Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Social Contract Theory

History 101. Pay attention, 007, metaphor mixing incoming...

'Du contrat social ou Principes du droit politique' was published in 1762 by the Genevan philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau. A direct influencer of the French Revolution, Rousseau 'theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality (1754).' (Wikipedia)

You're already wondering where I'm going with this, I can tell.

Firstly, a Blogger I have admired for a long time is back in Azeroth. I know this because I have seen her log via every night for a while. No, I don't say hello or engage her in conversation because you get a sense sometimes that people are finding their own level, especially after an absence. She doesn't need me hassling her, because this is someone who is renegotiating a place in their own contract, not simply with the game but their own Guild. They deserve the opportunity to do that without hindrance. It takes a long time to find your sweet spot, though I suspect many people never even have to try. I'm not like that, and of late (despite what you may think) I've been struggling. It is all well and good if your level of participation is small, but when that isn't the case, things can begin to get increasingly complex. This is where I enter, stage left, with some baggage I've been carrying since around February time.

I've come very close on several occasions in the past month to quitting as GM of my Guild. There's been no drama that has caused this, no huge social or political upheavals... in fact, there's been very little of anything at all. Over time, the once-thriving community we had has simply dwindled and gone silent. Depending on how you like to operate with the apportion of blame, this could be down to any number of things, but mostly it's Real Life that has done the most damage. When gaming doesn't really matter to you and is simply a hobby, that tends to happen. However, there are those of us for whom gaming is something else, and with that in mind I decided this weekend that I owed it to myself and the Guild to give it one last shot. I know where I want my place to be in game, and it is time to try and use my motivation to inspire others.

I made a deliberate decision that when I started this blog I wouldn't talk about the Guild or specific people within it, because as I have said on many occasions drama is not something I like to entertain or even encourage. However, some things do need to be said, and they bear repeating on a larger stage where the notion of a social 'contract' between people who make games and those that play them is becoming a contentious issue. At what point is it Blizzard's job to improve the gaming environment for us to want to play, and at what point does it become our own individual obligation to step up and take the initiative? Where does the buck stop and start when it comes to the exchange of rights and responsibilities? Now you'll see why Mr Rousseau's been pulled in here this early on a Wednesday. He'll be over there after we're done if you want to ask questions: for now, let's use my particular example and set out the Social Contract I'm advocating with my Guild.

James' idea for Guild Housing needed some work. From

I've put a message up on the Guild Website, in the Guild Message of the Day, and scheduled a Flex Raid for Saturday night, which is shaping up to be the most popular evening for people being online. I'm not pushing anyone to join, and I'm not chasing anyone either. I have decided that, having impressed on people for several weeks that if we don't get enough people to sign, we don't do something, we'll now see what transpires. It is not up to me to bully, cajole or pressurise anyone at any point, because that has NEVER been how our Guild works best, not ever. We don't do stress or hassle, and when it does happen I will do my damnedest to squash it before it starts. My part of this Contract is to open negotiations and see who comes to the table. My commitment is to be as open as possible and state that if we don't get the numbers to do this, then to admit publicly that our Guild has lost the best part of what it once was. Our community spirit has been subverted by the time demands this expansion has made of us, and people no longer have the enthusiasm to maintain something very special indeed.

If something matters, you will make time for it. The great thing about Flex is that has the POTENTIAL to be so much more than simply a gearing apparatus. Yes, it's great for those people who want training wheels before they hit 10/25's but for the rest of us they give a chance to accommodate everyone in a beneficial environment not simply to see the End Game, but to learn how the mechanics of fights have changed (or stayed the same) over the years, with people you know and can feel comfortable with. In the end however, it is not as convenient as LFR, and cannot fit around your schedule, and here is the key. Everyone has to make the decision to work together, and only then will this work. 'Reciprocity with the GM and her membership.' See, I told you the old Swiss geezer would be relevant eventually.

On the wider stage, I have heard many people try to blame Blizzard for the toxic environment that has kept many people away from LFR since its introduction. The harsh reality however is that's not Blizzard's fault, far from it: it's ours. The community makes the toxic environment, and feeds it, and with the introduction of Flex that situation will get worse, and not better. Just because you can raid with friends doesn't mean Raiding gets better, because Flex is only a part of a larger equation, one community that lives in the same social contract as the 10/25-ers and the LFG-ers. There has to be an acceptance that LFR now serves a vital role for those who are not capable of organising a raid in their own timeframes. There also has to be an understanding that if you can't organise a Flex Raid in a timeframe that suits you, organising anything becomes pretty much moot.

The LFR queue realised that if it didn't get a tank soon, things would get ugly...

This, for me, is a chance to see if anyone in my Guild shares the same desires I do and have pretty much since Day 1 of the game. I've never gone this publicly on record before, but if you're part of my lot reading this, if you are free on Saturday night I'd like you to decide your path, and that means if you want to raid signing BEFORE it happens and following our rules and regulations when you turn up. Don't worry, I'll be there good and ready waiting to see who makes it... and what happens on Saturday I think will pretty much seal my fate with the Guild. So, it's in the hands of the people, people. You guys are my guides for this. What you decide is what happens, and for the first time in a very long time I'm really rather happy with that state of affairs.

I look forward to seeing what the weekend brings.


redhattedrogue said...

Phew. Heavy. Good luck, GMom.

Will you and the occifers also be playing this up in guild chat during the week, or is this meant to be a wait-and-see sort of thing to gauge how many people even check guild notes/calendars?

The Godmother said...

Nope. I just tell people it's there and we see what happens.

After that, I don't know.