Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thrown Into the Driver’s Seat: Haphazardly Acquiring a Raiding Guild

During a dedicated Warcraft player’s gaming “career”, one sometimes gets thrown a couple of curveballs along the long strange road of progression. Especially being an officer in a guild, dealing with the day to day challenges that arise within the game whether it is your guildies’ personalities, intra-guild relations or random players in general, looting, scheduling and everything in between; things do not always turn out the way we like. However, nothing is more daunting than suddenly finding yourself at the helm of a guild when your GM decides that either leading is not for him, quits the game altogether or just has the need to move onto different waters.

How would you deal with it? Would you excel and thrive at the job maintaining the raiding level of the guild or bettering it? Or would you crack under the pressure?

The following dialogue is the story of one player/officer named “Arkness” of The Wrath of Medivh on the US-Uldaman Server. I had the chance to chat with Arkness recently about his sudden “acquisition” of the WoM one of Uldaman’s progression guilds and with his permission am posting the interview below.


Napaeae: So Arkness, how about we start with an introduction, can you please let us know a bit about yourself, your toon and your current position in The Wrath of Medivh?

Arkness: Ok so my name is Andrew, most of the guild knows me by 'Drew" or by ' Ark' my toon is a Human Protection Paladin, and currently I am GM, Raid Leader and Main Tank of The Wrath of Medivh

Napaeae: Wow that's a lot to have on your plate, did you have the raid lead and Main Tank responsibilities before you became GM?

Arkness: Yes I was Raid Leader and Main Tank before being GM, one of my raiders said last week that they had been in the guild for about a year and "Ark has always been the voice of WoM on vent. Every raid he was the one that lead it."

Napaeae: Obviously you since you had the Raid Leader role before becoming GM, it must have been a natural transition into this new leadership role. But how did you suddenly become GM in the first place?

Arkness: LOL So one night after a raid, we (the GM at the time, another officer, and me) are sitting in the officer channel of vent discussing various items and as with all guilds one of those topics was those members that have questions/comments/complaints/QQ to coin a game phrase. We were discussing some of the ‘QQ’ that I had heard throughout that evening’s raid and part of it was in relation to the GM’s acceptance or un-acceptance as the case was this time of another healers input into a situation during the raid. Apparently hearing this was the straw that broke the camel’s back to coin a phrase and he started messing with the guild rankings some. At first I thought he was messing around as he promoted me to Exec. Officer then back to Officer. Then after that he promoted me to GM and /gquit. He then proceeded to log in all of his alts and /gquit on them as well and that’s how I became GM.

Napaeae: Wow that is sudden! How did you react at that time when you became GM?

Arkness: Well honest initial reaction was "Oh Shit, What's going on?" I felt a bit overwhelmed and taken aback by the situation. I honestly figured that he was just pissed off and would be back on one of the following days. It was quite a sudden shock.

Napaeae: Obviously, once everyone realized that he was not coming back, and it sunk in you were the new GM, how did your guildies react?

Arkness: Generalized reactions at first varied from: 'omgwtf' to 'what the hell just happened' to 'Oh shit, Ark's GM we're all going to die'. Most however already trusted me as a leader, so other than the initial shock weren't too worried about it. I even got quite a few "I got you back, bro." from some of the long standing members.

Napaeae: That's great that you received so much support. It must have felt good!

Arkness: It did, I have a very close network of friends within the guild. We talk outside of WoW and their support has been great as well.

Napaeae: What was your first act as GM? What did you change? What did you keep the same?

Arkness: Well official first act as GM, was that evening in calming the masses. Naturally the guild members had tons of questions after the former GM quit and I was promoted. I made an announcement in guild chat, “That the old GM most likely had several reasons for doing what he did. He didn't share these with me. However, everyone needed to remain calm and the situation would be addressed by the officers and those former officers and former GM's (2 former GM's were on RL breaks and have since quit playing WoW as well.) and that I would hold be the GM for as long as they wanted/allowed me to do it. “ No it probably wasn't that nicely worded that night, but that's the basics of it.

The second and my actual first act as GM was to keep the 'status quo' at the time. One of the former GM's (one of the ones on RL break) suggested in the officer's forum to "I guess we should cancel tonight's raid and have a vent meeting to work out what's going on from here." and my response was, “Hell No, I refuse to cancel that evening's raid… That’s just not the message I want to send right now."

Honestly I haven't changed much. I did start enforcing more of our standards. Raiding had became rather lax during Naxx. Trash was easy, bosses were easy, and people were coming unprepared, unread on strats, or just not attending raids as much at all. So I started making sure consumables were used, people had read up on strats, that they were focused, and that they truly wanted to be there with us. WoM has a great history and a great background to it. Not much needed changing except our attitude towards raiding.

The biggest change I made was to fully open recruiting, this accomplished two things: One, it let everyone know that we ARE a raiding guild. Their positions as raiders was not set in stone and it stopped the preconceived notion by many applicants, that they would have a hard time finding a position within our team.

Napaeae: Seems like you handled the situation rather well and quickly! How did the guild react to the changes that you did make (i.e., opening up recruiting, etc.)?

Arkness: They reacted fairly well overall, attendance is up, performance is up, and generally attitudes are much better. That combined with several new members that are wonderful people and players have helped get things back on track after the summer slump.

Napaeae: And how about you? Have you become more comfortable with the idea of being GM? What do you like and/or dislike about it?

Arkness: I love being GM, but it does have its moments and yes I have more gray hairs now. The best part of being GM is the pride that comes when the team goes out there and does well. Just last week when we went to the Crusader's Coliseum, we went in and one-shot the Northrend Beasts encounter. It was awesome fun and one hell of the morale booster and there is a certain level of pride knowing that I helped lead them to that.

What do I dislike? Mostly just those that do seem to be 'me' centered. Every guild has them, those people that are more 'phat lootz' oriented then helping the team and guild progressed. I also dislike the fact that hiding when I need quiet time is more difficult now days.

Napaeae: Haha, you'll get used to the lack of privacy/"me time", I lost mine about 4 years ago.

Arkness: Rofl, I thought it was bad having kids! Now I have a whole guild that likes to track me down!

Napaeae: After going through this experience yourself, what advice would you give to those suddenly finding themselves in your shoes?

Arkness: Take it slow and easy, surround yourself with good friends that are like minded and guild focused, talk to everyone (even the quiet guy that's just a 'friends and family' member has great input), don't beat yourself up too hard when something doesn't go exactly as planned, and most of all to have some fun with it otherwise being GM can become one of those dreaded "J O B" scenarios real quick.

Napaeae: Great advice! Anything else you'd like to add?

Arkness: Yup one more quote I'm stealing... “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.” - John Buchan

Napaeae: Isn't that the truth... Great quote. Thank you, Ark, for spending some time talking with me this afternoon about your experiences.

Arkness: No problem, I'm overly flattered that you asked me to come hang out and talk. Good luck in life and WoW. I'll see you around Uldaman.

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