Rats or Geniuses
As a somewhat-follow up on Friday’s look at signals that a guild is failing, today I’d like to discuss when – if ever – is the appropriate time to bail from a burning guild. This discussion has generated a lot of heat in my life both from my buddy, my wife, and some of my other friends, as they all have different thermometers measuring how hot the fire (which is generating the smoke) is.
My wife is a die-hard loyalist. She’d go down with a ship, even if she was a passenger and not the captain. My buddy begins bellyaching as soon as the smallest problem emerges, but often won’t leave until things are really bad – usually bad enough that it’s personally affecting his play (as in being blacklisted and not allowed to raid any more). I’m far less loyal to digital volunteer teams, which is all a guild really is. It’s made for some uncomfortable moments in our relationships.
My guiding principles boil down to three pithy clichés: “Don’t throw good money after bad,” “it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” and “games should be fun.” When my fun is being repeatedly threatened by human intervention, i.e. a bad officer, I’m ready to either fix the problem or go. I’ll speak to whomever I need to communicate the problem, often the GM – unless, of course, the GM is the problem (as in my current guild) – and then if the problem isn’t addressed, I’ll leave. My view of loyalty, the central value to this argument, is that it’s a two way street; it’s not just about me sucking it up forever and being loyal because the guild “allows” me to raid with them, the guild itself owes me loyalty as well to address issues that are pervasive and repeated.
My buddy, though, would rather stick it out. His view of loyalty is much more a one-way street where you suck it up (and bitch endlessly) until you just can’t anymore. He’s kept us in guilds FAR longer than I would have, which often makes the leaving an irreparable split that burns whatever bridges still existed. I’ve only left one guild semi-amicably (since I found out later that I was viewed as a troublemaker). This mindless loyalty has burned him out, though, to the point that he won’t play WoW anymore because all he sees is a wasteland of guild problems that are never resolved. His loyalty has ruined the game for him.
My wife has even stronger feelings about her digital loyalty. She’s never left a guild unless my buddy and I have left first. She’s a lot more forgiving, though, and I think it’s partly because she’s played a lot less. A lot less – like if you took her time played and multiplied it by 10, you might reach me, and my buddy – even though he hasn’t played in a year – is still ahead of me. Perhaps things like WoW come with an invisible counter, where you just eventually reach a time when your interest expires, like how mice, humans (pre-advanced medicine) and elephants have on average the same number of heartbeats even though their lifespans are quite different. Maybe WoW’s just got a certain number of heartbeats until it dies for each of us.
I asked my wife just now what would make her leave a guild of her own volition, and after much circumlocution (she is a political science professor, after all), we finally got down to “overt discomfort.” She said it would take people being overtly mean to her (as in verbal abuse) or making her overtly uncomfortable with “immature talk.”
So while it’s clear which view of loyalty I subscribe to, I’m truly not sure that my way is the “right way,” hence the title. I’m not sure if I’m being a wharf rat who runs from the first sign of his ship taking on water or if I’m being the genius who leaves the city for the wilderness before zombie outbreak occurs.
What do you think, dear reader? When’s the right time to leave a failing guild? What does loyalty mean?
What do we owe guilds, and what – if anything – do they owe us?
Stubborn (rat or genius?)