When you think about it, it’s kind of incredible that anyone ever volunteers to be a guild leader. It’s one of those mysterious human impulses, the same one that drives people to show up at PTA meetings or pick up litter beside the highway without having been sent to prison first.

I should clarify that I have never been a guild leader myself. That’s because — like many other human beings — I’m selfish, impatient with other people, jealously guard my free time, and am apt to type snide comments in general chat. These aren’t really “leadership” qualities, virtual or otherwise. (At least, that’s what I’ve gleaned from many highly scientific Facebook personality tests.)

Raid in the game RIFT

I have, however, been able to see the work that goes into running a guild firsthand. And if you’ve never done it before, you really have no idea of what it entails.

Imagine you decided to take a second, part-time job so that other people can better enjoy the game that you play in your leisure time. Now, one of your favorite hobbies is also another source of work.

Guild leaders do get some special perks and respect in their online world. That and five cents will buy you … absolutely nothing because it’s not 1956.

Yes, they volunteer for the job. But they also spend hours researching and planning raids, working out loot distribution rules, managing membership applications, trying to figure out how to accomplish whichever shiny new goal has been set out by the game developers (while the membership constantly asks why it hasn’t happened yet), and so on.

Raid aftermath in the game RIFT

And then there are the personality issues. Dear God, the personality issues. A word of advice: if you’re young and planning a family, volunteer to be part of the leadership of a video game guild. There is no quicker way to understand what it’s like to deal with a toddler. The slightest sense of perceived injustice will set off a massive tantrum that cannot be quelled with reason, threats, or promises of reparation.

And it’s constant. This person’s upset because no one volunteered to help them finish their super-mega-quest, conveniently being run at 2 am on Christmas Eve. Another player is mad that a fellow guildie impugned her ability and is lining up allies so she can launch a civil war in the chat box. A third is threatening to quit and take all of his friends with him because you won’t change the raid schedule for him to get his next upgrade.

 

(infamous Leroy Jenkins during a raid in World of Warcraft)

The guild leader is expected to forego playing him/herself in order to channel the combined wisdom of Solomon and Judge Judy and resolve things.

And God forbid you make a simple mistake. Read something wrong, accidentally mix up the order in your loot rules, and people react as though you just booted their puppy off a cliff.

 

As a result, your average guild leader tends to become terse, no-nonsense, and a bit of a stickler. And this is why you probably owe him or her an apology.

Because you probably railed against the guild leader in private or in chat. You almost certainly said something about being an uptight, inflexible prick. You might even have threatened to flounce to another guild, one that would appreciate your sparkling wit and superior ability.

And the truth is that this person (who you may not have ever met in person) put up with you and a whole lot more annoyance so that the game would be more fun.

So if you’ve never thanked your guild/clan/club leader, go ahead and show some appreciation. These people are the glue of the gaming community, the same kind of people who help run walk-a-thons and make sure there’s cake for office birthdays. They deserve a little credit.

Except for that one guild leader I had back in WoW. That guy was a dick.


 

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