The Value of Being Social
A little while ago, I wrote a rather lengthy response to Larisa on The Pink Pigtail Inn regarding a post she had on how being social has affected her experiences on WoW, both positively and negatively. Big Bear Butt always talks about “all the asshats” he has had to deal with in Pick-up Groups (PuGs), and Gevlon is constantly talking about how to be an individual, and how the majority of players of this game are Morons & Slackers (M&S) especially in the ‘social’ guilds.
It’s interesting, I think, about the sheer gamut of ideas that people have about what is fun and what is not, and how being social interacts with those ideas is even more interesting. I do think that it’s a rather individual choice, but the fact of the matter is that in this game, one is always being social, even if one is not talking to another person directly. Even Gevlon, in his own individual manner, relies on the social nature of WoW in order to make his money and get his gear, and I’m glad to see that he’s at least come up with one value that a guild might have, even to him (not that it’s enough for him to consider being a regular guild member of any guild at this point, as he feels extensive social contact leads to drama… He’s right, but the value of the social contact is worth potential drama for some people, perhaps?).
Previously, while not to the same extreme, I was like Gevlon. I felt that anything I wanted to do in WoW, I should try to do myself – anything less than that was like saying “I’ m weak – I can’t do this alone.” I’d done a few groups in the past, with mixed results. My first instance ever, The Deadmines, was, in retrospect, a boost, as a 40 Warrior ran a group of us through it. I remember the run pretty well, but I still really don’t know how hard the Deadmines were at that time (this was just a few weeks after WoW went live), nor did I learn anything about group dynamics except “Enchanters would roll Need on everything, since they ‘need’ the mats from disenchanting.” (My mage lost a nice blue staff to a rogue who ended up just Disenchanting the damn thing, to my dismay, that run.)
Further, I can be a bit of a lazy person, when it comes to social commitments. I always felt that I wanted to do “what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it, and how I wanted to do it”, and that becoming overly social, guild or not, would lead to time/activity commitments. I was one of those who would say, “What do I feel like doing now?”, and go do that, and flit from activity to activity, never really completing anything, but happy to just be doing what I wanted to at that moment. I’d never thought of myself as the guild type… How wrong was I?
[/Anecdote below for those who wish to read the full story]
The guild provides more than just a bunch of bodies to play this game with, for groups and instances. There is, to me, a certain value to the pleasantness of the gaming experience, and until joining my guild, I’d never pursued being social, for fear of everyone in the game being like those on the General channels – all rude, boorish, antagonistic, and perhaps not all that intelligent. The couple of PuGs I’d played in confirmed that, and so I wrote it off.
Now, being part of a good guild, even if we’re not yet at raiding status, I’m finding that I’m learning how to be a better player. I listen and try to learn from my guildies, and I try to provide information in return. They have practical information. I have theoretical information. (I try to keep up with theory on WoW more than they do – they tend to get better by experience, and many of them are quite good.) We build upon each others’ strengths and try to support the weaknesses. I have goals now – individual goals, but directed towards making myself better for the guild. There’s value in that – the guild has provided me focus in this game.
I’ve been able to talk to and meet great people – people who I enjoy spending my time with. Time is an investment, and while investing that time into this game, I’m much happier being social with the others in my guild, rather than just questing forward. (While Gevlon might say that people who think of other players in WoW as ‘friends’ might need to get out more, I don’t necessarily agree. It truly depends on the experience and who you meet.) There’s value to me in the guild, for making my time spent online more enjoyable.
Being in a guild, I also know that there are logistical benefits, as well. I don’t need to stalk the AH as much, anymore, to buy the things I need to play well. I can do the Group quests closer to my level, not needing to level past the quests and then go back to them, if I want to finish them. I’ve got people to share my accomplishments with, which is a good motivator for me, and I enjoy hearing what accomplishments my guildies have done as well. Yet another benefit.
And, like Gevlon mentioned in his article, the guild master, our officers, and our existing members work to keep the environment clean and pleasant, ridding the surroundings of weeds and refuse (M&S), ensuring our guild activity time is better spent. Value there, too.
And is there drama? Sure. There’s always going to be some drama when people get together on the Internet. This drama, however, is a very small price to pay for the value outlined above. If one can keep it that way, then the guild can be a valuable and pleasant place to be, and a good means for self and collective advancement in WoW.
One can be an island in WoW, but there isn’t much in the surroundings. I’m much happier now, being part of a group, or maybe an archipelago, and I don’t think I’ll ever try to go back.
My 2 yen,
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Call me Akiosama. (And no, I’m no Melville.) I’m just another 30-something game player (or collector, as some would say), interested in this, that and the other thing. Right now, “this” is Star Wars – The Old Republic, “that” is World of Warcraft, and “the other thing” is miniature and card gaming. As I figure out what I’m here to say and do, I’ll probably add more information about myself, but for the moment…
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