Blog Post

Drama in Virtual Communities: Part II

Continued from Drama in Virtual Communities: Part I ...

This guild went well for a time. I really enjoyed the folks in this guild; but it became apparent fairly early on that one person was essentially usurping power from my friend the GM. More and more she gave over control to him. If there was a guild issue that needed resolving, often she deferred to his rather flawed judgment, to the point of allowing him the freedom to cuss someone out in guild chat.

This guy was a rather disconcerting individual. He constantly spewed his delusional political views on guild chat. He made references to Obama being the anti-christ because of the color of his skin. I dont want to hear about politics in the game and certainly not that kind of politics. Its a tricky topic face-to-face encounters, but even more so in a virtual world where you really dont know if everyone shares the same views or whether you risk offending folks. Thus, it is best left out of game discussions.

I made it clear that politics is not a topic that should be discussed in guild. My friend, the GM, did back me up on that; but this guy continues to just vomit up his beliefs in chat to the point where I had to say the GM said to shut it, so shut it! Then this guy starts sending me personal chats, telling me that I havent listened to everything he had to say on the matter. Sadly, this guy thinks all of us in the world are required to listen to everything he has to say.

This guy also pitted female players off each other. He led a 16 year old on, flirting with her when he was supposedly in his early/mid 30s; and then he pitted her against a 40 year old woman in the game to the point of getting everyone to hate the 16 year old and getting her kicked out of the guild.

He also had a temper tantrum with me and everyone else over someone I recruited to the guild. He was convinced (with no evidence to support his position) that the friend I recruited to the guild would rob us blind (take everything out of the guild bank and sell it in the game auction house). When I tried to point out that there was no reason to suspect my friend, he made an insulting sexist comment to me. (You know, when you cant win an argument through logic, devolve into calling names.) My friend the GM didnt do anything about it; so I quit and took some friends with me.

Eventually these friends of mine and I started a new guild with me as GM and all of them as officers (but we ran things as if all of us were co-GMs). Things went well for a while in this guild. Then low and behold, my friend the GM of the guild we all just quit, sends me a personal chat asking if her guild could merge in with ours. Apparently the delusional guy broke up her guild; and the main tank who I was so fond of (and his wife) backstabbed my friend. I dont remember all the details that she told me at the time.

So her guild merged with ours; and I made her and another person from that guild officers. I thought running a guild would be similar to management in the real world; and since I had a good amount of experience managing people and projects, I thought I was up the challenge. We laid down some ground rules no discussion of politics, sex, race/ethnicity, etc. Bigoted comments were disallowed; and since we had some younger members, we asked that folks keep the conversation relatively clean and focused on guild/game topics. An ethic of fairness and equality and a spirit of collaboration and cooperation were espoused.

Each officer had a sphere of responsibility. For instance, one officer was in charge of the guild bank. Another was in charge of recruiting new members, etc. I was in charge of discipline (and so I made decisions on what was and wasnt bigoted or appropriate behavior; but I usually did so with the consultation of the officers). When someone was behaving in a way that conflicted with guild values, then I had a talk with them. My goal was to first give them a chance to speak up for themselves and give them an opportunity change their ways if in fact their behavior was contrary to guild values.

I learned later that this does not work. Because no one really has to be accountable, they see no reason, no incentive, to modify their behavior. So when a guild member was reported to me as inviting guildies to 5man (requiring 5 players) heroic dungeon runs and then kicking them out after the guild member determined they werent properly geared, I had to have a talk with him. [See below for an explanation of dungeon runs.] You see, in raids (which are usually 10man and above and are much more difficult than a 5man heroic run), mandating gear requirements is reasonable (because otherwise players characters may die a lot in the dungeon which is tiring and tedious and costs players a lot of game gold/currency); but one of the main points of a 5man heroic run is to help people get better gear (it can be looted from monsters killed in the 5man heroic dungeon) so that they can eventually do 10man and above dungeon raids. So kicking people out of a 5man heroic group because they dont have excellent gear is really crummy.

I talked to this guy like 2 or 3 times. I gave him way too many chances. I should have booted his butt after the first offense. This is what I realized a GM canNOT be gentle. A GM has to be an iron arm of swift justice because people in WoW can cloak themselves and their behavior in a shadowy veil of anonymity. No one knows their real name and no one will know who they are if they ever run into them in real life. So they can act in whatever ways they want without too many serious consequences. (Yes, you can be socially shunned in the game that is about the most serious consequence there is. For instance, remember the delusional guy? Well he ultimately got shunned out of almost every guild on that server.)

I can tell you now that I am not a GM and that guild I started is no longer active; but I will tell you how I dissolved it next time. Stay tuned



Dungeon runs, whether 5man heroics or full raids of 10 or more players, are a form of social, collaborative, strategic play where players enter a dungeon and attempt to slay the monsters in the dungeon. It requires a lot of coordination and team work. The bodies of the monsters who are slain can be looted for gold (game currency) and really good gear for your character to wear. The gear you character can wear can improve your characters abilities and make your character more powerful. So for example, you can get a piece of gear that has +500 spell power and that means you will do more damage to monsters when you hit them with your spells.



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