Voleron's Guide: To Happy Guild Interaction!
The topic of some members occasionally feeling left out of guild events and activities and of being ignored by members of our community, is one that has surfaced a number of times during the many years that I've been with Stonewall. The topic will undoubtedly come up for conversation again in the future, so I thought I'd try to proactively address some of the commonly arising themes relating to those feelings with this guide.
Since Star Trek, Star Wars and Guild Wars are such immensely popular franchises, we often see people joining Stonewall guilds as first time MMO'ers or even first time gamers. Taking the first steps into a massively multiplayer world can often be a challenging experience for those who are new to the multiplayer gaming environment, and it takes time to grow accustomed to how and why in-game communication unfolds the way it does.
Many of us have the benefit of having years of online multiplayer gaming experience under our belts, and it's over the course of those many years that we've all experienced some feelings of isolation or of 'not belonging' within our respective guilds that you may also experience at some point during your gaming career. Over time, many of us have come to understand that the key to conquering those negative thoughts and to nurturing the feelings of integration into an online community, is in understanding why certain pleasantries that you've come to expect in the real world may not always be mimicked in the online world.
In this article, I'll share some of my personal tips to happy guild interaction that I've developed over the years, in the hopes that others may benefit from them!
- This happens to EVERYONE on occasion: from guild leaders, to guild mods, to well known members of the community. If your greeting isn't acknowledged, understand that:
- Unlike walking into a room filled with people, nobody actually SEES you walk into a chat channel. You may announce your presence, but people involved in conversations or missions may not notice you or may be otherwise engaged. Unlike your chat window, which is empty when you first log into the game, other's windows may be full of many lines of text. It's easy to miss a line of text among a chat window that's filled with communication.
- The text in the chat window often clears for other players. It may completely clear any time a person changes characters or experiences connection problems, and it may also clear when leaving a mission or a match. Your greeting may have gone unobserved by many, so don't assume that you're actively being ignored.
- Although the guild roster may appear full when you log on, many players may not be at their keyboard. I often leave my character logged in while I step away for lunch or to complete some household chores. Some members also stay connected to guild chat through an external client, which means that they can chat while not actually in the game. They may appear in the roster, but often times, aren't actually at their keyboard.
- If you don't get a reply to your greeting, even if other people appear to be speaking or engaged in conversation, DON'T take it personally. Simply go about your business and say 'hello' again some time later.
- Guild leaders, mods and many members go out of their way to personally greet you and reply to your initial greeting, if they're around when you log in. Often times, their administrative duties require switching characters to accommodate guild invite requests and other operational needs of the guild. Remember that changing characters clears their chat window too; they're definitely happy to see you, even if you're not immediately acknowledged!
- This has happened to me many times, but it's important not to take offence to the lack of reply. For many of us, it has been socially ingrained NOT to reply if we don't know the answer to a question that has been posed. Think about your time in school: when your teacher asked the class a question, how many times did you raise your hand to explain that you didn't know the answer? When you're in a staff meeting and the boss asks for opinions or ideas, how often do you pipe up to explain that you don't have any? Although many of us try to acknowledge people's questions in chat, please understand that unless a person is directly asked, it goes against social norms to provide a negative answer, so do not interpret a lack of reply as ignorance.
- If you're confronted with this situation, do some research on your own. Share your findings with the guild, as others may have been seeking the same answer to your question! Contributing in this way will help you feel as though you're a part of the larger community and other members will appreciate your assistance.
- Some quests or missions require you to be a certain rank or faction to join. Other missions may require a certain number of people in order to begin. If you're unable to join a guild run mission for one of these reasons, understand that you're not being actively excluded. Instead, learn from your guild-mates what prerequisites you need to work toward with your character, in order to join in the future.
- Occasionally, there are technical issues with the game that will prevent your character from being invited to a certain queue or event. This is often beyond the control of the team organizer and should not be interpreted as an effort to exclude you from the team.
- Occasionally, there are more willing participants than there are available spots on a team. If a team is seeking members to volunteer for a raid or a quest, but the team fills before you're able to obtain an invite, do not take this as an indication that you're being actively excluded. Instead, ask to join the next run for which there is an available spot or start your own team for others to join.
- We WANT you here with us as part of our community. If you ever doubt that, you need only find your introductory post in the network's forums. Many people came out to welcome you to the community, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. They're happy to personally greet you and we're happy to welcome you into the fold.
- The guild has worked tirelessly to bring you into our community. We've worked to welcome you personally in the forums, to extend invitations to you in the game, to create engaging and worthwhile community events and to make every day in Stonewall something special. We're so thrilled to have you with us and wouldn't have gone through all that effort only to be intentionally dismissive of you once you've joined.
- Many of us have volunteered months or years of our personal time as good will ambassadors, senior members and leaders in this community. Rest assured that you're not intentionally being left out, but also remember that we have 500+ active community members and it's beyond our ability to cater to each individual member for every moment that they're online. Every member has to be responsible for their own happiness in the community, and in return, we'll all pitch in to be as inclusive as possible, as diligently as we can!
REMEMBER: My Golden rule that I myself follow, is: that becoming upset with fellow guild members because one of the above things has happened to you, may actually make it more difficult for people to relax and be comfortable in your presence. This may unintentionally perpetuate the very issue you may feel that you're having. If you find yourself feeling upset because one of the above has taken place:
- Take a breath...
- Take a break...
- Return when you're feeling refreshed and in a good frame of mind
We'll be here to team with you and game with you when you return! I hope I've shared some wisdom in these tips and also hope that those dealing with these sorts of frustrations get a better insight of why those frustrations can happen.