Ever since I was a wee overlord, I’ve wanted to be the leader of something, but I’ve always hit roadblocks on my ascent to glory. Class president? Not popular enough. Manager? Something about all of my coworkers being afraid of me. Grown-Up Person President? Something about everyone being afraid of me because apparently referring to oneself as a “benevolent dictator” doesn’t foster confidence when it’s written on your campaign posters.
But World of Warcraft offers me an outlet for my tendencies towards complete and utter domination, at least on a small scale. Over my eight years in Azeroth, I’ve managed to go from simple guild member to guild officer to Supreme Overlord of All That Is Guild-y. I’m currently the guild master of Torchwood Institute on Uldum’s horde (read: awesome) side, and though our numbers are not as impressive as some others out there, I’d like to think we’re pretty cool. After all, an online game like WoW is only as fun as the people you play it with.
Uldum is a PvE server with a fairly small population. Already, the recruiting pool is a bit shallower than normal based solely on the fact that there’s fewer players to choose from. The fact that it’s PvE also means the majority of the people there are looking for raid progression, thus guilds that can offer regular, structured raid nights are highly sought after. I thought that raiding was srs bizness when I was playing on a PvP server back in the day, but I honestly had no idea how serious it could get until I switched to PvE and started up a guild of my own. I honestly believe that the addition of a guild achievement system and perks granted for raids where the majority of the players in the group are from the same guild have something to do with this almost single-minded track of focus, as well.
We’ve lost several members because we weren’t able to organize raid nights quickly enough. It isn’t that we don’t want to raid — of course a few members don’t have any interest in such things, and that’s totally fine, but the majority of us would love to be able to throw together a 10-man — it’s that we all have schedules and busy lives that make such things nearly impossible. The average age in our guild is around 25 to 30 years. Our late nights doing pantsless Karazhan raids have been replaced by having to get up early for our 9 to 5 or drive the kids to school in the morning. Most of us are married or at least in serious relationships where spending several hours in front of the computer is not an option. Raid nights are a luxury mostly reserved for the high school and college-age kids whose biggest concern is bullshitting their way through a 2-page essay on Greek mythology, or at least that’s how it seems through our eyes.
In a way, recruiting for Torchwood Institute has started to remind me of job-hunting and finding a plethora of jobs requiring experience, but no one willing to give you the opportunity for that experience. There’s plenty of people who want to raid… but they don’t want to take the time to recruit more people for raiding, or gear new players up, or take them on training runs. I believe this goes back to the strong “anti-noob” prejudice cropping up in games, where running LFR can obviously mean nothing other than “you’re bad” and having to take the time to explain strategies to people before a boss pull is a major inconvenience because we should all instantly be able to figure it out and if we can’t then we’re not “real” raiders. It’s a frustrating mentality, an effect of our society which has largely become a culture of instant-gratification, and one that I believe is going to end up biting us all in the ass when the established long-term players all end up quitting from the burnout (the question is not if they will but when they will) and there’s nobody to fill their roles.
It is somewhat heartening, however, that the players we have lost to raiding have actually left quite gracefully and said straight up that they really enjoyed spending time with us because we were cool and hated to leave us, they just wanted to get something out of the game that we couldn’t offer them. One of our regular members almost tearfully contacted me the other night during a game of StarCraft to ask for my blessing to accept an invitation for a raiding guild on his main. I think he was shocked when I congratulated him and told him of course he could leave his alts in with us, that he’d always be welcome back. At the very least, he made sure I understood that if I ever needed him for anything at all on his main, he’d be there in a heartbeat. He never had an elitist mentality, but since his time in-game was limited by work and other responsibilities, he needed to make sure he was spending it the way he wanted to in order to get as much out of that time as he could.
And therein lies the flipside of the “raid night or bust” challenge. I realize that by now it probably sounds like I’m calling everyone whose primary goal is to raid a jerk, and that’s not at all what I’m trying to do. It’s all in how you express that desire. For example, here’s a few wrong ways to do it:
- Belittling other guild members (or the guild itself) for not living up to your expectations
- Making repeated threats to leave if your demands aren’t met
- Using the guild bank for your own benefit, then immediately /gquitting for another, more “prestigious” guild
- Rage-quitting over the lack of raiding or lack of progression (“screw you noobs I’m out” or “you guys suck” followed by a /gquit)
- Being unwilling to pitch in and help get newer players ready to raid
- Constantly harassing guild leadership — “when are we gonna raiiiid?” “are we raiding yet?” Trust me, you’ll be the first to know.
By the same token, it’s the guildmaster’s responsibility to make sure that they live up to their promises. I tell people joining the guild that we’re trying to get the numbers up for raiding and regular heroics, and that right now we have a few regular members on hiatus due to real-life stuff but that once they come back activity should pick up, at least for 5-mans. Hell, I will flat-out say “if you’re looking for regular raid nights, unless you can be really patient with us, we unfortunately cannot give you that.” It’s an inconvenient truth to say the least, but it’s better than promising “oh yeah bro epics everywhere server firsts progression woooooo ilvl 520 erryday” and then failing to deliver. Not only does it damage your own reputation, it also casts a shadow on the rest of the guild.
A guild that doesn’t raid, or even players who choose not to raid, aren’t “scrubs” or “noobs” or any of that. They’re choosing to play the game the way that they want, or the way that they can, just the same as somebody who wants to devote their time to endgame content. As long as we can foster a sense of mutual respect between the two parties, we’re all doing fine.
In the meantime, if you’re a cool dude or dudette who doesn’t mind being patient while we get ourselves situated to raid, check out Torchwood Institute horde-side on Uldum. We’d love to have you!