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Drama Mamas: Dealing with WoW bashing

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Robin may or may not rant later.
Dear Drama Mamas,

I'm wondering if others have been experiencing something similar to a new guild I recently tried out:

My wife and I have been looking for a new "home" to transfer to, since many of our RL friends hardly play, if at all, and our previous friends/family guild almost entirely perma-logged and moved on from WoW. We've been testing guilds by starting new toons and joining up to get a feel for the guild before dropping $$$ on transferring.

One such guild was suggested by a WoW Insider poster. At first it was exciting to be in a guild with someone who was about as big a WoW nerd as I was, but after joining their guild's Facebook page, it quickly went from good to bad. There were about 3-5 members who regularly trash-talked WoW and were eager to play something new/different. I got the feeling much of this trash-talking was intended to draw more WoW guildies away to play with them. The worst part was that the poster who got me into the guild had become one of them.
The guild leader mostly tried her best to remind everybody that they were all friends, and that the friendship spanned beyond a single game. However, it seemed like there was no attempt to actively stop the trashing. It's certainly possible she was contacting them in private, but if so, it was having little effect.

In the end, I left the Facebook group and stopped logging into that particular alt. Some of the WoW players were great folk and I would love to stay in contact with them, but don't really know how to go about it.

So I think these are my questions:
1) Is there anything the guild leader could have done differently? Should tackling the problem publicly been considered?
2) Is it too late to become, at the very least, Real ID friends with the few I did get along with? It's been about 2 or 3 months since last logging in, and we only got to chat a handful of times over vent. Not sure if it would be appropriate now.
3) How common is this situation? Should I expect to deal with jaded ex-/pseudo-members?

Thrown For A Loop
RobinDrama Mama Robin: Thrown, though I preach in this column that public snittiness causes drama, I just can't help myself when it comes to people who play World of Warcraft trash talking it. I always say "Then stop playing it!" or something similar. I really don't get why people pay the monthly fee to play a game they are not enjoying. If it's for the social aspect, there are a bajillion ways to keep in touch (like the Facebook page that the guild already has).

A related complaint is the "OMG subscriptions dropped by X amount. WoW is dead!" So many people got into the MMO business because EQ had half a million at its peak. That was considered a lot of subscription money. Stop being a Debbie Downer, and play if you enjoy it; otherwise, go on your un-merry way.

I also don't get why people who have stopped playing it (or worse, have never played) feel the need to criticize WoW players for continuing to play. Dude, you made your choice to not play, and I'm sure it's the right one. But don't harsh my WoW buzz if I still think it's fun. It happens often when I stream -- "People still play that game?" or "WoW is lame; you should play [insert game name here]." Are you being paid to lure people to another game? No? Then move on, buddy.

Oops, I ranted. I should answer your questions now.

  1. It's hard as a guild leader when a large portion of your players are having the in-between patches/expansions blues. This periodic grumbling is common among many guilds. It's also hard to police a Facebook page as you would guild chat. I think a pleasant forum/Facebook post that requested that all anti-WoW grumbling be taken to another forum would probably have been the best thing to do.
  2. I think it may be too late to become Real ID friends with the ones you liked. It may seem a little creepy that you suddenly reappear and ask for very sensitive info. (And Real ID is definitely a reduction of your security.)
  3. As I said, this becomes very common when people tire of the current content. But there are also many guilds who don't have that problem or don't condone the verbal misery, so peruse the public postings of the guilds you are interested in before you make a commitment.

This situation is also common in other online games. When I played EQ, I had guildies badmouth it and try to get us to play Asheron's Call. All the "Tribes was better" whining while enjoying Tribes II was rather annoying as well. And there were many guildies in Star Wars Galaxies who were constantly complaining about that game long before it was completely ruined (still bitter).

Good luck in finding a guild where people enjoy playing the game. And pity the people paying a monthly fee to whine.

LisaDrama Mama Lisa: As a member of a gaming group that just can't find a game to call home right now, I can sympathize with your guildies. Falling out of love with a game like World of Warcraft happens at all different levels. Some players (like my own husband, /sob) become utterly repelled by the game as soon as they realize it doesn't feel like home anymore; they can't play a moment longer, although they want to keep socializing with the gang just like your guildmates do on Facebook. Others keep playing, but they may start missing raids and guild events, inadvertently scattershotting the rest of the group's efforts with their lackadaisical attitude. Other players fall permanently out of sync with the rest of the guild, leveling alt after alt or switching mains that never seem to catch up with the current progression curve.

So why don't these players or guilds just switch games? That's actually harder than it sounds. Not everyone will choose to move to the new big thing, and not everyone will want to plunk down the money to buy it and try it. You have to find a game with enough content to give everyone something to do, even the guy who plays from work and logs in again as soon as he gets home every day; that's a high bar for a brand new release. And to top if off, a new game's no fun if the whole gang doesn't come along. A handful of players is rarely able to stick together closely enough to enjoy leveling and grouping together on an ongoing basis.

So what does that mean for you? If you choose to tag with a persistent gaming group with members who are burned out on WoW, I'm afraid it means tolerating a certain level of passive-aggressive swipes at World of Warcraft. Guilds like this frequently recruit in an effort to inject new blood and energy into the mix (hence, your enthusiastic recruitment by your fellow WoW Insider reader). But the fact is, you've joined an established social group, not a WoW-specific raiding group. The guild leader's reaction makes this clear. If she were making an effort to move the malcontents along, things would be considerably different -- but she's not, and they're not, and so you have to face the fact that the situation is not likely to change.

At any rate, you've noted that it's been two to three months since you've last talked with these people. That's an eternity in online time. It behooves you to log in today -- not tomorrow, today -- and get the lay of land. See if the folks you enjoy hanging out with are even still around. Unless you can reconnect with them in the immediate future, your path is clear: It's time to move on to greener pastures.

Happy hunting!

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at Robin@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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