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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
Guest
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
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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.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

I do very well in Corporate. I lead a Guild in the MMO landscape and I'm sure I outscored you in the "reading comprehension" part of the SAT. English must not be your first language. Re-read what you just wrote for grammar, just "LOL".

quark1020
Guest
quark1020

Estranged Specifically in WoW, raid finder. Continuing with WoW, recruits that want to do hard modes, mythics, or whatever the cool kids are calling it these days should really know better. Not to mention there is always that lingering worry that, once a particular player has gained the achievement/gear/skill to get into challenging raiding, will leave the guild to join another guild with a stricter barrier to entry and further tier in raiding. Finally, its possible the guild leader just wants to raid in higher tiers, not necessarily train a team to do it in.

Either way, I don't envy his position. Its one of the reasons I don't raid in higher tiers, the others being not having enough interest in it outside of lore/story reasons. My scrub ass is content with raid finder.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

ManastuUtakata Detton Karl_Hungus

Covenant_U
Guest
Covenant_U

Zardoz1972  Good catch, let me add "a measurable" to the list above.
Seriously, reading comp was not your strong suit apparently.  I don't have a problem with real leadership, honest goals and true talent IF they serve to further enjoyment of the game.  My point is that these words are many times used in connection activities that are conducted in the service of a small minority of power player's interests.  They get to measure and they are usually (but not always) preoccupied with epeen length.

And thanks Detton for pointing out that the fact Zardoz notes these are the same words used in a corporate environment, as essentially this was exactly my point.   It's a game.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Detton Karl_Hungus ManastuUtakata 
....

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Karl_Hungus ManastuUtakata schlag sweetleaf 
...which remids me,  I think I know what ISIS's branding issue is. That is, they need recruit more "white dudes", then they'll just called a *militia*. /facepalm

Zardoz1972
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Zardoz1972

I'm talking about values. Success is a measurable. Those words are common. People on the Internet seem very sensitive. Did someone's Mom refuse to make waffles this morning?

Detton
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Detton

Karl_Hungus ManastuUtakata I can play sexy sax music.  Let's see what happens.

Detton
Guest
Detton

Zardoz1972 I think that's the point - it's NOT a business.  You're NOT being paid, you're playing a video game, and chances are pretty high that you're not making a living off of it.

Detton
Guest
Detton

108 comments, some of which probably cover this, but here's my two bits:

It sounds like you might need more people in a position of leadership to take some of the burden off your shoulders.  I'm probably mistaken, but by the language of the email, it reads like they would be the one expected to lead every extra group that goes out.   That's asking a lot of a single person - unless you're getting paid to play, it's a video game, not a job, even as a guild leader.   However, as guild leader, it would not be asking too much of you to delegate the responsibilities of this to others.

If nobody wants to help the fledgling group find it's ground, then that probably gets back to Tina's point on maybe the recruitment or guild vision not being clear or followed.

Karl_Hungus
Guest
Karl_Hungus

ManastuUtakata Karl_Hungus 
I see. So you're a pro-bacteria lifer, eh? I guess we aren't soul mates after all. Although, they do say opposites attract... hmmmmmmm :P

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

ManastuUtakata schlag sweetleaf 
Hey they're just observing their constitutional right to peacefully assemble in militias lol

Foggye
Guest
Foggye

Craywulf Having being burnt out on DAoC, my guild moved to WoW back in the day.  We started out as a small contingent in a trying to make a push in Vanilla until we did our own thing come the expansion.  What my Guild Leader and friend managed to successfully do is give the little guys a shot.  He'd often taken in personalities that he pugged with, or sometimes entire smaller guilds (I used to call him Galactius, Eater of Guilds) just because he liked them.   We progressed well for only raiding like 2-3 days a week, so we'd often include these people in previously cleared content ("on farm") so they can get a taste of the action.  Once they got used to the system, many in suitably fit into the primary group if need be.  Some even replaced others as real life happened.  No guild is perfect (it did get a bit cliquish at times), but what old Wrath did was take some unknowns and give them a shot at being groomed to what we needed as a collective.  Another game (Strongholds), the same guy took what was thought of the dregs and problem childs of the house alliance and turned them into an effective fighting force.  

So I'm fortunate, to not had to experience a lot either side of the coin too much back when I was in a guild.

Samizdat
Guest
Samizdat

dorn2 Hardly. I like to play games where players who invest the time and effort to improve their abilities rise to the top. Anyone is capable of getting to that level if they're dedicated enough -- spend less time "worshipping" and more time challenging your own capabilities. Similarly, I do pick friends in games based on their ability. I enjoy working with people that push me to be better.

Now, if you want to talk about "toxic" (a now meaningless word) attitudes, we could probably start with "They'll never be good enough", and then move on to bolding every other word or phrase in a post..

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata
ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Karl_Hungus ManastuUtakata 
Yes, you read that right. Your false comparison is ridiculous. What can I say?

schlag sweetleaf
Guest
schlag sweetleaf

? ?

Karl_Hungus
Guest
Karl_Hungus

ManastuUtakata Karl_Hungus 
What?

Karl_Hungus
Guest
Karl_Hungus

ManastuUtakata schlag sweetleaf 
Also known as a hippie's favorite shower... if they showered

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Bannex19 Just illustrating my personal preference. Neither is better inherently. Just better for me.

Bannex19
Guest
Bannex19

Funny how it always degenerates to a pissing contest with kids.
I thank you for your service but a parking lot brawl would prove nothing but stupidity.
I get it, you're comfortable with military culture and would prefer those types over we civilians but make no mistake, it is just one answer out of a billion to a very open ended question.

Craywulf
Guest
Craywulf

One most short-sighted things I've seen Guild Leaders do is deny participation to the lower-end of their roster. Basically letting them know they aren't good enough. Well if you want a well oiled machine you need all the parts moving...that means getting the lower-end players involved so they do improve. Think of it more like an assembly line system where everyone knows how to play multiple roles, not just their own specialty. Lastly when a team gets dragged down by player, it's not solely their fault, it's also the teammates who assume they are too good not to pick up the slack. I tell you this a top-end player who can pick up the slack is going do really well when faced in competitive situation because most other guilds assume the one player dragging behind will be ignored, and they will regret ignoring them if a top-end comes to a successful rescue. So the bottom line is everyone need to play together as much as possible so you can face any scenario.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Since bullying is a strong word here...I am suspecting either the guildies are using words that are not appropriate to describe their guild leadership, or the leader is indeed being extremely harsh in his or her approach, or the leader is misinterpreting critical feedback. Since we're not privy to what actually is going, my only advise to is that of the writer. And guild needs a heart to heart sit down, where leeway and compromise are on the table as long as they are reasonable. A guild objectives is truly met when everyone feels they're on board.

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Karl_Hungus 
....

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

Zardoz1972 
Imodium can make you constipated though...

ManastuUtakata
Guest
ManastuUtakata

schlag sweetleaf 
...especially in the washrooms of bird sanctuaries in Oregon State? o.O

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

Respect. Yeah.
People that are smart enough to win will sacrifice stats. Doesn't require anything other than good raising. Like I said, this is gaming. Don't see veteran types winning e-sports championships, but they figure it out. Most of my military friends avoid game violence, tends to be a trigger.
Haven't played in years, but this is the battleground stats for one of my characters. The nerds managed to get it done.
http://us.battle.net/wow/en/character/garona/Katsomoto/statistic#21:153

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Estranged Sacrificing some individual expression to help the group. Taking a death to delay attackers in needed situations. Taking a death to get in and buff/debuff, etc.  I gear no one. They get build advice and leadership. You play your way. I'll play mine. But I'll take a bunch of military guys in my group over you in a heartbeat. I just respect them more and like how Hardcore everybody is. Hell, if the opposing team wants to meet in a parking lot for a brawl...I'll take my guys for that too ; )

Radfist
Guest
Radfist

Koolthulu Most guilds who want to be 'the best of the best' have backup raiders who know that their job is to fill in when the mains are away.  If they perform well enough they can be made permanent.  They also fill the spots of leaving members since they are geared up with surplus gear. I guess you could call that being carried, but its just common sense for recruitment.  A good guild leader can tell when someone is good even in bad gear.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

I've run premade groups and participated in others. Didn't have many military types. Our win percentages are evidenced in my player profiles. We geared anyone that wanted to have fun and follow direction.
Sacrifice? Don't think you guys are falling on grenades.
The main advantage was instant communication and understanding the strategy.

Radfist
Guest
Radfist

dorn2 Some people actually enjoy a challenge, even in games.  Look at football, anyone can play for fun, but if you want to compete in a competition you will take the best players available to you.  Games are no different.
To be perfectly honest I prefer my games not to be face roll easy.  If a game was designed so casually that everyone can succeed, it would bore me senseless.  I don't really care about being worshiped or whatever, and I wouldn't even care if there was no gear progression.  I just enjoy challenging content, but that requires that everyone else doing the content is at the top of their game too.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

I believe a willingness to teach and help people gear manifests long-term success. Otherwise, you attract the mercenary types to fill spots. Then, you just fall apart.
Have been a story mode raider for years, because I don't need to deal with the screaming in voice chat and time committment of higher level raiding.

Radfist
Guest
Radfist

As long as you set the rules and follow them fairly, then it isn't bullying. If it is a competitive or progression guild, people should be aware that you will take the best person for the job. If the guildies are unhappy with that arrangement they should find a more casual friendly guild? The only reason they wouldn't is because they themselves are elitist and want the best gear.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

The drama is easily avoided. Have found several good guilds that don't tolerate it.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

Estranged I run a PVP Guild in my game. We have many ex-Military. We Dominate. Why? Discipline, Sacrifice, and the ability to follow orders. Those qualities mean success in life, anywhere.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

This isn't the military, it is gaming.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

If you don't have a B team, how else can they gear or learn?

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

Has always befuddled me how any loyalty could be built by snagging higher gear level players from other guilds.

Estranged
Guest
Estranged

I also think this is a control issue.

Zardoz1972
Guest
Zardoz1972

MorpayneRADIO As a Leader it is your job to make your overall group successful through your decisions. Not to pander to each person or clique. It's about the Greater Good. But we are in the "everybody gets a trophy" generation.

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