Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Don't Be These Players: A Self-Centered Player and an Ineffective Leader

img via Hestiah
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. 

Today's DBTP involves a personal anecdote which will hopefully serve dual purposes: to grant perspective to both guild leadership and players where ideologies will sometimes clash.

Two Players Collide

The guild raid group I ran was working through the final tier of the expansion. On a particular raid night, we found ourselves one player shy of the number we needed to fill a 10-player group. Reluctantly, I turned on Trade Chat and issued our plea. A reply came back from a hunter---we'll call him Ryan. I asked for his ilvl, and it turned out to be quite a bit lower than what we were looking for.

"How am I supposed to hit that ilvl if I can't even get into the raid?" Ryan shot back.

Fair point, I suppose. 

I invited Ryan to the group and the night went well. Soon after, he moved his hunter into the guild. A few weeks later, our off-tank left the raid group due to a scheduling conflict. Ryan immediately mentioned his warrior tank, expressing confidence he could fill the role. But shortly after he assumed the tank role, he violated our guild's code of conduct via some unsavory exchanges he had with other players on the official forums. It's something all players pledge to refrain from when they fill out our application.

OK. First instance, no big deal. All players who apply to the guild must indicate they've read our code of conduct, but mistakes happen. By this time I'd gotten to know Ryan fairly well. We chatted over Bnet on a near-daily basis. But soon after receiving mild admonishment for his forum conduct, his conversational tone shifted and tended to center on his personal dissatisfaction over certain players in our raid. I had the tricky job, as raid leader, to hear out his concerns while reminding him exactly what sort of guild we were. The fact was, things were running smoothly and weren't going to change.

Raid nights went well, and his complaints continued. For months. Too many months.

Then, thoughts he shared with me regarding the raid environment manifested into action. We were approaching the fifth boss in the raid one night just an hour into our three hours of allotted time. Ryan was paired up with a back-up tank, as our other regular tank was absence that night. A DPS in the group accidentally pulled some trash and I got a whisper from Ryan along the lines of, Ok, I'm done with tonight. Replace me. I asked him to confirm that he was leaving a scheduled raid early because he was angry about a mis-pull. He left.

In hindsight, it was at this point where we should've parted ways with Ryan. A truly honest look at our circumstances would've plainly illustrated that our guild wasn't a good fit for him, and he wasn't a good fit for us---even if we was a great player and solid tank.

It was also around this time Ryan began to hint that his presence in our raid was anything but guaranteed. He simply wouldn't show if he didn't feel like it. He threatened to leave altogether. He claimed that if and when he left, other unsatisfied players would leave too. At this point, I didn't care; I was sick of the games.

The last straw came not too long after. The topic of the forum post he authored doesn't matter, though it was sure to be a hot-button issue. Soon enough, responses filtered in and Ryan responded to some of his favorite replies, once again in a disrespectful tone we don't want to see from our members.

After he made a couple of personal attacks towards other players in the thread, another player from our realm posted the following quotation...taken directly from the Member Expectations thread on our guild website:
Public Channels
We can't tell you how to play, but know that you are representing us when you are out and about. We want to be seen as a positive light on this server. The last thing we want to hear from a fellow player is that they were being harassed by a member of our guild, or something similar.
Ryan's response to that player? That he's aware of our rules, but he couldn't give two shits about them. I knew that meant the end for him.

"Grats on that forum post! The GM is removing your toons as I write this," I whispered to him while our GM removed his characters.

"You're joking."

I wasn't.

Two Parties At Fault

There's a lot going on in this one. On the one hand, you have a player who disregards the fact that he's joined up with a guild that has clear expectations and intentions for its members. A player who has his own ideas about how things should look and run and isn't afraid to voice and act on them---sometimes in destructive ways. 

On the other hand, you have me, a raid leader and guild officer who is seemingly lacking a spine when dealing with a player who, although a friend, is clearly not meeting guild expectations, and in some cases seems to be actively working against them while making raid admin life a living hell.

Don't be either of these players. 

The Self-Centered Player

If you're joining up with a guild for any reason, it's up to you to decide if the environment is a good fit. Hopefully you've done a bit of research prior to jumping in. Even then, the player likely won't know whether the guild's a good fit until they join, and only then after spending some time with their fellow players. 

Clearly, Ryan had issues with some of our members, with the way the raid was being run, and with some basic tenets the guild had in place. And I understand the latter, to a degree: we expect a bit more than the norm from our players. We expect that our members treat all players with respect. We strictly prohibit any "-ist" speech. We encourage PvP, but forbid camping (save in certain eye for an eye situations). Essentially, conduct by any member wearing our banner should reflect the guild in a positive light. 

The reality is, these are things our guild clearly outlines during the application process. In fact, that's the point of our application process: that the player gains a clear understanding of what we're all about so they can determine whether or not what we offer is something they'd even want to be a part of. If Ryan was honest with himself, he would have admitted early on that the guild wasn't a good fit for him. But he wanted something from us: a stable raid environment.

If you find yourself in this position as a player, you've got to be honest with yourself and do the mature thing: leave. 

In Ryan's case, when the guild atmosphere and raid environment weren't to his liking, instead of walking away he tried to change things, which caused a lot of headaches for myself and my fellow officers. More headaches than I should have ever allowed. When all was said and done, two raiders---in-game acquaintances he'd introduced to the guild---left after his removal in a move of solidarity.

They rejoined us two weeks later. 

The Ineffective Leader

Then, there's me.

There were probably a half dozen times during Ryan's tenure with the guild where I found myself typing up a post in the officer forums seeped with frustration over his attitude towards the guild, the raid, and what we believed in. It wore on me to the point where one night I found myself drafting a post informing my fellow officers that I'd be stepping down from leading raids.

Thankfully, halfway through that exercise I realized how asinine the prospect was. This was my raid, and a successful one at that. Yet for whatever reason Ryan was able to get under my skin, and made me forget my ultimate obligation as a raid leader: to maintain the strength and health of the team. And how am I supposed to focus on that if I dread each raid night because of what I fear I'll hear from a vocal minority the next morning?

I failed miserably. In the role of raid leader, as in life, you can't please everyone on the team all of the time. However, you can ensure the overall health of your team. And I was allowing Ryan to taint my view of things despite what I knew to be true.

As a raid leader or guild officer, you need to be prepared to make the tough decisions. And in my case, it shouldn't have been difficult: we had written expectations for all of our members, expectations Ryan demonstrated time and time again he cared nothing for. This alone should've made the job of his removal from the guild quite easy.

I didn't give him more chances because he was a tank in our raid---it was because I considered him a friend and allowed him more lenience because of that. You cannot play favorites like I did. The rules the guild has in place must apply to everyone in order for them to have any air of effectiveness. Otherwise, there's no point in having them at all. 

1 comment:

  1. I read this and I can see myself having to deal with those same decisions and choices. It's really awkward when you are friends with them, and I can see that you just hoped, in friendship that they would improve. But a line was crossed and consequences happen and even though you feel it was a bit late, it was done and you should be glad you did it because now the weight that has been on you that whole time will lift.