Behind Every Guild Leader …

So, being a guild leader is a lot like being an actor. Or maybe a politician. (Insert “is there really a difference?” joke here.)

It’s a good thing that Ventrilo has a push-to-talk button. Because it’s convenient for me to yell and scream and swear and call the raid and the boss every name under the sun and curse all the powers that be for making people so collectively stupid and lazy … and then push the magic left-control key, and in a calm, soothing, encouraging voice tell everyone to take a deep breath, step back, and we’ll rez, regroup and try the boss again.

As with any team, politicking in-guild is important. That co-worker in the cubicle next to you with the hacking cough and who insists on making every call on speaker phone and goes out at lunch and smokes really foul cigars and stinks all afternoon … yeah, he’s much more senior in the company than you are and you could never in a million years tell him that he’s the most annoying human being ever. Likewise, the enhancement shaman with the lousy spell rotation, the weirdly gemmed gear, the half-resto spec and the nails-on-the-chalkboard irritating voice comes to every raid, donates a metric assload of mats to the guild bank every week and brings some pretty sweet caster buff totems, and is not actually a bad guy, just an annoying one. You’ll never tell him either that his laugh makes you think of cats fighting in a dark alley or that his cloth warlock gear is absolutely pathetic. Sometimes, you just have to put on a nice face and smile politely.

That goes double for guild leadership. Or any leadership position.

When we talk to someone, we’re always in the spotlight. When I need to have a “hey maybe you need to shape it up a bit” talk with someone, it has to be done in the politest, most compassionate, politically correct ‘it’s not you, it’s the guild’ way possible. And it’s not always easy, but I do think that I manage it most of the time. I’m only human and it’s difficult sometimes to seperate my personal feelings about a player from my WoW-professional feeling about their raid performance.

All this niceness leaves me with a churning, burbling, seething excess of bile, however.

When I’m not online, I can sometimes be found stomping up and down the house raging about how X player did Y stupid thing in the raid last night and how I wish I could just reach through the screen and slap some sense into them. Or how badly I want to tell Joepaladin that he’s a useless drama whore and I wish I didn’t need his worthless Holy-spec carcass in the raid so damn badly.

Sometimes, it’s just me and the critters at home. The dog doesn’t have a clue what all the yelling is about, but he’s getting out of the line of fire just in case and vanishes under the couch like a shadow, the cats shrug and exchange knowing ‘oh aren’t these humans excitable creatures’ sort of looks and go back to thinking their inscrutable cat-thoughts and the parrot thinks it’s time to have a Loudest Animal in the House Contest.

Mostly though, it’s my better half who takes the brunt of my WoW-rage. He at least is a sympathetic listener, being a casual (though Horde-side) player himself. He understands concepts like gear suitability and spell rotation and aggro management and can nod sympathetically when I ramapge around the kitchen with eyes bloodshot raving about the rampant failure all around me. When I need someone to nod and go “mmm-hmm, oh, really?” in all the right places, he’s there. When I need someone to be with after crying all afternoon about someof the hateful comments that drama inevitably brings, he’s there. But, when I’m so worked up and tense and have myself wound into a right fury over some little thing and I’m just looking for any excuse to tear someone’s head off for no reason, he’s also there.

There’s a reason I call him ‘long-suffering’. When I went away two years ago for the summer and lived in a plywood shack in the arctic with another geologist, a geographer and a bear for company with 5 minutes of conversation via satphone every two weeks or so, he was patient and understanding. And this summer while I was away again living in a tar-stained, smoke-filled, 46 degree Centigrade hell, he was always there, keeping the home fires burning and giving me a home I was grateful to come back to. And almost since I started playing the game he has dealth with the abandonment by a video-game addict (me) and the stress that guild leading can lay on a person who maybe isn’t all that socially adept in the first place.

And I know it’s a lizard brain type response. If I took even two seconds to use my calm, rational forebrain, I’d see how I let the stress get to me when I shouldn’t. I’d notice that my guild is actually full of capable, competant peeople who just happen to be regular human beings who make mistakes from time to time. I’d see that I’m snarling at snapping at my better half because he’s there and I have to play nice with the guild. I’d realize that all too often I neglect our time for guild time.

We’re two individuals from a race of passionate people and that passion, that emotional fervor, extends up and down the emotional scale. Joys are more joyful, but rages are more intense, too. He’s a litte more level-headed and easygoing than I am, but we can set each other off at the worst of times. I know that my stress and emotional turmoil that can result from guild or raid issues, can easily spill over into a full-blown yelling and screaming match because he left a soggy, balled-up dishtowel on the kitchen counter.

All the enforced niceness that I have to undergo in guild (and at work too!) is an act, something that I – and all of us at times – must perform in order to keep our teams and our guilds and our society moving along properly. What that doesn’t do, however, is give me the excuse when I’m ‘offstage’as it were to act like a raging prima donna. Dealing with life’s frustrations without taking it out on the people around you is not a skill that comes easy to me, and it’s certainlysomething I need to work on. I need to be much more aware of when I’m letting guild issues put me under too much pressure and I need to be much much more aware of where and how I’m releasing that pressure.

Even I need to find time to take a deep breath, step back, rez, regroup and try the boss again.



  1. jezzicuh said,

    January 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    “All this niceness leaves me with a churning, burbling, seething excess of bile, however.”

    I loved that line, and thank you for the reminder that I’m not alone! My guildies often comment that I’m soooooo nice, but that’s only because they can’t hear what I’m shouting at my monitor when the push to talk button is off. 😉

  2. Liore said,

    January 13, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Er, that was from me at Herding Cats, btw. Thanks for the comment earlier!

  3. You Know Who said,

    January 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    “I’d notice that my guild is actually full of capable, competant peeople”

    I dont know about all that. There are a few shining stars, but there are several Rampant Failures and Mouth Breathing Knuckle Draggers bringing everyone else down. Not to mention the “Backseat Raid Leaders”, and other Slapdick McFucktards that I wont go into (I refuse to insult your intellegence by implying that you dont know whats going on in your own guild). But, yeah, there are some people who are great, some who are good, and some who have potential. These people are in the minority, though.

    Not to mention those fuckers with the terrible attitude who have changed their main to DK from hunter. I mean, really, fuck those people.

  4. Esdras said,

    January 14, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Nice blog, my partner actually started playing about a year and a half ago and has a priest which she will be leveling to 80 next week with my paladin.

    the only reason she started playing is because she wanted a clue about what i was talking about.

  5. Thorian said,

    January 14, 2009 at 5:04 am

    ” the parrot thinks it’s time to have a Loudest Animal in the House Contest.”

    Im just curious , but who won it ? 😉
    And…is the parrot still alive ?

    Im a leader of a small guild ont the german rp server todeswache and i recently began to convince some more people from my friendlist to join my guild to expand the amount of characters who are available for guild instance
    groups or the raid we have.

    My Problem is that i am somethimes very emotial, which can be induce to some emotial reactions about the fail behavior of some people to other people outside the guild. And the greates problem is…im very straigh and honest.
    This mean that i say what i think even if the person dont like to hear it so frankly.

    How do you handle your hot temper ß 😉

  6. Indigo said,

    January 14, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    I read over your entry and you know what the first though was that entered my head? “I’m probably one of those people”. Not that I’m in your raid team, but I’m sure I cause my own raid leader all sorts of problems. I have no excuse, I’m just a follower I’m afraid, so even though the raid leader is telling us all to get our butts inside and get started, I can’t help but cave to the peer pressure and join in the mass dualing outside, or follow one of the other trouble makers into the wrong room and agro a whole bunch of unpleasant looking creatures.

    I should probably let my raid leader know that I appreciate the fact he hasn’t skinned me alive yet.

  7. oriniwen said,

    January 15, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    @ Liore/Jezzicuh: I think it’s a pretty common feeling. At least I *hope* it is! and thank you for the compliment.

    @ YKW: Look at me being all politically correct even in this blog. And I am happy to see that ex-hunter doing something else, as long as he’s having fun.

    @ Esdras: Yes, my better half got me started too, and I’m sure there are many days he wishes with all his might that he hadn’t. “Not tonight, honey, I have a raid.”

    @ Indigo: Well you can always check out my Guide to Being a Good Raider if you like. It takes a bit of willpower to focus and keep that focus through night after night of raiding. Maybe talk to your raid leader, ask him to give you some pointers. Be pro-active! Almost everyone has it in them to become an awesome raider!

  8. February 26, 2009 at 12:04 pm

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  10. Sasha said,

    June 19, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I think the worst night I ever had to deal with as a guild master was the loss of half our 25 man raid team. (Due to vengeful rogue officer debating DKP policy in raid chat. ) This all happened right after I got back from a car accident and couldn’t move my neck. Talk about faking it O.o…. that was to the extreme. Mind you nearly dieing tends to sweeten the worst situations. Your just so happy to be alive. I called an emergency guild meeting. We ended up having enough people to form a 10 man. It sucked but we survived and are back to 25 man strength now for Ulduar.

    Getting MT ready in one night when you cant move without crying out was not an experience Id wish on anyone. Now that I think of it, that really was horrible lol.

    Sometimes… When guild drama happens I flip a coin and say. Should I save the guild today? Or watch it burn? I always end up trying to save it regardless. Its healthy to vent, or make fun of things you cant control. Im glad you posted this blog because we really do have to experience emotional baggage. Its not healthy and I am currently offloading as much responsibility as I can get away with.

    Great Blog
    ~Best Wishes!

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