Guild Chat: Can MMO progression-seeking become ‘bullying’?

Pull up a chair, help yourself to a leftover mince pie, and make yourself comfortable for another edition of Guild Chat, the place in which we gather together to test our brains with some reader’s guild issues. No matter the problem, we’re sure to come up with some solid advice between us. We’ll get straight to it: This time around, I received an email from someone who only identified themselves by the pseudonym Amatherand lest his or her guildmates recognise the submission. Amatherand needs our opinion on what constitutes a high drive for further in-game progression and what warning signs there might be for such progression-seeking behaviour pushing into bullying territory. Check out Amatherand’s full submission below or scroll on down for my advice. Don’t forget to add your two cents to the comments!

Tina, I’ve recently been witness and party to some guild drama that I think you can help me with. We are a pretty new raiding guild with a competitive PvP wing and want good progress. I am the leader of the guild and as such I choose the teams for raiding and official PvPing. I set standards for my guild because I want to push us to the best we can be, so I look at every member’s gear, previous efforts, etc. to be sure they won’t drag us down. There is a group of unhappy members of the guild that think I should run as many groups as I have willing people for but I don’t want to overstretch myself. I make it clear what we need but those who don’t get a spot are starting to call me a bully for pointing them out as weaker links. Am I taking it too far, or am I right to be picky?

— Amatherand

Well, Amatherand, I can see both sides of this coin: On one hand, you want to do well and wish to concentrate on the strongest teams you can field, but on the other some of your guild members are feeling unrepresented. In this case, however, I think you might need to do some legwork yourself to fix the situation. For me, this issue that’s cropping up goes back to you forgetting the new guild basics I outlined for spotting a great guild, so I’ll briefly take you through the relevant points of that advice before I launch into potential solutions and the bullying debate.

Guild Chat direction

Expectations are tricky to manage without solid guild direction

I’m fairly sure that you’ve nailed the active guild leader and community sections if you’re able to field squads for both PvE and PvP content, so I’ll leave those sections in the obvious pile and move on to the points I think you’re having problems achieving. I wonder, Amatherand, if you have really outlined your guild’s ethos clearly for your members, and I am also thinking that you weren’t as choosy as you could have been in the recruitment stages. Did you use a set of criteria to choose your guild members and whittle down applicants, or did you simply add anyone who wished to join you? Do you have guild rules and a mission statement of sorts, or have you otherwise made your intentions clear to the member-base?

The fix for these issues is a quick one, so don’t panic if you did fall into any of those pits. Get together with your officers to tighten up the rules and vision if they’re unclear or non-existent and then present them to your guild members for evaluation. You’ll soon find that folks will vote with their feet, so you’ll end up with a group of players who wish to explore your MMO of choice in the same way you do. The cull might be painful, but at least then you’ll have the players that fit best with your goals and those who don’t decide to stay can find a guild that better suits them.

Guild Chat vision

Agreeing on the vision but not the methods

It could be the case that you have already clearly outlined your expectations but you’re still meeting ill feeling and resentment from your roster. This is a totally separate issue that could boil down to the way in which you approach your progress or perhaps the personalities involved in your particular guild. Perhaps the standards you have set aren’t as reasonable for the type of content and predicted level of progression you’ve suggested, so your members are justifiably frustrated at being denied in-guild access to content that would be open to them in another guild.

You can check this by getting chatty with other guild leaders or by putting the question of what general prerequisites your game requires of competent raiders or dedicated PvPers to your MMO’s community via the game’s forum. Fell free to message me with further details about what game you play and I can help if you’d rather not have to ask publicly. If you find that you’re asking for unreasonable time commitments, gear or other item prerequisites, or something else that is above and beyond what the entry level is without having previous history of clearing high level endgame content, you’re setting yourself and your fledgling guild up for a fall.

Guild Chat achievement

In-game achievement isn’t as fun as cohesive community

Getting back to the bullying murmurs, I want you to think about how you put across your requirements for making your teams and how you give feedback to potential raiders or PvPers who don’t make the cut. This is not to say that I think you’re actively or deliberately bullying your guildmates, but I do think your manner and intentions might be coming across incorrectly. If you’ve achieved full raid clears and excellent PvP results before, I get that you might want to set high standards to help secure the same sort of progress for your new guild, but you’ll need to approach this very sensitively so as not to alienate your new and perhaps less experienced roster. If someone doesn’t make the cut, highlight exactly what they can do to change the no to a yes, and for extra pro-leader cool points, offer to do light trial runs once a fortnight or however often suits for potential candidates to cut their teeth under your watchful eye.

I’ll leave you to mull over whether or not clean guild progression outweighs a strong, supportive community feel. Of course you can achieve both with time and effort, but I almost always find that building a sense of commonality and cohesion first is best. You can’t force progression by ruling with an iron fist or only selecting those who look amazing on paper, and ill feeling within the ranks will make the job of working solidly as a team all the more difficult for those you do select.

No matter how much time I put into my MMOs, I always remember that they are simply games at the end of my playtime, and if my games start feeling too rigid and stressful I change something. Don’t let your vision for your new guild get in the way of fun and the immense social aspect of guild management. I prefer to run several different raids groups and have repeatedly sacrificed my own progression to ensure that my weaker-on-paper but dedicated guildies weren’t left on the bench indefinitely, but I had so much fun doing it that the results didn’t matter at first. They soon sorted themselves out as we bonded and worked better together anyway! Relax your style and you’ll be much happier in the end. Good luck!

Over to you!

What advice would you add for Amatherand? Do you think the guild roster are too sensitive, or could he or she relax the rules a little? Let us both know in the comments!

Many thanks to Amatherand for this edition’s topic! Don’t forget to send in your guild dilemmas, stories, or topics for future Guild Chat editions.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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127 Comments on "Guild Chat: Can MMO progression-seeking become ‘bullying’?"

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RicharddeLeonIII
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RicharddeLeonIII

Samizdat RicharddeLeonIII Damonvile Agreed, but you have to admit, the rotten apples tend to stand out more in any example, both casual and hardcore.  The problem is with casual content you can trudge on and finish the content.  In hardcore content you have no choice but to suffer any negatives to do it, otherwise youre out of luck on seeing that aspect of the game.

dorn2
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dorn2

Radfist dorn2 
Actually you can have solo challenges in a group.  I actually think this is the biggest area where WoW and Wildstar fail.
Suppose you’re fighting a boss and he has a particularly hard mechanic.  Every player can choose whether to ignore or to do this mechanic individually.  If they succeed they get better loot. 

Group challenges are fine if they have no progression obviously.  I just don’t believe many people really want to deal with the work of creating the equivalent of semi-pro “teams” in an MMO though.  I mean just being semi-pro already means they’re a small group of people.  The unfortunate reality is the more difficulty you want the less people there are to financially support it.

Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

I do not know where you get this “2 million players” equals success number. To my knowledge only WoW ever had over 2 million. Everquest at it’s peak was a bit over 1 million. Maybe some Asian games have high numbers like that. But Western MMO’s are successful if they can maintain a few hundred thousand subscribers. And that is for a AAA release. Indie games can thrive with less than 100 K.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

Radfist dorn2 
I doubt the player mentality, of the ones that were already playing, actually changed.

What changed, instead, is that MMOs started tapping into the larger part of the potential player base that aren’t interested in being forced into groups to progress. It roughly coincides with the expected player base of a successful MMO jumping from a few tens of thousands to a cool million or two, which should confirm that the make up of the player base changed a lot.

What also changed is the amount of games, of options, which allows players to discard games that try to force on them things they dislike. I include myself among those players; I used to put up with much crap the devs came up with because, in truth, there wasn’t an alternative. Now, given the wider range of games available, I merely tell the dev what (and why) I consider crap in their game and move on to something that better fits what I want of a game. For example, I doubt I will ever play again a MMO with such a boring and thankless “fast” travel system as WoW. Or, for what matters, a MMO that promotes raids.

So, you want to make a MMO based on those old values, be prepared to have a small player base (and budget) for current standards.

Radfist
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Radfist

dorn2 Radfist  Like I said, I don’t care if there’s no progression tied to it. Some players do. I don’t mind solo challenges either, but there also needs to be group challenges.  That’s kind of the whole point of MMOs, playing with other people and working as a team. 

But my experience from games like GW1 is that players will complain if something is too challenging even if it offers no gear progression at all and only cosmetic options.  There will always be players that want to play the game to the best of their ability, and others who just want to do the bare minimum and relax.
I’m not entirely sure you can even make both camps happy in the same game whilst the more casual players have their current entitlement mentality.  Back in the days of EQ1 the more casual players were content to do what content they could and do some crafting.  Now players demand to be able to see a solo easy version of all the content within a game.  It stops being a game and ends up being a glorified slot machine. Hit one button, win a prize!

Covenant_U
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Covenant_U

Zardoz1972 nerve.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

No nerve, just facts. Where did I list my employer or experience? No resume here. Just someone who can write and does not reside in his Mother’s basement.

Covenant_U
Guest
Covenant_U

Zardoz1972 Sorry, I seem to have struck a nerve and upset you for you to give your online and RL resume.  You do well “in Corporate” and lead a Guild in “the MMO landscape.”  Wow.  You are the very Personification of my argument.

dorn2
Guest
dorn2

Radfist dorn2 
I never said anything about removing challenge.  I just don’t think we should tie it to character progression.  Also I think we should have challenging content that doesn’t require a group.  Or perhaps the challenges can be individual and not affect other players.

dorn2
Guest
dorn2

Samizdat dorn2 
Good for you?  Why do you get a special snowflake level cap for challenging yourself?  I like to challenge myself but frankly I don’t like most people that do.  They usually have an attitude similar to yours.  Entitled, selfish and even worse: teenagers.  I’d rather play a game with people who aren’t a bunch of pricks. 
It’s not toxic to say they’ll never be good enough.  The reality is they don’t want to play the game at that level.  For 99.9%  of the player base they just won’t enjoy putting in that kind of effort.  Has nothing to do with capability or “skill”.  It’s just raw boredom that stops them.