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The Guild Counsel: Three problem players and how to handle them

Karen Bryan

Guild drama is something that can bring headaches to a guild leader. When you have dozens of players with a variety of personalities under the same virtual roof, there are bound to be some conflicts. On top of that, players don't have the benefit of being face to face, so there's room for misinterpretations and mixed signals.

While it's practically impossible to avoid all guild drama, there are a few player types that are pose a bigger threat to a guild's happy atmosphere. In today's Guild Counsel, let's look at three player types to watch out for and consider a few ways to keep them, and the guild, happy together.

The Debbie Downer

Debbie Downer is the player who is excellent at raining on parades, and yes, Debbie can be either a male or female player. Debbie excels at seeing the glass half empty and is always ready to proclaim every event as your guild's apocalypse. Your progress is never fast enough, and your successes only bring up questions about whether you can maintain them. For Debbie Downer, the end is always near.

On the bright side (something that's hard for Debbie to handle), guild leaders can succeed in lifting Debbie's spirits and bringing out more optimism. If you set clear expectations in advance, it's easier for Debbie to stay calm and get a grip. Provide a horizon and manage those peaks and valleys so Debbie can stay on an even keel. Also, make both short and long term goals so it's easy to see progress and know that there are bigger goals to come even after reaching success.

The Guild Counsel  Three treatening players, and how to handle them
The Activist

The Activist is a member who is constantly ready to champion a cause and rally other members to join it. And no cause is too small for The Activist -- it can be anything from a poorly delivered joke in chat to a perceived slight on loot to the tone of an instruction from a raid leader. Now, it's OK to question leadership, and in fact, it's necessary at times because guilds are more successful when they incorporate the best ideas from the guild as a whole. But The Activist goes well beyond reason and ends up arguing a cause just because he can. He can end up fracturing a guild and eventually even make Debbie Downer's predictions come to fruition.

It's hard to pre-screen The Activist up front during the recruiting process, but if you unintentionally do invite one in, try to explain your guild's culture and playstyle and give him the opportunity to get on board. In the end, though, if he's constantly stirring the pot with perceived injustices, it's best to part ways sooner rather than later -- before he can push members into choosing camps.

The Hopper

I'd be willing to bet that everyone who's been in a guild has at one point or another run into a guild hopper. This is a player who is in it for advancement and who isn't necessarily interested in the "guild experience." When you're doing well, he's probably pretty active and benefiting from the success. But if you're not progressing as quickly as he expects, he'll move on to a guild that is. And his departure usually leaves members feeling as if they were taken advantage of because he's improved his own character at the expense of the guild and would not be able to move to a "better" guild had it not been for his time spent with them.

The Hopper is actually a complicated player because many times, it's the Hopper himself who is making contributions that play a role in the guild's success. So while it's not exactly the nicest thing to leapfrog to the best guild he can get into, you can argue that the guild he left is in better shape thanks to The Hopper. The best approach is to have a realistic view of guilds in games and consider that not everyone is looking for a second family in-game. The bonds that form among guild members are amazing and special, but not everyone is looking for that, and that's OK. Members need to differentiate between those personal friendships and the game itself because those friendships, while formed in-game, go beyond the game and the guild. I've met several Hoppers along the way, and the longer I played, the less resentment I had toward them when they moved on. And in some cases, The Hoppers even "hopped" back to us because they realized after the fact how much those friendships brought enjoyment to their gameplay.

Overall, there are many different personalities and playstyles that members bring to a guild, and these are not the only three that can cause potential problems. Screening potential members in advance helps get a feel for whether or not that player will mesh well with the atmosphere and culture you've created in your guild. And if you do find that you have someone who doesn't quite fit initially, it might just be a question of taking a few minutes to explain how your guild works to get him or herto come around. Even Debbie Downer, The Activist, and The Hopper can be positive, solid members in your guild in time. The key is to not let things linger without action because it only gets harder to deal with a problem member the longer you wait. A vigilant eye from a proactive guild leader can greatly reduce the chance of guild drama from difficult personalities.

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.

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