Is personal loot killing raiding guilds?

It’s been a rough couple of months both in and outside of the game.  I was sick with one thing or another for about a 2 month stretch and have finally kicked the illness!  The only thing is, now that I’m finally well again I’m tempted to invest in surgical masks to keep it that way.  My daughter brings home all forms of sickness from daycare and it just goes with the territory in this phase of life.  

Before the holidays I told you all how my guild entered into a guild merger which seems to have failed spectacularly but not in the way that you would think.  We were as egalitarian as we could be in these sorts of mergers and acquisitions.  Myself and the GM of the guild that were combining forces with entered into a co-gm type relationship which before now I would have balked at for being an smoke screen for disguising who was really in charge.  Turns out that it was me by default, since the other GM seems to have vanished into thin air.  On our third week as a new guild we had abysmal attendance and all of the former officers and big guild contributors had quit and were citing the game as the problem.  We had 30 people the first week ready to play together, and then 21 the second week and now 8 the third.  

I’m finally feeling great again, health wise, but find myself with the scraps of a guild, all my friends have decided that World of Warcraft is now boring and not worth their time (including my husband).   I still want to play, so what’s a girl to do?  For the last several weeks I’ve been joining pug raids, pug being the gamer term for Pick Up Groups, and have been enjoying these random encounters and variety of players I meet.  

I’ve been spending time on alts and should be spending time making money in the game but it’s so different from what I typically what do to make money that I haven’t spent the time to learn new methods of gold generation.  

Remember racing to a chest and hoping that you would be quick enough to grab it’s contents before the person next to you?  Oh the good ol’ days

I’ve also been day dreaming about World of Warcraft Classic and remembering a simpler time where people needed to actually show up if they wanted to get some loot.  Personal loot may very well be the death of a large number of raiding guilds since much of the incentive to stick with the same group was loot driven.  Why would anyone stick with a group if you could just walk into any guild and instantly get gear without having to go through a month long trial period or wait your turn for the most sought after items when your guild is using DKP or loot council?  What personal loot does is cater to the casual player and kills social communities that are bound together by their desire to better their characters through raiding.  It’s not all bad I guess, since I’m able to pug raid on my alts and not worry about having items I can use ninja’d away from me, which was the big argument for switching to this system.  As upsetting as dealing with this unfairness was, it pushed me to create strong ties in a community where I can play with the same people each week and make friends that kept me playing the game.  Assuming that personal loot remains a thing going forward, is WoW going to be a strong enough game to keep those casual players playing without the strong social ties that we typically create in raiding guilds? 

Happy turkey day!

Holiday time of year is hard for raiders. People tend to be busy with family and obligations outside of gaming. Time away from games makes it easier to stay away from games. I told you all a few weeks ago about our successful merger with another guild. We had a collective group of about 35 players but soon found that a lot would leave for one reason or another. While we are not quite as bad on attendance as we were pre-merger, we still are barely scraping by most nights. We lost some great players but from what I can tell, they were half out the door already.

Life has been a bit hectic for me between battling some form of illness going on 7 weeks, work and family. I celebrated both my own and my daughters birthday last week and I’m getting to the point where I’m old enough to not want to advertise my age ;). This holiday will be packed with extended family and Christmas will be a flight back to my home town. I’m missing my lazy summer weekends and hope to get back to that amount of leisure time soon. I hope you all find time to do the things that you want this holiday week! I’ve been thinking about you all lately and hope to be writing more soon.

Guild mergers and acquisitions

It’s finally happened! I found the Goldilocks guild that compliments my guild perfectly. This last couple weeks have been exhausting both, looking for that merger candidate and recruiting players at the same time. After all this hard work and long hours spent on the non-game part of the game, we finally get to actually PLAY!

I found these guys by chance. After all the work I went through sorting through guilds on wowprogress.com and looking through logs and tracking down the guild leaders, I happened to see a guy shouting in game that they were looking for players. What stuck out to me was that their play times were very close to when we play.  By chance, we also had another long time player that joined these guys earlier in the expansion, so we had that mutual tie.

Within 10 minutes of taking to these guys I decided that I liked them and that they run their group similar to how we run ours. In under an hour we had all the leadership in agreement that we were going to give this a go.

We both decided that we had to go into this with a clear plan. We took our combined people and created our first raid group with basically an even split of players from each guild. Everyone involved in leadership worked fast to get this first group in place. Then we were off to the races!

Our first raid was on a Tuesday and I tried my best to take a step back and let the other guild leadership lead the group through the fight.   I talked less than normal and focused on my own performance as a player.  I felt a renewed vigor in myself and felt great.  I had more fun this night than any other night in the past 6 months in game.  I think we all felt this way.  Remember how I said that guild recruitment is like dating?  I think we found a keeper.

IS THAT A GIRL GUILD LEADER?!?

I’ve been attacking this attendance problem that we’ve been having from multiple angles. The past several weeks we have been consistently short by about 3 or 4 people to do the super hard part of the game.  I even spent a couple hours compiling a list of other guilds that we could possibly merge with based on their schedule and their progress in game. And so tonight I started going down the list reaching out to see if anyone would talk to me about possibly teaming up. I talked to a couple different guilds, some didn’t seem to be a good fit due to a difference in schedules and some had different goals in the game.  Most felt that they couldn’t accommodate so many people and wanted to continue on their current path.

One guild that I talked to stuck out in my mind in a big way.  It was a great example of harassment that we women players encounter from time to time.  First impressions do matter and this one sucked.  I started the conversation in chat and they asked me to hop on their voice chat server.  I joined their channel which had 5 other guys and said “hello” with my distinctly female voice.  I was responded to by a some sort of joke about male genitalia, for which I will not repeat followed by snickers and my silence. My first thought was ‘they’re guy gamers, whatever. I’m familiar with this type of talk.‘ What I should have done was said “oh sorry I got to go” or made up some other excuse and left.  Instead, I talked logistics with this group, the guild leader who just tried to mess with me.  In the moment I felt like I was in control of the situation but after setting up a time to play together this week and left the chat I had some serious regret for even continuing the conversation.

It took me all of 10 minutes to come to my senses. The more that I thought about it the more sketched out I became. The first words out of this guild leader’s mouth after he heard me speak was something sexist and gross.  That stuff doesn’t usually bother me but I’m probably be putting myself in a bad position if I were to continue playing with the dirtbag.  I quickly messaged the scummy guild leader and canceled the plans for our guild to play together.  I knew in my heart that this wasn’t going to be a group that I would be happy playing with.  I felt stupid for putting myself in a position like that with guys who took pleasure in pushing my buttons.  I’ve dealt with people that don’t show me any sort of respect before and it’s not something I would want to willingly be a part of.

It’s taking time, but I’m adjusting my thinking about what types of behaviors are acceptable to me when I’m playing video games. I have, on occasion, used poor judgement and gotten myself into some uncomfortable situations.  And this all is part of life and part of growing up and learning.  I’m still educating myself and adjusting to a higher standard that I want for myself and those that I play with.  Life’s too short to play games with people that treat you poorly.

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back

Each week my guild has been getting just a little bit better and a little bit bigger.  We has a large amount of interest in our guild the first few weeks that we were raiding in the new expansion.  I was talking to several people per day about how we run our group and what we expect of our members.  Some players I turned away, if they had never raided before or if they seemed to have a “my shhht don’t stink” type of attitude.  I wasn’t putting a whole lot of effort into seeking out recruits, they were mostly coming to me.  Things seem to be going in the right direction until a couple weeks ago when our steady stream of recruits seemed to dry up.  I went from talking to several people per day to talking to maybe 1 or 2 per week.

Last weekend I busted my butt to get our numbers up.  I had a goal of bring in 6 new people and ended up finding 8!  It was a lot of time and effort to get this many people but it would be worth it if we could just fill our raid group for both of our scheduled nights.  Tuesday started out well.  We got down the bosses that we killed in the previous weeks and moved on to start learning some new bosses.  We had exactly the number of people we needed to play but our group set up was far from ideal.  We were a healer short and melee heavy for 2 out of the 3 fights available for us to work on.  It was a rough 1 of progression but we got through it, which was more than can be said for the previous week.

Thursday was a different story.  Of the 8 people that I recruited the weekend before, only 2 showed up, 2 had work conflicts and the other 4 were just nowhere to be found.  We ended up running our heroic clear with less than clean execution.  We brought in a few friends of players that were just not great players and we were carrying them pretty hard.  I ended up sitting one of the friends due to poor performance and being dead the whole fight.  We also had one of our tanks leave in the middle of Thursday -_-  tanks should be the most reliable players in any raid group.  It’s such a coveted position, why risk it with absences?  I’m at a lose for which direction to go.

I’ve talked to a few different guilds about possible merger/collaboration but most seem to want to cherry pick our best players and leave the rest, and that’s not the direction that I want to move in.  If only I could get like 8 players that are here on our 2 nights that we have scheduled content…then we could move forward and work on some new bosses.

I keep telling myself baby steps will get us there, but it is super slow and I want to already be there.

Being a Woman in Gaming

Typically there would be at least one other female gamer in the guild that I was in.  I don’t know if this is because we tended to find each other due to the type of leadership that the guild had.  I had refused to play with certain guilds due to how I was treated, or if they had provocative pictures on their forum.  I am fine with pictures of beautiful women but I’ll be out the door if they is pornography in your player forums…just….no.

In my experience there is always a lot of flirting in games.  When your guild has a male to female ratio of 15:1 you tend to see the women getting a lot of attention.  I have benefited from lots of help over the years in the game, I will assume that it was due to being a female.  I always try to pay it back or pay it forward but I’m sure there is an imbalance in my favor.

Along with the attention, women can also be the target of unwanted harassment.  There have been more than a few times where I received inappropriate and unwanted private messages.  It was even worst if it came from people that I played with on a regular basis or members of my guild.  It was a difficult position to be put in.  If a woman deflects advances she gets called a bitch and I’ve seen this type of negative notions get spread throughout a guild because rather than nurse a bruised male ego quietly, it was done with rumors and trash talk.  For about 2 years I refused to play in the same guild as my husband (boyfriend at the time) because there was this ONE GUY that would call me a “little c**t” every time I joined up with them to do group content.  I told him to cut it out, but he saw that it irritated me so he kept doing it.  One of the benefits of being the guild leader is that people don’t test my boundaries like this.  If they were to call me any sort of derogatory term they would be out the door faster a speeding ticket.

I’ve been exploring the world of how female players are treated in gaming to gain a broader understanding beyond my own experiences.  I found the Not in the Kitchen Anymore where a Jenny Haniver publishes clips of negative interactions that she has with other gamers.  I will tell you that I’ve listened to these clips and was shocked to find that my initial thoughts were “yea I hear this all the time” and it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.  Have I grown complacent to the verbal abuse that we face in these games as women?

So why do these men berate women in these games?  Is it a power thing?  Are the motivations to cat call women on the street or call them whores in video games the same?  I’ve often heard that women would be better off if they confronted the abuser and to this I am conflicted.  A few weeks ago I was the target of unwanted advances while at a fair grounds.  I will tell you that I did not give him an ear full for a few reasons, first – he was operating a ride that my child was on and I didn’t want her to become a target for retaliation after I rejected this man.  Second – I didn’t know what this guy was capable of, was he prone to violence?  or stalking?  I don’t know and I’d rather not put myself in a position to find out.

A Tale of Two Guilds

I hadn’t been looking for a merger but one seemed to find me. Our guild was doing well making steady progress through the game, killing a few new bosses with each week that passed. My officer and I were hard at work tapping into a health pool of eager raiders. Since heroic raids both were cross-server and flexible in size. We were able to bring in player without too much investment. Many years ago a player could only play with a guild if they were all on the same server. This meant that in order to even get a shot at raiding you had to shell out $25 to move your character to a new server. Time have changed and the barriers that once kept us apart have evaporated…unless you want to do the hardest content. We are close to completing the heroic difficulty of Uldir which would mean we are ready to start those super hardcore mythic raids that only 1% of players experience. We want to get there but we have a logistics challenge – we need more players. Unlike the heroic version of Uldir which scales up and down between 10 and 30 players, the mythic raids are for 20 players and 20 players only. We are a bit short of the mark and my officer and I have been pounding the internet pavement looking for those perfect players for our guild.

When we started building up our roster I talked about how one way to get a big influx of players was to merge with another guild. Merging is a scary thing. You work hard to build up the type of community and culture that you want and if you look to combine forces with another group there are usually sacrifices that need to be made. One of the big questions that is usually at the forefront is “who will be the guild leader?” Back when my guild was struggling in Wildstar we looked to merge with another guild who wanted to retain absolute control and make me an officer. This was a deal breaker for us and something that the other guild was unwilling to compromise on so we ended up not merging.

We have in the past absorbed some struggling guilds and found these type of transactions benefit us greatly.

This merger was messy, as combining 2 groups usually is. There were some people pushed out and a few pushed up. The greatest circumstance that the leadership of the absorbed guild was that the day before we agreed to bring in the tank to trial, one of our current and I would consider him our “main” tank decided that he didn’t want to raid anymore. This left a vacuum in the tank positions that were then able to be filled by the two tanks from the merger.

Tanks are such a crucial position on a guild. Consider them the leaders in their own right. They control the big epic boss battles from start to finish. Ideally you want someone who can be there 100% of the time, can follow instructions and can communicate clearly both expected changes and changes that need to be made on the fly. There is a lot of coordination between tanks so having a pair that can work well together is also crucial. If you have two people that are forced to be partnered on a project and they dislike each other that will cause your guild nothing but problems.