I just realized it had been approximately two years since my last blog post before yesterday’s. It certainly doesn’t feel like two years, but I guess time has a way of flying by at epic speed.
The decision to stop playing regularly, and eventually completely, would have been far easier had it not been for my guild. I didn’t see it so much as leaving a game, as leaving a group of people I cared about. There was also the idea that I was bailing on an ongoing but unfinished project, which is definitely something I was loathe to do.
(As an aside, the intent of this post isn’t to be self-serving. I spent a lot of time trying to justify my decision to myself, but very little time explaining it to others. My hopes for sharing my experiences are for you, the reader, to glean at least a partial understanding into the motivations of someone choosing to leave a leadership/management position, whether it’s ingame or IRL.)
It wasn’t a case of when the going gets tough, the boss gets the hell out. Which isn’t to say the going wasn’t already tough and getting tougher. However, a facet of leadership is the ability to not only roll with the punches, but anticipate the punches and find ways to not get hit by the same punch twice. It involves a lot of blocking and dodging, sometimes parrying, and there’s no cap in existence to make one uncrittable.
Toward the end of summer 2009, several key members of the guild, including a few in leadership or quasi-leadership positions partially or entirely cut back their playing time and/or involvement, all for different reasons. This left me in a bind and overwhelmed, essentially crit by my members’ real lives. This was all while I was experiencing an ass-whupping by my own real life, namely a temp job with ridiculous hours followed by a consulting job with even more ridiculous hours. I couldn’t even make my own guild’s raids, with the schedule I was working. Which wasn’t really all that bad, considering we had more or less stopped raiding as a guild due to the loss of those key members. The slide had been well underway, but by this time it was way too late to navigate the slope.
Funnily enough, what cemented my decision to stop playing had absolutely nothing to do with that. It was in early 2010, during the Love is in the Air event. I hadn’t been playing on a daily basis since the previous October/November, and hadn’t left the Dalaran bank in almost a month (don’t ask). So I logged on, determined to do something that didn’t consist entirely of organizing and chatting, and a guildmate invited me to a PUG for the daily event boss kill in SFK. Yay! Something fun! Right?! No.
I zone in and experience my usual loading screen lag, which was as expected. The group is steamrolling some trash, and I ask where to pick up the quest to summon the boss dude. All of a sudden, I get a stream of angry tells from one of the puggers, which spills over into party chat, essentially calling me an idiot (in not so nice terms) for not having done the pre-quest. I explain that I haven’t really played in a month, and that I thought I could pick up the quest in the instance. My guildie is trying to diffuse the situation, all while apologizing to me in gchat for this mess. At this point I see the yellow “!” on my minimap, and go pick up the quest for the summon. I say something to that effect in party chat. Twice. Next thing I know, I’ve been kicked from the group for being a “noob.” Yes, I was actually kicked from a group and called a noob. I ask why in /say, and get told they didn’t see my chat (twice). I reject the re-invite to the pug, /say they shouldn’t have a problem finding another DPS, and hearth. Back to the bank for me.
Now, don’t think I quit because some jackass kid in blues called me a noob. It was because, after a month of essentially doing nothing ingame, I wanted to have a fun experience and I let a jackass kid ruin my good time. I don’t believe I’d ever gotten so enraged in real life at something so inconsequential ingame. Part of my reason for creating my guild was to help create a positive experience for myself and my members, and to help create an ingame environment that I would enjoy playing in.
Those 5 or so minutes of interaction with the puggers encompassed everything I hate about WoW – not just their attitudes, but my reaction to them. If I couldn’t even be responsible for my own enjoyment of the game, how could I possibly put myself in a position to be responsible for someone else’s? I had failed in that. I was done, and I didn’t log in again for another year.