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Culture Clashes

August 28, 2013

Dear Reader,

In literally every guild I’ve been in, from the most casual that had multiple people who couldn’t ever jump on to Thaddeus’s platform to the most hard-core where we were downing heroic mode bosses every week, there’s been discussions about raiding culture.  Invariably, someone thinks someone else needs to be better prepared, be trying harder, or be doing more research – or, of course, the opposite, that someone else needs to lighten up, understand it’s “just a game,” or understand “we’re not in a hard-core guild.”

I’ve read that the seriousness with which you approach raiding is a lot like how fast you drive a car: everyone faster is a lunatic, and everyone slower is a moron.  I think that kind of perspective abounds due to the very common human fault of assuming others think like you do.  We all do that, all the time, and as a result we can misjudge people or situations to ours or others’ detriment.

There was a very solid discussion in my guild mumble last night on this topic.  Some of these people have never been in another guild, or haven’t been in a different guild in years and years, and it was very interesting how similarly I felt in that discussion as I do when talking to the academics at my college who’ve never taught anywhere else or had a job outside academia.

There’s a kind of surreal disconnect with reality that builds up when you’ve been in the same organization for a long time.  Every point that was made was completely valid, and they were common complaints I’ve witnessed over and over: more officer transparency, fear that the raiding standards are being lost, fear of guild culture changing, and so forth.  I did my best – as I usually try to – to keep things moderate and calm, trying to find common ground and so forth, but this time I added a bit of outsider perspective, too.

Some of the harder-core members aren’t happy that the guild’s become increasingly casual.  Been there, done that, and have been on both sides of it.  Here’s the thing – I’ve been in casual guilds.  Those guilds are FAR more casual than this one and achieved FAR less than this one already has.  I’ve also been in guilds where officer transparency was ZERO; remember that one of my previous GMs dealt with people passive-aggressively by simply blacklisting them from raids, secretly of course, and coming up with excuses each week why there wasn’t a spot for them.  In other words, for the most part, these guildies – and the professors I work with – have NO IDEA how good they have it.

Of course, I didn’t blurt that out, but I kept trying to steer the conversation back to the good things that are happening instead of blame games and so forth.  The funny thing is, the two people who apparently triggered this whole debate are both really nice guys, one of whom was simply fed up with guildies not having enchants and gems in their gear and the other who was simply tired of people being benched in the name of progress.

As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m a huge proponent of both inclusion and “casual doesn’t mean unprofessional,” after all, you can’t go into casual day at work naked.  There’s limits even to what casual means, from my point of view.  Gems and enchants have never been what bothered me, though, for me it’s been punctuality.  You may remember, dear reader, that my previous guild had people routinely showing up 30 minutes late, wasting a half hour of nine other people’s time, with a laugh and a phony apology.  That drove me nuts.

So take a moment today to think about whatever organizations you’re a part of – be it game organizations, work organizations, or other social organizations – and make a quick mental list of all the good things about them.  Work to remember how good you truly have it wherever you are.  Small problems can seem big when they’re out of context, so put them beside all the good, and I hope you find that you’re happier than you remembered.


Stubborn (and appreciative, for the moment)

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2013 12:27 pm

    “I’ve read that the seriousness with which you approach raiding is a lot like how fast you drive a car: everyone faster is a lunatic, and everyone slower is a moron.”

    Well, it’s pretty obvious you only think that because you’re a casual scrub who AFKs for epics in LFR and wants heroic raids removed.

    Also, those Paragon nerds sure are basement dwelling no life losers who probably haven’t showed in months.

    Good thing *I’m* normal.

    • August 28, 2013 12:44 pm

      *haven’t showered, damnit.

      See, at least I care enough to correct it, unlike those idiots who don’t care about spelling or those language freaks who would never misspell anything.

  2. August 28, 2013 3:35 pm

    @Balkoth – Nice save. 🙂

    @Stubborn… your story kind of tails off in the middle, where’d the guild discussion end up? Or part 2 still incoming? 🙂

    When it comes to things like expectations, I’ve always prefered specifics to general statements or concepts that can be misunderstood. Attendance requirements, whether VP capping and LFR farming are required, whether you maintain a bench, acceptability (and consequences) of toon swapping, etc. Problem is, many of these things are going to hurt a casual group more than a hardcore one which is something I think gets lost in the discussion. Hardcore groups will generally have a dedicated bench that swaps in and out &/or at least semi-dedicated spares to fill in as required. To me, personal responsibility is MORE critical in most self-described casual groups, not less. There’s never an excuse not to be gemmed/enchanted/reforged prior to a raid, if they don’t value their own toon, I’d expect them to value the rest of us even less. If there’s any sort of performance requirement, regardless of how “casual” the run is, those are bare minimums.

    As for attendance or lack thereof, I love this post on the subject of what constitutes an emergency, I can’t say it any better than this:

    Based on personal background I’d use a team sport / league analogy (if you’re the only goalie and only you have the equipment, is your issue worth forcing your team to default?) but the awards ceremony one works equally well.

    If I had to put a label on my personal raid expectations (and what I bring to the table myself) it’d be business casual. You don’t need to show up in your finest gear but it needs to be at an acceptable level… and you do need to show up, and to perform up to expectations.

    Also, everyone but me drives too slowly, even those who drive faster than me aren’t driving faster(er) enough. Keep the traffic moving, folks, we all have places to be.

  3. August 28, 2013 7:58 pm

    A nice post Stubborn – considering I was worried you were about to let loose on someone in guild for using stupid language! The casual vs hardcore thing is always going to be around – but I am a strong believer of standards and upfront and rules, so as long as people know the rules, then they can follow them. In terms of officer transparency… that’s always hard. People used to think we ran a closed shop, but the officers volunteered to sit out way more often than other regular raiders, so hopefully there is no favouritism or any feelings of being black balled there. I hope that your guild finds their solution!

  4. August 28, 2013 11:41 pm

    I experienced a few of these debates over the years when I was GM. There was nothing I could do to keep those people happy, and eventually they would leave. I would always chuckle when they would whisper me a few months later begging for their spots back, though! Don’t know how good they have it, indeed.

    Somewhere along the lines though, I was drastically outnumbered by more casual people and it was pretty clear that I was fighting a losing battle trying to change that culture. First I quit raiding, then a few of the people who shared the same attitude as me quit, and eventually I passed over the reigns to the guild entirely to someone who liked the way the guild was going and had the energy to run the show.

    They’re happy with the way raiding is going, and those who left either don’t play WoW anymore or are in a guild that better matches their play style. I know as GM that *I* am so much happier not having that burden on my shoulders anymore!

    Ahem. Anyhow, I think that was my long winded way of saying that the fear of the attitudes changing is a real one. Officers can try as they may to change the culture to suit you, but if you’re the minority, you’re fighting a losing battle. If your hard core people are really that unhappy with what sounds like a culture shift, then they need to take their gaming experience into their own hands and find a new home.

    PS. When I say you, I don’t mean you personally! I more mean that to anyone reading the post who may be unhappy with the way things are being run.

  5. August 29, 2013 8:17 am

    Well said Stubborn. The blame game is the worst. In my opinion though, a lot of these issues would phase themselves out if those complaining were more proactive. But that’s easier said than done.

    My husband works in IT and they periodically go to conferences for “Change Management” to be able to better guide clients through changes. He’s always laughing at me because at the first sign of change, I bring out the big guns: “Don’t move or I’ll shoot!” 😉

  6. Cain permalink
    August 29, 2013 1:24 pm

    I’ve definitely seen my fair share of different guilds. Sometimes people within a guild don’t even really understand what it means when they say they want to be “X” type of guild and realize after the fact they don’t actually want that. Sometimes it’s more just a slower change in needs over time. Some it’s a change in the game around them.

  7. OneCrazyPaladin permalink
    August 29, 2013 6:19 pm

    Excellent post! Well written. I hope many players have an opportunity to read this post.

  8. October 2, 2013 11:51 am

    “In other words, for the most part, these guildies – and the professors I work with – have NO IDEA how good they have it”

    i think i’ve screamed this at my wife and computer screen so many times in the last few weeks its ridiculous.

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