Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which readers in need can source some solid advice to help them solve their guild-related issues. This time, an anonymous reader is wondering how to approach returning to a guild after being offline for some time. The submission asks for our tips on rejoining a once-friendly guild that was the reader’s in-game home before she took a long break from her MMO of choice. While she enjoyed the vast majority of her time spent with her guild, it was in part because of some tension in the guild that she fell out of love with the MMO for a while. Now that she’s back, our anonymous reader is wondering whether or not to accept the guild invite that winged its way to her when she logged back in, and if so, how to reintegrate with her old guildmates.
Read below for the full submission and my thoughts on coming back to a guild after a long hiatus.
I left the game I played for over a year because I got burned out and because the guild’s atmosphere was getting a little too heavy but now I have returned to the game after a few months off and don’t know what to do about my old guild. I’ve been gone for 6 months at least but when I logged back in my old crew whispered me to welcome me back and sent me an invite again. They cleared the roster while I was offline and removed me so I thought I wasn’t part of the guild anymore but they said I can come back but I keep wondering if I will just get burned out again if nothing has changed.
I was expecting to come back to the guild I guess and most players I know are in there but now I kind of have a choice since they were the ones that kicked me. If I do go back how do I make it work this time? It was like we became too close and stopped trying to be nice and everyone was constantly moody with each other and small cliques formed and broke up all the time. I didn’t tell them I was going away and never mentioned that the guild was annoying me so they don’t know I feel like this.
You don’t have to go back if you want a fresh start
The first thing I want to impress on you is that you don’t need to go back to the old guild if you don’t want to! You make it sound as though the guild dynamics six months ago were the largest cause of your burnout but in the same breath you resign yourself to returning to them, so I just want to make it clear that you can maintain your relationship with those you wish to without being in their guild. It’s very telling to me that you don’t mention any other reason for your hiatus from your MMO: I think you’d perhaps be making a mistake accepting that invitation and will soon end up leaving again if you do.
Rose-tinted glasses can make even the most reasonable person choose to continue to struggle on in uncomfortable scenarios due to the nostalgia factor, but you can make a conscious decision to make a clean break and still enjoy the MMO you play. I could, of course, be misreading the situation because I only have the information included in your submission to go on, so if something is telling you that you’d be happiest accepting that guild invite, go ahead and use the advice that follows to reintegrate yourself smoothly into its roster.
The guild now isn’t the guild you left six months ago
While we’re on the topic of the part nostalgia might play in your decision to return, I want to highlight the fact that the current guild dynamic will have inevitably changed with the passage of time: What you remember as the regular guild dynamic won’t be the same in every sense as it was when you left. You might find new faces in the guild, and it could perhaps even be the case that some now-vital core members weren’t prominent six months ago and the entire guild dynamic has shifted to something unrecognisable. Chances are if things were bad enough that you left then others did the same, so maybe some old faces you remember aren’t around anymore either.
My point is that you’ll need to accept that much can change in six short months and you’ll need to adapt to that change to successfully reintegrate. This is one of the most difficult aspects of rejoining an old guild: It’s difficult to resist the temptation to fall into old comfortable behaviours and manage the expectations that everything will feel as it did before. Although you’re an old veteran, it’ll help you to reintegrate if you treat your guild as one that’s new to you in some respects, which includes making no assumptions that old behaviours are still acceptable or that old dynamics still hold true today.
Don’t get caught up in factions and drama
Your guild leaders might have noticed the same cliques and negative behaviours developing that you did and could well have quashed this already, but you should prepare yourself to cope better with the cliques and politics just in case. Change isn’t a negative thing, especially when you weren’t greatly impressed with the old dynamic, so don’t be afraid to tackle old faces much differently this time around. You might find that you don’t need to tackle the topic directly: Perhaps when negative comments about another guild member or clique are said in front of you, redirecting the conversation so you don’t get involved could work. If your friends are persistently bashing each other to the same degree that caused you to leave, however, be honest and tell them that it kills the fun factor for you and that you won’t engage with that sort of discussion any longer.
Chances are that your guildmates actually do care about each other if the cliques haven’t caused any big splits away from the guild, so pointing out your perspective on the sniping and complaining could give them a wake-up call. Sometimes nothing will change until someone points out the issue and forces it to the surface, so when you hear comments you think are toxic it’s up to you to decide how to react. Two things will happen: Either you’ll find other people were suffering in silence and you’ll feel vindicated, or you’ll discover that everyone else thinks of the jibes as banter and you’ll either be satisfied that no one is hurt by it or you’ll decide the atmosphere doesn’t suit you. Either way, I urge you not to fall in line and engage in a type of behaviour that makes you so uncomfortable.
Splitting your time between cliques could help you to stay above the drama, as could getting involved in more inclusive events that have no room for small cliques. Try largescale content and open-world events to inspire collaboration between your guildmates: If you all work quite separately on smaller scale content, it could simply be the case that connections haven’t formed where they might with more quality time spent together. If your chosen MMO offers guild activities or missions, this is the perfect way to get everyone together, but you can think outside the box if that doesn’t apply to you.
Focus on the fun factor
People often resort to creating drama out of boredom, so I’m wondering if your guild is perhaps a little too light on activities and simply relies on members to make their own fun. In MMOs with very obvious routes into compelling content types, hands-off leadership is seldom a problem with a grown-up roster, but some MMOs can be particularly bad at signposting players towards the fun stuff (looking at you here, Guild Wars 2!). If you want to see a change, keep the worst offenders busy: If you don’t wish to personally engage with them because of their drama, mention to the guild leaders that you’ve noticed that those players seem a little lost or bored and could use a bit of encouragement.
Helpful guilds are usually rewarded by dedicated, interested players, so you should feel the benefit of any work you put into helping those who haven’t found their niche in your MMO. Whatever content you prefer playing, there are ways to integrate players into that content without too much fuss because that’s the lynchpin of MMO design, so you shouldn’t struggle too much to find newbie guides, facilitate groups, and generally get your guildies involved in the content you love. As much as I used to enjoy idling in Orgrimmar and chatting on Ventrilo with my guildmates, our bonds were forged through joint efforts and the shared satisfaction of completing our in-game goals together.
Remember what joined your members together in the first place and go back to those roots: Did you ever have a guild charter or mission, and if so, what was it? Collectives need some sort of commonality to work well in the longterm, so if you never shared some joint passion then now is the time to talk to the guild leaders about finding one. It can be as simple as smashing through largescale PvP content together or running a set type of content on a daily or weekly basis, but the focus should allow everyone an opportunity to get involved. You really don’t need to take up the task on your own; in fact, you’ll have more success if you’re open to suggestions and get the guild management on board. It can be hard to get leaders to realise that starting a “casual friendly guild with no drama” isn’t enough of a hook to unite a group of players, so point them to my recipe for a great guild if you need backup on that front. Good luck!
Over to you!
It’s always best, in my opinion, to be honest and tackle these problems swiftly if they’re impacting negatively on your leisure time. Sometimes the best thing to do is to move on and find a new guild that better fits with your goals and personality but if the negative behaviours stem from a lack of purpose then the problem can be tackled with a renewed sense of focus and some shared plan building.
What do you think? Should our anonymous reader rejoin her old guild and either see if it has changed enough in her absence to keep her happy or make changes herself? Should she start afresh elsewhere instead? Giver her your advice in the comments section.
Thanks for this submission! If you’d like to pose a question for Guild Chat, email me for consideration.