Thursday, November 12, 2009

On nice people

Disclaimer: When you read "nice guy" in this post, substitute "nice guy/girl".

With a handful exceptions, I've pugged all the instances I've done. Well, if it's also pugging when I ask a guy I've met earlier if he'd like to join in.

There are a lot of different people you meet when pugging. I'd like to speak of one specific personality type, one I was a member of myself for my first years of WoW.

The nice guys. The ones that seem to stick around no matter how bad things go, and will accept almost endless amounts of "nerd rage", blaming, accusing, unreasonable favors (like a guy asking to be ressed when the entire group wiped without any reason at all) and other negative communication.

Incidently, the nice guys very often end up as healers, tanks and often also group leaders. Not necessarily the group leader as the tank getting the party leadership to mark targets, but the one that put the group together, was first at the stone to wait several minutes for the next one to show up to summon and so on.

Healers seem to be the most common role for these guys. They want to help. They want to be important to the group or raid force. They want to make a change. Healing is a natural response to that "need", as they're critical to the group, can contribute without competing on a damage meter, and get the warm fuzzy feeling when they succeed on keeping everyone alive, or at least prevent a wipe, despite the odds.

One of the most striking features; They usually don't complain. They feel they shouldn't.

Now, they have a problem. I can describe one of the most common sympthoms. Previously, said person have been working hard for weeks/months, avoiding complaining when psosible, and always done what was best for the group(s). Suddenly he or she burst out in furious anger, and seemingly creates a huge conflict over something others consider small or trivial.

The best example I know of was a raiding druid who let out his rage on the official forums from the time I was a regular there. He was a raiding resto druid at lvl 60. His guild was doing great, downing bosses east and west. A physical dps leather item dropped, and he wanted it for his feral set. The guild leader gave it to a rogue who had recently joined the raiding force and needed it as a minor upgrade.

The druid in question spent half an hour screaming on vent and cursing on guild chat before leaving the guild and the raid force. I don't know what happened afterwards.

Now, the problem was not that the guild leader gave the item to the rogue. It was only the last drop which caused the glass to spill. At best, giving the item to the druid would have delayed the problem, but it would have happened later instead.

The problem didn't necessarily have only a single cause, but I can imagine some. The druid had persisted through lots of wipes without complaining. He had set his own needs aside for the raid force's. He had probably swallowed a lot of frustrations, not wanting to 'cause problems' or 'create drama' until the moment he was unable to swallow it.

I'll go as far as to say there are quite a lot of similarities between this and several break-ups. One person, often the girl/woman, remains silent until she suddenly can take no more. After the following break-up, the partner is unsure what happened.

What can be done to prevent such problems?

The short answer is Communication.

The long answer; There are several means that can help.

The best mean may be for the person to learn to talk about it. It may sound strange, but just getting your problems acknowledged by someone else helps immensly. There's a reason why you feel the need to complain to others when you've experienced something annoying or uncomfortable. It helps even more if you can talk to a person who is in some position where he can understand well what happens. In the case of WoW, a fellow WoW player is better than a random person. A guild member may be even better. A person that participated in the scene that caused the frustration will be even better. Best is probably the if the person him/herself that caused the frustration can acknowledge the problem. Shared first place might be the raid/guild leader.

Getting your problem acknowledged is first step towards solving it. How to solve it will vary with what kind of problem it is and who is involved. In the case of raiding, an officer might make a change, even minor, that can ease the frustration.

But before you can think of a solution, you need to actually identify the problem. After all, this personality archtype doesn't complain in the first place. That's why others, everyone that can, should react to signs that there's something wrong. In particular, the leaders. Asking if everything's okay won't necessarily help.

There's a skill straight out of the child psychology book that can be applied to much more than just children; Achknowledging by describing.

Consider the following situation I participated in yesterday. Simplified for the example.

I was dps, pretty average. We had a moderately well equipped tank. We had a superior healer. We had a superior mage dps. We had a average rogue who was a bit annoying to me. Let me put it this way; Who will ask for a res in TotC heroic after a wipe?

The healer suddenly had to leave after the first boss was down. It's hard to find a healer, harder when you've already downed a boss and you don't get the loot/emblembs/champion's seals.

I calm the group down, and say I'd find a new healer. I had assembled the group in the first place.

I've got black belt in random whispering, saying something like "We're in need of a healer for Trial of the Champion herioc (5-man). We've downed the first boss, then our healer had to leave for a raid. Would you happen to have time and interest in joining us?" to all healer classes at lvl 80 which isn't in a zone that dictates they're doing something I'm disturbing them in.

I come across a priest healer. He doesn't want to join, he'd just had a very bad experience with a pug. He's definately one of the nice guys archtype. I didn't get all the details, but I belive it was somthing like he had stuck around for wipe after wipe with a terrible tank, people leaving and cursing and blaming. I can completely understand that feeling after having "been there" myself several times. While going on whispering others, I reply to the whisper by describing how frustrating that can be, and how I understand he want to take a break from PUGs. Meanwhile I get a 20-30 declines on my offer to join, most of them polite.

After a few minutes, the healer I'm whispering with says he'll join us after all. He says I sound like a guy he'd like to pug with. I graciously accept his offer.

Fast forward. We wipe two more times before finishing the last two bosses. The tank stands completely immobile, and doesn't move out of the Desecration the death knight puts on the floor. Neither does the rogue. I do, leading to a serious downtime in my dps.

When we last succeed, it's with only 3 people standing. The priest ran out of mana healing through all the damage on the desecration. He was "correctly" equipped for the instance. While an overgeared healer might be able to heal through that without a sweat, this priest did nothing wrong and still ran out of mana. We did ask the tank after each wipe to kite the black knight around, not to get caught in his desecration.

The tank and the rogue leaves. The three of us stands around for several minutes. I tell the mage how I appreciated his dps despite the zombies in phase 2 swarming over him, and how we I don't believe we'd succeeded in the first place without his dps. I tell the priest how I saw that he managed to pull it through, despite the tank and a dps taking much more damage than intended by the instance.

What happens next? They open up and talk. A lot. Letting out their frustration and letting me know how they appreciate grouping with me, despite the fact that I was tied for the lowest place in dps. They even go so far that they share the names of their alts with me, hoping to group with me again. I'm not sure they would've opened up if I've asked 'Everything okay?'. Most likely, they'd answered something like 'yes, we're (finally) done' or something.

I believe both of them walked away more satisfied than they otherwise would. Imagine the difference; several wipes, and noone mentions a word about the hard work you put in to make it finally work. Alternatively, several wipes, but someone saw you and what you did, and tells you how they appreciate it. It's different from a 'Good work'. Someone saw exactly what you did, not just that you collectively succeeded.

Neither of them have their problems solved. But they have had some of their problems and work appreciated.

Some ways to solve problems might be for you nice guys to leave the group if it doesn't work with a warning in advance, or perhaps even kicking the 'problem player' if they've got the leadership. Don't hesitate to do that. It's not punishing the player. It's letting him or her know the consequences of his or her annoying behaviour. Just be sure that you share the view with the majority first.

Don't hesitate to talk. You're not causing a problem if you're telling what's bothering you. If you've got a guild leadership who think you are, you're in a very self-destructive guild. It's going to blow up, or rather, implode sooner or later. Guild quit and find a place where you are achknowledged.

I'm no longer one of the nice guys. I'm one of the guys that take responsibility for myself.

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