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Drama Mamas: Too skittish to face the mob

When the fear factor of an MMO revolves more around social hits from fellow players than it does physical hits from monsters, you know something's out of whack. After reading this week's letter, I certainly felt like whacking something -- namely, the ugly atmosphere that makes grouping a hellish prospect for anyone who's been dragged through the dirt one too many times.

Dear Drama Mamas,

I've been playing this game for three or four years now (I'm still a teen, though) and I really wanted to ask you about something.

About two years ago, I first started raiding. I continued going to the pug many times, always with the same raid leader. (Let's call him R.) I started talking in vent with him and his guild, and raided with them quite a lot. I was really sheepish at first because: 1. I was a kid, 2. I'm afraid of social interaction, and 3. I'm a girl. Everything went fine though, for several months.

It was when R needed to go off to work, and couldn't lead the raids anymore when things got bad. I wasn't in his guild, but he felt that I could be trusted enough to be the raid leader. He passed it over to me, handed over his group macros for recruting, and told people I would be leading. He also put two people with me to be my raid assists. (Let's call them Andni and Pir. These are not their actual names.)

I would always start of the raid slightly paniced, but by the end I was joking around with everyone and having a good time. But during one Black Temple run, everything went bad.

Andni, who was also the lead tank, started acting a bit off. He was getting frustraited a lot. He got even more frustraited when people came into vent and started trolling, which is when he left the channel. They continued to harass me for being a young girl, and I kicked them from vent.

I was explaining one of the bossfights before we got to it, Relinc of Souls, when he types out that he's pulling and to follow him. Long story short, most of the raid stays with me, and the rest follow him. They wipe, and he hops back up to yell at me. We get into a large argument, and he leaves vent. At that point I was shaking, and I know I should have kicked him now. But at that time I was scared, and didn't want to kick him because he was best friends with the raid leader. He continues to harass us, pulling bosses, before I get my mother to kick him.

I later found out that R, who I thought to be my friend, told Pir that I had to be in the wrong for Andni to act like that, and I should have expected it and acted better.

Ever since that altercation, I have been very very scared around groups. I've been afraid to randomly que on my tank, even though I know I can tank alright in the dungeons I que for, I'm nervous about healing, and I only feel okay when I'm queing as DPS. Even then, I get all shakey when people start yelling about the DPS being low in Raid Finder, and such.

I just do not know what to do. I want to get over that fear, as it was just through a game and such, and it was about two years ago. But like I said, even now I get nervous in random groups, and I can barely get through Black Temple anymore without having a panic attack. What can I do so that I can have fun in the game again?

Yours truely,

Fear of Conflict

Drama Mamas Too skittish to face the mobDrama Mama Lisa: I'm confident Robin will be able to offer the comfort and specific advice you're looking for, Fear, so I'm going to break from the script here and speak directly into the camera: Hey guys, please, please, please remember that there are real people with real feelings on the other side of your text and headsets. The fact that you are playing this game on the internet makes it no less "real," no more "just a game" than any other public social interaction.

As impatient as you might be to slam the Accept button on the quest window, buff as you run, pull faster, and tank more, there might be other players in the group who want to read the quest text and hear the dialog, greet the other players, and have time to consider what could be a new encounter on a new character or new class for them. A flippant, mocking tone (whether directed toward a player or the content itself) may not feel very funny to a player who's moving at a different pace.

What's in it for you? Two things:
  1. Being careless with people's feelings makes you look like an arse. You don't want to look like an arse.
  2. Treating people like disposable cogs in your machine shakes your group's confidence and synergy, making the group less likely to succeed. That's a direct negative outcome for you. Bagging on people makes it less likely that you will get the successful run you want.

(Snorting at that last paragraph in disdain? Chances are, you're actually a Ferengi. You need a slightly different focus to make sense of getting along in groups.)

One last thing for the rest of our readers: I'd also like to recommend re-reading an oldie but goodie Drama Mamas from the early days of the dungeon finder. It's worth a quick read, especially when you stop to consider that Mists has made it even more likely that the players you're temporarily grouped with players who don't care about playing the way you do.

But back to Fear of Conflict. Fear, it doesn't sound like you're playing with anyone regularly right now. You need to be playing regularly with supportive guildmates! While it's possible to find guilds for women only or even guilds for people with social anxieties, I think any sort of friendly guild would suit your needs.

Readers -- who can recommend a friendly group now taking new members who would give this player a warm new home?

Drama Mamas Too skittish to face the mobDrama Mama Robin: Fear, your letter makes me wanna GRAWR, but not at you. I know exactly how you feel. I have pugged a variety of groups and then had such bad experiences, I haven't gone back in months. The Dungeon Finder on a low-level priest -- vile language and verbal abuse chased me away. Dungeon group recruited from general chat (in the days before the Dungeon Finder) -- I made a huge mistake and was too embarrassed to return to that character. GOGOGOGOGO -- stop stop stop stop stop. Once, in a level 15 Ragefire Chasm run, someone threw up DPS meters without irony. That was funny though, not intimidating.

I think it's perfectly normal to feel as you do after such an experience. Even as an adult, it's really hard to be thrust into a leadership role without guidance or support. This advice for teen leaders from Scott Andrews is valuable, as usual. And if you want to lead a raid again, you should read that and make sure you have a supportive mentor to help you through it.

In the meantime, we just need to get you to feel good about grouping again. As you must already know, you can have truly enjoyable experiences in random groups. And they aren't even that few and far between. It's just that one bad experience overshadows several good ones. I wish it didn't work that way, but it does.

Lisa's right. You need to group regularly with a known good bunch of people. You want to be careful when choosing a guild, however. A friendly guild that doesn't have a similar schedule to yours is no good for grouping with. A guild with nice people who are happy doing dailies and tilling and pet battling -- well, they don't really have time to random with you.

It's not easy to find a good guild filled with members who have your schedule. It's particularly difficult to find a guild with that description on a specific realm. But going to your realm forums is a good way to start. You'll also find many people in the comments here more than happy to have you transfer to their server and join their guild. Always make a new character on a server and get a feel for the atmosphere before transferring, by the way. It never hurts to do a little research. If you have friends from the physical world playing the game, I would recommend trying to hang with them on a common server. Friends aren't necessarily the best groupies, but at least you are starting off with the foundation of an established friendship.

No matter how you accomplish it, you definitely need to set yourself up for success by grouping with people you enjoy playing with for a while. Then you can go back to random dungeons and raids with more confidence and less fear. Unfortunately, there will always be funsuckers. They're just always easier to take when you're with friends.

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with advice 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

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