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MMOGology: Thieving hearts

Marc Nottke

I logged into World of Warcraft last week, excited to invite an old friend to my guild. After hopping on and chatting with him for a bit I opened the Social window, selected the Guild tab and was about to add him to the guild. It was then that I noticed the Add Member button was grayed out. All members of the guild (except initiates) had invite privileges the day before. Now, suddenly, I didn't. I checked to make sure I hadn't been demoted. I checked the guild's message of the day to see if I had missed something, but the MOTD still had information about the upcoming Karazhan raid. So I asked one of the officers if he could add my friend to the guild for me. "Sure," he responded, before realizing that his member adding privilege had also been revoked. What was going on?

Fortunately, one of the founding members of the guild was also online at the time. I asked him if he'd be kind enough to add my friend. Instead of the usual "Sure!", I got the third degree. "How long have you known him? What level is he? Why does he want to join?" I let the founder know my friend was level 61 and that he was switching back to some of his old characters to take a break from his primary server. Satisfied with my response, the founder switched from his alt to his main, and invited my friend. Of course, the very next thing I did was ask why our invite privileges had been revoked. At first I thought maybe it had to do with the fact that we were now over 200 members or that the guild had an adequate representation of most classes by now. But, after the questions about adding my friend I had a hunch something more sinister had taken place. Why would an open invite guild suddenly become an invitation only guild? There had to have been some breach of trust.

Although I'd read about guild bank robberies, I never thought I'd actually see one happen in my guild. After all, weren't we a mature group of fun-loving people? Weren't we casual enough that it wouldn't be a problem? Weren't all of our members full of sunshine and rainbows? Apparently not. The founding member told me that the reason our invite privileges had been revoked was a direct result of a new invitee robbing the bank. Apparently a low level character was invited to the guild and before anyone knew what had happened he had cleaned out the vault and vanished. I'm not sure whether the thief transferred the stolen goods to a third party, mailed them to an alt and later deleted his character, or not, but he appears to have gotten away with the theft. As of this writing I've yet to find out any more about what happened. Whether our guild bank privileges were wide open or whether the thief had been an officer, or been promoted in order to manage the theft, I don't know. The founding member told me that those responsible for the deed had been removed from the guild and hasn't spoken of the incident since that time.

It's a shame, because this type of theft hurts a guild in more ways than one. Beyond the loss of the gold and goodies that members worked hard to contribute for the benefit of the guild, the most damaging factor is the loss of trust among members of the guild. I'm sure that the founding members felt like they couldn't trust anyone outside of their circle. Likewise, newly added players might have felt an undue level of resentment and mistrust from the established players and respond with their own level of mistrust. And then there's the possibility that someone connected to the theft might still be in the guild. It could be that a founder or long time member may have provided details about the bank's contents to a third party, invited the third party who then invited the thief into the guild. These types of trust issues can create guild-ending rifts between players.

Fortunately, this incident has not driven a wedge between members of my guild, and things have basically gotten back to normal. I can only hope it doesn't happen again, that we learn from our naïve mistakes, and that further safeguards are created to prevent such crimes. Have you ever experienced a theft in your guild, or some similar form of betrayal? Was your guild able to handle the fallout?

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