|"I've got a dream, I've got a dream!" - Rapunzel in Tangled|
Social can mean a constant stream of chatter, with people to talk to. To tell you the truth, that's not what I want from a social guild. What I want from a social guild is somewhere you can play, where people are pleasant and it's ok if they keep to themselves, but as long as they don't straight out ignore you when you speak to them directly, or fill guild chat with abusive or offensive yabbering, then it's ok.
Sometimes people may think that's a bit stifling, because they want to talk with their friends. By all means, party up and talk to them - if you want to have a boyish chat about hot chicks, or a stereotypical male conversation and make some comments that would offend some more sensitive people then do it in party or whispers with your mates. Same thing goes if you're wanting to have a girly chat about how your boyfriend doesn't know how to turn you on and you start getting explicit - hey, what you do in your private chats has nothing to do with me, but the guild in general doesn't really want to know those intimate details.
Neri and Casa said to me that Frostwolves was dreadfully silent when I wasn't on, and that really is what it's like during the day. Peak activity is after work (ie from about 6pm still midnight server time) because we're all working. I may potter around during the day online whilst I'm at work, but it's not REALLY online doing group things, as I can't commit to any sorts of activity whilst working. Solo content is pretty much all I can manage whilst I'm at work - even though most people would say I'd be lucky to play at work anyway, I could just as easily be playing Candy Crush or Sudoku or browsing the net during quiet times. So people will know that during the daytime server hours, I very rarely maintain conversation, I have lots of AFKs - in general, not that much fun to be around.
So yeah, my guild isn't always the chatty type of guild. However, when are on, and free, we are chatty, but it takes a while to break the ice when you're new. I think I tend to be the super chatty one, but it's usually in whispers, checking that everything is ok. A lot of people in the guild are shy and don't say much. I remember one person who joined the guild said it was too quiet for him, and he asked if he could invite some friends to make it more lively. From experience, this is how guild chat can become a distraction and irritating, so since that isn't hte culture of guild I'm trying to promote, I told him no.
The raiding aspect is important for me - it's what I enjoy, and a lot of our members think the same. The frictions in raiding come from different skillmixes and outlooks. There is a whole lot of things which, when put together, can cause an explosion. How do you deal with a group of people who all want to do the same thing - raid - but whose goals and skills are very different?
I think there are a few very important things here. The first, is INSIGHT.
Insight is the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something. This bit is really hard. In our raids, we think about it a lot and try to be fair to everyone - it is almost impossible to be perfectly fair. Honesty and transparency make it more manageable and the right people will understand that. And that is the key to success for us, I think - selecting the people that will understand our version of fair and be able to abide by those values.
The second, is TOLERANCE. To be a good teacher, you have to be able to accept that not everyone can do things at the same pace. Encouragement, not belittlement or punishment, is the key to success. But, there are only so much encouragement before you do start to lose patience.... /mutters to self about Asys dispelling during Protectors.... (I swear he does it on purpose to rile me up). But, raiders who think they are too good for the raid, and constantly say that, will inevitably lead to tension.
The third, is COMMUNICATION. I don't mean only talking. I mean setting out the rules before anyone starts, so that they know what to expect, being transparent and open. Also, getting to know what the individual wants and letting them know what you want, and trying to find a medium. I am fortunate that Kyxyn, my raid leader is a teacher and I also have a major role in training and education of my juniors. We like to think we know how to talk to people who need assistance, and also because we both work in areas that are servicing the public, we spend a lot of time dealing with people who think they should be getting this or that, and don't lose our cool or get angry when dealing with difficult people, because in our line of work it will only make your job even MORE difficult. That's not to say we don't go complaining about it afterwards over a drink or two.
I spoke to three people this past week about joining the guild. The first person was an amazing healer, I really admired him, but upon speaking with him, I realised that our goals and values and raiding ideals were vastly different. I think of myself as a competitive healer, and I thought that this person was like that as well - and he probably was. However, his idea of raiding was very different. Because he thought he was better than the other healers, he thought that we would substitute him in to replace the other healers. That was NOT what we were going to do. Everyone has earned their place in our raid team, and we didn't have space at the moment. Our philosophical differences were a huge red flag, and from experience, I knew he wouldn't be a good fit. He wouldn't be happy long-term, and neither would we. However, the conversation got WORSE...
(Off topic rant - you can skip this bit:
... the person said that they had played this game too long to be in a second class role, since Vanilla. I piped up and said that we had played since Vanilla. The he said that he would bet any money that he had been playing longer. I asked if he had played since beta. He said no. However Kyxyn has been playing since release, and this guy hadn't been playing since release, so Kyxyn trumped him.. AND THEN this guy said that it didn't count if you played in Vanilla unless you were hardcore raiding, because otherwise it was a waste of time. I covered my mouth with a giggle of horror, because Kyxyn was the guild leader of the top guild on his server in Vanilla, and all top guilds knew each other. It turns out of course that the guilds they were both in were familiar... but I told Kyxyn that this epeen flexing was getting too much, and he declared in officer channel that he didn't like this arrogant dick. All I can say is... I was crushed - I had admired this person, had been looking FORWARD to the day that I could integrate them into my guild, only to find that they were all sorts of arrogance! Though in fairness, his guild had just disbanded so he might have been feeling a little glum.)
Kyxyn and I decided that this person was not suitable for our guild and wished them well.
In contrast, there's the story of Jazz and Nath, who were also looking for a guild and after a chat about what our guild was like and what we were about, it turns out that our goals in game were very similar. Jazz said to me that she and Nath were just looking for some casual raiding, and were happy to wait their turn if it came, and also would love to come to flex for their alts, and Garrosh. Their mains had ilvls of 566, they had raiding experience, they didn't demand any raid spots, we explained to them the guild philosophy and they were quite happy - I think they would fit in very well here! They moved all their level 90s over... WOW they have a lot of 90s! 8 and 9 each!
So how do you blend the different skillmixes and gaming aspects?
Some people are not high end players - they're not going to get Proven Healer/Tank/Damage. Some people don't have the time to commit to researching and tweaking every little bit of their toon to perfect their DPS to punch out the maximum numbers. Some people don't want to read fights and rather turn up not knowing what to do. How do you blend the two together to make something work?
What I have been trying to aim for is a place where people can have the more competitive end raiding with like minded people - and yet also have a place where those who like to play with their guildies as a bunch of friends can also see raiding content. Which is why Flex raiding is so absolutely brilliant for my guild.
Flex on Sunday is our relaxed raiding day. We take ANYONE who is 90, regardless of ilvl as long as they can follow instructions. It's perfect for Mabaho, Faithless, McTacky, and also for those who haven't got the time to commit to full time raiding, like Voros and Yig. Attendance is not compulsory, and though some people felt like it wasn't good that the other raiders didn't attend, it's actually great that they can have a break and not FEEL like they are having to carry people. The only thing I am pretty insistent on is that the officers attend, and Kyxyn, myself and Aimei are always a constant at Flex. Sev comes when he can, but usually it's kicking and screaming :P I think that being an officer means that you should make the commitment to help the guild, which helps keep the number of officers down :P
In the time before Flex, I had a friend who wanted to fill in and raid but because we didn't have that capability, however substituting into normal raids didn't seem to be a viable option for a casual and we were substituting another regular raider in who was gearing up for normal raids (they were main switching) - progress is dependent on familiarity between tanks and healers. Unfortunately, my friend ended up leaving and quitting and I was a little sad, and I knew that inside it was because of the raiding, but the timing was just wrong. Flex would have given the opportunity to play casually with a bit of seriousness in it, and I often wished that had my friend waited a bit longer, he could have played with us. I've always considered that a personal failure, and have mulled over it constantly, wondering, if I had the same opportunity again, how I would handle it.
However, we can also cater to our more serious players, the ones who are competitive and want to push harder stuff. Hell, most of the time I don't feel like I play on that field (everyone knows my mouse turning short comings and it takes me a few more goes than most to get the hang of fights like Amber-Shaper in HoF and the Mogu Emperors dance in MSV). Here at least we can push ourselves and trust in the others to do their job (most of the time) so that we can do ours.
One of the mistakes I've seen with guilds like ours who have different types of players is to splinter off and have an "elite" progress team for raiding. The "we're too good to be seen with you" mentality inevitably drives a wedge between the raiding team and the second raiding team, so that if the elite team needs some spares or subs to fill in for players, the other group will likely have the "#@%$ you" attitude because they weren't good enough then, but now they could stick it to the leet team. Inevitably, a guild like that would not survive.
The other extreme is with another guild, who have players in key roles but really, were playing below standard. I was horrified at one of the players' ability, and had a quiet word to the GM about it, who said that the problem was well known but people didn't know what to do about it. When confronted, the person did not want to change. The sad thing is, that because of that person, the good players from their raid team started to leave and look for new homes. Having to recruit again meant a whole new lot of undergeared and inexperienced players to train up again, which could potentially perpetuate the problem, as the experienced ones started to feel disillusioned. I'm hoping that things work out for them, but I do worry that it's a big stress which could lead to a guild collapse.
Looking at those two very different guilds taught me a lot.
Highly competitive players, who have low tolerance for those who don't work as hard as them, and resent the fact they have to "carry" a raid, are not the kind of people that would work in my guild. Especially if you look at a raid like a job application - where only the cream of the skill mix get to go, and if someone better comes along, they get slotted in over the lowest performer in the group. Those people are best served and most happy in a guild where everyone is of similar abilities to them, and there is a bit of competition so they feel like they're earning their place, in an area with like minded people. There is NOTHING wrong with that - it's just that the attitude of that person would not make them suitable for how I like to run my guild. Players like that, would never think to help the Flex runs that we run, and would probably think those players are not worthy of attention.
Less skilled players can be really tricky. Everyone thinks they play well - until they start to compare to others and you realise how far ahead of behind they are. Yes, people should be told that they are performing below par, and yes, they should try to fix themselves. But there are ways to tell people. It's a big difference between
"Hey, your healing is really bad, if you don't pick up, you're off the raid team."
"Hey, I'm surprised that with your gear level your numbers aren't as good as I would expect them to be - can I make a few suggestions?"
People can be prickly about their playstyle - I know this. But someone that really belongs on our raid team is someone who can take suggestions in stride, and adjust and try to improve themselves. Someone who can take suggestions and try their best to do better. And, someone who understands that despite their best efforts, they aren't up to the task, and can step down graciously and accept they've tried their best but it isn't good enough for the raid team, but are happy to come and help with our Flex raid. And, if they have difficulty following the instructions on multiple attempts, or if it's a gear problem in a more difficult part of the raid, we have made it clear early on that we expect those people to sit out until they gear up more on earlier parts of Flex so they will be able to survive the later parts without becoming a burden. I say it at the start of every Flex, so nobody can tell me they didn't know, and if they don't like it, they can leave.
You'd think most people would be nice like this, right? But they're not. So far we have had only lovely people join our flex raids. It's our normal raids where things get hairy. People get shitty when they turn up for raid at 9pm and then get asked to sit out, even though we have warned EVERYONE that this may happen, and that every now and then we might need people (though I cannot WAIT for WoD so we don't have to do that anymore! I know people are busy and waiting around for a raid that they might be able to attend is a waste of their time but the ones who are committed will get to sub in and raid eventually) . People get angry when told to do a certain task in a raid because it's beneath them. People think they're entitled to get something over someone else because they're a better player. Well, I try my best to run a fair guild and the only thing that skews my opinion is guild loyalty. Being dedicated to making our guild a good place for everyone, respecting the rules and helping the guild as a whole over helping yourself is what makes you a member of Frostwolves. And at this point in time, I can happily say that I am proud of every single one of my guild members, for helping my guild to be the great place it is at this moment.