Thursday, May 02, 2013

The End

Time for a quick confession.

I was going to write about something else for this entry. I have that post all ready, so no doubt you'll get it eventually, but I was stopped in my tracks by a whisper from a Guildie as I logged earlier this morning, and it made me think. So much so, in fact, that I decided I wanted to write this post instead.

Today, we are going to talk about loss.

This morning I spent some time removing a bunch of people from the Guild. After a call on our Website last month I gave everyone plenty of warning: if you don't tell me where you are and what you're doing, you're out. It might seem cruel, saying it in those terms, but after a while, for a unit to actually function correctly, everyone has to be involved, and many people were simply with us as somewhere to park themselves while they didn't play. This morning I removed close to 50 toons in one hit, and said Guildie whispered me, rather sadly, telling me it was upsetting to see so many names that he knew so well 'before' disappear from the ranks forever.

Then he asked me, as I was logging out, whether it affected me.

The top job is a thankless one, but being GM is often about tough decisions and doing the thing no-one else wants to do: telling the knob he's a knob, chastising someone for deliberately not making an effort, having to remind people certain words are never appropriate, regardless of your seemingly rock-solid context. However, that doesn't stop you getting attached to people, and if (as has been the case for many, many years) you are the one who still plays when others move on, sometimes it really does hurt. There are those who would tell me that my attachment to Guildies is sentimental and pointless: people are fickle, many simply don't realise the depth of feeling other people develop for them, especially in virtual situations. This is undoubtedly true, but it doesn't stop it happening.

It doesn't stop me missing people when they vanish.

Many of out Guild have moved to other games, and I know who these people are. I wonder, once they get bored with the latest MMO they're playing, whether they might come back, but then grasp that these fickle individuals aren't ever going to be happy, whatever game they play. Then there are those who's playtime co-incides with weekends, or times that kids allow them to have free time to themselves... ultimately many of those people simply decide that friendships online are less important than their lives, and I can't blame them for that either. These people I wonder about most of all, if truth be told, because I suspect these are the individuals whose lives most mirror my own. Telling your GM what you're doing so she doesn't worry isn't on that many people's 'To Do' lists...

I remember everyone who has been in our Guild and took the time to make a difference. I especially treasure those people whose understanding of what we've stood for over the years has mattered more than the need to show off, or belittle, or be anything other than a decent human being. Some people didn't answer my call on the Website and I've found myself unable to cull them from our numbers, simply because I know how decent a person they really are. I've broken my own rule, that I needed to be cruel to be kind, because deep down I've never seen pixels when I play, it is always the person behind the characters that matters more. To lose people, for whatever reason, makes me sad beyond words. This part of the 'job' (that I don't get paid for, remember) does sometimes reduce me to tears, until I remind myself that there has to be a point where you draw the line and walk away. I know this is why I've been dreading this morning for a while. Half of the task is done, and when this post is done I'll go finish off the job.

In answer to your question, Gen: yes, it makes me sad. I miss the golden days of the Guild we had, but I know enough about how this game works to grasp that forward is the only way to go, and that means admitting some people will never return. Once our 'grieving' period is over, maybe there will be an opportunity to move on. To do that however is going to take a particular kind of person, and part of me is concerned that those special individuals are becoming harder and harder to find...


Snacks said...

Once upon a time, in my guild, we had a player stir up trouble, abandon the guild for "greener pastures" and he expected his betrayal to be forgiven, to be looked askance and swept under a rug because we were a new guild at the time, and "Well, I can heal for you folks sometimes, if it doesn't get in the way of this new guild."

I asked him pointedly in guild chat what the shape of Italy was: "A boot!" someone cheerfully interjected, and in the chat pane, the words:

"_____ has been removed from the guild."

It's become one of our many impenetrable quirks of language, memetic mutation taking it to various forms: "Taking someone to the Olive Garden" or "giving a Tour of Italy" (for an en masse kick) - we've made it a light hearted thing, but it's not light hearted at all, and actually hurts when it has to happen.

In the guild roster pane, every name is just a name. But, there's someone on the other side of the name, a real person. Someone who was connected to the game, someone who chose to be part of your organization and for some reason or another, slipped out of reach. Or, were never committed to presence at all to begin with.

To gkick is hard. But, we take it. Because we must. Because, we've taken the mantle we've chosen for ourselves, and every day is a hundred new small decisions that shape what a guild is, what it could be, and sometimes you have to make those decisions by your own without the democratic process of polling the membership.

Because they trust us to. Through /gkicks and achievement toasts, they trust us to lead.

Apple Cider Mage said...

As someone who took over running a very long-running social guild (8 years now), I find myself having to do a clear out every so often. I pledge to everyone online that I'm just "cleaning house" so they don't get scared and over time, more and more people that I used to play with as a veteran get dropped onto the cleaning list. We have a few legacy guildies that are never going (like my boyfriend's level 60 paladin that got erroneously banned in BC) but for the most part, all of the people I started playing with back in Vanilla have gone the way of the buffalo.

While our guild is full of new, awesome, exciting people that I've been friends with for 2-3 years now, I still feel a twinge of regret when I see old names get cleaned off the list because they haven't logged in in literal years.

The harder job than just cleaning up is having to get rid of people who actively make the guild a worse place and while those are thankfully few and far between, it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. As a GM who really tries to run things fairly, but in a guild that has very high standards of conduct, I always hope I'm doing a good job in that regard. I've had to boot people because they were really causing a disturbance or just weren't "getting" what we were about, but I still lie awake at night and wonder if I did the right thing.

The fact that most people seem to stick around for ages, or even come back and play casually every so often, indicates that I'm doing an okay job.