You Got to Know When to Hold ’em, Know When to Fold ’em
I’ve sat on this blog post for a couple of weeks. I’ve debated with myself on whether the fallout was worth the opportunity to say what I felt needed to be said. And to tell my side of a story that I was being asked to keep quiet. I weighed the potential that the fallout would include losing some very good friends whom I had grown to love and adore over time. I discussed with friends. I sought advice. Everything ranged from “tell the story” to “don’t tell the story”.
In the end my choice to tell this story stems from the fact that I don’t play well with bullies. And I’m not letting the bully keep me from telling my side of the story.
This is your warning. It’s your only warning. And it’s gonna be a long post.
When last I wrote about my guild woes, I thought they had all but been dealt with. I had found a good place to call home with Undying Resolution, and I felt as though I was being included in this ready-made family of gamers. I felt like I had finally found a guild that was on par with the way I wanted to play WoW. They were a casual raiding group, but progression-minded. Perfect. I wanted to achieve hardmode boss kills, just not at the break-neck speed to compete for server first achievements. It wasn’t what I wanted and a major reason why I left Apotheosis. It wasn’t rose-colored glasses that I was viewing the guild through. I was a new person, and as with all things when I’m the new person, I tread lightly, trying to get a feel for how things worked here. It’s always going to be different with each group.
Things started to slowly fall apart at some point, though. I can’t put my finger on the exact moment, but there were all these smaller annoyances that led up to me not being very happy overall. I received an email on the morning of Saturday, October 27th, 2012 letting me know that I had a PM on the forums. Within hours of receiving this email, I was barred access to respond or reply or say anything on the forums, so a screen capture of what was said is unavailable. In essence it said that I was being asked to leave the guild, but no reason was given other than “we’re not the right fit”. I was asked to leave quietly and if in doing so, they would give me a positive reference to the next guild I might apply for. I was told it wasn’t my healing or play skill. I logged into WoW and without saying a word, removed all of my characters from UR’s ranks.
Then came the wave of emotions. A part of me felt like a failure. Like I had done something so tremendously wrong to deserve getting kicked out of a guild that touted they were so friendly and welcoming. I was given some cookie-cutter response that offered nothing to explain what lead up to it. I was also asked to keep my mouth shut. After awhile I started to think about this very point… the keeping quiet bit… and I wondered what I had done so wrong that they were asking me to keep quiet about it. That’s like the stuff of corporate take-overs and television shows where shady shit is going on in the background. So I sat on it. Complained about it. Was sad about it for a little bit. But then the real emotions came out. I was fuckin’ pissed the fuck off! How DARE they try to silence me and extort my silence with the promises of giving me a good reference! All of the smaller irritations culminated in me being really irate about the whole thing. I tried writing about it, but all that came out was a lot of emotional dribble that was much more closely related to a disgruntled employee than fact-stating. So here’s the breakdown of my experiences and observations. Please note that this is a perspective thing. This is my experience and may not necessarily reflect the experiences of others.
At the end of Cataclysm, at least on two occasions that I can remember, people had asked if there was a deadline to hit level 90. Or when the guild expected to start raiding. No date was given on when they wanted raiders to be 90. Nor did they give a date for when they wanted players to be at a certain item level. The response I heard on those two occasions boiled down to this: “It will happen when it happens.” The only reason why this is even being brought up is that there were people who didn’t take vacation, or didn’t have the same amount of free time, and they were inadvertently being “punished” for these things which later became a quip at the end of a raid night about getting your gear up and doing what you can to be ready.
Within days a handful of folks had hit 90. Over the course of the first week there were many people who had hit 90 and were starting the trek to get through all the dailies and rep grinds. There were folks running scenarios and dungeons, only, it was the same group of people doing them. I almost never said anything in guild chat about needing people. On the occasions when I would ask if people were interested in doing runs, the only response I would get were crickets. No response from anyone. Not even a “Sorry, doing dailies, maybe later” sort of thing. It was getting frustrating. This kind of clique-making happens in guilds though, especially when there are enough people to man a 25-man raid. I remember dealing with similar problems in Apotheosis, so it’s not endemic of UR. But it didn’t go very well with the cries of “Help each other out! We’re a guild! Do it for your guildies!” when a core group of people weren’t participating in the behavior they were wanting to promote.
At those earlier levels, if you couldn’t get a guild group of mostly competent people, you were stuck PUG’ing groups. This is never fun early on. People don’t know the fights, but are frustrated by wiping. With guildmates it makes it easier to deal with those aspects of leveling and gearing, and you help each other come up with ideas on how best to handle them. Though, truthfully, the heroics were kind of a joke when it came to ease-of-execution. Considering the people who had complained to me about having the same frustrations, I was surprised nothing was done or said about this. Help with dailies was nearly non-existent. I had help with dailies from two people ever. They were the only two people who ever offered to team up to do it. No one responded when if I asked if folks wanted to do dailies together. At this time of the expansion, I was on an awful lot. (NOTE: I’m leaving their names off in case they don’t want to be associated with this blog post at all).
Then there were these “exploratory” raids. Which happened on Sunday’s and Monday’s. These were previously the alt runs during the latter part of Cataclysm content (and I suspect will be again at some point). In the beginning, though, they were the exploratory raids. A 10-man group of folks who went in to see how the mechanics worked. Makes perfect sense. No problem there. The problems came from the fact that it had been advertised as a non-EPGP event. It was unrelated to the 2-nights a week that were needed to maintain raider status in the 25-mans. The first one kind of happened on the down-low. I was asked to sign up for the second one in whispers. I did, because I feel like I’m a team player and wanted to help out. No where was I told that I would be charged GP for loot obtained out of these exploratory runs. No where. Not even on the night of the run! It wasn’t until I was charged for it that I knew what was going on. No EP was being earned, so logic told me that we wouldn’t be charged, but maybe it only made sense to me. Eventually the exploratory runs started earning EP at a 50% rate. Not sure when the change happened, since, again, there was no announcement. From where I was sitting, it seemed as though there were only a select few who ever actually got invited to go on these runs anyway. Maybe it was because their schedules were more conducive to raiding more often. Maybe it was something else. I can only speculate on what was really going on based on how I felt about it, and my own observation.
The issue of gear can ruffle some feathers and make enemies out of friends. The guild uses EPGP for loot distribution. Some of you may be familiar with it, some of you may not. It’s a type of DKP where EP (Effort Points) are earned for participation/availability/
Now here’s where my hackles got raised when it came to loot. Boss dies. There’s a helm (ilvl 489) that is an upgrade for me (ilvl 476). In a whisper I get asked if I’d be willing to pass on the item because someone else was wearing a lower ilvl item (463) and our PRs were very close. I say okay, because really, no offense here, but do I actually have a choice?? I get to either be the “team player” who passes on the loot because it’s a bigger upgrade for someone else than it is for me or I’m a “selfish asshole” who says no. I had the higher PR anyway, so legitimately it was my loot. Because I play WoW, and I raid, to be part of a team, I happily passed on the helm. It wasn’t until a trinket dropped later that night when the same consideration wasn’t used. Everyone wanted that healer trinket. Of course we all wanted the healer trinket. And there was only one of them, so only one of us would win it. Except that the person who won it, won based on only PR. One trinket was ilvl 489 and the other one 476. The upgrade “strength” this person was getting was the same upgrade “strength” I was going to receive from the helm. I don’t know how everyone else’s trinket’s looked, but I had an ilvl 463. Regardless of whether it went to me or someone else because maybe they had a 435, or 450, or something, it should have been considered being passed to someone else who might benefit more from the upgrade. This isn’t about me wanting to be the one awarded the trinket, as much I highly DOUBT we were all sitting at equal trinket ilvls But that wasn’t considered. It was based only on PR. Only.
So I asked about the reasoning behind it. Why I would be asked to pass on an item that was a significantly better upgrade for someone else, but the same courtesy wasn’t extended for the other piece of loot, I got a response along the lines of, “I would rather have 15-20 relatively decently geared people, instead of 10 really well geared people.” Which is reasonable, but why make an exception and ask to loot council one item, but not another? Under this logic, it should have happened with the trinket as well, since if only speaking from my own perspective, it was a much bigger upgrade.
It happened again another night, but UR has a stipulation that tanks get gear first regardless of PR. Which Apotheosis had something similar during Dragon Soul with regard to tanks getting 4-set bonuses first, but otherwise there has never been this type of gear policy before or after (per Kurn). Now I understand each guild will set their own rules and guidelines. But let’s be clear, in order to avoid frustration, hurt feelings, resentment, and a sense of favoritism, you need to be very specific and clear about how you’re going to handle things. Especially loot. Kurn understood this and addressed the majority of those issues early on, and addressed them transparently if things came up. And you know what I remember? If so-and-so won and item and it was a bigger upgrade for someone else, the two people would discuss and trade accordingly. Ask for EPGP to be adjusted. It fosters camaraderie in your ranks if you let them initiate these things. No officer or raid leader ever asked for someone to pass on loot. If I remember correctly, eventually an additional button was added for “Minor Upgrade” to differentiate from “Major Upgrade” to solve some of these issues. UR didn’t, at the time of my leaving, have this option.
Guild Policies and Personal Issues
I understand how councils work. I understand how boards work. I get that there are discussions that go on behind closed doors that not everyone is privy to. Except one of the things UR failed at being was very transparent. They asked you to read guidelines and policies, but these were altered and changed on the fly. No explanation given. As opposed to the way things went in Apotheosis, where even though none of the raiders were told verbatim what was said in officer meetings, we were at least let in on those subjects that directly related to raiders. If a policy changed, or was in consideration of change, we were told of these things. UR, to the best of my knowledge, did not handle things this way.
One of these things that would have been a deal-breaker for me early on was the decision to transition from a casual, progression-minded 25-man raid team to a more hardcore-minded 25-man raid team. Everything that was being advertised, everything that was being said, still centered on the “casual”. Except there was nothing casual about how they were handling the MoP raids. People who didn’t level as quickly were sat, but with no deadline in place you left people to their own devices. In conversations I was told that “it should be understood that you do what you need to do”. I’m sorry, but no, this doesn’t work. Taking into consideration the range of work schedules, school schedules, people who took vacation and people who didn’t take vacation, people who like running dungeons versus people who would rather do dailies, etc (this list could go on and on), you have to set deadlines. You cannot arbitrarily expect everyone to have the same priorities and expectations as you if you don’t set them. It doesn’t matter now, this far into the expansion, but it would have been beneficial prior to going into MoP.
There was very blatant favoritism as well. I can speculate and theorize about why I was asked to pass on loot for someone else, as the timing was convenient to the email/PM asking me to leave, but I’ll never know whether or not it was intentional to ask me to pass loot to someone who was going to remain on the team when I was being let go. Beyond that, it was obvious when some people were invited to dungeons, exploration nights, etc. And it was obvious when people weren’t invited.
Semi-early on I got into a discussion on twitter with a guildmate about something feminism related. At multiple times in the discussion I said that Twitter was a terrible forum for that type of discussion, and multiple times he continued to engage. One of the officer-team reminded me of the social media policy, though I wasn’t rude or nasty to anyone. I didn’t name call or disrespect anyone. The social media policy was much more vague than what they wanted in execution, after all was said and done. In the end it felt like they wanted to control the content of my tweets. I never once disrespected a guildmate or bad-mouthed the guild. I added the disclaimer to my twitter profile that stated that my tweets were not a direct reflection of my guild(mates). But I wasn’t going to stop dropping f-bombs just because someone else doesn’t use them and thinks that it’s something I shouldn’t be doing. And I wasn’t going to stop being a feminist, publicly, just because of some invisible social media policy that did not specify to avoid all topics of controversy. The reasoning was to maintain an image, as UR does a lot of recruiting from twitter. So do a lot of guilds. Especially Apotheosis. The one blaring difference is that Apotheosis people are allowed to complain and voice frustration. You won’t see them say “Oh that shit ass frost mage sucks” when there’s only one mage, thus singling out the individual, but they drop f-bombs and the like. They called out previous guildies who were absolute tools stealing content from the forums and using them on their own. There are a lot of bloggers and people who tweet in Apotheosis. I figured I could handle myself fairly well in managing myself on Twitter. The people in UR did not. But other than the one discussion in which I was asked to remember the policy “but you’re not in trouble and you’re not being reprimanded, just a friendly reminder”, I was never told when or if I had violated their policies. I wasn’t even told that was the reason I was being let go. No, it was other people who told me.
The final red flag for me, which had been awhile coming, was about being an adult guild who handled themselves like adults. I told them at my interview there are three things that will set me off. Rape, gay, and fag jokes don’t play well with me. There are a plethora of other words available to use instead to mean exactly what they want to say. So one day, in guild chat, someone says that something is gay. I wait a minute, expecting there to be a “Um… wat?!” response and nothing. Not a peep. Usual banter commences. I say “I’m fairly certain that <thing> is not homosexual.” No exaggeration, I was told my comment was offensive. To which I responded with something along the lines of what I would normally say of “Actually using ‘gay’ to mean something bad or negative is infinitely more offensive than my pointing it out.” I immediately got a whisper from the person who said it apologizing and saying they knew better and can find another word to mean the same thing. Which I appreciate, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I was told my comment was more offensive than the original “gay” comment.
I am a huge fan of boob, penis, butt, and poop jokes. I make them. I laugh at them. I enjoy them like many red-blooded human adult does. Hell, on occasion, I will even step over the line and find racist jokes funny, even though I know better. The issue I had wasn’t that it was said, but that I was told that sort of speech wasn’t something that happened, when in fact, it was. That wasn’t the first time I saw it. It just happened to be the most memorable because I was the offensive one. That’s not being an adult, that’s favoring your older members and forgiving their transgressions. That’s favoritism.
There is nothing more disappointing than finding you’ve made the wrong choice. Not just for yourself, but for the group. I feel like running a guild, and subsequently running a raid team, requires a certain level of understanding of human behavior. Including motivation and diplomacy. I started to feel as though there were those people who held back who they were in order to stay within the vague, but rigid, rules that were really more like hints than guidelines. That the interpretation of those rules were left up to the individual. Since my interpretation of the rules regarding social media/Twitter were vastly different than those who wrote them, I was cut off. Let go. Shoved out, more like. And I was asked to keep my mouth shut, no less.
I have a lot of respect for many of the members of UR. I don’t have much respect for the officers of the guild because they promote an unhealthy and unfair environment for their members. The feeling I was left with is that if you try to make suggestions to make things better (because these suggestions worked well for previous guilds) you’re rocking the boat to much. You’ll get cut off.
I helped guildies. I donated to the guild bank. I had an opportunity, at the end to actually profit from UR trying to make artificial amends and band-aid the problem. I said on Twitter that one regret I had was donating 5 Golden Lotus. In my mailbox were 20, from 3 different people. I sent them all back. I regret the money I wasted. But I don’t regret the chance I took. I made some great friends in UR prior to joining them and after joining them. I don’t regret them taking the chance on me when I was severely undergeared and inexperienced, throwing loot at me hand-over-fist.
Depending on the fallout of this post, it may mean I regret the loss of some friendships.
But I won’t be silenced. And I won’t be bullied.
But “you got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run”.