I never thought it would come down to this.
I am actually managing 2 jobs lately. Ever since we founded our own World of Warcraft guild, I am guildmaster. And despite all the really really nice people there, it is more and more becoming a second job. It’s a lot of work when everything is working out fine, but in the nicest of guilds there are sometimes problems creeping up.
Most of the problems center around people leaving or joining the guild or members who are unhappy in some way with the guild. Members are the one of the few assets a WoW guild has, so the number of members is a closely watched thing and most everyone always knows how many people are in the guild, how many of those are how active and … well on how many people you can count on for groups … after all WoW is a multiplayer game and you want to play with others.
There’s a lot of hostility over players changing guilds …. among guilds and among players. Some guilds are trying to snatch other guild’s players away, some players are trying to take advantage where they can … guilds are trying to avoid hostile takeovers by having enough members give everyone access to the content they desire.
But the last never quite works out. There are always players feeling left alone or thinking they miss out on content. Sometimes their goals just differ from our goals as a guild. The most important thing is to find out about those problems as soon as possible. Of course it is a rare player who actually speaks up … most often there are other problems occurring at the root of which lies a malcontent player. Even more often the players simply leave and join a different guild without the guild having a chance to actually do something about it.
Then there are discussions in the guild about all kinds of things.
The happy people must be kept happy.
To keep them happy events must be organized.
New members must be integrated and taught about the guild and how it works.
It is just a lot to do all the time, and every time I think that there might finally be a break to it, something new comes up …
Of course one cannot satisfy everyone. But sometimes it seems like one can satisfy nobody. It can be quite frustrating and the moments that it is not are rare.
So play becomes an endless series of chats, problem solving and work. Play becomes less play every day and more and more a job that I do because I feel I cannot let down the people who chose me to do it. It’s not that I believe there is nobody there who could do my job or that the guild would automatically break apart if I quit the job as guildmaster.
Still the “breaking apart”-thing has some probability. First problem: some people seem to believe it all centers on a few people who are managing the guild right now and that without them it would be such a different guild – even if they still were members! – that they wouldn’t want to be part of it anymore. I had a hard time myself letting go of that stupid idea. The second problem is: finding someone else to do the job.
In my opinion we could easily conduct elections regularly – it is one of the easiest forms of feedback for leaders of any group. If you are doing right usually you will be elected again. If someone else is motivated enough to try out for your job well let them … if they get elected they have their chance to show they can do better than you – if they do that is great because you just found some way to improve the guild. If they do not better well: there are always new elections coming up to relieve and the guild them of their burden. Afterwards everyone should have learned a lesson.
The trouble with that is that guilds are rarely very stable and most stability comes from the leaders of the guild, so the risk of getting a bad guildmaster elected is pretty huge. I think it would still be worth it to test it, if someone would be willing to run for that office and I would have loads less stress. Of course regularly changing guildmasters could also mean that one day nobody is willing to do the job anymore … another risk to be taken in my opinion.
It is fascinating and sad to see how few people really believe that a society as a whole may be able to make democratic decisions that are acutally “good” for the society … If I left my office, I could – according to our rules – choose who would be my “heir” alternatively I could have the players conduct elections. I was chosen in a democratic election but it was a hard piece of work to convince all people who had a say in the rules that the first guildmaster should be chosen democratically. I heard very very often that they didn’t trust people to chose the “right” person to do the job. But that’s the basis of all democracy that a society as a whole will chose the right person for that job because the person chosen will be “right” for exactly the people who had a say … the chosen person being a reflection of the goals of the group who elected that person as their leader.
I encountered the same trouble again and again. Every time I want to have something decided by our members people keep saying: “will they chose right?” of course they will, they will chose that which the majority wants and therefore makes the most people happy. My job as a guildmaster should not be to decide rather to present the options and take care all sides are represented and all consequences of decisions are known so that the people, the members of the guild, can make a well-informed decision. I do believe that we manage to explain our values our guild culture to our new members and I hope that we mostly invite people into the guild who share those same values and goals as we defined when we first wrote up our guild charter (it is a game: if someone does not share our goals and our ideas of what is fun in the game there are tons of other guilds who will make that person happier than our guild, still we have never ever turned anyone away. Still, I do not want to convince others of my play style: either they enjoy it themselves that way or they may not have as much fun with the game in our guild …). So if there are different opinions among people who mostly share the same gaming culture and values … just let the majority decide which way to chose …
I do believe that with such a small group (ca. 25 people at the moment) which is carefully selected and in the frame of the gaming society consists of people of the same culture, they cannot choose “false” when all facts are known and presented and there is no intrigue – which there isn’t at least not to my knowledge. For me the choice consists of finding out which of the two options satisfies the needs of the most people. And that is the rule I will go by.
In that way the game world is so much easier to manage than reality.
As of now we still decide a lot of things in a forum known as “inner circle” which is read only by me and my officers. I am trying to remedy that. But it is hard to follow up on the believe. There are so many things done “faster” if discussed only with a small group of people chosen by the others to do exactly that. Thats the principle of representation.
In our charter we do not have regular elections for any of the official positions in the guild. We did that for all kinds of reasons I think. Maybe that should be changed so we would be a truly democratic guild and all members would be more involved. But the last presents a problem: will that happen? Why change the people running the guild if nobody is interested? Well I am going to find out whether anyone is interested.
The sad thing is: if I openly start asking about that it will cause an uproar among the officers …