Monday, March 9, 2015

Don't Be That Player: The Non-Conformist [Guild Ed.]

Many of us have been That Player at one time or another. From toxic players, oblivious raiders, elitist jerks and beyond, Don't Be That Player is a series that looks at different scenarios we've all encountered, and how they might be approached differently. 

This post really has to do with guilds and is written especially with guild leadership in mind.

Normally it's hip to follow the beat of your own Garrison Jukebox, but this concept doesn't really apply when it comes to player-to-player relations in Warcraft guilds. Many guilds have certain base expectations for their members (as they should): no stealing items from others; kill all opposing faction members on sight; no hate speech in guild chat; Pepe must be worn at all times, etc. While Non-Conformists in this setting may have many characteristics, the one they share is that they are actively working against the guild's tenets and goals.

Non-Conformists---as I've defined them---bring a certain flavor of toxicity designed to dismantle the very sub-community they've joined. They have little regard for the preferences of their fellow players and have little to no respect for leadership structure. They often have an inflated sense of their value as a player. And what's worse, they likely realize they're not a good fit for your community, yet they don't care.

Non-Conformists will openly voice their dissatisfaction with elements of the guild, whether their assessment is accurate or not. They will try to convince you the guild would be better off if it did certain things their way. They will try to steer the guild in a direction they find the most advantageous or desirable to them without remorse. They may threaten to not show up for events as if they believed success depended on their presence. They will project their concerns onto other members and try to recruit those members to their cause: to subtly or overtly, consciously or unconsciously destroy a guild.

For the love of I really have to say "don't be that player?!"

Sadly, I do, because I've had to deal with this player-type in the past, and I will never, ever allow a Non-Conformist to take root in any group I help steer. For the Non-Conformists out there, if you can't play nice with others under a mutual charter, play by yourself. It must be possible to enjoy this game without inflicting misery on your in-game community.

Guild Leadership & Combating the Non-Conformist
There are a couple of steps a guild should take in general to help ensure their community isn't a breeding ground for Non-Conformists. Really, these are steps I'd recommend for any guild when establishing themselves. They can serve as an indication to the Non-Conformists out there that your home wouldn't be a good fit for them. If you find a Non-Conformist in your ranks, I also have suggestions on how to deal with them quickly and effectively.

Know Who You Are
Have a purpose. What is your guild all about? Do you expect everyone to be in character at all times? Do you forbid guild chat to contain anything but monosyllabic words? Do you raid two nights per week, no more, no less? As a leader and/or officer, you get to decide who you are as a guild, the things you'd like to accomplish and how you'd like to go about it. You get to set the tone and the feel, from an NC-17 oh god I'm going to hell for this environment, to family-friendly guilds.

The fact is, when you have these attributes nailed down---whether on your website, application, or recruitment notice---it can act as a deterrent to Non-Conformists. They can take a quick look at what makes your guild unique and decide whether or not it fits into their vision. Unfortunately, knowing who you are as a guild won't insulate you completely---but it will give you grounds to address the actions of the Non-Conformist through any method you deem fit, up to and including membership revocation.

Take Swift Action
It may be something simple, like using language in guild chat you've expressly forbidden. It could also be something more extreme, such as the Non-Conformist harassing other players in your guild. Or maybe they'll refuse to raid unless their friend(s) are guaranteed a spot, too. Whatever the signs of a Non-Conformist might be, they're generally revealed organically---you don't often have to keep a sharp eye to notice them.

When you have a player who regularly violates guild tenets and goals, they need to be addressed directly---mostly for the sake of the integrity of said goals and tenets. If your other players see the Non-Conformists shitting all over the guild's aims and you don't react swiftly, they may get the impression that the structure in place is in fact meaningless, that actions are without consequence.

The easiest thing to do is the approach the Non-Conformist privately, remind them of the guild tenets and goals, and explain how certain actions of theirs have been in direction conflict with them. They can either play by the rules and be part of the guild or find a better home. How many chances or warnings you issue is entirely up to you.

While guilds do rise and fall on a daily basis, there are steps to ensure your guild's foundation is strong. One of those steps is making sure Non-Conformists aren't taking root among your ranks.

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