For years (and I’m talking like 5+ years), I was a Guild Leader for World of Warcraft. I’ve lead Guilds in City of Heroes, City of Villains, Guild Wars and Star Wars. You name it, I’ve basically lead a guild in it.
None were more profound nor more tragic than the 5+ years in World of Warcraft.
Now, I could tell you about every decision I made, every move I made, every guild that hated me and every fight I had, but I will only tell you this much:
It was all a lie.
I started a Guild because I wanted to simply be in a Guild that acknowledged my existence; that was happy I was around; that had people happy to see me. I never had any ideas of power laid about before me. I started it with the noblest of concepts: the concept that everyone would belong.
That is not the truth. As a Guild Leader, without me knowing better, I had been manipulated, played, bullied and hated. I eventually left.
As a Guild Leader, you become the head dog very quickly and, at first, this is intoxicating.
It’s intoxicating if you lacked friends, outward contact, attention, love, appreciation. You were suddenly the popular kid in school and you weren’t really sure why. However, you never think of two things: 1) Had you earned all of this attention; and 2) That it all came at a price.
In being a Guild Leader, after 5 years I realized one thing very clearly. I hated the person I became. So truly and surely as I drew breath. I don’t think I could ever do it again.
I spent a lot of time trying to make people happy. First, I wanted my support to be happy; my ‘Officers’ were my highest ranking members. They were there to support me until my ego got a bit too big for me and I stopped listening to their suggestions. Also, all of their suggestions came at the price that I had to listen to them. A very big catch-22 that I had never anticipated. I never realized that they would listen to me, but only as long as I listened to them. I’m not saying they were wrong and I was right and I’m not saying the reverse. This has nothing to do with who was wrong and who was right; it only deals with who held the ‘power.’ It’s always unpopular to make decisions without the the people directly supporting you.
However, I quickly learned something: the anonymity of the internet was for more than just ditching blame. It also ditched, very quickly, what you assumed was a friendship. I, like a great deal of people, didn’t carry around many friends and didn’t have more than a handful growing up, so losing their friendship was more devastating than losing their support. However, when I stopped making the most popular decisions for them, they stopped supporting me. When they stopped supporting me, our friendships crumbled. I can’t pinpoint one specific instance or one specific reason, but they dwindled quickly. These were people who were at the Handfasting of me any my (now) husband. This hurt greatly, but this was just the first year or two of my reign as Guild Mistress (Yes, a title I picked and loved).
In the coming years, it got much worse. New officers would learn to manipulate me in such ways that I now have to be very careful anywhere on the internet because I have stalkers. Not just the obsessive stalkers we all make jokes about, but the obsessive I-want-to-make-your-life-miserable stalker types that make me consider an internet restraining order where they may not make any contact with me or immediate friends/family. People who, when they didn’t get their way, did everything they could to make my gaming life and personal life hell. Including, but not limited to, promising to sneak back into my guild after I removed them only to harass me.
I couldn’t realize that the people with whom I had become ‘friends,’ who I thought were there to help me, were there for only their superficial reasons. However, gaming, for the most part, has become a very ME place of being. It’s about what I get out of this; it’s about what I earn from this. Even during Guild Run Raids, it was about what I going to get from this. I did more damage, so that person shouldn’t get what I want. I made the most raids; I did the most healing; I’m always here.
Everything was like stepping on eggshells. I couldn’t please myself and, even when I tried, I would always end the day hating the end of the stick that I was always stuck with. It was bullshit. I even met someone who was my best friend. I told them my secrets and we spent years, YEARS, bonding and even meeting in person, only to have all of that shut down over a gaming decision. The person closest to me after my husband.
I gave my sweat, tears and sanity to this guild and, 5 years later, I couldn’t tell you why. I adored people and thought them family only to lose them over the slightest upset. I was terrified of my own officers for awhile because I felt so utterly bullied that I had panic attacks just thinking of logging on and speaking to them.
I had been threatened physically by more than one person. I was bullied by either officers or guild members. I was hated and loved for the wrong reasons. One day, I realized that I had become a huge bitch.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a certain percentage of bitch. That makes me very proud of myself.
However, I was jumping-down-the-wrong-people’s-throats kinda bitch. I alienated the people who wanted nothing more than to help and grow the guild. I begged people to help and told off others. I did so much wrong and good at the same time. Part of my sanity didn’t survive the experience.
I had so many issues my husband and close personal friends began to hate World of Warcraft.
Read that last sentence again… go ahead, I’ll wait…
That is a messed up sentence, isn’t it? I had SO many issues that I caused other people to hate a video game they once loved.
I lost a friend that was so close to me I fell into a deep depression…
OVER… A… VIDEO… GAME!
I don’t trust people because I was a Guild Leader. I don’t like people much because I was a Guild Leader. I put my Mother on hold because I was a Guild Leader. I put my life on hold because I was a Guild Leader.
Suddenly, one of the happiest times of my life became one of the most tragic. I needed surgery. I was out of work for over a week while I recovered. I can’t explain what happened to me, because I don’t want to, but it was tragic. It was horrible and it was all mine. I couldn’t sit in a chair for over a week. My husband had to care for me in nearly every sense of the word. This little bit of reality had dropped onto our laps and I sat back and wondered, “What kind of person am I?” “What am I willing to suffer of my own doing?”
I stopped playing and I haven’t been a Guild Leader since.
When you go through something so horrific and personal, it gives you perspective on your life. Honestly, that whining, crying, obsessive bitch with an ego was NOT who I wanted to be. I wanted to game for fun and I avoided WoW out of fear. I made bonds with character names, not actual people who cared if I had surgery. I put my plans on hold because my Guild needed me, when really they didn’t.
That is time I can’t get back with my mother, my friends; people who love and care for me.
I looked back and hated so passionately who I had become that I dropped it all on the floor and walked away. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Nothing, no one, should ever hold that much power in my life, besides the people who are at my side in every moment in my life.
At the end of the day I had really hated the person I became, so I left those people standing there, in a video game, and walked off to become someone new. Someone who fought for something real; someone who never chose something trivial over an actual person; someone to be proud of.
That is the short version of how I stopped being a Guild Leader and it was the best decision I had ever made.
**Now, I don’t want you to think I walked away from this with nothing. I walked away with two very, very dear friends, Josh and Scott, who are like family to me and I will never say differently. Out of all that time, I am glad to say that I know and love them both.