Guild Chat: Should I quit my MMO because of in-guild bullying?
Welcome along to another advice-filled edition of Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively OP community can both offer pearls of wisdom to fellow readers and air their own guild-related issues in front the masses in the hope that I can be of assistance while also crowdsourcing further great solutions from fellow MMO enthusiasts in the comments. This time, an anonymous reader wishes to discuss in-guild bullying and whether or not he should leave his MMO of choice in order to avoid further nasty confrontations. What started as brief periods of tension within his guild has now bubbled over into full-on personal attacks and our reader in need is unsure of the best method for dealing with the bullying he now faces from his ex-guildmates. Read on for the full submission and my take on the situation facing our mystery submitter.
“This is one of those questions I’d never thought I’d ask, but what is the best thing to do when your guild (well, ex-guild, in my case) is actively bullying you so that you’ll quit? To give you some background, we were a close-knit guild, and I would have called the members friends, until recently. We all used to hang out on Teamspeak and chill together, having a laugh, doing content, but then some tension started one night, when we were a little drunk, and things went from bad to worse. I said something stupid about politics (I’m from the US, lots happened here that way in case you don’t know), this caused 3 members in particular to hate my guts. I apologized, knowing I was an idiot to bring politics into anything, especially since it was my first time drinking, but these people took it way too seriously, calling me out for being racist and basically an inbred moron for what I said, even though I didn’t mean it, since I was just trying to be funny. Anyways, these people involved the guild leader, who kicked me out without even hearing my side of the story, but it doesn’t stop there because they still follow me around in-game, whispering me, sending me hate any way they can, and generally ruining my play time. I spoke to the guild leader about it, but she blames me, and told me she supports them in this. I find this all a bit much, and am now thinking, what would fix this, if I just quit altogether? I tried sorry, it doesn’t work, so don’t tell me to do that again. I want to make it right, but not if they won’t stop ruining my fun, and getting other people to avoid me or message me too.”
This is one of those stories that makes me wish I had the magic ability to go back in time and tell people that their actions have consequences, no matter how trivial or fun it might seem before the fallout. I’m assuming from your submission that you’re young and relatively inexperienced when it comes to more approaching more mature, serious topics sensitively: When you add alcohol and overfamiliarity due to not being able to read body language or facial expressions, it’s easy to see how the conversation might have taken such a u-turn.You certainly won’t be the first person to royally put their foot in it when under the influence, but that’s not to say that gives you a free pass to be offensive, crude, or derogatory without consequence.
A more controversial point I feel I must make is this: If you managed to cause such offense in one night that more than one person has taken it upon themselves to smear your name at any given opportunity, perhaps the views you’re expressing need checking or you need to compare the sort of person you become when drinking to your sober self. Without being on that TeamSpeak channel with you when the incident occurred, I can’t tell much about the event, what was said, and just how obnoxious you were, but I’m willing to bet your behaviour was fairly shocking if a group that were friendly with you beforehand turned against you so swiftly.
I know you feel as though their reaction is over-the-top — and after the point of guild-kicking you I agree with you — but sometimes we really can cause such a great deal of hurt and anger that we go past the point of an apology making things better. Where I feel as though the guild is being unfair to you, however, is carrying the anger on after your removal from their company: Following you around and proactively ruining your experience indefinitely is a tacky attempt at revenge for your poor behaviour that isn’t any more justified than your drunken tirade. I have some advice to help alleviate the sting on your mishap with booze, but do bear in mind that the damage is already done with your old guild and there’s no “making it right” in your case. You’ll have to do your best to move on, learn from the mistakes made on your part, negate the continued fallout as best you can, and take this a lesson for your next encounter with the bottle.
In real life, it can be most difficult to break away from a cycle of drama due to physical proximity, but in MMOs, most of the aggravation can be prevented by using in-game block, ignore, or unfriend features. If you’ve already blocked the main culprits but are still running into abuse online, you could consider placing your account on invisible or unavailable for a period of time where that is available, or perhaps you could turn off map chat if you’re being hounded in particular zones. Remember to report each instance of abuse via the appropriate in-game channels: Two wrongs don’t make a right, and sustaining contact isn’t healthy for any of you.
If these options are somehow unavailable to you, maybe because the people involved are harassing you through other channels or with dummy accounts, you could try letting the worst of their ill feeling ebb away with the passage of time. There are two approaches here: You can either keep playing throughout this rocky patch and ignore and report all abuse, or you can take a break until things are quieter. Should you choose to keep playing, it’s imperative that you don’t make the situation worse by rising to the abuse. You don’t want to justify the behaviour of your old guildmates by becoming everything they are calling you.
It’s important to reflect on situations like this in order to grow as a person and prevent something similar happening again. There’s something in the wording of your submission that makes me believe that you’re quite indignant about your apology not being accepted as good enough, but unless you accept your fair share of the blame for this falling out, you’re risking repeating history in the future. If you take one piece of advice away from this entire article, my anonymous friend, make it this! You now feel victimised and bullied because these people won’t let your actions go, but try to remember that the scenario started by your hurtful actions making them feel much the same way.
In future, it’s best to cater your humour and delivery to the audience that your jokes are intended for, and that might well mean either moderating your content or choosing a different environment in which to joke around. Leave the drinking until you’re offline until you know your limits and keep your chatter game-specific if you’re not particularly friendly with your guildmates. Drunken-you probably felt both comfortable and justified in what you were saying, making it all the more hurtful to those you offended. Remember that you can always join an adult-only, mature content, anything goes sort of guild if you find containing your humour too restrictive.
If the whole experience has left too much of a sour taste in your mouth and you can find no way to end the slur campaign your ex-guild has begun against you, you might find it easier to start over on a new server, take a short break to let the heat die down, or even open a new account to give yourself a fresh start. You might even find that your particular MMO of choice has lost its appeal after your run-in, so branching out into similar titles where a silly night of overindulgence and loose talk hasn’t ruined your fun. It might seem dramatic to take such action and you’ll have a strong tendency to think, “why should I be the one to quit?” – but remember that your gaming time is supposed to be enjoyable. There’s absolutely nothing fun about online harassment and being caught in a never-ending cycle of drama and smack talk, so in some cases, you’re better making a clean break and finding fun elsewhere.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope that you’ll take this as a learning experience instead of as a terrible event: Virtually all of us have made similar foolish gaffes or otherwise made a complete nuisance of themselves in some fashion while navigating alcohol, fledgling relationships, or online circles, so don’t feel bad. I’d cringe so hard my face would never unwrinkle if I could hear sixteen-year-old me speak to her friends right now, and I’m sure I’ve offended and hurt more people than enough by being too quick to judge and condemn before giving my opinion more than have a moment’s idle thought. The real marker of a person is how they acknowledge these moments and use them to rub along a little better with people in future. Good luck!
Over to you!
Do you have any advice for our anonymous reader in need? Have you ever made a drunken blunder that ruined your gaming fun? Do you have any off-limits topics in your guild to prevent such offences from happening? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments.
Many thanks to our anonymous reader for this submission. If you have a guild-related issue you’d like to see tackled here, email me your submission for consideration.