When I started playing WoW I never imagined that the social interactions of a multiplayer game would translate so closely to real life situations. I have played multiplayer games online for years, but the communities that are formed in WoW are above and beyond even the groups of players that I used to have LANparties with. When it comes to guilds, the similarities between running one and running a company are hard to ignore. Everything that I have learned in management courses applies directly to guild management, and vice-versa. The things that I have learned in the game have also given me insight into managing people and even hiring.
Today’s topic will revolve around the creature we see running around Dalaran with a gear score that puts them “above” us mere mortals, the “hardcore raider.” For this discussion I want to define a couple of things. I consider myself and most of our guild casual raiders, and I put us in that category for the following reason. While we do like to raid and get the phat lootz, to us it is more important to have a peaceful and drama free community than to put up with rude and elitist attitudes. (see Friends > Loot.) I also define a hardcore raider as someone who’s goals in the game revolve mostly around raiding and progression.
WotLK has made the game more accessible. Ask a player that has been to MC when it was current content and he will tell you that the game is now easy. I personally find this a wonderful change because I think that as a consumer we should all get to see all of the content. Games have had a way to enable hard modes for a while and WoW in the past seemed to only allow some people to reach that level. Now raiding seems more accessible to the masses with hard modes and special mounts available to the more dedicated and skilled players. I think that is a good method of offering content, instead of not letting 90% of the players see the end game.
One amazing phenomenon I have observed is that when for whatever their reason (lack of time, weird schedule, family obligations, burnout) hardcore raiders end up in casual raiding guilds. We provide them with the flexibility of not having to show up to every single raid, and still be somewhat competitive. I can only assume than when Cata comes out this will be less appealing to them because what we provide for them for the most part is numbers. Filling up a 25, where the phat lootz are at right now is not easy for a hardcore raider that cannot make the time commitment most progression guilds expect. The interesting thing is how similar these group of people are to consultants in the real world.
Consultants for the most part are people that have a very specialized skill that is needed in a company but not necessarily a full time position. Because of their knowledge they are well paid, but the company wants to get their services and cut the cost as soon as possible. That is also the main reason casual guilds will ultimately take a chance on letting hardcore raiders in. They want the knowledge and the experience they have to help them enter the raids they also want to accomplish. Many consultants will train people in the companies they visit to perform some of the tasks they do, and in guilds it is the same. DPS goes up, strategies are laid out, healing teams seem to work better because of the expertise they bring to the table.
Like in the real world, there are good and bad consultants. I have seen that consultants fall into 3 groups.
Experienced Consultant – They have been there, done that and priced themselves out of a permanent position.
Temp Consultant – They have the knowledge and can consult but would like to be hired on.
Bad Consultant – They like the money consulting offers, but don’t have the experience or expertise to do it.
It was very eye opening to see that hardcore raiders also fall into these same categories when they come into a guild.
Most hardcore raiders that end up in a casual guild have done the content and come ahead of where the progression curve the guild overall has. They are very helpful because they have put in the “wipes” to learn what needs to be done. They offer valuable tips and their contribution to the raid in general is amazing. They will be top DPS, amazing tanks or can single heal fights if you lose people. I consider them all experienced consultants and they will be with your guild until their situation changes and they can get back to the hardcore raiding they really enjoy. They might be wonderful people, but for them the game is about raiding and getting titles, gear, achievements and making friends is secondary to them.
The raiders that I compare to temp consultants are people that for one reason or another got a taste of hardcore raiding (spouse, friend, a guild) and became good at it. They eventually end up at a casual guild for the same reason as those above and like the social aspect of a casual guild. They bring a lot of positive things into the table and might sacrifice that shinny carrot of progression for being part of a guild. They are the most likely to want to become a full participating member of a casual guild and make a home there. I think cata will be the prime time for these folks since you can make a hardcore 10 man inside of a casual guild and be successful. In the current content cycle a 25 hardcore inside of a casual guild is a very difficult thing to accomplish specially in a low population server like ours.
The bad consultant is also the bad hardcore raider. They are either extremely good and elitist thinking they are better than anyone else in the casual guild, or have had a taste of raiding without any real accomplishment but come in with “stories” to back them up. They are the most dangerous to your casual guild and even raid because they will turn casuals off raiding completely if they are not managed properly. The really good ones at the game tend to constantly talk down to others and chastise them for not doing their job. They are the ones constantly pointing the finger at someone so that they are not discovered as really non raiders because they don’t know basic game mechanics like focus targeting or staying out of the fire. They end up in a casual guild either to become a big fish on a small pond or dragged into it by a friend from the groups above. They will be unhappy and want you to change the guild to fit their speed.
Raiders can be part of a casual guild for a period of time as long as they understand that the core of the guild is casual and they are willing to compromise. Like a consultant they need to understand that they are there to bring expertise and become part of the team, but if they want it to be permanent they have to buy into the company’s culture or not become permanent. You can get a lot of them if your guild wants to see content, but you have to be ready to do damage control because they will rock the boat directly or indirectly. Any manager will tell you that bringing consultants in means that their job becomes more difficult because if they don’t keep a close eye the project will not advance.
As a guild leader always keep your goals clear and your team working together. Make sure that your officers buy into the idea of having a group of people come into your guild with raiding aspiration or you will end up alienating some of them. Also remember that its impossible to make everyone happy and any time you add people to your guild either by recruitment or merger personalities will clash. Just make sure that as a leader you have clear vision for your guild and don’t be afraid to change it if most people want a different direction. In the end everyone pays for their own game and they are part of your guild out of their own free will. Just don’t forget to have fun.