I Want To Trust You, But I Don’t

Reading over some of my older posts, I’m struck by a pattern in my advice.

I tend to describe the ideal situation, the way I would love things to be.  Usually these ideal situations require the active, rational participation of all members of the guild or raid team to make them come about.  Then I say “but because that will never happen, here’s what you should do instead”.

The subtitle of this blog is “Rational Cynicism in the World of Warcraft”, which was, I suppose, my way of admitting that I’m a pessimist when it comes to the the majority of people I play the game with.  There are always exceptions, and I’ve been lucky to be in a few guilds where there were more people who I could count on than I could not.  Generally though, I don’t tend to get into PUG groups expecting to be blown away by their level of insight or skill.

Much of this comes from deep psychological issues.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m similar in my dealings with people in real life.  A friend at work who is of a similar disposition says “I’m not a pessimist, I’m an optimist.  I start every day thinking that things are going to get better, and every day I’m disappointed”.  That pretty much sums up my experiences in WoW.  I want my gaming experience to be with a group of rational people who push themselves to excel and think of the group before themselves.  I just haven’t been able to find a large group of people who fit that description.

Being thus disillusioned, I craft advice articles and guild policy that reflects an expectation to be disappointed.  Rather than trust that my members will treat loot rationally, I create a set of loot rules that are relatively simple to understand superficially, but have been carefully drawn up to close loopholes that I expect someone to try to exploit.  Rather than trust that members will sign up for raids and let the guild know if they’re going to be absent, I choose an all-or-nothing schedule – either you can make all the raids or you’ll be put on reserve.

Shouldn’t it be possible to be honest with prospective members?  To lay out my true vision for a raiding guild, and wait as like-minded players flock in to be a part of something that will finally be done right?  Of course it isn’t.  Generally, people who play WoW (at least, the people I tend to run into) don’t get invested in an idea.  They are there to have fun, perhaps for the social aspect, and to get loot.  Whether the path to that loot adheres to the vision the guild leader has in his mind is irrelevant.  Perhaps the fault is not that I can’t trust members to follow my vision, but that I am overly invested in the vision.  Like a playwright, I’ve drawn up a script in my head for how the guild will progress – how quickly through each tier, and how effective we will operate as a unit.  All of this before recruiting has even begun!

I’ve written in the past about clarity of purpose for a guild.  A guild should be able to state its goals clearly and concisely.  Marketing droids would call this a mission statement (though I refuse to use that fluffy language).  Between the purpose and the policy is a wide gap.  As the author of both, I understand the nuances of that gap, but can I reasonably expect others to “just get it”?  Probably not.  I need to pare back the script so that it is not very much more than the purpose.  I need to make the guild experience more about the destination and less about the specifics of the journey.

Am I alone in this?  Do you find yourself micro-managing the guild’s journey, or are you along for the ride, using a firm but gentle hand to provide guidance where needed?

Until Next Time