Here’s how I look at it. Being in a guild is sort of like working in an office environment. It’s great when you have people you like at work – people you enjoy having lunch or taking a coffee break with.Β  It’s even better when you have friends at work – people you want to go out for drinks with on Friday afternoon, or invite to your Sunday afternoon cookout.

Neither of these things is actually required for you to be successful at work though. They’re merely perks.

On the flipside, I think we’ve all had that person we worked with that just rubbed us the wrong way. For whatever reason, someone who just bugged us. Not someone who was blatantly inappropriate (such in cases of sexual harassment or complete and utter incompetence), but someone you just would choose not to spend your time with if you weren’t both employed in the same place.

Sometimes? There are people you just cannot get along with. You can make yourself crazy trying, sure, but ideally, you just minimize your exposure to the people that drive you nuts. This has served me well in my professional life (back when I had one), and has – mostly – served me well now that I’m in a large guild in WoW.

My boyfriend, however, tends to have very very different ideas.

Because WoW is a leisure activity, he feels like he shouldn’t have to be forced to “play nice” with people. This is his fun time, and he isn’t terribly patient with things that make it a lot less fun for either of us. This is why we’ve made a commitment to not get involved in any sort of guild leadership again – organizing, and mediating, and being responsible for keeping everyone content really isn’t something either of us particularly enjoy or find rewarding enough to warrant the accompanying frustrations.

I understand his point of view – this is his clubhouse too, and he should be able to let his hair down. But that means different things to both of us.

For example, avoiding interpersonal drama is something I feel is VERY worthwhile to my gaming experience. I’m not always a nice as I seem. I can snark with the best of them. But guild chat (or public vent channels) isn’t the place for that, in my opinion.

If there is something I want to say, especially when the conversation is somewhat heated, I take a breath and think about how my words will impact other people. Wanting to say something and having something that needs to be said are not always the same thing.

So last night, after we logged off for the night, I’m trying to explain to him why sometimes it’s good to self-censor. It’s less frustrating. This turned into an elaborate metaphor that involved all of the following:

– Equating “correcting” someone to whacking a puppy on the nose with a newspaper* for peeing on the carpet.

– An overly long, but incredibly amusing conversation about who the naughty puppies actually are, and who are the big dogs that will bite you if you try to whack them on the nose with a newspaper.

– Somehow, we got derailed enough to also have to include a sub-metaphor about when you stop being the human disciplining the dog, and when you’ve somehow both become angry monkeys in the zoo pounding your chest in an attempt to assert dominance over absolutely nothing that actually matters.

All terrible metaphors aside, I’m hoping that I was able to successfully convey to him that there is a big difference between saying “What you are currently doing is out of line, and this is why I think that.” and making it personal. I’ve never understood the compulsion to resort to personal attacks when something happens to put you on the defensive, but I know that’s his typical MO when his fuse gets lit.

And the quickest way to light his fuse? Is to do or say something that makes me feel utterly terrible. That’s right. He will immediately use whatever weapons he has in his arsenal to jump to my defense, which sometimes means using a baseball bat where a rolled up newspaper would have worked just as well.

It’s a process, I think. And this process is made harder for him because WoW has changed so much – socially, as well as gameplay-wise – since he started playing in Vanilla. When he was in a hardcore 40 man raid guild, the only thing he needed to ask himself before saying something with the potential to be hurtful or offensive was “Is this the truth?” – and if you couldn’t handle the truth, you were in the wrong environment.

Now that WoW is so much more open to friends and family of different skill levels, play time, and dedication, a greater spectrum of players exist in one place. Not everyone in your guild is like you. Some people are more sensitive than others. And I think guild chat would be a far more pleasant place for all of us if we took a minute to think about our words before we started flinging them around carelessly.

* – I do not advocate this method of training and/or disciplining animals, but it was such a APT FEELING metaphor at the time? I went with it.