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Officers' Quarters: Emotionally invested

Scott Andrews

Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available this spring from No Starch Press.

When you're frustrated with your guild, it's tempting to jump ship. But sometimes it's also difficult to let go. This week, one officer asks, can you be an officer in one guild and a regular member in another?

Dear Scott,

I am Raid Officer in a casual raiding guild. I attend the most raids and am one of the highest output players on each raid on all my characters. I am one of the most active, hardest working Officers in the guild.

We have always been lenient with who is allowed to raid -- we have some healers who do less than 50% output of other healers who are similarly geared, we have DPS that do less than half of what they should be doing (with "casual" expectations, I don't expect everyone to do 10k DPS but 4-5k is low for a well geared player in ICC with the buff). Even members of our A-team have been slacking a bit. Many players don't pay attention to the leaders in Vent, don't react well to constructive criticism of their gear, spec etc. PUGs are further progressed than our guild is.

Due to our performance issues, and my strong desire to see more content that our guild is incapable of completing, I have considered transferring one of my toons to another server to join a semi-hardcore guild that raids 3 nights a week. I would still be able to raid on other toons with my current guild. When I told the Guild Leader that I was considering applying to other guilds, he indicated that he would likely force me to step down as an Officer. He wants people who are "100% emotionally invested" in this guild. I feel that many of the other Officers are less invested than I am, so this is frustrating.

Even if I raided a few nights a week with another guild, I would still do all my Officer duties. I would set raid teams on time, continue to raid with the guild (we don't have attendance requirements, some Officers don't raid at all) etc. If I played less with my current guild I would likely still be one of the hardest working Officers, one of the most present members/leaders in the raid, and one of the highest output players in the guild. I would also still raid more than the other Raiding Officers in my guild.

I really like being an Officer in my guild. It's a difficult, but fun job. I enjoy the social aspect of my Officer job, and I also enjoy looking at stats, and optimizing raid groups. I would like to play in another guild on another server, and continue to lead people in this guild. It would make me happier as an Officer to have some "relax" time playing with competent players without having to worry about leading them.

Should I talk to my Guild Leader again about this? He didn't give me a solid "no", but he was playing the disappointment card. Should I step down? We recently had an officer suddenly step down and quit the guild, and I don't want people to react the same way to me as they did to him.


Hard Worker

I commend you on your honesty, Hard Worker. It's not easy to discuss this type of thing with your guild leader. Some players would simply go ahead with the transfer and not say anything. They'd be around less but give no explanation for it.

I'm wondering what your guild leader means by "100% emotionally invested." Are you resting all your life's hopes and dreams on the success of your guild? Probably not, and I doubt he expects that, but it's an odd turn of phrase, especially in a guild where so many other players seem to be disinterested.

Emotional investment

Emotional investment isn't something you can really demand. It's a phenomenon that develops from valued social ties and success. Success doesn't necessarily mean raid progression -- it just means that people enjoy the activities that the guild facilitates. Emotional investment is what motivates people like Hard Worker to become officers and to contribute to the guild's success, and it's essential that officers feel some investment.

However, too much emotional investment can lead to drama. When a player overreacts to a change in policy or a new batch of recruits who alter the tone of guild chat, it's because he or she is too emotionally invested in the guild as it used to be. When a player shuns or screams at someone who has chosen to quit the guild, it's because he or she is terrified that the guild may fold.

I'm sure you understand that your question has put your guild leader in a difficult position. If he says no, he risks losing you completely. He wouldn't just be losing an officer, he'd also be losing the raid leader, who is often the hardest person to replace.

On the other hand, if he says yes, he's going to get a bunch of whispers from members asking him, "How can she still be an officer and raid leader when she's raiding with another guild?" Ironically, these complaints will most likely stem from members who are too emotionally invested in the guild. "If we're willing to stay," they will argue, "why can't she? And why should she have authority over us when she's not even around as much?" If you get your wish, Hard Worker, it's likely that you and your GL will have to deal with these attitudes. It's also likely that you won't have as much time to perform your officer duties.

So you can see why your GL is disappointed and why he's reluctant to give you a solid answer.

Optimism vs. realism

Overall, I think you are being optimistic about your ability to pull off what you intend. It's difficult for many people to make time for one guild's raiding schedule, let alone two. Not to mention, looking for a guild that you like whose raid nights don't overlap at all with those of your current guild could lead you on a long and frustrating search.

I also wonder what your transfer guild would think of describing your raids with them as your "relax time." Will you have anything left in the tank after leading raids with your original guild to perform your best in the new guild's runs?

Your intentions are good, but I have doubts that you can follow through for both guilds in the long run. I know my own limitations and I know I could never do what you're proposing. I'm not saying it's impossible -- I just think it would be extremely taxing.

My advice to you is this: Take a break from the game for a week or two to get some perspective and assess your priorities. Then ask yourself, do you want to be a raid leader with your current guild, or do you want to be a regular member in a progression-oriented guild? If you choose to stay, motivate people to try harder (or at all!) and your guild might see more progress. If you go, work hard in your new guild and you might eventually become the raid leader some day. Either way, you will be better off if you chose one or the other.

If you decide to leave, you may encounter some extremely negative reactions from your former guildmates. Just remember that it's a result of their emotional investment, and try not to judge them too harshly. Mostly, they are afraid of what will happen to the guild without you.


Send Scott your guild-related questions, conundrums, ideas and suggestions at You may find your question the subject of next week's Officers' Quarters!

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