS suddenly finds them self on the outside looking in and realizes perhaps they chose poorly. When your exclusive group is depending on all 10 people and 1 person decides they don’t feel like playing for a few weeks, suddenly everyone else is beholden to 1 person and can’t move forward without them.

    Inclusion is always the best philosophy and always breeds the best environment. But that’s just my 2 cents which really isn’t worth more than 1 cent anyway.

    • October 2, 2013 1:13 pm

      I tend to agree. There’s been a metric ton of development since I wrote this last Wednesday, and I’ve held off writing more about it for several reasons, but the post is coming. I guess we’ll just have to see how it all plays out.

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