Posted tagged ‘internet’

What does your relationship with your guild remind you of?

January 14, 2011

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….

Don’t Let Anonymity on the Internet Fool You

July 8, 2010

With the whole Real ID fiasco going on, one thought really sticks out to me: “I post under a handle, therefore I am anonymous and safe.”

Unfortunately, no, you are not anonymous and safe just because you aren’t using your real name. Safer, probably, but not safe. IP addresses can track people down to a certain location, you may have inadvertently given out too much information when filling out email and website profiles, or your boss or significant other snoops through your computer and discovers those angsty twitter posts about them.

And because I adore you all and wish you all to remain unharmed and employed and in good terms with your acquaintances, I’m going to discuss internet safety a little bit.

Never say anything on the internet you don’t want your significant other, your boss or your mom to discover

Ok, ok, you can say whatever you want on the internet. As long as you can live with the consequences.

But beware, those msn chat logs, that old angsty blog you had when you were 14, those raunchy Facebook photos and those flirty forum posts are very likely floating around somewhere. It takes one wrong person to come across them to send you into a downward spiral of embarrassment or, if you’re really unlucky and scandalous, put your career/relationship/social life in jeopardy.

Obviously, the more easily identifiable you make yourself, the more easily you’ll be identified (and the more likely your computer illiterate grandmother will discover your list of favorite porn movies). Even so, after taking all precautions imaginable, you’re still traceable.

It doesn’t mean you have to avoid the internet altogether (life is all about taking those small risks!), it means think before you type. It means don’t assume you’re anonymous and no one will ever find out who you are. One day, you’ll accidently leave twitter open. Your gossipy roommate will walk in, find it and show her 900 Facebook friends. Remind of yourself of that every time you hit a send button.

Also keep your stuff locked as much as possible. Don’t use Facebook applications unless you REALLY REALLY WANT THEM. If you want to keep your old lifejournal for the walks down memory lane, set anything remotely compromising to private. Delete your old chat logs. Cancel your AIM/MSN/Bongo Buddy (remember that folks!) accounts if you’re not using them. You can’t cover your trail 100%, but the more you remove, the less that can be used against you.

Sexual assault on the Internet most likely follows the same patterns as sexual assaults in the offline world

While the exact statistics vary from source to source, Sexual Assault prevention and education associations all agree on this: most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows and only a minority are committed by a stranger.

What it means is that you should still be careful around strangers (walking alone at night through sketchy parts of town is never a good idea!) but you can’t be careless around people you think you know either.

The data concerning sexual assault over the internet (whether it’s limited to verbal harassment or the more extreme flying around the world to stalk you) is still anecdotal so I have to say “it most likely follows real life patterns” because we don’t know if it follows real life patterns. The anecdotes follow similar patterns though:

1- You meet someone on the internet.
2- You get along really well and they’re such smooth talkers that your friendship evolves really fast. Like, REALLY fast.
3- You tell them stuff about yourself.
4- After awhile, they become total pests and they come at you from all sides.
5- When you try to cut them off, they become threatening.

I would hope most stories end there, but the news does come out with “creepy internet people” stories that end badly fairly often.

Like in real life, you can’t cut yourself off from every single person you meet by chance that they’re dangerous. You won’t get hurt, but you’ll be pretty lonely. Just play smart. Remember that friendships grow slowly, not overnight. Don’t give anyone a dozen ways to get ahold of you. One way is enough. Make your friendship public. Immediately cut anyone out of your life (offline and online) who gets possessive or intrusive, don’t let it escalate. Take screenshots of any questionable behaviour.

Use different emails for different spheres of your life

I stumbled on this trick by accident. I was looking for a way to keep all my hobby communications organized and tidy. So I kept the hotmail account I’ve had since I was 12 for real life friends and family (and contest signups), I used my school email strictly for academic, professional and school politics communications, I made a Bossy Pally email account for the blog and gaming, and I have a separate email for my Battlenet account (as a security measure before I bought an authenticator).

I realized how much of a lifesaver this was when I found out that a potential landlady googled the email address I had used to contact her. What did she find? Some details about a career fair I had planned for my school. My profile on our National Student Council webpage. Some model UN mentions. (I’ve never done model UN, but it still looks very good when it comes up on a google search!)

I was pretty happy I didn’t use Bossy Pally (while I’m not ashamed of my gamer status, there are better first impressions to make) or my old teenage email that would have yielded links to godknowswhat I was doing when I was 12!

Be smart, always.

I’ve heard the line “don’t drink and type” said often. It’s true. Everyone uses the internet these days and there are a lot of people who know how to find what they want to find.

Be cautious when posting personal information as well as rants. Don’t be fooled that you’re safe just because you’re using a fake name.

Make friends online, but don’t let your urge to make friends fast get the best of you. Remember, remember, remember that friendship and trust grow slowly. Recognize your gut feeling. If a behaviour seems…off…it probably is.

I don’t want to hear anymore stories of “I lost my job because of my rant/blog” or “I got stalked by a jerk on the internet”. Real ID or pre-Real ID, those stories make me sad.