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“Write what you know”
Sorry it’s been so long. Warcraft has taken up most, if not all, of my waking hours during the Xmas break and now work is cutting into my precious WoW time leaving me very little time to devote to blogging. You can see the bind I’m in!
But fear not, Mojo is back for this third official Nerdgasm X entry. No more Warcraft distractions. The topic of this entry: Warcraft.
For those of you who do not play the online phenomenon that is World of Warcraft, allow me to break it down for you. You create a character (a “toon”, in game lingo) and play as that character inside a vast in-game world along with the thousands of other people on your server (there are hundreds of servers or in game lingo “realms”). Occasionally, the missions you have to accomplish in-game (“quests”) require more than one player to accomplish. These “group quests” usually have the best rewards that scale with the difficulty of the task. To facilitate forming groups the in-game players have the option of creating or joining a “guild” which is made up of several other players who are dedicated to helping the other members of the guild if required. Ideally, the help can be for more than just quests as well. Most toons have in-game professions to craft gear and weapons (usually the best quality ones) to share amongst their guild-mates for low prices or free. They can also give advice on in-game matters such as what gear is best for what class. Some guilds have become so close over time as to offer advice on real life issues that may be going on. Essentially, a guild is a network of friends with whom you play WoW. Each server has dozens of guilds that are all different from each other. At the very least, it is people to talk to as you play. At the most, a guild is a group dedicated to bettering themselves in-game and doing the most difficult content.
It’s no surprise then that the vast majority of players opt to join guilds. So why, as the title of this article suggests, am I defending the idea of NOT joining a guild? Well faithful reader, because recent events have left me guild-less and I like it! I have looked for articles on the web that share this point of view but have been woefully disappointed. I submit, therefore, the following argument. Allow me to explain, as is the custom of my people, in list-form.
1. A guild will help you do group quests: Ideally, if you require assistance doing something difficult, the currently online guildmates will drop what they are doing and travel great distances to assist you. This is the ideal situation, but far from reality. The other people playing have their own set of priorities that are too time-consuming to drop at a second’s notice. The world of the World of Warcraft is HUGE. Blizzard (the company that runs it) charges a monthly fee for playing this game and so to increase their profit, made doing ANYTHING in-game take forever. Dedicating yourself to a goal is usually a large commitment so when someone asks you to stop doing that thing and come help you with something the usual reaction is to politely refuse and explain that you are too busy. In my time in guilds I have been guilty of this and so has everyone else… at the same time. This means frustration for the poor soul looking for help and means he/she has to resort to finding other players who may be doing that same quest or who are at least in the area and are very nice. The other alternative is to abandon that quest and opt for something easier (and thus obtain a significantly scaled down reward).
2. A guild will share resources: This is true, but also to a point. The way the professions work in WoW is that you must have materials or “mats” to create useful or usable items. The mats are generally obtained through long, drawn-out sessions dedicated to obtaining them (“grinding”) or by purchasing them from other players via the in-game eBay-like, Auction House. Since the in-game currency (gold) is very valuable for just about every facet of the game, most people get very greedy if they know their product is in demand and so the mats cost a fortune. This means that to obtain the materials necessary to create an item for yourself or a guild-mate, a lot of time and effort needs to be expended for very little personal gain. Not surprisingly then, only the lower quality or easy to get materials/items are available from guild-mates leaving you no choice but to either purchase the materials or the item yourself costing you the proverbial arm and a leg.
3. Guilds offer advice for your class/role: Despite it’s “cartoony” appearance and relatively simply UI, WoW is a complicated game. In the game, each “class” has a very specific role to fill within group level quests. A healer (like me), for example, must be counted on to replenish the health of their group to the point needed to counteract the damage being done to them by the enemy monsters. A hunter (like Kim) must be able to damage the enemy monsters to the maximum extent possible. To do this effectively or to the maximum extent possible, a player will require gear/armor/weapons that have the required boosts to the required statistic. He/she will also have to develop a feel for what spell/ability works best in which situation. They will also have to study each enemy encounter to anticipate or more easily adapt to the encounter thus preventing costly failure (both in terms of time and gold). This list is not exhaustive. The point is that learning how best to play your class requires real research. This is not an issue for casual players, but most people like to know they are pulling their weight in group activities. Having a network of people to assist you in this research is fantastic so you’d think a guild would be great. This is, in reality, usually not the case. Most guild-mates are simply reading websites/forums that you yourself have direct access to or, worse yet, are giving you BAD advice based on their own anecdotal evidence/experience. This was the case with my most recent guild: Too often I received bad advice from guild officers that directly contradicted my own extensive (I’m obsessed with this game remember?) research. Not being the laid back type, I immediately contradicted the officers which earned me a reputation as a trouble-maker.
4. The guild provides a group of people to talk to while questing: Yes, but is it always things you want to talk about? 90% of the conversation had on guild-chat will be game related but other discussions may include things you find offensive or ridiculous.
Although in THEORY, guilds are useful, fun and beneficial for your in-game experience, the vast majority of the time you will still find yourself resorting to non-guild related help for many of the objectives you have leaving you, like myself, wondering what the point of a guild really is. In addition to the contradictions noted above, the guild also brings with it things like “guild drama” where two people in the same guild argue openly about things resulting in friction or tension. You may also encounter “bossiness” or even direct orders from guild officers/leaders that may conflict with your own needs or desires or is otherwise undesired. You may then be punished or demoted by guild leaders for failure to follow these directives or for any number of frivolous reasons. Remember that some of the “leaders” of your guild may be, in real life, very immature people who simply want a power trip. To be fair, that’s pretty rare, but it can happen.
So what is a dedicated WoW-addict like myself doing without a guild? Well, to be frank (and also Mojo), anything I want. Maybe it’s because of my highly-demanded role or because of my extreme good luck with working on my own (or bad luck with guilds) but I have been enjoying all facets of the game to a fulfilling extent combined with the zero-pressure of worrying about guild-mates or the hassle of “guild commitments” that interfere with what I want to do and when. I have established a good rapport with several other people in the game and, when needed, can rely on them to ask me to join their groups for mutually shared goals. Without worrying about spending resources on guild-mates or giving up time/services for free, I am making profits much more easily and faster than before and if I require professional products, I may merely turn to the Auction House or the endless number of players who offer their services to anyone willing to part with a little gold. I no longer have to waste my time by politely asking the guild for help first (as is expected) then waiting for the polite refusal before I resort to the actual useful people who are advertising their services and availability to everyone. It just simplifies everything so much more.
In conclusion, perhaps I have been just that unlucky with guilds but after 8 steady months and 5 separate guilds and the same problems surfacing, over and over again, I am anxious to see how the next few weeks will play out with my new “no guild” diet. In addition to the in-game experiences noted above, since I have become guild-less I am being flooded with solicitations for join various guilds (it’s not a compliment, they just want numbers). Maybe one will manage to entice me enough to make me change my mind.
Not bloody likely.