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Guild leadership and guild leveling

Matthew Rossi

First off, this isn't one of those posts where I'm a detached observer with no first person experience with the problems of guild leadership. I'm an officer in a raiding 25 man guild, and recently I was the victim of a shakeup. Our Anne Stickney wrote about it for the site, so I won't dredge up the same material. Instead, what I will do is talk about what someone else experienced tonight, and what it has me thinking about: namely, that perhaps it's time that alternatives to the classic GM/officers style of guild leadership were made part of the game's set up. Sure, you can run your guild like a council, or even an anarcho-syndicalist commune if you would like, but said commune would still be a monarchy by the way Blizzard has designed the guild formation process.

The reason I bring this up is because of a tweet from Emberdione, who comments here frequently as well as writes on her own blog. It was a very familiar story - her GM had decided he was tired of WoW, and so instead of handing the guild over like a sane person he kicked everyone out. Since it was so familiar to my own recent story, it got me thinking. Why do we still have this one person at the top pyramid structure as the only option for guilds?

It's not Blizzard's job to police the game and make us all behave. I accept that. But I think that when the guild system was overhauled in Cataclysm a chance to make a change to how guilds were set up was very definitely lost. Perhaps it's partially due to the process of replacing an inactive guild leader that leads certain players, when they decide to retire, to take such drastic action out of some misguided fear that they'll lose 'their' guilds. But that mentality of a single player owning a guild is in fact rooted into how Blizzard has set up guild creation and management.

In short, all guilds are ultimately dictatorships, no matter how benevolent. There's always one player in the guild who has the power to kick absolutely everyone else out, at any time. They can do this for any reason, or no reason at all. And there's absolutely no way to stop them, or even reclaim all the work you put into that guild - leveling it, donating to the guild bank, crafting raid consumables like potions, flasks, elixirs and food, cutting gems and leaving enchants and mats - all of it can be stripped away in a moment and all you and potentially everyone else in your guild can do is sign up for a new one and hope it doesn't happen again.

And what's worse is, even if everyone from the old guild decides to soldier on in the new one, even if you get right back to raiding the next week and even start progressing nicely, you can't choose any alternative structure. You can't set up a co-GM, or a guild council, or any real safeguard against GM's doing it again. You're stuck with a GM with absolute power over a guild, free to kick everyone at any time for any reason, and there's absolutely no way around such.

Considering all the effort that players have to put into leveling a guild, an amount of work that absolutely isn't a one-person job, I find it strange that there's no alternative to the GM system. And I think that perhaps it's time for there to be such an alternative. Would all guilds want it or make use of it? Probably not. But I know that some would, and I think that giving players the option to set up their guilds to reflect what they want them to be could be a solid improvement to the system already in place. You wouldn't need to use a system to depose an absentee GM if there was a co-GM, a council of guild leaders, or a rotating system in place. And on those rare occasions when a GM decided to kick everyone and abscond with all of their hard work, there would be someone there who could say no, a balance in place to check absolute guild power.

Perhaps it's not necessary, but I don't see why we couldn't have such an option in place. Guilds that preferred one hand on the rudder could stick with a single GM, while other guilds could experiment with co-GM's, assembly style guild leadership or councils or rotating GM's and find what worked for them. And I'd hear less stories of GM's kicking their entire guilds. In the age of guild leveling, is it really fair to say a guild belongs to only one person?

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