pirate_radio15

Do you really want to be THAT guy?

2009_pirate_radio_wallpaper_007One 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. dscn3229For 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. change-simon-wordle-24it 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”.

Q

castlefoundation

Being constructive…its all about the foundation

Long time no post!!! So, its been a while since I posted. I know I know. SLACKER! Actually the dearth of activity from me has been 2 fold.

First, BUSY BUSY! My work life has been atrociously hectic. My home life has been more so. Multiple large scale web projects being pushed at work with overlapping deliverables and time lines coupled with Coaching Competitive Soccer, Basketball clinics, and a kitchen remodel = me feeling like a whirlwind (plus there’s this little project I started with guild mates called Azeroth Pirate Radio…more to come on that).

The second part of this though has been lack of inspiration. As many of you know I usually write from strife and drama. Surviving WoW has always been about dealing with the day to day issues we all face in dealing with one another within the World of Warcraft; remove that from my day to day guild life and you remove the majority of my source of inspiration. While Phalanx of Nod is a great guild filled with some great people it is not immune to stress or drama. I’ve seen g-quits since I’ve gotten there. We’ve had blow ups and accusations of inappropriateness or bad behavior. Yeah, not unlike any other guild I’ve ever seen to be honest.
But, lately there has been some rumbling. Right direction, good enough success, can this be better, should it be better…well, let’s discuss a bit on HOW to deal with this.

So, like any guild it tends to consist of like minded people, usually a core of folks who are in similar life circumstances or perhaps have common goals within the game. That said, as you venture out further from the core group of people the differences become greater and commonalities sparser. At this point folks should remember something very important. The foundation. Its all about the foundation of the guild and players really need to bear this in mind. Also understand that if the foundation of the guild is strong enough, its like a mountain. Good luck trying to move it; but honestly, why try?! If you come to a casual guild don’t try to make it hard core. If you go to a hardcore guild you cannot feign min/maxxing in an attempt to make things more casual. It won’t work. It will only frustrate you and others.

These are common sense sort of things, but really…common sense is rarely common. Yes, I hear it now, “But if things could be better shouldn’t I try to change them to make it so?!” There is some truth and value to this approach. Yes, if the hard core group is getting burnt out, then perhaps some lightheartedness can bring brevity to the situation. Loosen things up for a little bit so that people can become re-energized and re-invigorated and ultimately re-focus on their common goals again. Same can be said for the casual side of things…if things are too lax too loose, it can hinder moving forward. A complete lack of discipline can lead to frustration that you are stuck in a rut; truthfully you may in fact be stuck.

But look carefully at your situation. Analyze and determine if its the guild that is need of changing or if it is you in need of a change? Let’s look at some simple steps to follow:

  1. Discuss. This is not bitching and moaning late in the evening post-raid with a select few folks in mumble or through whispers. Discussion is an act or instance of discussing; consideration or examination by argument, comment, etc. Please note that argument here does not constitute yelling, screaming, name calling, and blame-casting. Its a sharing of thoughts even if not necessarily positive thoughts, but done constructively so as to inform. Essentially, its getting out where everyone stands.
  2. Debate. Yes, you will need to debate various positions. Find validity in each others perspectives. First you found out from what direction each person is coming from. Now you are going to understand why. See their direction as objectively as you are able. Now all of you can do the following…
  3. Find common ground. Decide now where the common place is. This is not about ideals necessarily…its a video game. We are all here to have some fun to various degrees, we may differ though in what we define as fun. Find the common ground. You now know where each other is coming from, you know where your common ground is, now you can…
  4. Explore solutions. This is really important. Complaining you don’t like a situation but having no discernible solution in mind is just not constructive. If you are prepared to bring a complaint to the table, bring a way to fix the problem as you see fit too. And please make it constructive, “If you just left the guild, problem solved” is not a constructive solution.

Remember, whispering behind your guild-mates backs how awful you think things are is not helping you, them, or anyone. If you truly value the guild as a whole and they value you in return then everyone should be open to a healthy discussion and sharing of ideas and opinions that will hopefully lead to stronger bonds and a more rewarding WoW experience for everyone involved.

Though sometimes simply leaving and moving on is the best solution available, do not assume its the only one. And if you choose to make this your ultimate solution, leave gracefully. No back handed compliments, no negative critiques or commentary. Simply leave, quietly. Say thank you for whatever time you spent and experiences you had and move on.

Remember, one bad or ill moment can condemn you in people’s eyes. Regardless of how stellar you may have been prior to the one incident. Sometimes our last impression is what leaves a lasting impression.

Q

How to approach making a change

So last post we talked about finding yourself at the top of a mountain of drama that you helped make. Did you deserve it? Perhaps not. But you certainly (in that example) didn’t do your best to avoid it. Its akin to walking alone in a a bad area known for trouble while waving a huge stack of $100 bills over your head and then wondering why you had the misfortune to have been robbed. You didn’t make the best decisions and certainly didn’t set yourself up for success, now did you.

So with MoP fast approaching in about 3 weeks, there will be a whole crop of folks seeking new guilds. Whether it be coming back from a hiatus, new players starting fresh, or perhaps veterans simply seeking a fresh start elsewhere; one should follow a few simple guidelines to seeking a new in game home.

Must Haves vs Nice to haves
This is a big deal. You should really separate out into 2 columns what are absolute inflexible NEEDS versus the things that would be nice, but not truly necessary stipulations.

If you truly NEED to be in a ranked guild, then perhaps you should also know you will need to worry about min/maxing your toon and being graded and judged on your performance.

If you NEED a casual environment, then know you cannot stir up drama by whining and complaining that no one cares about heroics.

If your socio-political views are so important to you that you wear them on your sleeve, then do not join a socially diverse guild where odds are opinions will vary along with mileage.

This last one is an important factor to consider. There is nothing wrong with being a Republican, Democrat, Atheist, Feminist, Born Again Christian, etc etc. Any label you choose to wear proudly on your sleeve is not something to cast shame or derision towards; however, perhaps you should bear that in mind when seeking a new guild.

Would it be wise for the card carrying Atheist to join a guild of born again Southern Baptists? Should the dyed in the wool right wing Tea Partier consider being in the liberal guild of left wingers a wise decision? If the guild is comprised primarily of 20 something males, will the feminist be made to feel at home? To all these things, no. Choose wisely.

Do your homework
Read up on the guild you are seeking to join. Gain access to their guild forums. Learn the names of some of the players. Search on the WoW forums, MMO Champion, WoW Insider. See if any of those folks post there. Read what they have to say. Real ID friend one or two of them, use the new battletag feature to your advantage. Run some dungeons. See what they are like. Research them. Roll a toon on that server and look at trade chat, see if they post there a lot. Do they have a reputation. After a week or two, broach a sticky topic. Discuss something political or perhaps hot-button. No, do not start an argument, or blurt out “<Insert name here> is an ass! discuss!” Have a relevant conversation and dialogue and see what comes of it. Better yet, make it about something you know could be controversial but you have no real vested interest in…listen to what your prospective guild mates have to say. Get a feel for their opinions and ascertain whether or not you can acclimate yourself to this group of people and if they can acclimate to you!

If you are seeking a top ranked guild, then chances are none of this matters. An end-game hard core player is more interested in the end goal, not the social aspect of the game. This is not to say they don’t care at all about it, its just the social part becomes the nice to have, not the must have. For the majority of the player base however, that social interaction is more important. Even when they say it isn’t and try to ignore it; it is. It should be. It has a way of making itself most important.

This is not easy. There will always be personality clashes and folks will rub one another the wrong way. Your challenge is to be honest with yourself as to what you are seeking. If you want to raid, have fun, and have some modicum of success in the game whether that be 7/7 normal or 7/7 heroic, you will be best served and set yourself up for best success by seeking out like individuals. Similarly minded and focused players who may not agree on all the details, but do agree on the general picture.

Remember its just a game
If you find those clashes do your best to avoid that one person or two. If you find its a majority of the crowd that is rubbing you the wrong way, bow out gracefully. Don’t blow up or stir up drama just leave quietly and start your search process over again. Remember it is just a game. Its supposed to be fun, if it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong. Note I am not suggesting you have any inward reflection and seek to change your ways….although, maybe you should? Ask yourself, is this the first time you found yourself here? The second? If its just a couple of isolated incidents over your playing time, I wouldn’t worry about it. However, if you realize its the 10th time you face this, then perhaps it is you? Are you waving the stack of $100′s? Are you simply not seeking out the right mix of people? If you have found yourself in this scenario more than a handful of times, perhaps some self-reflection will help. Re-evaluate your priorities and list. It certainly cannot hurt.

In conclusion….Well duh, thank you Captain Obvious!
I know I know. This all seems like common sense, but how many times have you found yourself in this mess? How many guilds have you seen go through this? Relationship issues, personality conflicts, power struggles, tyrannical GM despots with delusions of grandeur, many of us have seen it all before and more than once. If its such common sense, then why does it happen at all? Well, because it may make sense, but that doesn’t mean its common. Determine your needs. Find similar minded folks. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Now, I must remember to take my own advice.

Q

Are you coming or going – make up your damn mind!

No, its not about me departing my guild. Well, not entirely. Most of us ponder whether or not our current homes are always the best fit. Is the progression not right? The chemistry off? Have too many friends moved on? – All valid questions or scenarios, leading to you questioning your particular situation.

But that’s not what the title is referencing! We all know them….the fair weather players! They come, they go. They quit the game in rage and anger over some fool thing, only to return again in short order. As with most things, I tend to generalize and categorize these things into buckets. Helps me to organize everything into nice neat stereo-types, as Ryan Bingham says in Up In the Air, “I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.”

P2P Player –These are the folks that come and go simply because they live paycheck to paycheck. So they’re subscription follows the same formula – paycheck to paycheck. Its not that they like this, it just happens, and if money is tight all around, leisurely expenses like WoW are normally the first casualties in that war of attrition.

Seasonal Player– Seasonal players tend to be kids or college students (most often). They play during the school year, especially during the winter months when indoor time is more extensive.

RAGE-GRRRR-QUIT Player– These folks are tough. They hate Blizzard and WoW one month, love it the next. They can’t stand the drama or grind of some form of play, but miss it terribly so, they come back intermittently only to be struck down once more by the same issues that they somehow thought had disappeared entirely on their own.

The RL Blues Player– These guys are really the rest of us. Its more situational and based solely on the normative factors: I took on a new job, had a baby, got married, got religion, busier class load this semester, opted to play another game, lost my job, etc etc.

Large categories to be sure, and mostly everyone who leaves and comes back fits into one of the big buckets. The issue is that they all can carry the same basic problem: DISRUPTION!

There is a direct correlation between the level of disruption a player creates and the obliviousness they have as to how the game and its players move on without them! Yes, we continued moving forward without you…BLASPHEMY I KNOW! Just because you walked away for what ever reason you had did not mean we sat here waiting for you to return! More importantly….just because you have returned it DOES NOT mean you get to walk in and run things as you once did.

Respect is never given, it is earned. Repeat this…over and over and over again. Make it a mantra! Do not walk through that damn door and start barking orders and belittling people for not doing things your way or up to some standard to which you have decided everyone must adhere!

My advice: if you leave and return. Do so with humility and quiet. Do not stomp off like a petulant child, and do not attempt to kick down the door upon coming back. No one is concerned with the size of your ePeen or the “HEY LOOK AT ME I’M BACK” spotlight you so desperately want to cast upon yourself. In short, our in-game lives didn’t end when you left, they won’t be turned upside down upon your return. Act as if it’s a new guild. Sort things out, lay low, figure out the lay of the land and who or what is going on.

For GMs and Officers: Be very very careful when a returning member wants their officer status back. Others more than likely moved in to fill those roles. Allow them to continue to do the job for which they stepped up. Any good former players worth their salt will have no issues sitting in the back of the bus and blending in, contributing when asked. Simply put, if they come back making demands and enforcing their will…RED FLAGS abound!

Anyone else see the same things I’ve seen over and over again the last 7 years? I admit…I have never taken a break to date :)

The story of 3 raiders, who do you choose?

dogs - gotta love emWe play with all kinds of players in this game. Some choose to PvP exclusively, others raid only, and still others just run heroics casually and work on achievements. Individuality is a big part of WoW and Blizzard has done an excellent job at trying to appease various levels/styles of game play. Bravo for that Blizz.

So, here is the story of 3 raiders in any average guild…we all know these 3 people.

  • Mememe – the greatest ever Hunter anyone has ever seen. Just ask him.
    Mememe is good. He is actually very good at his role and class. Asks for very little. Doesn’t throw fits of rage or anything when he doesn’t get something like a new helm. He’s a good enough person, not overly mean or anything. BUT…always a “but” right…Mememe farms BOE’s to sell. Mememe rarely runs alts or lesser geared players through anything. Mememe does not come to the fun raids (farm raids, achievement raids, etc). Mememe constantly explains how awesome he is, he performs and doesn’t disappoint in progression…but that other side of “guild life” is lacking.
  • IamtheAWESOME – plays a DK and knows everything about what everyone else SHOULD do with their toon.
    Constantly grates and annoys by telling everyone else what to do when and how. Consummate expert on everything….everything except their own damn toon! In defense, he doesn’t overtly ruin the raid by causing a wipe, but doesn’t help or add to it by very much if at all. Completely expendable from a player stand point. Always willing to level or gear one of his 93 other toons. Ask him to leave the raid for any reason and be prepared to get a whole lot of lip as to justifying why he didn’t or did do what you are pointing out. “Hey, you have the lowest dps, I need to swap you out.” “WOAH! My cat was humping the radiator in the other room and a twig broke outside…wasn’t my fault!!!”
  • Thenewguy – new guy in the guild playing his warrior.
    Truly happy to be here, wants to help any way he can. No arguments, no drama, no fuss. Super flexible…tank? sure. DPS, fine by me. Admits his own flaws and asks what he can do differently to improve. Wants to raid if he can, but doesn’t want to push anyone out. “I’m always here for fill if you want me…just ask!” Gear drops…”Give it to that person for off-spec, they are a main raider, not me” Selfless. Ask him to step out for someone else, “Sure, thanks for inviting me guys, had a blast!” Will pvp, raid, achievement run, gear any and all other guildies if he can help!

Who do you like? Me, I will take raider 3…give me 9 or 24 of them and I would have the happiest guild/raid ever. No drama, no problems; just a solid group all willing to help one another and have fun!

I know this is total fantasy “pie in the sky” type stuff. I know this is blasphemy from the eyes of the top end guilds and raiders in the world. None of the above 3 are bad people per say, nor are they necessarily the greatest ever.

I am at the point in my game play where success is not measured by progression or gear scores…its in drama & fun. As in how little drama there is, and how much fun we’re having. I want to enjoy my time in game, I want to play alongside people I wouldn’t mind having a drink with too. This game is coming to a close all too soon, and I would like to have some friendships that last to the next digital adventure or even into the real world from all of this.

Anyone agreeing with this or am I totally on an island here? Hello? Wow…its freaking dark in here, and that’s a really loud echo. HEEEELLLLLOOOOOO??!??!