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Drama Mamas: The mystery behind guildchat silence

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.

Silence. It can be relaxing. It can be peaceful. And it can be heavy with the lack of replies after you say something. Just what does silence in guildchat mean?
Dear Drama Mamas,

I recently joined a guild that's been working hard on DS. I've only been on a few raid nights (maybe three guild runs). But I've got serious mic shyness. So I literally hadn't said a word yet. Nor have I told anyone I'm that shy. The others kept on chatting, friendly and all, and I just kind of hung around, pew-pewing, etc. like I'm supposed to. I rarely said anything in guild chat either and was just doing my own thing and showing up when I was supposed to. Needless to say, I did get a little lonely. But I just couldn't get over my shyness. Or the fact that the all-guy raid team (as far as I can judge from voices on vent) was intimidating me, unintentionally of course. But I think it's a good guild, I hope we just have to warm up to each other.
So the other night I asked the GM if he could shoot my sister an invite to the guild. She hasn't played much since BC, but I convinced her to come back and play with me (thank you Scroll of Resurrection!). Obviously, I'm much more comfortable talking to her than total strangers and she's always been more extroverted than me. We banter on like typical siblings. I could tell my actually talking (in guild chat, I'm still afraid of mics) caught some of the guildies off-guard. I don't know what to make of that, but it doesn't really bother me. Coming out of my shell, even just a little, is a good thing, right?

What's really worrying me is this: usually guild chat is quiet. Like, ghost town quiet. No one asks for help or makes conversation. I mean, I've been in small guilds before, but none have been so utterly silent. No good mornings, good nights or anything. And now suddenly, me and my sister are talking about all sorts of things, even personal things like her cat being an absolute terror. I don't really see any harm, since guild chat isn't really being utilized, and a few of the newer guildies have even joined in. But I'm worried the older players don't like it. They, in particular the officers, haven't joined in any conversation between me and my sister. I feel like it's the new vs the old.

I thought about asking the GM how he felt about it, but I didn't want to impose or anything. We've barely spoken and when we have, it's been very short. My sort of short questions to his short answers. That sort of thing. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm not even sure the GM likes me in the guild, like I'm a placeholder for a better dps or a friend of his. I guess even with my sister in it, the guild isn't quite feeling like home.

So I guess my big question is, how can I tell if me and my sister are annoying the possibly already annoyed older members? What should I do? And how do I talk to my sister about it? She's likely to just whisper someone, "Hey, are you mad? You shouldn't be, we're just talking." and I don't know if that would be the best way of handling it.

Thanks,

Shy Sister
Drama Mama RobinDrama Mama Robin: Shy Sister, I think there is a good chance that you are making this an issue when it isn't at all. Here are some clues:
  • You say you think your guild is a good guild. This is usually because it has good leadership. Good leaders tell you if you are doing something wrong.
  • If the GM didn't want you around, then why would he say it's OK for you to invite your sister? He could easily have said they were only inviting proven raiders at this time -- or some other perfectly valid excuse to avoid making it more likely you'll stay around.
  • If no one spoke in your guildchat before, than why would them continuing not to speak definitely mean they are annoyed? It wouldn't.
  • Does your guild use Mumble or Ventrilo for chatting? Often times, silent guildies are busy chatting it up via their headsets. Maybe they haven't invited you because they have detected your mic shyness. If they are busy voice chatting, they are probably not paying attention to guildchat at all.
I suspect that one of the reasons you are so shy is that you worry too much about all the possible social ramifications of anything you might say. (I used to be that way. It's rather stressful.) So my first bit of advice to you is to try to stop imagining all the negative things that people are thinking about you. Also, don't conjure up problems in your head until you have a lot more evidence than silence.

Now that we have discussed the likelihood of there being no problem at all, let's talk about how to avoid actually causing one.
  1. Don't talk to your sister about it. She probably doesn't think there is a problem or else she would have mentioned it. You have no proof that anything is wrong. And the biggest reason to not discuss it with your sister is ...
  2. Don't whisper anyone with "Are you mad?" or anything similar. If your sister is likely to start sending investigative tells, it will probably drum up drama that wasn't there before. A guildie who has been ignoring guildchat as usual may respond with something like, "Well, it is kinda annoying." And now we have an issue where there wasn't one.
  3. Keep your personal chat out of guildchat. This is probably surprising. If your guild's mode of operation before your sister arrived was to keep guildchat quiet except for important things, then you should respect that. If you two would like to chat with the newer players, you can create a chat channel and invite them to it. Or if you just want to chat with your sister, you can use tells, set up a Real ID conversation, use a chat channel for the two of you -- you have many options. Whether your talking in chat is causing a problem now or not, it may cause one in the future and it is rather exhibitionistic (to put it harshly) to air your personal chat in public.
One more thing: Many raid leaders really like it when players just do their job and don't distract the raid with chatter. Your shyness may actually be a positive there -- as long as you communicate when you need to.

So relax, try hard not to worry so much, and enjoy chatting with people you know actually want to chat. Also, grats on having your sister return to the game and make things more enjoyable for you. Have fun!

Drama Mama LisaDrama Mama Lisa: I currently play with a guild that uses different chat methods for different activities. Raid and group chat goes on in voice channels, while day-to-day chatter tends to happen in guildchat. This keeps conversations open to everyone, no matter what they happen to be doing at the time. It's easy and relaxed -- but it's also quite different from what I call split-level chat. In guilds that follow the split-level pattern, the two groups use the same methods for the same purposes, except the group folks never end up dropping into text chat to join the non-groupers. It ends up feeling like two separate guilds, one in voice comms and the other in guildchat ... and never the twain shall meet.

Your guild sounds more like the latter, Shy Sister -- but that doesn't mean it's intentional or that anything nefarious is going on. It could be that they're simply a tight group and they prefer to log into voice to chat, even when they're not running something together. I play like this with my long-term team of MMO buddies. In fact, they're not playing World of Warcraft these days, so if I'm working at night, I'll sometimes log in while I write. I can look over at my husband's screen to follow the action, and we can all stay up on the usual sarcastic banter we so love.

The problem with this situation arises when players don't log in to the voice server and then feel left out. I've seen it happen in my long-term group, when newer players feel awkward or simply don't want to join in on voice chat. We're so used to voice chat, though, that most of us only use our chat boxes for some combat messages, or we've pushed them to the periphery of our UIs. It's not that we are ignoring the guildchat folks -- we simply don't even notice that chat is happening.

The shoe's on the other foot in the WoW guild I'm in right now. In that guild, I'm the one who's poking around on the periphery of guildchat. That's fine by me, though, because I recognize that sometimes people are free to chime in, and sometimes they're not. I don't get bent out of shape or paranoid if nobody comes right back -- but I do shut up if all I hear is crickets.

You see, it's important to recognize that there are times when taking over guildchat is simply inappropriate. If you and you sister are spamming up the channel and literally nobody else is chiming in, that's a sign that you two need to take what's actually a private conversation to an appropriately private channel (/whisper or group). I wouldn't stop chatting in guildchat at all, especially if you'd leave the door open for chatting with your other guildmates, but be sensitive to running away with things.

Oh, and get back to raiding. You joined this guild in order to do that, right? It's not necessary to push yourself to talk (push to talk -- get it?) right now. But don't let talking on the mic (or the lack of it) become the defining trait of your raiding experience -- especially since nobody has indicated that your silence has even been noticed. Do your job, and let the conversation develop as it will. It'll all fall into place over time, if it's meant to be!
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

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