Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

-Lord Acton’s dictum

I am looking forward to hearing more about the Guild experience and rewards that Blizzard plan on introducing in the Cataclysm Expansion

A Guild is not a democracy. It is not common for Guildmaster in Warcraft with ultimate authority to be democratically elected, or is in that position because they earned a great feat of bravery,  or action in war like Captainships were rewarded. 

Their Authority as GM is established by creating their own Guild with or without friends , their own “Nation-State”, or Inheriting an already established Guild.  This inheritance is usually not done by right of birth,  ” I’ve been playing the longest”   It is normally the whim of the preceding ruler, and often just some  random person on the guild list that the GM offloads it to.

GM’s  set their own rules,  delegate, real and implied authority. Control ultimately the resources of the guild and who is entitled/has access to and also who is rewarded and punished by the distribution of the products of the guilds efforts as it stands today.

Usually an officer core act as advisers, and are assigned or delegated particular tasks – with appropriate administrative access ( eg Demotions/Invites) However the work performed by officers will vary,  and in the more ‘corrupt’ guilds do minimal admin work and reap the benefits of the position.  On one hand these positions can also not be earned,  but more handed out as rewards for friends much like the Kings in the old days would hand out earldoms and land, on the other it is a reward for dedication and service to the guild. This Authority is easily revoked by the GM, and it not a rank that stays with you if you go to another guild.   

( They all – GM and officers can also  work bloody hard.)

 Based on the GM’s I have ‘served’ under I don’t think any had  real life management experience or formal qualifications, and did not hold a  leadership positions in community or the workplace. Yet as the core decision maker and controller the GM, as a virtual Sovereign  have the power  to dissolve the guild at any point regardless of member wishes, and do what they want with the resources because even Blizzard sees the GM as  as ultimate authority of the guild, and let them make their own decisions, regardless of the benefit or detriment to the other individuals in the guild. Blizzard are not Guild rule enforcers because there is always the free will for someone to leave.

This new Guild  experience and achievement system is about to give one person,  the GM control over things which are not voluntarily handed over to be distributed as they see fit.  People donate gold to the bank,  they donate Mats, or Guild activities such as raids generate the resources. People have a choice to do these things.  Yet a Achievement that obtains a particular item in the new scenario because of 25 peoples work is distributed by 1.

A guild gathers its resources from the efforts of individuals,  be it donatations of gold,  selling BOE drops from guild raids, using greens  for enchanting mats, sharding unwanted Epics ect.  This goes into the bank for the collective use of the guild with restrictions Eg Raiders may only get distributed free enchants, but a member who doesn’t raid may not.  The raid that the raiders attended bore the fruits of the mats used so it makes sense that they benefit.  This decision however is an allowance by the GM for this to be so.   If an officer disagreed with a particular policy they could only appeal to the GM as a person, and not through a decision to ‘vote them off the island’ because they have turned into a despot.    

We all have heard the stories of the GM’s and officers taking all the loot,  and taking or using the guild bank contents for their individual benefit, In smaller guilds the Guild bank can be open to everyone, and I have had an argument when I was an officer of a smaller guild with the GM because of the inequality in who was donating resources and who was taking what they could.  Each guild is their own Island, and they set their own rules.  If you do not agree with those rules you are welcome to leave.

However outside the sphere of the guild,  the Gm is powerless.  They are just another player. So perhaps this motivation will keep some of the more power hungry Gm’s in check,  that without dedicated Guild members who accept, and embrace the rules of the guild and stay and who unlike citizens of real nation- states  have the choice to leave whenever they want for a better place,  that this incentive , when there is now more prestige and mutual benefits to lose if the guild is disbanded keep more Gm’s ‘honest’

For this new Achievement and rewards system  to work I can see that  the interests of the GM and Officers will need to align  closer to the interests of the Members of the Guild.  Additional rules established within Guilds, and more transparency as to what happens to the resources of the guild.

I think the GM and officers will need to say- we are doing “This” today in the raid.  The reward is “This”  and we have decided to distribute it like “This” and the process made more democratic.  

I hope that Blizzard lean more to team rewards then single Items for this reason.   I have no incentive to try for a reward when I know that only one person is going to benefit from it. I also hope that it’s just more ‘fluff’ and vanity items rather then ones that benefit gameplay as I believe that even the most fairest of these reward distributions, amongst trusted Gm’s and officers and guild members  will just cause more drama.

What makes a good Guild master? In business terms  as a manager I was  measured on my staff retention rate, my department performance, and the happiness of my staff.  I think these measurements are important for guilds today, but that going forward that unless there is more mutual co-operation between all levels of management in a guild so that everyone benefits and contributes as equally as possible that there will be a massive destruction of smaller and mid sized guilds, and people will flock to the most ‘trusted’ Guild master in the best guild possible.  Because there is more at stake the GM’s policys will come under closer scrutinty and they will be more answerable to the rest of their guild.

 Do I trust that my Gm’s interests in the guild are greater then their own.  No.  They don’t get paid, or rewarded for their job, we take them for granted, and get upset when they aren’t online, yet we question their decisions in one breath and are glad that we aren’t in their position in the next.  It’s lonely up the top ( I presume)

Do I trust that they will do the best they can.  Yes. That while there is no acountability, the time and efforts put into making a raiding guild work is no small feat.  I wonder if anyone asked the Gm’s did they want additional responsibilitys when they considered the new Achievement and rewards?


7 Responses to “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

  1. 1 teac77 August 26, 2009 at 2:44 am

    I enjoy reading your blog. One suggestion about spelling:

    et cetera: and others; and so forth; and so on
    abbreviated as “etc.”

  2. 2 Jormundgard August 26, 2009 at 5:08 am

    I think that, too often, the whims of the GM set the agenda for the guild. It’s partly because the person with the most motivation rose to the leadership role, and so they’re going to have an inspirational nature. But it’s also because the GM holds the reins. They have absolute control over membership. They typically define loot and attendance rules. More crucially, they define the raid invites, often the very reason that you joined. Are you going to tell them they’re wrong?

    In a culture where disagreement and debate is typically labeled “qq” or “drama”, eventually people just lose interest and learn to accept the status quo.

    My hope is that whatever system they introduce removes the “dictator-for-life” GM and tries to foster some sort of community governance. But realistically I just expect another bar to level up.

  3. 3 Gevlon August 26, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Really good post, motivating some new thoughts in me.

  4. 4 Shy August 26, 2009 at 6:51 am

    From what I understood it will not be the scenario of where you loot 1G, 90 silvers in your pocket, 10 in the guildbank. I understood it will be you loot 1G, 1G into your pocket, 10 silvers in the guildbank.

    So yes, while you have created that money, it will not be that you suddenly have less than you had before, no your guild will simply have more.

    And I agree, as an officer I would not like to deal with guild heirloom items that can only go to 1 person in the guild. Because there is just no way you can make fair decisions on it.

  5. 5 yunk August 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    The best guilds i’ve been in had GMs with management experience in the real world. otherwise they have no idea how to handle people. I see some really ridiculous theories and assumptions about players in blogs and forums sometimes, leaders more draconian than you find in business or pro sports or the military, just to play a game. Which is just nuts. They have no idea how to motivate people.

  6. 6 Cassandri August 27, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Well I think all the Guild Leveling abilities will be things that only reward the whole guild: like mass resurrection.

    You could argue that the Guild ability to take a percentage of the raid profits and put them in the bank could then be withdrawn and kept by the GM – abusing his power.

    GM might have complete power but this is balanced by:
    (a) RL powerless-ness (as you pointed out)
    (b) It’s relatively easy to just join a new guild (compared to gaining new citizenship and moving country)

    Personally I welcome the Guild Leveling system – if the power is abused (as it can be now by GMs) it will be more apparent with the leveling system I think.

  7. 7 Flex September 3, 2009 at 1:41 am

    Just discovered your blog. Great post.

    I generally agree with your take on the matter; it’s easy to see that most guilds are led by people with little or no qualification or ability in the area (apart from the ego to run one).

    However, I think you need to be mindful of supply and demand. In early 2006, sick of the types of guilds you mentioned, I and some friends structured and started our own. I have management experience (ran my own business with staff, was a project manager in a previous job) and in many regards, with the right structure, it was a lot easier to fairly manage a 40 man raiding guild than it was to run even a small group of people in real life. The guild progressed and still remains a ranked raiding guild on the server, despite me handing over the keys a couple of years ago.

    The point? It’s that supply and demand thing. If people aren’t creating the sorts of guilds you want, and you’ve sat down and carefully thought through the structure you want, then step up and make it happen. But if we all accept the easy way – hoping for someone else to do all the hard work – then we can’t be surprised when only morons and slackers fill the GM spots.

    The greatest thing about a well thought out and managed guild is not just that it can be led well, but that its members all share the same vision, are on the same page, and are great to spend time with. And that, my friend, is magic.

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