Why GMs Quit – Part 1 of a Leadership Series

Posted: March 10, 2011 by Raparth in Uncategorized

I’ve decided to split what I’d planned to accomplish into 4 sections:  being the  Guild Master (video games), Dungeon Master (tabletop games), Friend, and Significant Other.  The latter two I will collapse into a single week’s post, giving us 3 weeks for this “leadership series.”  It may seem like I’ve pushed back what I majorly wished to talk about until the end, but upon further mental organizing I determined that it would be best if I explain my experiences and general take-on GMing, DMing, and being a Friend/Member, all to give context and meaning to my eventual talk about being the Significant Other (whether I or Cynthia are the GM/DM/Friend).

This week we’ll deal with Guild Masters, guild officers, and why both groups generally stop wanting to do what they do.

I will first say that much of this post will be related to World of Warcraft.  That happens to be where the largest chunk of my experience is, but by no means does this mean that this discussion cannot equally apply to other games/groups/scenarios.  If you haven’t played WoW, you should still be able to understand 99% of everything here.  If you have played WoW, particularly in a guild-heavy style of play, you’ll have a much faster and intuitive understanding of how these dynamics that I’m describing work.

Mini-Disclaimer: I am not claiming universal-truth or even comprehensive-WoW truth.  I am merely describing how I think GMs, officers, and guild members should behave in relation to one another.

First thing’s first: People expect too much from their Guild Masters.  They often expect too much from their guild officers, as well.

My time in end-game WoW has been spent towards raiding.  A small, if always growing, proportion of WoW players engage in that sort of activity.  I have not, nor do I wish to be, in a raid-only and only-raid guild.  There are hardcore raiders that do the cutting-edge content, be those edges world-wide (e.g. Paragon) or server-specific (e.g. Pantheon, on my server of Fizzcrank).  I really respect their abilities, but, for me, the game is not only about the content I can burn through or the dps I output.  It’s about the social environment.  I would not, hands down, play WoW if it weren’t for the social environment.  I’ve made great friends there, some I’ve had for a couple years and have heard (via Ventrilo) me go through various ups-and-downs in my life.  This is largely due to my experienced big mind-body separation (sorry, I’m a philosophy-major, and I just think of myself as a mind, not a brain and especially not a body), but I consider some of my online friends (in and out of WoW) to be some of the best friends I have, for various reasons.  That said, I am not into the solely-social or wholly-leveling guilds.

What I look for in a guild is a combination of the two facets.  I want a guild where I can raid, with a group of other competent people, and do well.  I want a guild that’s populated with my friends (though not everyone needs to be my friend), raiding with a group of people I really get along with and mesh well, and do well together as a group. Back in the late-Wrath pre-4.0 days, I was mainly a DPSing Unholy Deathknight.  Quantitatively, I was a damned good one.  On a young, medium-low population server, I was doing 10k+ dps on dps-centric boss-fights.  It was really fun for me to be able to get really good at my class, to know it really well.  I would never, however, join a raid-only and only-raid guild, (1) because I’m not that good and (2) because it was fun when I was excelling with my friends.  We did well together.  We learned mechanics and got bosses down together.  When we were stuck on Sindragosa for … 4 months, because of various real-life complications one after another and changing membership in our 10man, it was the (I think) 4-8 of us that stuck it out together that made the suffering bearable.  And when that bitch finally died, it was a group of friends that celebrated, not just a group of really-great-gaming individuals that happened to band together.

These were the results of the raiding environment I was “raised up” in.  When it comes to raiding, I’m a middle/late Wrath baby.  I’ve watched my dad play WoW since late vanilla and raid since early Burning Crusade, so I had a great resource to learn things from before I had to enact them myself.  I was originally part of a 10man group.  We had no strictly defined leader.  To unpack that sentence: We had someone who scheduled for us, some people who knew their classes a little better, some people who knew the fights a little better, but we worked together as a team, in a very democratic way, to overcome our obstacles.  I can be a bit of a loudmouth (it must be a philosophy-major thing), so I would generally say more than some others, but I was the newbie, and I listened to people who had more experience.  That didn’t mean that my observations and insights into what seemed to be the fight mechanics went unrecognized.  We were a great 10man for figuring out strategies that worked well for us.

We had no autocrat for a leader.   I’ve seen guilds, of various sizes, that autocracy has worked well in.  When I ran 25mans, as I ended up doing, I had requests from some people to be more autocratic.  And, in that context, I admit that I needed to be.  25 voices are just too many to progress well via equal weight of voting.  As someone who vastly prefers 10man, and who plays with people who vastly prefer 10mans, I don’t like dealing with people that way.  When I’m talking to a raid or guild member, be it as the raid leader, guild master, or guild officer, I don’t think of the dialogue as an unequal one.  I am an adult having honest and fair discourse with another adult.  When someone tells me something, I respect their right to hold that opinion, take it into careful consideration, and interpret it as charitably as possible.  (Side note: the Principle of Charity is a big deal in philosophical thought.  You read someone as if they are saying something interesting, something cognizant, and something reasonable… or, at least, try to read them as nicely along those lines as possible.)

And here’s why GMs quit.  People ask to be dealt with fairly, like adults.  People also ask to be treated like children.  Favored children, but children nonetheless.  Many guild members want their officers and/or GM to find them a group of their best friends that are the most competent, a time that works excellently for themselves and that everyone else in the group can be counted on to show up at that time, and that they be asked to do nothing more than whatever they wanted to do anyway.  I do not mean to turn this into a “oh, look how Raparth can whine about people” contest or a “oh, my experiences as a GM are sooo much worse than yours,” but rather to point out the division between how I believe relations should be constructed and how others often construct them.

An autocratic leader can be counted on to make those sorts of decisions.  A democratic leader or, as I often like to term myself a “facilitator,” engages his/her subjects based on equality.  When I engage another guild member (for I, even as GM or member of the officer council, am a guild member), I do so on the basis of equality.  We are both gamers, both adults, both paying $15-a-month to get a social- and gaming-based enjoyment.  (I would like to say that, even with someone as young as 15 {and perhaps even younger} I expect this level of adult responsibility and respect.)  We come together, as a pair, as a 10man, as a 25man, as a guild, to have fun and to have that fun together.  I should not and cannot rightly expect others to be perfect, mood-less, mistake-less automata.  They should not and cannot rightly expect the same of me.  It does not matter whether I or the other is the GM; that relationship of equality remains the same.

The next time you approach a guild officer or a guild master, please remember that, despite the fact they take up extra logistical responsibilities (and may even, if they are so psychotic as myself, enjoy a lot of that logistical arcane), they are still fellow guild members and fellow players.  They, too, come to the game expecting to get their $15 worth of socializing and dragon-slaying.  We come together as friends, Azerothians, fellow gamers, to do this thing we love.  And that is: game.  We can do this in a civil, adult, responsible, and, most importantly, FUN manner.

Let’s have fun together, guys.

See you on the flipside of PAX East 2011,

~ Mr. Pacman

(William/Raparth)

Comic – Week 2

Posted: March 7, 2011 by Cynthia 心雅 in Comic
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Cool people, that’s who!

Penny Arcade’s awesomeness was a HUGE inspiration in starting this blog, so you better believe we will be there. I decided that this Saturday, AND next Saturday’s posts will pretty much be all about PAX. Since this is my anticipatory post, I will let you in on the events that I am definitely NOT MISSING. 😀

We’re flying down Thursday morning, and staying @ the Seaport Hotel with a friend… who’s blog is here: http://masansgaard.wordpress.com/

He’s a cool guy.

So Thursday evening we are going to the PrePAX Dinner and then I am staying at Fanuiel Hall for the PrePAX Pokécrawl (bar crawl). I might stop by PrePAX Game Night afterward if I can still stand on two feet.

Then it’s off to bed, and an early morning standing to wait to get into the BCEC. The keynote should be awesome, but I’m thinking about missing it (and watching it on youtube later) to be one of the first one’s into the expo hall. I haven’t made up my mind on panels just yet (I really need to get on that), but I think my main focus is going to be on swag and demos. I’m hoping for some awesome twitter meetups as well.

Friday night I’m going to the most Epic Party. Saturday I’ll probably go to the concert, if I don’t find another awesome party, and then Sunday I’m going to the Girls Meetup.

We aren’t leaving Boston until Monday @ 6am, so I don’t know what we’re doing Sunday night until then… we don’t have a hotel room though, so probably something sketch.

I’m going to take pics, and maybe some video to put up next Saturday, so be on the lookout for awesomeness. 😀

~Ms. Pacman

Cynthetic

Comic – Week 1

Posted: March 2, 2011 by Cynthia 心雅 in Comic
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I’ll try to add a comic once a week, too… provided I keep thinking of witty things to say. This one is more just a test, I guess. The characters may change, I haven’t decided.

The Inevitable Introduction

Posted: March 2, 2011 by Raparth in Uncategorized

Greetings, fellow citizens of the ‘Net.

I’m the far-less-chipper left-brained half of this “Just a Couple of Gamers.”  I’ve gone by the unique (insofar as I’m aware) gaming handle of “Raparth” for the last 8+ years.  Anymore, though, I also give out my first name of “William” to be a little more personable.  This post will both serve as something of a getting-to-know-me introduction and the beginnings of what should be at-least-weekly posts about my struggles, lessons, encounters, anticipations, and general experience as it pertains to gaming.  The posts will, if I turn out to have any self-control whatsoever, be put up on Wednesdays, to offset Cynthia’s Saturday posts.

I’ve been a gamer for, essentially, all my life.  I’m a solid second-generation gamer, something that I know not everyone has experienced.  Some of my earliest memories are “playing” Zork “with” my dad, though, really, it was more just looking over his shoulder and making suggestions of what we should do.  I’ve been a roleplaying gamer since just before the 3rd Edition of Dungeons & Dragons game out.  (Wikipedia tells me this was in 2000, so I’ve roleplayed since approximately age 10.)  I started doing a few years later (2003-ish), but had been doing your more general computer gaming before 10.  My life, as it is, has always included gaming.  It is an excellent way to have a little escapism, a little catharsis, or some socialization.  With my undergraduate college career nearing it’s end, truly free time is not a common luxury.  What I do have tends to go to gaming, both for the raw fun-factor and the casual social environment.  Most of my closest friends are gamers, as a result of this.  When the opportunity presents itself, gaming allows Cynthia and I to hang out in a constantly-changing environment that both entertains and challenges us.

When it comes to games, I’ve played a great many, and almost every genre I’m aware of.  Roleplaying games (from Morrowind to World of Warcraft to Dragon Age to Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines) are almost always at the top of my most-played list, but I’m a big fan of Strategy Games (Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri to Supreme Commander to Age of Mythology), First-Person Shooters (Half-Life to Prey to Serious Sam), Board Games (Arkham Horror to Settlers of Catan), and tabletop roleplaying games (Dungeons & Dragons to Mage: the Ascension to Exalted).

I tend to be a Game Master (or Dungeon Master or Storyteller or Storyguide or…) in more games than I play in, but I thoroughly enjoy both roles.  Right now I’m running a sandbox-y Mage: the Ascension (pre-Reckoning/Week of Nightmares for those of you White Wolf fans) and am going to be starting up a Scion game (a newer White Wolf game where you play literal demigods in the modern day {e.g. one Player Character is the daughter of Hermes, while another is the son of Hel}) in two weeks.  This later one Cynthia will be in as a player, which I thoroughly look forward to as it’s been nearly a year since we were in a tabletop game together.  I am also currently a player in a friend’s Shadowrun game.

As a side note, I’m the GM (in name, but we’re really an officers’ council of currently-3 members who make decisions) of a small raiding guild in World of Warcraft (on the Fizzcrank server, Alliance side, name: The Lost Gods).  We’re taking it a little slow right now, but at the end of Wrath we were easily the best raiding small guild on the server.  Cynthia and I play it often together and really enjoy the community of friends we’ve developed in it.

Well, I think that’s it for this week…  I’ll post next week more in-depth about running games and leading guilds and more about dealing alternating-ly with your significant other and the players/members in your game/guild.  I’m far from an expert, but it’s a big thing to have to deal with and I always appreciate any stories/hints/tips/feedback in relation to it.  Eh, I’ll probably talk a little about the games I’m running too.

 

“May all your hits be crits,”

~ Mr. Pacman

(William/Raparth)

 

A Brief Introduction: 

I’m Cynthia, the Ms. Pacman of this duo of game-loving nerds, and I will be signing my posts as such (or Ms. P for short perhaps). The Mr. and I (we’re not married quite yet, but will be come August) decided to start this little blog after a brief conversation about how our relationship wouldn’t be nearly as strong if we didn’t both play video (and tabletop) games. I proposed the idea after a quick google search showed that there wasn’t any sort of main stream, big name blog already doing the same thing.

What is it we’re doing, you ask?

We’re going to be writing a semi-weekly blog discussing our favorite games to play together (and why of course), events, and just generally anything nerdy we feel like talking about. In the mix, we might through a pointer/tip out here and there to other couples on how we’ve dealt with various issues (like being into different games, getting over WoW addictions, etc.)

What are our credentials?

I’m currently second in command of our university’s gaming organization, and we have both previously held office as Treasurer. What I’m saying is, that gaming is a big part of our lives. It is both my and William’s primary hobby.

What are my favorite games?

My favorite PC game is World of Warcraft. I love the community aspect the most. My favorite console game is (currently) Mass Effect 2, but Halo probably comes in close second. Mass Effect is just a great story, complimented by great game play, while I love Halo for very similar reasons to WoW. I love being able to play with my friends no matter where they are, which is great considering how far some of them have moved from our home town (including myself). My favorite paper game is Vampire: The Masquerade (No NOT because of Twilight. I don’t care for Twilight.) I like pretty much everything White Wolf has made, though, so really they’re all very close in terms of favorites. Why I choose WW’s WoD (White Wolf’s World of Darkness) over D&D most of the time is because of the roleplaying that WW requires. I like the combat style of D&D, but too often I end up in parties of people who only like combat, and never want to think any more about their character than their stats. I know that’s not all, or even most players of D&D, but typically that’s where you find those players, not in a WW game. My favorite table top (non-paper) game might just be a 3-way tie between Settlers of Catan, Risk, and Cranium. I like Settlers and Risk for their strategy and planning aspect and I love Cranium as a party game, because it is guaranteed laughs. And last and… well, probably least important… My favorite flash game is Peggle. I have an add-on in WoW that lets me play Peggle while I travel (via flight point, or autowalk) and I love it. It’s ridiculously addictive.

I’ll try to post every Saturday, to keep this relatively regular. I’m also considering embedding a vlog every couple of weeks or so. Now I’ve just got to remind William to make his first post.

Tah!

~Ms. Pacman

Cynthetic