Limits to friendship

Over the past few weeks the Horde faction on my server in World of Warcraft has suffered a couple of major blows. [This is a weird sentence for me to say… I’m basically using the language that some of the people I used to raid with used when describing these occurrences. I mean, I don’t really think of the Horde faction as a unified body which can take blows… but I think they really do feel at opposition with the Alliance and that raiding and end-game PvP really is about competition.]

The first is that one raiding guild imploded. About 9 or 10 of my guildmates went with them to Molten Core and Blackwing Lair, so it changed very dramatically the availability of several level 60 guildies during certain times of the week. What happened was that the guild leaders and officers decided to ditch their guild (with like 12 hour notice) and migrate to a different server where they felt that they could advance their characters at a faster pace and basically get more opportunities to get farther in the higher-end instances, probably including tackling Naxx and AQ40, currently the two highest-end instances. [I find this very sad in that it is another blow to the image of uber guild and how there really is no allegiance or loyalty beyond what can be generated from a hierarchical, loot-oriented organization. Something here acts as a counterpoint to TL Taylor’s portrait of power gamers in her recent book Play Between Worlds, where power gamers are very socially oriented and loyal to their guilds…

The other thing that happened was that the guild which ran the raid group (composed of many allied guilds) that I ran with (the one in my paper on camaraderie), ironically, also imploded. This was something in the works through the whole summer, I believe. It started with some key healers leaving due to how loot was handled, which is completely contrary to the behavior one would expect from players who confess to value friendship and hanging out over loot. Then other people started leaving for various reasons. Communication started failing. I think it was because our group wasn’t stable, with a lot of new members to fill in the void of those who left over the loot drama or simply due to having a different summer schedule. Whatever the case, a heated discussion started happening on the lead guild’s forums, and it was pretty clear that some people from non-lead guilds were feeling underappreciated and that some people from the lead guild were also feeling underappreciated in the wake of being abandoned by the people who had left for more serious raiding guilds. One person in particular expressed the feeling that he was tanking for us and that it was our privilege to have him perform this service for us. He then went on to basically insult everyone not in his guild. Later he explained that his tirade was misunderstood due to a typo and that his anger wasn’t directed at all OOGers (out of guilders) but just to the original person who started the thread. But it was too late. By then all of my guildmates who were part of their raid decided to leave. I left for solidarity, but I was going to leave due to a different Fall school schedule anyway. The funny thing is, even if we had known he had made a typo… well, our main beef wasn’t actually against his insult but more his attitude that he had that the world revolves around him. That part wasn’t a typo and is consistent with how some of us felt about him for some time now. I am not sure how this raid is doing anymore as I no longer go, but I assume it is still going and that they are still working on Rags and Vael.

Anyway, these few weeks obviously have been pretty emotional for me in terms of game life and Ushki and school about to start, etc. But what worries me the most, I think, is that I am not exactly sure what this says about my paper that I wrote in June. I mean, do I have to retract what I wrote? Is it that the raid doesn’t value friendship and camaraderie as much as I had thought?
My thought is this:

People joined my ex-raid group to hang out with friends, primarily, but loot and character advancement should not be glossed over so readily. Different people value loot differently, with great variability, and different people view fairness and loot distribution differently. When the loot rules did not accomodate their expectations they bailed. Months before, perhaps they wouldn’t have bailed, but they did over the summer.

I think that, as with pretty much anything, tolerance is not a binary. People’s tolerance of things vary over time. I know that with “real-life” friends, I can only hang out with them for an afternoon, maybe half a day, or maybe three days, before I start to tire of them. I think it depends heavily on our personalities and what we are doing, but at some point I need some downtime. Well, think about this… This raid group has been going to Molten Core and Onyxia for almost a whole year now, three days a week for about 5 or 6 hours a day. That. is. a. lot. of. time.

At different times, different people had to come and go, and I bet some of them left because they got tired of the rest of us. It’s not that they hated us or couldn’t get along… It’s just tiring, you know? The core group emerged as the people who basically stayed the longest, I guess. We somehow maintained our friendship through the tough times (and the often really good times). When we started getting tired of each other… well, what kept us there if not the camaraderie? For me, it was a sense of loyalty and also the chance of winning loot. Once drama started happening, loyalty died due to the type of drama, and well… loot ain’t enough. By the time the drama started happening, the “fun” factor was already gone or so diminished that it just wasn’t enough to hold us together.

Anyway, that’s my take on things. People get tired of each other. All raid groups are destined to break apart. Some last longer than others because of the friendships. Ours was still an awesome group and I still believe the best 40-man raid group on the server. But we needed a break. Or at least some of us did.

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