Welcome to my first twin piece: a collaboration of Gamers Decrypted and Ravalation. I've been talking to Noctua of Gamers Decrypted on Skype quite a lot lately, enthusiastically discussing blogging ideas. As a 'solo' blogger, it's been a wonderful experience to have someone to talk to with the same blogging interests! One of the topics we found ourselves lost in is that of guild leadership: a social role that people take upon themselves in a virtual environment. Why do people in an online game want to commit to sorting out the social affairs of others, forging and keeping together a group of people they have never met in the offline world?
In contrast to Noctua, I don't have any personal experience leading a guild. In fact, I am sure I'd make a horrible guild master myself! Therefore, I need to find the answers to my questions in more competent people... and I've found quite a few! I'm keeping you in suspense for now, but I have found you amazing guild leaders willing to show us around behind the scenes.
Leadership in changing times
One thing that I'll be looking at is the relationship between guild leadership and game content. MMORGs are subject to constant change. How does this influence the leadership a guild needs? Gamers Decrypted showcases an example of this in today's mirror twin piece, investigating the social implications of the removal of 8vs8 ranked PvP in SWTOR. We don't want to restrict ourselves to historical changes, though: I feel this is highly relevant today as we look at recent developments in SWTOR's PvE. The announcement that no new PvE raids will be released with the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion in October is one of the things I talked to guild masters about in detail. Without spoiling too much, I can say it is certainly on their minds.
The guild master as superhero (aka why you don't want me as GM)
No, this is not a story of me trying to lead a guild into an abyss (sorry to disappoint). Rather, this is an exercise of thought: why do I dread the thought of leading a guild? What qualities am I missing that I apparently should have?
First off: raid leading. While I do know how all the encounters go by now and I know what all the roles do (having played them all), I don't have the tactical and creative insight to improvise strategies at the spot, reacting to strengths and weaknesses in the group, as a good raid leader has. I know, I have ended up raid leading at times in the absence of our usual raid leaders in LOTRO and I always felt very insecure and awful during. I was so glad when it was over and we were still alive! Well, sorta...
Edit: I don't mean with this that guild masters also need to be raid leaders (I should've worded it better; sorry for the confusion). What I do mean is that I lack the natural leadership skills that good GMs have.
Then I'm also not good at voice communication. While I feel alright writing in English on this blog, I'm clumsy at explaining complicated gameplay on voice chat. My extreme Dutch accent doesn't help either. While some people may find this hard to believe, I can be shy in large groups and function best in small ones, or alone.
When playing games, I always want everyone to be happy and be friends with each other. Yes, I'm that naive! Reality, of course, is different. Conflict between people happens and it makes me feel miserable, sometimes having direct impact on my real life. Dealing with that for fun? No thanks.
Video games are not my life (gasp). I'm doing a demanding research master while struggling with my health. Next to that I try to find some fun in life by dancing, making music, blogging and... oh yeah, playing games. I simply can't imagine myself managing a group of people on top of that.
Looking back at my self assessment, I can name at least five qualities a perfect guild leader would have, although doubtlessly there are many more:- Knowledge of relevant gameplay
- Good communication with other players
- Good in groups
- Ability to solve conflict
- Having time and willingness to dedicate oneself to the guild
So what do our superheroes, the guild masters themselves, think about this? Naturally I've asked them. You'll find out next week, starting Monday! If you haven't done so yet, take a sneak preview by checking out Noctua's mirror piece: an interview with the guild master of PvP guild Reality Check (The Red Eclipse).
One more thing: for this series we're interviewing SWTOR guilds, but of course the topic of guild leadership is much larger than just SWTOR alone. Therefore, I'd love to hear from your experiences leading guilds in other games as well.
How would you do as a guild leader? Would you happily step up if needed or would you run off and hide behind a rock?
This is the first in a series of twin posts on guild leadership by Ravalation and Gamers Decrypted, looking at PvE leadership and PvP leadership respectively. We dive deeper into the world of guild masters next week, so stay tuned!