I’ve been the GM of my guild for a long time, now – since before we started in Karazhan back in the BC days. I didn’t start the guild. I inherited it when our former GM jumped to a supposedly better guild (it wasn’t). I’ve held the guild together in the best of times, when we had 30+ online almost every night, and the worst of times, when we had 2-3 on each evening and considered disbanding.
These days I don’t really do a whole lot in the day-to-day running of the guild. I have delegated responsibilities to officers. I don’t run raids – I have three officers who (occasionally) share that job. I don’t recruit – there are others who do that far better than I. Mostly, I resolve disputes and give advice, and my attitudes toward the game drive the direction that the guild goes. I surround myself with people who share similar views, and I value their advice and input.
I am not a dictator. Almost every decision about the guild is bounced off my officers in officer chat or in our forums.
There are good and bad things about running a guild. If you’re considering starting your own guild, don’t think that its all going to be smooth sailing. Here are some things I wish I knew before I took over.
- People think you have all the answers. When there’s guild drama, people expect you to resolve it quickly with some brilliant insight or decisive statement. Sometimes you don’t have that insight. Sometimes what you say makes things worse.
- Each night when you log in the game, there is the potential to log off feeling either really good or really bad. When our guild gains new members, or has a great fun night in chat, or pulls off a really successful raid, I feel a sense of pride in much the way that a parent feels proud of a child. Even if my role in the success was small, I feel like I contributed something positive to the lives of all those people. On the flip side, though, when there is drama or arguments or when people /gquit in a huff I really take it personally. There are times that I have gone for days without logging on just to avoid confronting those feelings. It can be a real roller coaster at times.
- You think worry about the game even when you’re not online. Now, a lot of people do this anyway. Lots of people think about the game when they are not playing it. This is different, though. When you run the guild, its a persistent nagging feeling that you might be missing something important. You worry that there might be some confrontation that you could have defused if only you were online. Its just a slight concern that’s always there in the back of your mind.
- You need to have leadership qualities. If you want your guild to survive for the long term, just running raids each week is unlikely to be successful. You’ll need to have officer meetings and guild meetings. You’ll have to step in and tell people what to do sometimes. You’ll have to take an authoritative role, sometimes with people who are older than you or have played WoW longer than you. You’re the boss, so you’ve got to be ready to take the reins.
OK, those first few items came off as negative. There are definitely positive sides to running your own guild.
- You get to play the way you like to play. My philosophies about the game dictate the way the game goes. Those who disagree with my playstyle don’t stay in the guild. I get to play with a lot of people who enjoy WoW the same way I do – casual and friendly, but still goal-oriented.
- You get invited to lots of stuff. No one is going to turn the GM down for heroics, and unless you are really a bad player you’ll have a raid spot too. This is not to say that you should start a guild just to secure a raid spot because your other guild left you out. If you’re only pulling 1.5k dps, then your raiders will leave the guild rather than raid with you. You still need to earn your spot. If you ever have to say “I get to raid because I am the GM” then your guild is doomed. But if you are a competent player then you won’t be left on the bench.
- You get to be a teacher. People often look to the GM for advice and guidance. If you enjoy that role then you can really make a difference in the game experience for your guildmates.
- You are providing a positive environment for others. You can offer a guild that has camaraderie, or a safe place to chat, or hardcore PvP. Your guild is a place for other people to feel comfortable in their online time. That’s a good feeling.
Baring my soul for a moment, I do have a big fear about being the GM. Nothing lasts forever. Its simple reality to look ahead to the day that my guild might fall apart. While I’ve never been part of a guild that dissolved, I’ve known people who were in other guilds that broke up. Usually, the core of the guild leaves and the GM is left holding together the remnants. My biggest fear about being a GM is that my friends in the game will leave for other guilds and I’ll be left behind. Its that irrational? Too sappy? Perhaps. But its something that crosses my mind every now and then and it makes me sad.