I really don't think nice guys finish last. Sure, being the Nice Guy comes with pain and challenges, but overall, you are better off. At least at the end of the day, you know you did the right thing and will always have that to fall back on. But there's a difference between being nice and being a pushover. Sacrificing your leisure time every once in a while to help out a friend is good. Sacrificing your leisure time because your "friend" has alienated all other friends and is using guilt trips and pouting to ensnare you is not good.
Dear Drama Mamas,
I am an officer in a casual raiding guild. We were running 10-man ICC with a core group of about 12 people until the summer slump hit. As we progressed, we started getting all 12 people showing up on raid day, so we had to choose. The problem came when one of our DPS was showing up on time but was constantly going AFK, not paying attention, and being obnoxious in Vent -- generally holding the raid back. He started getting skipped over every time extra players were online. When he outright asked about this, the officers decided he was always going to be last pick. I insisted that we tell him that he was on backup status and why. The other officers didn't think it was necessary to say anything to him, but I did it anyway because I felt it was the right thing to do.
He was very upset and took it personally. He took all his characters and gquit. I thought he was an OK guy and fun to do old raids with, so I reassured him that even though he was leaving, I still liked him and that it was nothing personal.
It was fine for a while, but ever since Real ID came out and I swapped emails with all of my online buddies (I'm a character jumper), I can't get away from him! I was able to ignore the things I found obnoxious about him if I socialized in small doses, but now I'll log in or see his name pop up on my buddy list and the first thing he does is message me -- usually to complain, ask for favors or bug me because he's bored. I can't bring him to do other things with my friends because he's a real downer and kills the fun. If I tell him I'm busy, he acts offended, and I feel like I can't do what I wanted to do later without inviting him along. I avoided the guild drama and dropped it on myself! How do I get out of this?
Drama Mama Robin: Hassled, this is a familiar tale, dating back to long before MMOs. Back in the ancient days, I remember my favorite comic book store being the best and worst place to find fellow tabletop gamers. It was the best because, well duh, gathering of geeks. But if you were overheard talking about your game by someone who didn't seem like he would be fun to play with, you were forced to reject him -- or be the Nice Guy and invite him, to the horror of your friends.
Of course, nobody ever outright rejected. If someone had had the chutzpah to say, "I'm sorry, but you do not groom yourself well enough for us to want to be trapped indoors for hours with you" (or another appropriate reason), then the rejectee might have learned a valuable lesson. But no, everyone lied: "Sorry. Our game is full." If you decided to be Mr. Nice Guy and let Smelly Guy (or Annoying Guy or Talk For 20 Minutes About His Level 7 Character Guy) play, you were stuck with him at your weekly games, the new games you started up, the nerd parties you held, etc. (I was often Mean Rejection Girl. I refused to have anyone at the games I didn't want and was willing to tell people to their faces. I'm not proud. Would it have really hurt me to give some of these people a chance?)
Honestly, this really occurs in non-geeky situations too. It is like the girl who goes out with the guy to be nice and then is stuck with him asking her out over and over -- but she doesn't really like him that way. And it is similar to the kid who befriends the loner, then loses the friends who can't stand up to peer pressure.
Being the Nice Guy isn't easy. But it is the right thing to do. Your fellow officers were very wrong to not explain to The Hassler why he was last on the list. Handling it in a professional fashion might have changed the guy's attitude or at least made him realize it was his own doing. Instead, there were drama and bad feelings. You were right to tell him what was going on and why.
You were also right to befriend him. You didn't know that he would latch on to you like a social leech. But just because he wants to play and talk with you all the time doesn't mean you have to do what he wants. Just like you can tell Smelly Guy (quietly and in private) that he needs to start grooming or else he can't play Runequest with you anymore, you can control your own playtime with a little tough love.
- It's OK to tell him you're busy. If you politely tell him you're busy and he gets huffy, that's his issue, not yours. He shouldn't feel offended. You are not responsible for his fun and he needs to get over it.
- When he's being a downer, tell him. I don't always pull this part off well. If someone is complaining too much, I often testily say, "Then quit the game." I don't recommend this. You could also go the humorous route, but it doesn't sound like you have that kind of relationship with him. So, in your own words, tell him he's being a bit of a downer. If he actually cares about how you feel (rather than just holding on to anyone who will talk to him for his own selfish reasons), then he will not complain to you as much.
- Only do the things you want to do. If you don't want to invite him or spend time with him, then don't. A nice, bland "I'd really rather not, but thanks!" does wonders.
Also, until Blizzard provides us with the ability to mark ourselves invisible, I recommend in the future not giving out your Real ID to anyone except for close friends and family.
Drama Mama Lisa: Before you can figure out a way to smooth out the situation, you have to nail down what the situation actually is. Be honest with yourself first, Hassled: Do you actually want to spend time with this guy (on your own terms, of course), or would you rather be let out of this obligation entirely? Yes, it was nice and all of you to have come clean with him and to be friendly afterwards -- but right now, in the present, is this friendship one that you'd like to continue? If you're really not so keen on the relationship, as Robin says, you have to be polite but firm in positioning this connection to fade away.
If you come to realize that you're not up for actually playing together but you wouldn't mind keeping in touch, figure out a time to chat that doesn't leave you feeling harried and put out. Unless you specifically address this consideration, I suspect you'll find that you always feel put-upon whenever he sends you a whisper.
- When is a good time for you to chat? On what characters?
- Is there a good time (or are you really kidding yourself here)?
- Are the only good times to chat so specific that it falls to you to initiate conversations?
- Are you interested and willing in initiating conversations at times that are convenient for you?
If you're having trouble dodging this guy in whispers, make it clear that he's interrupting: "The stuff I run with this character now makes it really hard to chat when I'm playing. Talk soon ..." or "Hi! Heh, that was a funny joke. Hey, busy right now, will talk after 10:00 when I'm free." (See how you've just given yourself a concrete window of time in which to play in peace?) Then don't answer anything else -- really. Just tuck his whispers into another chat tab and hide it or something. You might have to repeat this strategy a few times before he gets the hint.
The ultimate reply, of course, is "no." Oh sure, you can couch it a little: "I'm not really up for it right now" – but ultimately, you have to learn how to say "no." This could eventually hurt his feelings and cause him to leave. The question you have to be honest with yourself about: Would you actually miss him?
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Remember, your mama wouldn't want to see your name on any drama. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at DramaMamas@wow.com.