Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Leadership and Effort

In a comment to my review of The Guild Leader's Companion, Bearness writes:

The book sounds helpful and thorough...and very disenchanting. I feel intrigued and disgusted at the same time. At what point did running a gaming guild become so business-like? I understand that a guild, especially a big one, has a lot of social dynamics and requires some leadership and organization to run properly. But, I feel like it can be done without dehumanizing guild members into "human resources".  

I do appreciate certain efficiency in my gaming. If I play for x amount of hours, I'd like to have something to show for it. At the same time, it's just a game, which means the main purpose is to have fun. For me, even if I didn't kill the boss or get that "phat" loot, if I had a good time hanging out with fellow gamers, mission accomplished. But, I guess everyone has different expectations.
Making things look effortless requires a lot of effort.

No matter how you slice it, leading a guild is work. You have to recruit people, deal with drama, keep things running, and keep people happy.

If anything, one could argue that running a serious raiding guild is easier because the expectations of people are much more concrete. Everyone expects to log in and raid at time X, that loot will be distributed according to the system, and the goal is to kill bosses. You're all on the same page.

A casual guild, on the other hand, can't really count on any of its members to show up for anything. Some of them might, some of them might not. And that is even more soul-destroying to a guild leader who's trying to make the game fun for her guildies.

Maybe this is an outdated idea, but I've always felt that the point of organization is to make life easier, to make it run more smoothly. Which ends up allowing you to have "more fun". You can concentrate on having fun, and the rules and structure take care of the necessary elements.

It's kind of like money. Sure, you can go through life running on the edge, using a credit card or borrowing money to pay for stuff and then paying it back. Heck, I've done that before. But it's astonishing how much easier a small cushion of savings makes your life. Even just a couple months of living expenses stashed away makes a radical difference in how smoothly your life can flow. It may even just be a psychological benefit, not having to worry about things as much.

That's the same role that good rules and good structure plays in a guild. Ultimately, it makes life easier, and allows you to have more fun.


  1. In my time, I've run (or helped to run) a few guilds and, as time went by, things got a lot more business-like. In the first guild in which I was an officer, the application process was ridiculously simple. In my latest guild, it was a lot more complicated.

    I firmly believe that the varying levels of success of these guilds is in direct relation to how much work was put into them.

    It astonished me how much "paperwork" I had as the GM (and raid leader) of Apotheosis during Cataclysm. Raid reviews and the accompanying log dives, policy tweaks and changes, even accepting or declining applications -- all of it had to do with herding the cats and human resources management.

    I don't need the book you talked about any longer, since I'm no longer playing at all, but anyone who doesn't think running a guild efficiently, even a casual one, does NOT include a great amount of time organizing things and people... well, I wouldn't want to be in their guild. :)

  2. Bearness' problem comes from the idea that the purpose of your game should be fun. This is really the wrong way of approaching gaming. What should actually happen is the result of achieving a purpose in a game should be fun.

    You might how are the two different? It is that one is a process while the otherone is directed to whims of the moment in dealing with gaming. It's the idea that if I'm not having fun now I don't care if I'll have lots of fun later.

    When this is applied to running a guild the fun seekers are not willing to do the work required to allow raiding to be done on anything greater then the PUG level content. Where as the ones who are working towards a purpose in there gaming are willing to do things they don't enjoy immediately in order to enjoy it later and much more importantly are able to take pride in the work that they did do that allowed them to achieve farther in the first place.

  3. Kelindia, I'm pretty sure I don't know you and you don't know me. So, I don't know why you assume I have a "problem". Also, it seems like because I said the word "fun", you automatically assume I'm someone who would show up at a raid without proper gear/enchants/etc and expect to be carried (having "fun"), while someone like you is putting in all the work.

    I'm actually quite goal-oriented in gaming than most other people. I've been through guild-hopping because they were too casual and I wanted a more structured raiding guild. And as I've said already, I understand that running a guild requires leadership and organization. Otherwise, it's hard to be effective and be fair to everyone who is putting their time in.

    However, my "problem" is that I believe the ultimate goal should always remain "fun". When guilds become so dry and ruthless because they want to be efficient, it's a turn-off. Maybe I'm idealistic, but I like a little humanity in my gaming. I admit it's a tricky balance and requires a lot of work. But, I'm also fine with that. Don't get confused when people say they want to have "fun" it automatically means they don't want to put in any time and effort. They just want to do it in a "fun" environment.

  4. I think of it as less like running a business and more like running a sports league, like a bowling league. There will be a lot of work and bookkeeping for the secretary and a little bit for the team captains. The regular bowlers, however, are still expected to show up every league night and be ready to bowl. When you are signed up, 24 other people -- who have made significant efforts to schedule around the problems we all have -- are out all the time and effort they made to show up. When you are 15 minutes late and the raid has to wait on you, you haven't blown 15 minutes -- you've blown 6 man hours. It's about not being a burden on your friends.

  5. Rohan, you struck a personal point with me in this post.

    I've been drifting since BC, where i was a hardcore raider led by a retarded dictator and since then i've been drifting from social to raiding guilds, unable to find what's going on, taking breaks and coming back to WoW like everyone else in the mean time.

    It seems i am no social guild material, those with free invites all the time, and i also do not belong in the usual raiding guild, where every single level 90 wants to show that he knows more about WoW innerworks than the next.

    I guess some that i had realized already when i applied to closed social guilds, but they are usually linked to high end guilds and wouldnt let me in, and now i'm old and dont have time to raid outside of LFR.

    I guess i need to digest this new info some more, thanks for the post.

  6. I'm with Kurn, Rohan and Phelps on this one. I'm no guild leader, but I've been a raid leader for nearly 4 years, and I can tell you that yes, running a raid is a lot like being HR for a business.

    You have schedules to make, you have performance to take into consideration, you have egos to assuage or contain, loot to distribute, and $Deity help you when drama inevitably rears its head.

    All of that organization is to help prevent drama in the first place, and to address it in a fair manner when it does occur. If you're seen as unfair or arbitrary, well, game over, your raid just collapsed and it will take another month to rebuild it.

    Yes, the ultimate goal should be fun, but drama isn't fun. At all. And guess what? Spending hours on recruitment, and organizing, and so on is not fun either. So why not be efficient at it? And just because it's all srs bznss behind the scenes doesn't mean it's not fun in front of the curtain. In fact, in my experiences in WoW and in running events in the real world, a certain level of srs bznss is required so that fun can be had when the event arrives.

  7. Your commenter strikes me as one of those people who posts incessantly in trade chat "LF raid", but is unwilling to ever start one themselves.

    These days you don't even need imagination to know what raiding is like without leadership. Just queue in the Raid Finder for a nice demonstration.

  8. Bearness said: At the same time, it's just a game, which means the main purpose is to have fun.

    Some people have fun by running a guild like a little organizational steam engine. :P In my day, I derived a great deal of pleasure from seeing the guild run smoothly and efficiently.

    One of my current characters is in Alea Iacta Est, the mega-mega-multigame guild. They're about as casual as you can get, and a friendly bunch. However, they also have a ton of policies and systems which actually ENSURE that us normal folks can just play and not worry about bank access or alt invites or how to connect to the voice coms.