Guild Chat: The best MMORPG advice of 2017

There’s no more perfect time to reflect on the last twelve months than when you’re ringing in the new year, so that’s precisely what I plan on doing in this edition of Guild Chat. More readers in need have been helped than ever before by both my musings on the topic at hand and the useful perspectives offered in the comments, and some of the submissions have really stretched my MMO agony aunt credentials! It’s been a whirlwind of officer meltdowns, guild fragmentations, adapting to new content types, and deciding when and how best to leave an unsuitable guild, and I’m very glad I have the MOP community with me to weigh in on these issues too.

In this edition of Guild Chat, I’ll take a look at some of my favourite 2017 entries and will showcase the brilliant ways in which MOP readers have enhanced the article with their insightful comments, adding new perspectives or simply approaching the submitter in a way that makes the advice make sense. Here’s to a wonderful 2018!


Anxiety and MMO guilds

This is my favourite article I’ve penned in 2017 but unfortunately, I can’t pull up any of the fantastic comments that it generated since it was written before the big comment system switchover and we lost those wise words along the way. You’ll just have to trust me that the comments section was one of the most supportive and genuinely helpful places I’ve seen on any online discussion about anxiety, so everyone who commented deserves major credit. In the article, our anonymous submission centred around anxiety and how it was affecting the reader’s ability to engage in MMO high octane content, and I hope we were able to get her playing again by pointing her in the right direction to both source the correct professional help and also practice the best self-care she can to reduce the anxiety as far as possible.

Guilds and bullies

I believe that my piece on whether or not one anonymous reader should quit his MMO over some in-game bullying was one of the most contentious entries over the last twelve months. For context, this reader was guilty of drunken mouth and hit on some trigger-button political issues very insensitively one night while under the influence. While he apologised for his admittedly stupid and insensitive comments, the affected parties went above his head to the guild leader and had him gkicked for his behaviour. More to the point, the wronged parties became guilty of similar wrongdoing because they commenced a rather extreme campaign against the submitter and insulted, smeared, and isolated their ex-guildmate.

The double-edge about jokes is that they often are a veiled form of attack. How many times have we heard, “But I was just joking!” as an excuse for the hurtful thing someone just said? Or how many times have a person’s weakest, most vulnerable attribute been used to ridicule them, how funny they sound, their stupid hair, their freckles, their parents, their dorky siblings, icky neighbourhood, ancient phone, ugly car, weird beliefs? — Ashfyn Ninegold
I was tough on him about his initial behaviour and the tone of the submission since he seemed to think sorry should make everyone happy again, but I did have a great deal of concern and sympathy for him when it came to taking the dispute into the wider gamespace. The affected parties did in my mind become bullies as the matter should have been closed at gkicking and I supported the OP in blocking and reporting those who were sustaining this hate campaign.

In the comments, many people were vocal about how excessive the guild was and recommended similar courses of action, and others commented on how the US political climate was too sensitive a topic to safely joke about in wide group settings at the time. I was particularly impressed with Ashfyn Ninegold’s comment on how joking is an important social tool that goes beyond basic communication: It’s a thorough one that I won’t paste in its entirety here, but it did a brilliant job of highlighting the perils of using jokes carelessly.

It’s me or the guild!

In this edition, an anonymous reader was asking for help with his girlfriend after she gave him the “it’s me or the guild” ultimatum: He admitted to playing more than he worked but maintained that she seemed jealous of one of his guildmates and that this was the only vehicle he had that was uniquely his in his life. Without seeing the relationship in practice and having a whole lot more context than a regular Guild Chat submission tends to contain — and perhaps gaining a relationship counselling qualification along the way — I could barely begin to unpick the dynamics at play: I did warn about ultimata being a sign of a controlling spouse, however. I worried that the submission referenced having little to no real-world support network and questioned if this was caused by the girlfriend or other more innocent factors. Ultimately, I stressed the need for compromise, both within the guild and within the relationship.

The comment section was in the same boat as me: Most felt as though we were lacking the information to make a call on the validity of the ultimatum, though there was disagreement on what the submitter should do about it. Many felt that working less than you game was unhealthy and damaging to the relationship and should immediately change, and others went further on this line and said that, for them, even a rocky real-world relationship should outweigh the pull of the hobby and that the gaming should cease in favour of the relationship that was at risk. My favourite comment, however, was Camelotcrusade’s musings on commonality in a relationship: making the case for finding the overlap in interests and quality time and ensuring it’s enough for both parties makes perfect sense to me.

Honestly, OP, your time sink could have been anything (cars, TV, sports, work, etc.) but I’ve noticed gaming is among those activities that creates a special panic as a hobby. It’s an issue that comes with a lot of other baggage, not least of which is the fact that men and women are typically socialized to like different things. And according to Quantic Foundry, even with gaming there are common divergences in gaming preferences by gender.

Anyway, I wouldn’t focus on where you spend your own time but instead on where you overlap. The Venn diagram of quality time together clearly isn’t overlapping enough to satisfy you both. Once that issue is sorted, how you spend the time outside of the overlap will become less important. — Camelotcrusade

Triggers and MMOs

The addition of trigger warnings to guilds was met with a fairly consistent no, although in my article I did give some general advice for implementing them if a leader felt the need. For most guilds, the step won’t be necessary and giving general guidelines for conduct prevents the bulk of trigger topics from cropping up anyway. I also considered 18+ or anything-goes guilds and was clear that, although they should make that nature clear to new recruits so they can avoid the environment if it is problematic to them, no guild should change its nature in order to accommodate those outside its microcommunity if they’re content.

The comments section was largely very well reasoned and I had trouble selecting a choice quote for you all, but I managed it in the end! Cadaver’s summary of the need for such warnings being directly related to how mature and respectful the communicators are is a solid one in my mind.

Free and frank debate is a pleasure and a privilege to be defended, but it also comes with certain responsibilities. Those responsibilities include giving appropriate consideration for the opinions and experiences of others. It is easy to dismiss ‘trigger warnings’ as infantile and indulgent, but blurting out your opinions without due consideration is not a exactly a mark of maturity either.

Online communication lacks the subtlety and nuance of face to face interaction and intent may be harder to discern. You sometimes need to adjust what you say and what you perceive accordingly. In a genuinely adult/mature guild, individuals should understand all of this and be willing to offer and accept apologies when honest misunderstandings occur. Trigger warnings should never be necessary where mature adults are concerned. — Cadaver

Over to you!

I thoroughly enjoyed looking back at 2017’s chats and recapping on the advice and debates that tumble out in the comments section. With such a community-focused and led column, the strength of any given article lies in its submission and its comments, so I’m delighted to have had so many amazing topics submitted and discussed over the last year.

What have been your favourite submissions or comments? Feel free to link them for me below. As ever, email me if you have a topic you’d like to see covered in a future edition of Guild Chat. Happy New Year!

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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Melissa McDonald

my advice: People with “triggers” are drama queens, not adults. Avoid them.

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Stormwaltz

There is a world of difference between people who say “triggered” to refer to topics that induce involuntary PTSD/anxiety attacks in listeners, and people who use it as shorthand for “you said something I don’t agree with.”

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Melissa McDonald

I believe the latter group are by far the majority under this description.

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Bruno Brito

A bit generalist, ain’t we?

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Melissa McDonald

Hard, but fair.

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Peregrine Falcon

It’s funny because that’s exactly what I said in my comments on that article. My comments were all deleted by the mod who refused to answer when I simply asked why they were deleted.