Real Life Experience Through MMO Gaming

About a year and a half ago I had a relatively serious addiction to World of Warcraft. In my defense it only once got to the stage where I called in sick to work in order to play it, and that coincidently was the day I decided this was not who I wanted to become, but many other gamers have gone far beyond that line. I’m fortunate that I’ve never really had an addictive personality, but a lot of other people I know do. Lots of gamers do, and though too much of anything isn’t good for you there are some benefits to getting that deeply involved in a social game like WoW – provided you can get yourself out under your own power.

Let me give you a bit of insight into what that means;
Towards the end of my addiction I was the Guild Leader of one of the biggest and most progressed guilds on my server. We weren’t the absolute top guild, but we were serious enough to be able to get forty or more people together up to five times a week and coordinate ourselves enough to make progress every time. I had up to 8 people designated as my ‘officers’ who helped manage the hundred or so people in the guild at any one time, and sometimes they had a few people to help them with tasks as well. So, as much fun as the game was, it became more of a job towards the end, and quite a stressful one at that.

Why did we need so many people to play a game, you ask? Well there’s lots of things to do to keep the guild running smoothly. It’s not just a matter of signing people up and turning up on time. Here’s a few jobs we had to regularly take care of, otherwise people would leave, or there would be infighting, or we wouldn’t get anywhere (which leads to more infighting or leaving).

  • Recruit more people, of the right type, as required to fill spots.
  • Ensure everyone is happy, or at least satisfied, and knows their role in the guild.
  • Evaluate the people already in the guild regularly, give pointers or warnings if they were having trouble, listen to their problems and try to fix them, mitigate arguments inside the guild.
  • Strategically plan where we were going next week, and where we wanted to be in a month. This was dependent on how many people were available on a given day, where we were at the moment, when the Instances we were planning were reset (each week the places we go to reset, so we can’t just go to one ten times in a row, etc.)
  • Manage the guild website, which was also an external marketing tool for people looking for a new guild to join or for other people on the server to know where we were in the game and basically how good we are.
  • Manage the guild forums, respond to questions about the guild, instances, raids, people, player types (classes).
  • Manage the income and outgoing funds and items the guild uses to stay operating, sometimes including real world dollars for things like the website or Voice over IP servers.
  • Learning new strategies so that the leader and officers could teach the others when we get to them.
  • Running the actual Raids almost every day, or running other activities to keep the guild bonded or allow people into bigger raids.

And that’s just off the top of my head, more than a year and a half later! That’s a lot of work for someone who’s also working fulltime in the real world too. I enjoyed it though, don’t get me wrong, I loved it. I got my first real dose of management during that year and the drive to get into a management job in the real wold is still with me today because I enjoyed it so much. There was almost a hundred people who looked to me for help or followed my instructions to get something done, or listen to and help them with their problems in the guild. As much as it was a bit of a power trip at times, I was also extremely proud of everyone who came into the guild not knowing anything about what we called ‘Endgame Raiding’, and grow into very competent members of the guild, or even officers eventually.

To the guild, there is a lot of respect for those in authority in a guild. Because it is ofcourse a game, it’s incredibly easy to break off and make your own guild if you want to, so anyone who stays for more than a month builds credibility with the others in the guild, and leaders are the ones who stay the longest and have the most experience, so most people respect their decisions and everyone gets on well most of the time because of that. Outside the game however, the community sees these people (myself included) as just no-talent gamers who are antisocial and won’t go far because they’re always playing stupid games. This is true for some gamers, yes, but some are learning valuable lessons through methods that have never even been considered before.

My point for this whole post is this: Nomatter what anyone thinks of how much I played WoW back then, I learned a lot about managing people. Granted, I wouldn’t put any of the above on my CV, I fervently believe I had a years worth of crash course in management and learned some important interdepartmental and interpersonal skills over the span of my leadership of the guild. That management position I was more or less dropped into some three years ago now still drives me to learn about management and pursue jobs in that field in a more professional environment.