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Officers' Quarters: Raiding without characters

Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available now from No Starch Press.

A question for the readership: How important is it to you that the players you raid with are interesting and engaging people? Is it essential, or merely a bonus?

This week, a raid leader complains that his guildmates are boring -- to the point that he's considering leaving the guild altogether. He wants to know what he can do to inject some much-needed personality into the guild.
Hi Scott

I read your column regularly and find it very insightful. I have implemented various pieces of advice within my guild to varying degrees of success so thank you for this. Now however its my turn to pose a question.

How do you create a guild with character? Let me explain this a bit with some history. I have been raid leader for my guild for the last 7-8 months and in the last 2 I inherited the GM tag as he didn't have much time to play. I was practically doing all the work anyway so this wasn't an issue. My issue is two fold, firstly I don't think I really like anyone in the guild apart from one person. And secondly it seems like I play with a bunch of automatons. This isn't to say I dislike anyone but its just they all seem to lack any sort of character and wouldn't say boo to a goose!
We built the guild with some core friends around 5 of us, we then recruited around those. We have done quite well clearing 12/12 prior to the nerf and starting work on Heroics. However when some of these left or stopped playing I obviously recruited more. I was hoping people would be friendly and gell and do things together. This just hasn't been the case. No one hardly speaks in guild chat. No one organises to do heroics with each other. Running raids isnt fun as there is no banter its just a job. Even going to Firelands recently no one was excited and it put a massive downer on me as we have been working on the old content for so long. I personally was very excited to be seeing the new zone but no one else was. I try to encourage people to interact, I have setup a website and forums where everyone is required to introduce themselves to try and formulate a bond etc, but as the saying goes... you can lead a horse to water.

I want to have fun in the game but running this guild is like a job where no one appreciates anything you do. As its the summer my gf and I have just decided to try and get through to September then make a decision. I either pass the GM tag to someone else and move to a guild where I might have fun again. Or I try and build an atmosphere of fun and friendship, I just dont know how to do this beyond what I have tried!

Please help!

Confused GM.
Hi, Confused. The concept of character is one of those intangible things that naturally develops (or doesn't) within a guild. When it's there, we take it for granted more often than not. Yet, it can be so important for the longevity of a guild.

People are much more likely to stay in a guild where they enjoy the other players' company in a personal way. The fact that you're considering quitting the guild over this issue speaks volumes about just how critical it can be.

Unfortunately, it's not something you can really force. You can't dictate it through policy. You can't make people be more social or more fun to play alongside. You can only encourage.

Encouragement is the key

Your only hope is to lead by example and gradually draw people out of their shells -- at least, those who are willing. Here are some ways you can try to do this.

1. Be more social yourself. Be as active in guild chat and on the forums as you can. Talk about non-game issues to try to find some common interests among your players outside the game. You can try to spice up your raids with some banter -- even if it falls flat, at least it will give your players something to talk about.

2. Skip the Dungeon Finder. Make an effort to earn your valor points with guild members, even if they aren't much fun. You can sometimes get people to open up in a smaller group setting like a 5-man dungeon, whereas they might be too intimidated to do so in a larger raid. It also sets a good example for other members who might rely too much on PUGs.

3. Get on Vent early. See who else is on and try to engage them in a personal conversation prior to the raid start. The same principle of a smaller group of people applies here. Also, it's easier for some people to chat on Vent -- where their words disappear into the ether once spoken -- versus guild or raid chat, where what they've typed lingers for all to see.

4. Organize social events. Events like contests and games, achievement hunting, or PVP nights can give your players something extra to bond over. However, if no one shows up, the whole idea can backfire and merely reinforce the perception that it's not a very friendly guild. Thus, for your first attempt, keep it simple. A night for running classic raids or attacking Horde/Alliance leaders is a good start.

5. Recruit friendly. Go out of your way to find people who tend to be more chatty or social. Sometimes it only takes one or two people who are well liked to get more people involved in the act.

Realistic expectations

It's difficult to change an entire guild's social mindset once it's been established. It won't happen overnight. You'll have to keep at it and stay patient.

In the end, you could be stuck with what you've got. Your group is successful at raiding -- maybe that has to be enough. Not every guild can boast your level of success these days.

If that's not enough for you, and your attempts at creating a more lighthearted atmosphere bear no fruit, then perhaps you should consider a change. However, I would urge you not to look a gift horse in the mouth when it comes to successful raiding environments. They're not always so easy to come by.

/salute

Recently, Officers' Quarters has examined how strong new leadership can create a guild turnaround, the pitfalls of promising more than you can deliver, and lessons learned from Scott's own guild demise. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to scott@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

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