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.



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.


If you find yourself at the top of a kerfuffle, might be you made it.

So a little while back there was a kerfuffle in our guild (as an aside…I LOVE the word kerfuffle. Such an awesome word that I so rarely get to use). Any who…issue. in the guild. person.quite.upset.scandalous!

So what transpired was spoken about way back then by some of the folks involved, but honestly not ALL things were truly brought to light. Am I rehashing it all here and now? No, but I am touching on it as a moving forward point to my next set of posts.

The 1st issue: “I am bothered by what this person says.” In this case it began with the vocabulary used by a member of the guild…specifically 1 sub-set of words used to describe something moronic or dumb you might do, but also used to insult a mentally challenged person in a rather crude manner.

The 2nd issue: “They came to my home and I couldn’t tell them to stop saying that word(s).” Specifically for some inexplicable reason the person who you already don’t seem to like was then invited to your house to spend time with you there. Color me confused on that one.

The 3rd issue: “I am upset about something in game, now I am MORE upset because YOU aren’t upset too!” Blizz implements something that this player did not like, found offensive, and subsequently wanted removed from the game, but seemed more outraged by the lack of other people not being outraged as well.

Now, all 3 of these things on their own are not really a problem. You can debate right or wrong, acceptable or not all you like. Point of fact: these issues taken individually are normally easily enough resolved without incident. We’ve all had to deal with other players we don’t like, grate us, use language we might not agree with, etc. This is life folks…everyone doesn’t see eye to eye all the time. We’ve also all had people in our homes or personal space we may not want there, but for reasons beyond our control we might not have much choice. Normal example, Holiday gatherings! That weird uncle you can’t stand, perhaps a cousin who you would rather just never have met. And lastly…well…lets be honest. We have all been offended at least once in our lives and would want it changed. And being angry at someone for not sharing your outrage is actually normal! How many times have you found yourself outraged with a family member, spouse, significant other simply because they are indifferent to your outrage! Nothing new in any of this…but not so fast. All 3 of these came to a head, and in one place.

The trick here is NOT avoiding these things, its how you deal with them. And YES…there are good, better, and BEST ways to deal with these scenarios. If you are about to get all angered and outraged that I am going to TELL you how you should handle these scenarios, then feel free to not continue reading, because I am going to tell you.

Scenario 1: Did you talk to the person? Did you inform them that their language bothers you? Did you give them a reason as to why? Perhaps there is some history there that they may even share with you if you merely opened up a bit to them. Certainly not applicable in all situations, but in the case of it being a guild mate, it is. Also, is it possible that you are being too thin skinned around the use of language? Freedom of speech means just that, and yes it does sometimes defend “Constitutionally-speaking” abhorrent language. Did they mean to offend you? Or were they using perhaps what they deem common language for them? We may use what we consider standard curse words that someone of an Orthodox faith might find repugnant. There is certainly a common use for the most notorious of hate words amongst the popular culture that many people find wholly offensive. Point blank…you cannot ban a word. You can ask them to not use it. You can ask for them to accept and understand your side of things. They can show you respect and abide by your wishes, or choose to ignore you.

Scenario 2: Why is this person in your home? Its a guild mate….not a family member. There was some social arrangement for dinner, not a gathering like a wedding or party of some kind. You already have established your discomfort with this person, so if they had to be there, why were you? Could you not leave? Now for myself…I would not leave. I would stand firm in MY home and tell the person “You have 2 choices…either abide by my wishes and respect me in my home and not use that language, or you will leave the premises.” That’s it! IT IS YOUR HOME! If you do not feel comfortable enough and strong enough in your own home to stand up for yourself to a visitor, well…I’ve said this before…seek help. You need counseling from a professional that can help you find that within yourself. It is one thing to stand up to someone who shares your home with you; that can be difficult and sometimes seem impossible. BUT…but wholly another story when they are a stranger/visitor to your home.

Scenario 3: Sure enough being irked by something in the game is common place. Being offended by something in the game is a bit less common, but it has happened. But being angry at someone else because they don’t share your outrage…well, come on now. Seriously…trying to cry “I am offended by you for not being offended at this” is a ridiculous argument and completely irrational. There is no grey area here. Be pissed at the game developer all you want, but don’t get pissed at me because I wasn’t pissed in the first place. Its a game…hey, its a game…in case you aren’t understanding me on this point:

So…here’s the issue with all of this coming to a head, and yes I am getting to the ultimate point, bear with me.

Doing all of this. Raging at all of this. Crying afoul that you are being marginalized, offended, and unsupported…well…it reigns hollow when your favorite thing to say was “Let me fist you. Hey I fisted everyone already!!” then in your next breath you are disgusted by someone suggesting that shark porn is an acceptable release. Look, if its funny enough for NBC prime time, its funny enough for raiding. The issue here is you cannot build glass walls around you then start hurling the stones at others. No. You cannot! Additionally, you cannot say you were only trying to fit in, but then balk at how far that might mean you have to go. In other words, trying out for the boxing team means you are going to have to hit someone. You can’t scream that you are a pacifist and refuse to pop someone in the face. Yes folks…its all or nothing. IT IS all or nothing in this case! (psst…the point is actually next)

This…playing in the game, playing WoW…this is NOT REAL LIFE! You have a choice here. You are paying to play this game, just like everyone else. They are subjected to the same stipulations that you are. Don’t like the people in the guild, find a new guild. Don’t like the storyline for a certain quest, don’t do the quest…skip it. Don’t like raid mechanics, don’t raid. Don’t like those jerks who /spit on everyone in PvP battlegrounds, don’t PvP. If you do not like World of Warcraft…this is a revolutionary idea here folks…DO NOT PLAY World of Warcraft!!!

So where does this lead us to now? Find an in-game home that suits you. If you are a 15 yr old kid who likes making momma jokes or generally being crass, then find a guild with other like-minded 15 yr olds! Do not join a primarily adult guild then balk that everyone finds you to be a twit. If you are a very quiet person who likes to keep to them self, then find a quiet guild to play in, they are out there. If you do not want to raid hard core then don’t app to Vodka. Want something very large and social then perhaps AIE would be good for you. If you have a sociopolitical viewpoint that embodies your life so much that even when gaming it comes through loud and clear…then seek similarly minded people to play alongside.

Get to know the people. Listen to their conversations. Listen to their words, their tone. Learn what their collective sense of humor and demeanor is. Feel out their boundaries. Then if it doesn’t seem like a fit, exit gracefully, “Hey folks. I thank you for the opportunity, but this is simply not a fit for me. Good luck in the future. peace out.” They may not have liked you or also felt it wasn’t a fit, but will hold you in higher regard than you might think for the simple fact of you walking away and not making any waves.

I’ve gkicked people for making waves. I have left guilds so as not to be the one causing the strife. I know sometimes this is hard to do. You feel like they are wrong…”Hey, they shouldn’t talk like that or act like that.” In some cases you feel as if you can help, educate, get them to learn that what they are doing is wrong. There is the issue. You haven’t considered that they do not think its wrong. They are fine with what they say, how they act. Because you deem something wrong, does not mean they do as well.  In real life you can draw battle lines. In real life you can take a stand and fight for something you truly believe in as right or wrong. But this? This is a video game. Its a virtual world and community that if and when…yes WHEN, cause it will eventually happen…Blizzard turns the power off? It all disappears. It goes into oblivion.

My advice, find a place to play where you are happy. Don’t try and change people in a game. I am not saying it cannot be done, its possible. Its just very, very rare. So much so that 99% of the time it causes the one simple thing we all should be avoiding in this virtual world…drama.

Avoid the drama.


Love letters…You’ve Got Mail!

So I got a love letter in-game this weekend!!! I kicked a few people out of the guild, and a somewhat expected response was a love letter. It was exactly what you could imagine, “You suck, you are the problem, its all your fault, everyone hates you, no one likes you, no one thinks you are good, you need to leave, quit, get out, get away.” Yadda yadda yadda. So, the letter was from an unguilded toon that was never a member of my guild. I am assuming its an alt of someone who was in fact kicked by me. So a quick look at the 3 I kicked…

  1. Young new member (yes young in age). He was chatty, very very very VERY chatty. I found him annoying, but tolerable. He was not insulting or anything, and I think was more guilty of trying too hard to make people like him more than anything else. However, I was getting tells constantly, “I can’t stand this kid!” “Please remove him!” “Hey, just an fyi, he blows. He can’t play for squat.” Well, I felt bad in a way, but if you have an overwhelming number of folks wanting him gone, your hand is played for you. /gkick
  2. Buddy who I have not seen on before (joined within the last week or so) starts asking how long server transfers take. I ask why he wants to know? He won’t answer insisting someone just tell him how long it takes. I suggest to him that since none of us work at Blizz doing server transfers, it might be prudent to go onto the WoW website and look for FAQs regarding transfers and I bet his answer will be there from the experts. He recoils and says to effect “Just tell me how long! I want to move a toon here from another server” Yeah, right…I almost believe that. Within a few more pokes and prods he admits he is transferring as soon as he can and wants it to go through right away to get off our server. /gkick
  3. Now the same fool who my previous post was in regards to jumps into gchat with all he wanted to do was get information! I respond with, “Says the same guy that told his guild how he hates the server and can’t wait to transfer.” He of course insists the Server and Guild are not the same…so even with a few days of some level of reflection he still does not get it. You can’t say you hate all dogs, but love German Shepherds. You can’t tell me you hate the entire server but love us…we are a part of the server!!! /gkick

I asked folks in guild if they new the toon name…no one did. I did some research and found their guild history and matched additional names that corresponded and narrowed it down to a reasonable conclusion. Numerous people defended me in g-chat, so I felt a little bit of love from folks which was nice.

Here’s the point: Disagreeing on the direction, tact, tone, rules, etc that your RL, GM, officers put forth is fine; however, ensure you are doing the mature thing to have a conversation regarding said disagreement. In other words, get together and discuss it. No screaming & yelling. DISCUSSION!

Hey, I don’t like the way you speak to us, can you maybe turn it down a notch!
Oh, I didn’t realize that; I certainly can!

We aren’t making any progress, what the heck is going on?
We’re analyzing the raids and trying to figure it out now. Do you have some suggestions on what we can change?
Yes actually, let’s start with this…

I am not even going to get into the obvious things like speak civilly, use your main to speak (not some alt that no one knows), and be sure to give some practical information and constructive criticism not just “we hate you”. Everyone wants to get better, and no one has all the right answers in their back pocket. Collaboration is the key. Benjamin Franklin said it perfectly, “We must all hang together, or assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” The strongest and best foundation is and will always be that of solidarity. Sappy? Perhaps. But very true.

Work together toward one common goal and you will have success. Continue to fight amongst yourselves casting blame, taking credit, and disparaging character; you will assuredly fail. I told my new raid team who may not be the best players, but are for the most part good people who I am beginning to enjoy playing along side…”TRUST! Simply trust us that we are guiding our raid team to a point of success. If you have suggestions or see things that need correcting, let us know. Myself and the co-raid leader Tank are here to help everyone have success. Trust us!” Trust is the hardest thing to establish, but the most powerful tool in building a cohesive team.

Sappy? Perhaps. But very true.


It’s not me…its all of YOU!

So, last night a guild social/new member says in gchat, “UGH! I hate this server! It sucks, I can’t wait to xfer!”

Ok, um…wait, What?!? Moments like these I refer to as “teaching opportunities.” This is where the statement “it’s not what you say, but how you say it” totally comes into play.

So, after a long in guild “discussion” in which I stated numerous times to said person, “I empathize and agree the server can be difficult as can dealing with the people…I just don’t think telling your guild mates that you cant wait to get away from them is the best course of action is all” his final statement was in effect: “I state my opinion and you all jump all over me, what is wrong with all of you?!?

Again, last chance effort to teach here…”Ok, hold that thought…so you said something, and you ‘meant’ one thing, but EVERYONE else took it another way; you don’t think maybe its how/what you said that is the problem? You are convinced EVERYONE else is wrong, and you are right?!” response: “Yes”

/sigh. Ok. Have at it then. Sometimes you cannot teach people. And honestly, it’s always the same situation…immaturity. I don’t mean he likes to play with GI Joes and pull girls’ pony tails, and it isn’t about age either – I have met plenty of immature 50-somethings before. The immaturity I am referencing is more the “full of piss and vinegar” attitude. These “kids” always know what is right. They are never wrong. They are misunderstood and it is always the person listening who is at fault, never the words or tone coming from them.

I have made mention before about how harsh we as a player base are with our criticism and judgment, and perhaps I am as guilty of it as anyone else. Articles like this I am sure are seen as condescending or preachy to any number of players. My apologies for my part, certainly isn’t my intent.

But seriously…we’re dealing with human nature here. Late teens, early twenties everyone goes through a phase of “knowing it all” and that older people are so full of it and curmudgeons that are disrespectful to the younger generations. They are mean and put everyone down, just jaded by life and such. Those youthful folks have a “take on the world” mentality and that they know what is right and need NO ONE telling them what to do or how to do it. In game terms, I have played a hunter since day one…that’s nearly 7 years now on the same class. Methinks I know a thing or two on how to play it and yet I still am always reading and researching, looking for more info and better ways. I am always open to learning more and improving. And yet I routinely run across the player who “has” a hunter at almost 85 and begins to tell me everything I am doing wrong. They are almost always a Wrath baby or the typical “I’ve played every class and have 12 toons at 85, working on my 13th!!” “I used to raid as a rogue, then went tank, then changed to pally, and then healing shammy. Got bored and chose a mage, leveled my lock for PvP and did that for a while. Then switched to a DK full time. Started working on my hunter and rolled a new priest after that for shadow cause its AWESOMESAUCE!” Same old story.

A couple of points are here, trust me…

  1. If you continue to hop around classes and roles, you will never master any of them. Mastering a class or role does not come after playing for 3 months, even 3 years. It in fact NEVER comes. The game evolves, things change. You will ALWAYS be learning new things, and should ALWAYS be seeking out that knowledge!
  2. All servers are the same. Why is that? They all have the same foundation….players. i.e. PEOPLE! While an individual is great, people suck…I quote from Agent K because he states it so eloquently and perfectly: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

I’m not trying to put down all people who have the drive to prove themselves. I am saying to please have the thought, the possibility, that maybe – perhaps – just possibly…someone else was there too! They stood in your shoes, and maybe they are trying to offer some advice and criticism to HELP you. They are not trying to be-little you or demean you; they are genuinely trying to help you not make the same mistake they made, not end up with the same regrets they may carry with them.

Yes, this is just a game, but it’s still a valuable lesson in building relationships with others. I’m no saint and I have ticked-off plenty of others in my day; in RL and in-game. Trust me when I say, I am trying to help. And do not read “tone” into my text based chat. If you want to read “tone” hop in vent or mumble and we can TALK. You will hear that my voice will always be laced with sincerity.

So, if you have made it this far in the post, great! Lesson to learn: be patient with your fellow players. Either in helping to teach them and steer them in the right direction or in listening and understanding they are trying to help you. 2 sides, same coin. Will a change of scenery really help? Maybe, but I have played extensively on 3 different servers (2 actively conversing and participating, one was merely observational)….they all have been the same. You’re bored. You have a fail raid, or at least not a truly successful one. You don’t like the players. You don’t like the scene. What do you do? Try something, but don’t be shocked to find the same pervasive attitudes and issues on another server. Transferring is not always the solution.