The hidden identity
You don't see this quite as often anymore, but back when there were a limited number of MMOs, members and even guild leaders would sometimes create "secret" characters that they'd log in to get away from things in the guild. If it's a once-in-a-blue moon thing, that's one thing, but if a player finds herself playing the secret character more than the guilded character, it might be time to consider taking a break from the guild. It's worth asking why you'd rather be on your own rather than with the guild. And for leaders, it's time to ask whether you'd be happier turning things over to someone else. In the end, it's about fun, and if you are hiding out often, it might mean guild life is no longer fun for you.
Arguing for arguing's sake
This one is harder to define because there's a fine line between honestly questioning the leadership and second guessing because you've soured on the game and the guild. I've had members who questioned every single decision I made, even when it was something we've done a hundred times successfully in the past. If you find yourself souring on the leadership, it's worth asking whether it's them or you. Have things in guild changed for the worse, or is it that your outlook on the guild (and the game) has changed? I'm certainly not saying to never question leadership, but if you find yourself second guessing more and more, something's going on, and it's probably time to either move on to another guild or even leave the game for a while.
Breaks should be part of guild life
I've said this before, but being in a guild can be very challenging because there's no real opportunity for a break. Guilds are like sports teams in many ways, but even sports teams have seasons and off-seasons, which gives some closure and some downtime. Off-seasons are important because players get a little breather, and coaches have a chance to evaluate the roster, look at strengths and weaknesses, and revise the playbook to give everyone a better shot at success. We're seeing a little more of that, particularly in PvP and in MOBAs, but in general, the guild experience can be very draining and a real test of endurance.
Given that fact, guild leaders shouldn't frown upon a member asking for a break. Yes, it might be really bad timing, and yes, it might set you back in the short run, but in the long run it's better to have a member take a break and then come back with fresh legs and a renewed loyalty to the guild. He'll appreciate the patience you gave in letting him take time off, and you'll retain a good member going forward.
Believe it or not, entire guilds might need a break from a particular game. Game-hopping can put a strain on the guild, particularly when not all members are ready to leave. But if your guild has been stuck on content for a while or the atmosphere is getting stale because the game feels too grindy, it's a good opportunity to have a chat with the guild and see whether the members might want to pull up stakes and try another game.
Well-established guilds transcend the game, and with so many MMOs out there now, guilds don't have to endure daily grinds and long waits for new content. There are many guilds that have morphed into gaming communities, with branches of members spanning across several MMOs, and multi-game guilds are becoming more and more common. This can be tricky to manage if you're an endgame guild, but if raiding isn't your guild's thing, it's entirely possible to move to another MMO and retain the bulk of the roster. If you take the time to talk with the guild's members, get their input, and weigh the pros and cons of moving, you can usually arrive at a solution that works for most of the guild.
In the end, it's natural to need a break from time to time, and with the vast number of MMOs to choose from, there's little reason to stick with a game if you'll enjoy another one more. If you do need a break from the game and you're in a guild, it's best to be honest about it with the leadership. Too many players simply go MIA, and that leaves the guild hanging with unresolved questions. Letting them know you're taking a hiatus lets them plan for your absence, and even if members might not be happy about it, many will appreciate your taking the time to explain things.
Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.