When You’re Casual Around Hardcores

 

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This week there was a drama breakout on our guild’s forums that perfectly illustrated the line between casual and hardcore. What started as an innocent application to go from social member to raider turned into a very direct exchange that didn’t mince words and ended with some colorful profanity.

As I read I saw that there was a clear breakdown in expectations. (I also saw that an application can sound great but cover up quite a few blemishes.)

Since I joined this guild, the individual in question has been on whenever I tend to log on, and we were good chums. I saw they were ranked “Social”, so I assumed they had friends here and simply enjoyed the environment. Hey, who wouldn’t like being surrounded by an all-star team who optimizes their characters down to the last DPS/HPS/TPS and shoots up server ranks on an impossibly-short raiding schedule?

They seemed like they were amiable and nice, and in my mind they epitomized why even the most hardcore of guilds have social ranks in the first place- because when you get a bunch of “srs bsns” together it can really put a damper on a guild’s atmosphere. (Imagine the world’s chess prodigies held a party. These people probably rank similarly on the “srs bsns” scale. While they are definitely not going to win awards for “World’s Most Epic Party”, there’s no denying when these people are brought together some awesome chess will happen. But mirrored personalities and attitudes a good environment does not make.)

 

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So I go on my merry way. Then I log in today to see that said social member applied to join our raiding team. They wrote an impressive and well thought-out application. If I was an Officer, I’d have had a difficult time denying them entry.

But then our guild’s Officers brought up where the application didn’t match with their experiences. For one, the applicant had only been playing his character for 2 weeks (even though he had a varied raid history, probably on an ex-main). They had prior issues competing in DPS. There was ample history of this player having a lack of raid awareness. These things brought up in the breakdown, but nonexistent in the initial application, made them look much less attractive. The Officers also laid out the fact they had very high expectations for this character’s performance because our current roster had ample raiders for their class, and given their gear and experience they doubted it would be a fair trial experience.

Then shit broke down.

First, the person responded saying they were being pushed away (mostly by the directness of the Officer’s response). They openly contemplated leaving the guild.

Then another Officer stepped in to explain the reasoning behind the original Officer’s message. Nobody was trying to demean or offend the social member. It’s just in a guild with high expectations of all its raiders, applicants need to be “best in class” of their class. Considering said player had only been 80 for 2 weeks and seen very little content (even if he’d dabbled in it with PUGs), playing a new character brings a huge learning curve. There was just too big of a gap to bridge with their gear and experience to realistically join up with our raiders.

In short, if they wanted to raid, they’d have to go about it the old-fashioned way: working their way up through various tiers of raiding guilds. You can imagine how well that answer sat with the member…

 

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The member mentioned that social members are treated as second-class citizens. That the lack of raiding experience and gear was a product of not being included in content the guild did. Then the insults about having no life and only caring about WoW started flying. Things were not pretty.

In the end, the same Officer responded that the guild has no obligation to include or gear up social members. They are in the guild without the expectation of high performance, and a consequence of that is a lack of inclusion. Less pressure = less perks. I’m inclined to agree with this, since a guild really needs a singular vision to get anywhere. To try to be best-in-class at raiding, appease your social members, and keep everything in a delicate balance spells breakdown for one of your goals. This singular-goal mindset is how most serious guilds operate, but it obviously does not sit well with social members when they get pangs for raiding. But associating with high-performers does not make you a high performer. You must earn your merits like everyone else. And if that means you need to climb a ladder most around you have already climbed, then that’s how it goes.

It’s unfortunate we’re probably going to lose this person as a result of this disagreement, and I’ll have one less fun person to chat with. But there’s no way we can meet his expectations and keep the standard of the guild as high as it is (or keep our raid times as short as they are). It’s a necessary evil to ensure we’re on the right path and retaining the right people.

Like a recent college grad intermixed with a handful of seasoned executives, you might bring a new perspective, but you probably don’t have what’s necessary to run a company. The same holds true for casuals around hardcores. But such is life.

TL;DR:

  • Beware of good writing skills
  • Believe experience over written words
  • Guilds need a singular vision, even if it loses people (also known as “You can’t please everybody.”)
  • You should tone your responses to your audience (Casuals don’t take to blunt, harsh directness; Hardcores don’t like fluff and smilies)
  • If you’re trying to play with the pros, be mentally prepared to emulate what they went through to get there
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