What does your relationship with your guild remind you of?

As some of you might be sick of hearing about (when I’m sad, I make my friends’ shoulders wet), over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been (unhealthly) preoccupied by tensions between me and my guild. Well, actually, my guild is probably blissfully unaware of such tensions. Either that or it’s ignoring them in hopes that they’ll go away.

So in reality, we could say that I’ve been preoccupied with tensions between me and my perception of my guild.

Which triggered a reflection on how us players view our relationships with our guilds. Some of us take our guilds for what they are: social/hobby clubs, comparable to a garage hockey team or bird watching club. To others, guilds are just a means to achieving in game goals of collecting nice gear and seeing content. At the other end of the spectrum, some (and I tend to fall into this trap a lot) compare their guildies to family, and sometimes even to romantic partners.

Let’s take a look at some of these perceptions of relationships between players and their guilds.

1- The Random People Who Do Stuff

Not everyone bonds with the people they play with. Not everyone wants to bond with the people they play with. And that’s totally fine- as long as you’re upfront about your goals, pull your own weight and don’t step on others to get what you want, there’s no obligation to be more socially involved than necessary.

2- The Social/Sports Club

As intense as some of us players can get about the people we play with, this is what guilds really are: a group of people who share a common hobby. It’s also the key to guild shopping: finding other players who share the same approach and goals about the game.

Even roles within a guild are comparable to real life clubs. Guild officers are like the guy (or girl for the politically correct) on the amateur sports team who sets up the competitions, the guy (or girl) in the running club who orders the t-shirts and so on.

3- The Academy

I’ve never seen guilds described as a school, but the thought occurred to me as I was talking to a friend from my old casual guild who wanted to play at a higher level. “OMG!” I exclamed, “You and I, we graduated! We’re casual guild alumnae!

I guess this way of seeing guilds only applies to us learning junkies who get our kicks from slowly perfecting our play. After all, it’s totally cool to be content playing the game to relax or hang out with buddies. But I felt that “graduating” from a casual guild felt more positive than the more common perception of “breaking up” with a previous guild.

Using “guild as a school” also keeps me focused during more stressful times with my own guild. When you’re spending several hours a week with these people (and in the video game world, “these people” often have varying levels of social skills), rough patches are inevitable. But when frustration builds, the realization that I still have a lot to learn about my class and about my gameplay from my guild reminds me that I’m still in the right place.

4- The Workplace

I see this one a lot. Guilds get compared to businesses and work environments all the time. After all, you sort of have levels of hierarchy (amusingly, my GM loves to be called “boss”…which of course is the exact reason I NEVER call him that), you have objectives, you have a group culture and so on.

Obviously, a group of humans is a group of humans is a group of humans. Organization (workplace) psychology applies to guilds the way it applies to social clubs because it’s all about making individuals better at achieving the group’s goals.

But businesses and guilds have their differences. In one, you’re dealing with employee’s money, careers and lives. In the other, you’re dealing with people’s spare time. As anyone who’s ever had to deal with a young guild officer who’s never had a job before knows, the required management standards aren’t really the same.

5- The Family

My guild is like my family.” There’s another one that comes up a lot. Like any group of friends that you get along well with and that you spend a lot of time around, strong bonds can form. Before you know it, you’re sending each other Christmas cards, going to each other’s weddings and dialling each other’s number whenever something big happens.

This kind of relationship with one’s guild can be great and it can be devastating. Many of us have long term friends we’ve met playing MMOs and many of us have been lucky enough to receive support from friends we’ve met online during tougher times. Some of us don’t have good relationships with our real families and have found some sort of replacement in the people we play with.

The danger in this is that relationships online often seem more intimate than they really are. They develop quickly, they’re easy to be dishonest in (the naivety of people online never ceases to amaze me) and they make it easier to hide from problems with real life families. And while you’re hiding, problems grow.

6- The Romantic Partner

Those who don’t play MMOs and who’ve never been involved in online communities probably think this is the weirdest perception ever. Yet, I’ve seen and heard a lot of gamers compare gquiting to breaking up with someone. And that was exactly the feeling I had when I left my old guild: the alternating feelings of relief and regret, of freedom and loneliness. I’ve also seen someone compare talking about an old guild to talking about exes: you can do it a little if flatters the new guild/significant other, but never if it flatters the old guild/significant other.

I do often use romantic relationships as metaphors a lot when talking about my guild. Mainly because it makes for great dirty jokes… But I am someone who gets really attached and who doesn’t like to move on. The dangers of this? Having trouble knowing when I’ve overstayed my welcome, having too high expectations and being overly affected by arguments or incidents.

Conclusion: Looking at things from a step back

Lately I’ve had this feeling of exhaustion whenever I log into the game and I’ve had my internet time cut down quite a bit due to busy busy real life. So I’m limiting my playtime. My character is geared enough that I don’t really need to play much outside of raids. Since I was frustrated by inefficient communication within guild, I cut down on my socializing on Mumble. I focused more on my gameplay, on analyzing fight damage patterns and on raid parses. Basically, I reminded myself of the “academy” or player personal progress take of a guild relationship.

And it feels good. My expectations dropped: after all, since I’m at roughly the same level of skill as the rest of my guild, the only person I’m depended on to reach my player improvement goals is myself. The stress has been a lot less and I’ve been able to channel more energy on Blog Azeroth. Which I hope I can keep up because Blog Azeroth is like my family. Err… Um… Yeah… Never mind….

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36 Comments on “What does your relationship with your guild remind you of?”

  1. Poneria Says:

    On the romantic side: Clearly I’m being socially inept again for thinking good times had with exes don’t lose their goodness purely because the person is now an ex. (So I talk good things about oldies as well as newbs.) My bad. >.>

    I’ve had one guild go as far as Family; another was just the Academy Full Of Random People Who Do Stuff. Currently? The Sports team, I believe it is.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Where on earth did you get the idea that good times with exes lose their value? That’s silly! (And what does that have to do with being socially inept?)

      It’s just rude to talk about exes (or at least go on and on about them) to your new significant other. I think it’s as rude to say bad things about exes as it is to say good things about them (guys who whine about their exes to me immediately land in the “FAIL!” pile) but in the post I was just loosely quoting a thread at Plus Heal about talking about old guilds to give an example of someone other than me comparing guilds to romantic relationship. It’s not my personal opinion.

      • Poneria Says:

        Sorry, didn’t mean for it to be personal. I just never really understood why it’s rude to talk about exes to new SOs. Especially since, well, so far, I’m good friends with my exes. So I mean, it’s going to come up in conversation, because I still hang out with some of them.

        Whatever. Social rules confuse me half the time.

        • Ophelie Says:

          Hehe, we’re way off the topic of the original post but whatever ;). Never been one to stand in the way of discussions veering off.

          I’m not sure what you mean by personal.

          On the rude thing, everyone has different levels of comfort, but as a general rule, there’s a difference between:

          – So my buddy Jack that I dated in high school for a few months 10 years ago but that I’ve kept in touch with got a new job and I’m happy for him.
          and
          – My last boyfriend Tom was a great cook, why aren’t you a great cook like my last boyfriend Tom?

          See what I mean?

          Just like “my last boyfriend Tom used to steal my money, call me names, he was so controlling, I have horrible taste in men, I’m so pathetic, blablabla” really isn’t sexy.

          I mean, don’t you find it annoying when you’re dating someone who constantly compares you to other women he’s slept with?

          As for the guild parallel, this is the thread I was referring to: http://www.plusheal.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=5642

          • Poneria Says:

            My laptop mouse skipped and forgot to insert “your personal opinion.” >.> Stupid trackpad.

            I meant more I do mentioning in passing (“Tom was a great cook,” and nothing more) and people give me a look like I just pulled the wings off a baby bird. It especially boggles me if they prompted it (“Where’d you learn to cook this?” “Oh, Tom showed me,” “:O”).

            Same thing with guilds. I’ll mention something random I did in my old guild, but never with the intent to compare guilds. Just, it’s something my old guild did and it was tangentially funny or interesting considering what the new guild is doing.

            And yet, it’s like just mentioning characteristics is taboo. That bothers / confuses me.

            & sorry, I’m off-topic. /embarrassed. I think I just totally effed up this entire comment string by having a random but unfocused tangential thought. Sorry! >.<

          • Ophelie Says:

            Hehe, no worries about being off topic, if people don’t want to read about dating etiquette, they can skip down the other comments ^_^

            I noticed you say “people”? I don’t see why talking about exes (unless you’re going on and on) to random people would be get a bad reaction. I say stuff like “I dated a guy once who XYZ” all the time.

            I just wouldn’t say it on a date!

            There’s a grey zone too, about what’s polite to say to SOs about exes and what isn’t. Depends on how new the relationship is, the status of the current relationship with said ex and your SO’s comfort level.

            About guilds, I don’t really see talking about guilds to be like talking about exes at all, it was just an example of someone comparing a guild to a relationship, not my personal opinion. I actually see it to be a bit more like talking about an old job. Do it too much or in a way that’s too pushy, it’s annoying. But when problems come up, stuff like “when I did it with my old guild we tried XZY” is fine. And telling funny stories is usually fine too. But again, it’s kind of a personal thing, so different guilds tolerate different amounts of talking about old guilds.

  2. shopshopshop Says:

    I think of my guild as a sports team. I schedule around raid time and feel bad when I miss a raid. I used to wantonly schedule things for raid days, especially when I was doing 25s, with the thought that real life was always more important than raiding. But now that I raid with the same 9 people every week, I pay more attention to keeping my raid time free of other plans. If I mess up, I let 9 people that I like playing with down. And that’s a sucky thing to do.

    • Ophelie Says:

      Yeah, one advantage of 10 mans is that you feel less like a number. I mean, in a 25 man guild, if you’re absent, they only need to replace 1/25 of the team, in a 10 man, they need to replace 1/10.

      I still think “real life” comes first, but in the same sense that when you’re in a sports team, non-entertainment stuff like family obligations and work come first. I picked a guild that had a raid time I can fit into my schedule, but if something comes up, I’ll still sign out for the raid.

      • Poneria Says:

        I’ve found in my 25man guild that people still miss you if you don’t show up. At the very least, those in your role (cloth casters, for example, we like to tease each other over the meters in a friendly competition way) will notice.

        • Ophelie Says:

          Oh your 25 man raid usually will notice, but a lot players don’t feel as if they do as much. I’ve always found it a lot harder to get people to be reliable in 25 man teams than in 10 man teams.

          • Poneria Says:

            I started feeling like I did something once my RL brezzed me during Dreamwalker when I totally expected to sit there dead the entire fight (I had died a stupid death by zombie smack.) I think it just takes a little notice to make players feel relied upon (& then they’ll step up or not to be reliable).

      • shopshopshop Says:

        I am having a harder time prioritizing real life over WoW. When I do that, I basically am telling 9 people that I like and am friendly with (albeit only on the interwebs) that I am more important than they are. And I don’t like to do that.

        • Ophelie Says:

          I think “Real life” can have different definitions for different people. I’d put family obligations, emergencies and exceptional things (like a friend I haven’t seen for a long time visiting) before raiding, but I’d obviously let my team know ahead of time when I can’t show. But I wouldn’t schedule regular things during raid times or skip raids for non-exceptional circumstances.

  3. Janyaa Says:

    I would say my current guild has a club type feel, with elements of family.

    The guild before that was one I started and built from the ground up. It felt like walking away from my baby when I left. In fact, it took months for me to be able to even consider joining anothet guild.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I’ve felt very motherly towards the various raid teams I’ve built over the years, so I can’t even begin to imagine what building your own guild from the ground up and watching it grow would be like. I think I’d quickly be overwhelmed, I’m way too emotional for that sort of thing!

  4. lissanna Says:

    I have some actual family members in my guild with me. So, it feels like… family! Sometimes dysfunctional, but we always care about each other in the end!

    • Ophelie Says:

      I suppose someone’s relationship with their guild would be kind of different when they know their guildies in real life before they form a guild, or even more, are related to their guildies.

      I can’t imagine any of my family playing WoW. Having an IRL family guild would either be really cool, or really annoying!

  5. Analogue Says:

    For me, guild is more like a convention. Those who attend just to have fun have a great time. But those of us who work behind the scenes as staff or volunteers, to get things done and set up the good times – if we do our job right we’re invisible, if we screw up everyone notices, but secretly we’re having more fun than anything else!

    • Ophelie Says:

      I like that one! Never heard it before.

      It’s timely that you say that because I’m actually at a conference right now, so I spent all day thinking about how it’s like being at this 700-man (and woman) raid!

  6. Saif Says:

    This is a topic close to my heart and one I’ve been wrestling with since early December.

    I’ve really worked very hard to put together the guild I have now. Some of these people I’ve been raiding with for 18 – 20 months. I’d call it my family in game, but lately it feels very dysfunctional and I’m agonizing like crazy about what to do.

    I feel like every step I take is a misstep and every time I stumble I irrevocably damage the structure. It’s making me pretty neurotic about the whole thing.

    So, I dig what you’re saying.

    /returns to panicking

    • Ophelie Says:

      The GM life sounds like a stressful one! But I guess that when things are going well, it’s very rewarding.

      Have you checked out MMO Leader? Sometimes it feels to good to compare notes with other masochists going down the GM road :)

  7. Maoridin Says:

    Great post…. i love your blog and my work mates give me hell because im always reading it, they think that some how one day i will be involed in a ingame wedding with you….. annnnnyywaaay two points i really like was the workplace comparison and the break up. My guild end of wrath guild split…… into four parts. It gets pretty awkward to for example:

    im running a dungeon with a friend who is in guild x i am now in guild awesome. GM of guild x /w my friend and asks who he is running with….. hahahahaha (GM of guild x dont like me to much for i am the better holy pally) its just all round a little awkward. we were such a tight guild but many people going different directions the outcome was inevitable. i think i had more to say but collegues are looking over my shoulder…. Stapler of Justice!!!!!!

    great post keep em coming

    • Ophelie Says:

      Hehe, thanks for the compliment ;)

      A split into 4 parts? Ouch!

      Some guilds do get really political about who you associate with and stuff. It’s one thing I never understood and I’m glad my guild minds it’s own business when it comes to out of guild friendships. If they didn’t, they’d be in for a hard time.

  8. ladyerinia Says:

    I have a love/hate relationship with my guild, to be honest. Sometimes I really, really hate it when I get blocked out of raids constantly, or when someone goes behind my back and complains about something I said rather than approach my directly (I was talking about my dps that day and I got really upset when the GM pulled me aside). I want everyone to like me. I am just like that, and I actually am a very nice and helpful person in my guild and do not hesitate to help level lower characters, mine ore to help leveling JC’s or BS’s, or even just run random regular dungeons to help gear up people. (I kind of want that same support, but I don’t get it…so I’m doing my best to lower my expectations).

    If I have to put my guild into one of the categories, it would be…The Workplace. We log in to get things done. We don’t have the closeness of a family. We could be Random People Who Do Stuff, simply because there are several…”cliques” within the guild. I want a guild where people are close to each other, but cliques annoy me…even as I am part of one.

    But, then there are times I love my guild. Several of us worked together to get me my first legendary weapon two days ago. Over the course of a month (when Ragnaros’ eye dropped), we worked on mining bloods, ore, arcanite bars, and sulfuron ignots, until I came across the rest of the bloods for super cheap on the AH. I borrowed some gold for another ignot, and all of a sudden, we had a guild achievement. It was really nice. I really hope I can get some continued support for ICC 25 runs. I need my stupid Shadowmourne. 24/50 shards. SOOO CLOSE.

    My guild is complicated, on the one hand we have the cliques and social circles and people who barely talk to each other, let alone acknowledge someone not in their clique, but then we band together.

    Even during tough times, I don’t think I’d leave. Sure, I might want to go on to a hardcore raiding guild, but I have invested a lot of time and energy into making my current guild good, and have worked on getting people organized for some guild achievements. (Hopefully they show up!)

    Who knew such a game could be so stressful?!

  9. disorientguy Says:

    I just wanted to say I love the blog and I’ve linked it on my guild blog. Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing more posts!

  10. Sthenno Says:

    What about thinking of your guild as your pet? Not the people in it, but the guild as a whole. Maybe even more of a child than a pet. I want the best for my guild, and I feel like I have a responsibility to steer it in the right direction.

    I’ve thought about how I would feel if my guild broke down and whether I would go on raiding with another guild, but ultimately I think I would just stay the leader of a defunct guild rather than join a new one, even if I ended up giving up on the game completely.

    I guess that kind of relationship with a guild can really only develop when you are a long time officer/leader.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I think so too. GMs do have really interesting relationships with their guilds…and vice versa.

      I don’t think I could ever handle to be GM to be honest. I don’t mind work, but the emotional attachment would ruin me very quickly!

  11. theerivs Says:

    SInce I’m the GM now, they are my minions spreading douchebaggery across the realms.

  12. Kimboslice Says:

    You know I always said that you don’t have to like the people you raid with

    I often seen people get too involved in things outside of raiding and then they seem to let it effect what they do when they raid

    If you can show up and produce who really gives a damm if you “socialize” or not. I know I don’t care if joe blow isn’t on gabbing away on mumble or guild chat. I know I do care if Joe Blow shows up to raid and sucks badly though.

    • Ophelie Says:

      I never stopped to think about the consequences of doing too much outside of raiding, but you’re absolutely right: getting too invested makes it hard to concentrate on performing.

      On feeling obligated to socialize, maybe I’m just way too oblivious or way too people-happy, but it never occurred to me that some players actually try to be friendly against their will. But I suppose they do. Weirdos.

  13. Nate James Says:

    The MMOGamer featured this article on their website. Feel free to jump over and check it out.

    http://www.mmogamer.com/01/21/2011/are-you-too-sappy-for-your-guild


  14. [...] Pally did a great post a bit ago about how you view your relationship with your guild. I loved it and it’s been rolling around in my head since then. I knew my personal [...]


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