Feelings on GM retirement

Part of the challenge to play wow well is at a basic level having enough time to make progress. There is a minimum amount of time needed to do any particular task, and of late my time available has been decreasing – this is especially true of any player who wishes to also have a controlling role in a guild structure. It takes a bit (or a lot) more time than just playing.

In future I expect it to get even harder to get a regular cycle of time each week, so (with much apprehension) I’ve retired as GM of the Insidious guild, returning the title to the old GM. In hindsight I have some thoughts on being a guildie, a GM, and a player that I thought might be interesting to others.

As a GM you are authorative, but a large part of that authority is an illusion. You can take any action, and have the purview to really effect a change should you so desire. As an ordinary member I think it there is an illusion that you cannot affect a similar degree of change or creativity. Really there is usually nothing stopping a player from starting ad-hoc events, garnering support, and making a positive difference.

There is also only the control in a manner of planning and reaction, a GM cannot force a player to do something, but they can restrict the reaction to that player’s choice. Meaning as GM I cannot force somebody to turn up to raid, but I can never take them again, or kick them for doing so. It seems obvious, at a high level. The subtle part of this relationship is that the leverage and influence between the players involved is delicate. Too little “force” and you will not have enough stick to match the carrot; too much and you’re scaring players away.

Over my time as GM I’d like to think that everyone was dealt with fairly, meaning that the force was applied appropriately. But I also know that some of the harder times needed players to be removed or boldly disciplined, and that was never enjoyable. It comes back to the point about being clear and consistent as they key features of a GM, and those two goals are darn hard to maintain.

I didn’t understand what the challenge would be like till I did it, and most of the pressure was social pressure dealing with human issues. The “gm-game” became more about social engineering.

A typical example of this was dealing with my own guildies reaction to bad players, especially those other players who were trolling us. Keeping them from reacting in-kind took huge effort, as a default answer of “do that and I’ll kick you” would only have hurt the guild in the long term, and thus made the trolls happy.

I will miss the leverage to insist on a stance. Now that the old GM is back I can’t just lay out the path and expect it to be followed. I’ll have to ask, not tell. Advise, not dictate. That’s ok and expected, but sheesh – it is an adjustment.

I think the GM guides the officers more than they do the typical guild members. I spent most of my time talking to the officers about what was happening. It was moderation, facilitation, and planning. They did the hard work, I just talked. The general population in the guild were being protected and considered in all that we did, but generally not consulted regularly. I know that may read as arrogance, or wildly out of touch, but it seems factual to what was effective.

I know we should have been better at communicating what is happening to the entire guild, and part of that was due to dealing with negative issues that we wanted to keep away from the general population. Telling a horrid story is not generally going to be positive for the guild.

If I had the time I’d do it again. As a fact if I had the time I’d more than happily take back the role, and do it better than my last stint.

If I had more time I would have done far more. I regret not being able to run events, talk more to players, and really nudge the player base along. I feel that it is the real role of the GM (as you should have officers to help with the other stuff), they should be focused as much on solving the issues, as they are on developing the spirit.

This is really why I thought about stepping down a few months ago, and why I had to now. My own expectations on the GM role could not be met, so I was kidding myself to say that it was as effective as it needed to be.

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  1. Pingback: Cata post-mortem: GM lessons learned « untamedhellcat

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