One of my favorite movies is Pirate Radio (The Boat that Rocked is the American release title). A quick summary of the plot: Pirate Radio is the high-spirited story of how 8 DJs love affair with Rock n’ Roll changed the world forever. In the 1960s this group of rouge DJs, on a boat in the middle of the Northern Atlantic, played rock records and broke the law all for the love of music.
The primary villain in the film is government tight-wad Sir Alistair Dormandy, played magnificently by Kenneth Branagh. In his bid to rid the world of the “filth and pornography” of Pirate Radio he states the following: “You see, that’s the whole point of being the government. If you don’t like something you simply make up a new law that makes it illegal.”
So, why am I bringing this up? Well, the simple fact is we as a species seem to do this all the time. We simply change the rules to suit us, regardless of the consequences that may come to bear from doing so. I think that is where I see my current situation right now. Am I doing this? No. But I see various WoW friends doing it, and perhaps they don’t even realize it.
Rules are not merely a thing of convenience to be bent or broken when they no longer suit us. They are there to provide order and structure. The rules whatever they may be are to provide a foundation for all to stand upon equally. Everyone knows where they start or begin, where they stand. Is it true that some bend or break the rules for their personal gain? Of course! But then you become THAT guy pictured above. You become Sir Alistair Dormandy. You become the 1%. You become the person who thinks the rules do not apply to them.
Let’s be clear, rules are not always presented as rules. Sometimes they are guidelines, recommendations, perhaps just expectations. For example, there are no signs at Starbucks that state no cutting in line. You could walk into Starbucks and merely squeeze yourself right into the front of the line and order your coffee. Bypass that long pesky line and do as you please. When someone complains you can simply state “Hey, there is no rule about no cutting. There is no sign. Its not against the law.” But if someone did it to you, you would be PISSED. To say the least. See, these types of rules are rules of convenience. People tend to use them when they are advantageous and benefit them, but want to ignore them when they no longer suit their situation. Now, I know you are wondering…”Q, how does this pertain to WoW!?” Well, let me tell you…
I am a member of Phalanx of Nod on Dalaran. Its a good guild of good people. I’ve seen some folks come, some folks go. When I joined PoN, I came into it with the understanding that it was a social/casual guild. They put the people first and foremost. Its an inclusive environment that does not exclude anyone for the laundry list of reasons that we all have encountered in WoW: noob, under-geared, not min/maxed, dps too low, hps too low, don’t know your class, can’t play/raid at least x% per week, etc etc. We have all encountered this in game before. We were weighed and measured to someone else’s standards and left wanting, and therefore told that we were not welcome. It sucks. PERIOD END OF STORY. I, you, me, everyone do not pay the same $15 a month to play a video game to have ourselves judged by someone else and left feeling inadequate simply because some DPS meter doesn’t add up right, or because you have kids or work and cannot find the time to log-in 6 days a week.
Now, there are times we voluntarily agree to such things. We walk into the environment and agree to the rules and regulations. You cannot join the Military and expect to have unkempt long hair, or wear whatever uniform you choose, its not G.I. Joe. There are agreed upon standards that you accept when you walk through the door. A WoW guild is no different.
When a guild states that it puts the people first, they are unequivocally stating the social aspect is most important. Ultimately this benefits most if not all people. If you opt to gear up your main when raiding, then decide you want to switch mains to an alt, its accepted. No worries, even if you do it 2 or 3 times over the course of an expansion, it will be allowed. Why? Because we all want you to play a toon you are happy playing. Need a break, want to walk away and not long in for 6 months? No worries. You can log back in and no one will bat an eyelash and all will welcome you back with open arms. “We missed you! Where have you been? Everything good? Need help leveling? Need gear or money?” Can’t log in for raiding each week consistently due to work, family, schedule changes; no worries. Log in when you can and we will gladly fit you in as best as we can. Left out of raid – let’s run LFR or some dungeons together.
The point here is that by putting the people first its an environment of inclusiveness, not exclusivity. No one should be harassed for not min/maxing, not putting out best possible DPS/HPS, essentially: No one is held to YOUR standards and left wanting.
Is this how you run a progression guild? No. Is this the best method for having a world ranked guild? Certainly not. I never joined PoN with that expectation in mind. It was not stated or ever presented that way. In fact, the very opposite. When I needed to take a few weeks off from playing due to home construction, no one ever dropped me from the raiding rank upon returning nearly 6 weeks out of the game. When I get into the competitive soccer season and some times can only make raids once a week, no one has clamored for me to be kicked from the guild. When I choose to not log in one night so I can have a date night with my spouse, I do not find myself being berated for choosing quality time with my wife over the game.
Now, thing is…things can change. Collectively a guild can decide to migrate from a social/casual guild to a progression focused one, and vice-versa. But understand, change is HARD. it encompasses many aspects that are not so easily calculated, and simply stated: humans do not like change. We are bad at it, especially under short time frames. More importantly if you change those expectations, you may find the rules that benefited you previously, now work against you. No you may NOT switch mains. No you can’t raid with us you haven’t logged in for 6 weeks or 6 months. No you are not welcome in the raid team, your DPS /HPS is too low. You are a noob, learn your class. You constantly stand in the bad, get out of the raid. Why are you not max geared? Is that best in slot? Why aren’t you flasking? Why aren’t you pre-potting?
I could go on, but I trust you get the idea. The very eye of scrutiny, the very measuring stick your used against someone else, could now be turned upon you. What was once an environment where laughing, relaxing, having fun with whomever showed up, changes to one of constant dissection and derision all for the glory of boss kills.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to see digital dragons dead at my hunter’s feet too; but never again at the cost of perpetuating an environment of exclusivity. I just don’t want to be “that guy”.