I wanted to let everyone that follows this blog know that changes are going on in the lives of Cassie and myself that will affect what happens here in some way.
This is a warning for you. I really don’t have any idea where things will end up.
Last night, Cassie and I announced in our guild forums that we were going to step down as guild leaders of the Sidhe Devils guild.
What we’ve been doing for months now is talk to each other about where the game of WoW is fitting into our lives.
What we finally came to terms with was that when we both first started playing, first myself and then Cassie, we were beholden to nobody but ourselves for our playtime decisions.
First and foremost, we logged into WoW in order to enjoy playing the game for fun. Every aspect of the game was present to further this feeling of relaxation, enjoyment, escape. A break from worry and stress.
The essential aspect of a break, is that it provides a way to relax and recharge after the stress and worry of real life gets to be pretty big.
What happened to us was that, as more people applied to and were invited into Sidhe Devils, it went from being a very small guild of friends that required very little in the way of administration or oversight, and became a pretty large guild of people that we knew mainly from applying for their own reasons, and friends of theirs, and people who thought it sounded cool, or people that had wanted a new guild who were told that Sidhe Devils was a fun, relaxed place to be.
And that was fine. There were a few problems, but by far it’s been a good thing.
Our mantra was real life comes first. A close second is, be good to each other.
Along the way, we tried very hard to stay true to that feeling, but when you go from a small guild of close friends and family and grow it into a large guild full of people that you may never get to know aside from seeing them log in and out of game without a word most of the time, the way we looked at things like behavior couldn’t just stay on the “we know it’s all good” plan.
We had to start looking closely at applications, to look for signs that folks we didn’t know who were applying wanted to be in a fun guild for reasons other than scheduled raids, for example, since we don’t do that. Or that they were immature or didn’t really give a shit, and just wanted some place to score some runs and phat loot. You know what I mean.
That put us in the situation of having to judge people. Right there is where the entire thing began going straight to hell for us.
In the game itself, suddenly, impersonal situations cropped up. People are playing with people they do not know, and problems come up. Friction, misunderstandings get folks cranky. People have bad days, and because they don’t know each other, a misunderstanding turns into situations where lots of folks become upset.
It became what all guild leadership positions become; a guild where the officers either take an active role in investigating conflicts, which again involves judging people, and inevitably results in hurting someone’s feelings, or where the officers step back and do nothing, and you hope that people are good to each other, and that you don’t get a lot of ever more upset folks who feel that nobody cares if someone is rude, or offensive, or a ninja, or just a prick.
Again, the playing with our friends part, including the new folks we were priviliged to meet; great. Just wonderful.
But we became a big guild, without ever really thinking about what it meant to be guild leaders of a big guild, and what it would take to try to tackle those responsibilities properly.
It grew slowly, so the work load grew slowly, and we didn’t even notice… again, until the first time we looked at each other and asked ourselves who the hell we were to judge other people, or make decisions that end up affecting the playtime enjoyment of other people in the game.
Playing WoW as the guild leaders of Sidhe Devils became a full time job. We routinely spend hours every week, mostly out of the game, reviewing applications, talking about reported behavior issues, worrying over how to do the right thing and the best thing and somehow not hurt anyone’s feelings, and above all, make sure that if someone in the guild acts to directly hurt the feelings of someone else, especially with inappropriate behavior, that it is addressed. Immediately, if possible.
I think this situation should sound very familiar. Every person that is a guild leader, an officer, or is in a position of authority or responsibility in a guild in game deals with the exact same issues every day. We’re certainly not special in what we work with.
What we have decided is that we just no longer can put ourselves forward as the self-appointed bosses that police the behavior of other people. To be the ones that decide whose applications should be accepted, and whose should be declined, to try and reduce the chance of future problems. To decide how to talk to people that other people, not us, complain of behaving intentionally offensively, and what to do about it next when, inevitably, the person says they had no idea, never meant it, didn’t happen, etc.
We no longer want to affect the fun of other people by judging their behavior, by making decisions that affect other people in a negative way.
The problem isn’t the people in our guild. Far from it, a greater group of people I’ve never known. We have so many wonderful friends in the guild, and actually logging in and playing, that’s all great. It really is. Playing in the game is perfect.
It’s being in charge of having to judge. I know I do not feel, and I’ve said it many times in the past, that there should ever be drama because of having fun in a video game. And yet, as the guild leader… it’s my job to look for, root out and prevent drama if possible.
We both hate it. HATE IT.
I can’t think of a worse way to spend an evening in a video game than being on vent, talking to someone that I’ve had other players complain about, explaining that I need to talk to them about these complaints, and have them break out in tears, upset and sad and crying because of having this being dropped on their heads.
It only took one time like that for me and Cassie to look at each other and ask what the hell we were doing, and why.
And it’s almost never just a question of someone doing something obviously wrong, booting them, and moving on. As horrible as that is on it’s own, at least that would be clear cut.
One problem we had, that really kicked off the stress levels for me in a massive way, was when a good person in the guild, a really nice guy, had one of his characters involved in proven guild bank item removals, and AH selling. And I mean an entire operation of removing items from the guild bank, high ticket items, and immediately posting them under their own name in the Auction House.
I had to talk to them… and I didn’t want to. But it was my job to. It was my responsibility. And it turned out that it was their very young son, that was allowed by him to play on their account, on a toon that happened to be in the guild, that was doing it without the dad knowing.
It’s easy to put on a guild charter that a player will be held responsible for the actions performed by their characters, regardless of who was playing the game. But it’s a vastly different thing to be talking to someone in vent, and be told that the issue is that their son is playing on their in-guild character… and have to try to find some solution without hurting anyones feelings.
I am not the boys father. It is not my place to suggest any solution, in any way, outside of game. And you don’t really know the person, so is it really a son, or is that just a convenient excuse? How do you really, really know? When you set yourself up as the judge, you’re saying you can tell, aren’t you? I have to believe the father didn’t do it. The son did not apply to join the guild. You wish that only the people that applied to join the guild and were approved are actually in… but how do you knwo? AND, again, who are we to suggest to someone that they are welcome… but their children aren’t? Or their wife? Or brother? Or third cousin twice removed?
How dare we?
But at the same time, I have to do something to stop it happening again.
We had another, similar situation except that I was not online when events took place, and instead of items being taken from the guild bank, instead I was told that during a guild 5 person holiday run during Brewfest, one of the guild members ninjaed loot drops and then logged off. When investigating the complaints, I again am told that it wasn’t the approved guild member, it was their son, and the son is allowed to play on the in-game character without having sent in an app or being approved.
And now some folks are upset at having that situation in the guild. Or are they? Some folks have conflicting stories of what happened, and I wasn’t there, and again, who the heck knows what was going on at the other end of the person’s keyboard? From the description, maybe the boy just got called to dinner and went afk and then disconnected, not realizing what had happened. Or maybe he didn’t know what was happening in the first place. Who knows?
So, what do you do?
These things happen. And you have to decide how you’re going to respond. Do your best to find a solution and inevitably hurt someone’s feelings, or do nothing?
It’s the no-win scenario. No matter how things turn out, we are the ones stressing over having to talk to someone about an issue, and somebody is going to get hurt feelings.
Over a video game. Over what is supposed to be fun and refreshing.
We’re the ones in charge. We’re responsible.
We don’t want to have to be the person to make those decisions for someone else anymore. We don’t want to judge other people. I can’t stress it enough. We don’t want to ever, ever think about the behavior of anyone else in the game in a judgmental way. If someone does something we don’t like… we want to have the option of… doing nothing. Nothing at all.
We want to be able to not let it bother us, because it’s not our problem. They’re not our child, we’re not their mommy, and if someone is an asshat, that’s they’re problem to live with. And if someone has drama… let it be theirs.
We talked for hours last night, and we just don’t see any way out except to step down as guild leaders.
So that’s what we’re going to do.
I guess you could say that we take things too seriously, or that we worry about things we don’t need to, or that by leaving we’re being selfish.
We’ve certainly said those same things to each other plenty of times.
But no matter how many times we tell each other not to worry about it, not to let it bother us, not to get worked up about about what someone said to someone else, or how someone acted to someone else, or what someone wrote on their app and just invite them… we still end up going around and around, worrying.
I think there is no finer guild than the Sidhe Devils, anywhere. And that’s the truth. If you can’t make it as a guild leader here, you’ve got no business being one, because these are the best damn people I’ve ever met.
So I’m left with the conclusion that as guild leaders, we’re failures. We can’t handle it.
And I’m okay with that.
What we hope is that the Sidhe Devils are not, as has been said, a cult of personality around me or other bloggers that will fail without us, but that instead it is what we always wanted it to be, a guild full of really nice people, and that everyone will continue on, having fun and enjoying the game as before.
I don’t know. I think so, but only time will tell.
I would sincerely hope that people are not just in the guild because I am. That’s silly, because I’m not that special. Clearly, I’m not.
Just ask any of the people I’ve removed from the guild in the past, or the people whose apps we did not approve, or did not approve fast enough, and they’ll leap forward to tell you how unspecial I am. That alone should show you that we’re not the people to be the leaders. All the people whose feelings we’ve hurt as guild leaders… all those lives that were negatively affected by us over a video game.
All I know is that I still love the game, I absolutely adore playing with my wife, and I still love all these folks that I’ve played with for so long and come to know well. I hope to continue playing with them for many long months to come, even years if I’m lucky.
But we just can’t be the boss of anyone except ourselves anymore.
For all those people who have felt that we were inspirations, or that we were some great guild leaders, or anything like that. This is it. This is the real deal. This is where we’re really at.
But as much as it feels like shit now, if I never have to talk to someone in tears over vent again, and be the cause of it, it’ll be worth it.
Take care to all of you, and Godspeed you safely home. It’s cold out there today.