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In My Understanding

An old school gamer discusses the challenges facing the MMORPG community and it's leaders.

Author: jesad

Grouping Semantics (Calling the thing what it is)

Posted by jesad Monday January 20 2014 at 4:19AM
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I'd like to begin my fresh new blog by taking a look at some of the terminology that has been commonly used both in our games and in our lives that may have contributed to some of the problems that we have working together to accomplish certain tasks.

Today I am going to focus on semantics or "calling a thing what it really is" and although I'm sure that I'll garnish a few objections here and there, I will try to keep from going too far from everyone's general expectation of the English language while hopefully clearing up some of the mistakes that I believe are being made at the base level of our communication with one another.

To begin I would like to say that I believe the phrases "Team Captain" or "Team Leader" are contradictions in terms.  The word "Team" signifying some form of complimentary group in which complex goals are accomplished through synergy and complimentary skills through a coordinated effort between people, or in this case players, who are all competent in their abilities.

In a team, team members generally help one another with their individual skills so that each member can get the maximum result out of their own abilities.  A team then tends to lend itself to the idea that no one person is the master of anything and so, only through the sharing, contribution, and respect for the expertise of all of the teammates can anything be accomplished.

A Captain or a Leader is a boss, plain and simple. 

In fact, the words are practically interchangeble with one another.  It is a rank that is assigned to a person who's general purpose in life is to tell you what to do.  A team captain then, is a contradiction to the idea that everyone borrows or lends to the success of a plan because there is no real way that one can borrow or lend to a situation where one person, and one person only, has the final say on what will be kept and what will be thrown away.  Better to call something then, that has a captain, what it is, which is a company or a squad.

This may seem nit picky to you as you read it, but I believe that making it a point to let a player coming into your company or squad understand that it is not, in fact, a "team" goes a long way when someone invariably begins to bark out orders and expect them to be followed.

Teams are more democratic.  Everyone says what they think, based on their level of expertise, and if they are a good team, they will defer to the guy who is the actual expert, or who at least seems like he knows the most, before moving on with a plan.  A company, or a squad takes orders, period.  All of the success or blame for what they achieve falls squarely on the decision making of the captain or leader of that squad.

Moving forward then, I believe that it would be a good idea to specify these things when coming together under one banner.  Expressing what kind of group you plan to be on the outset will save you from having to have long conversations later when someone inevitably asks the question "Who made you the boss of me?"

Another word that I think deserves a better definition is "Guild".

We all think that we know what this word means.  But do we really?

The Free Dictionary defines the word "Guild" as....

1. a. An association of persons of the same trade or pursuits, formed to protect mutual interests and maintain standards.

b. A similar association, as of merchants or artisans, in medieval times.

2. Ecology A group of diverse species, especially animal species, that occupy a common niche in a given community, characterized by exploitation of environmental resources in the same way.
Now I really don't see within that definition the concept that a group of people existing under the title of "Guild" has to spend every waking minute supporting one another.  Of course the concept isn't excluded either, but it is not the all out, full blown depiction of the bonds of friendship and mutual existence that one may have expected from looking at the exploits of these guys....
(Man! that girl is hot!......  I like the ones in the red and purple too.  Don't want to hurt anyone's feelings)
Don't get me wrong, that guild above is probably a pretty fun place to hang out.  The problem with that idea though is that it is entirely not likely to happen on a regular basis, and instead what you will get is a bunch of people roaming around the game wearing the same tag over there heads and never talking to one another in chat.
A functional guild then, is more likely to look like this....
(Albeit with a few more females involved these days.  See how they are all pretty much interested in the same things though?)
The misunderstanding of the difference between the two things being the entire joke of the top picture.
I think that players could be explained this concept a little better also as it could assist in keeping certain expectations from being built up that, when not met, can lend to a somewhat revolving door in guild membership.
In layman's terms what I am trying to say is that a guild is kind of like a loose version of a company or squad.  It has all the things that a company or squad will have, but it is nowhere near as restrictive.  To make a better comparison I direct you to the Screen Actors Guild of America (clickable link).  Notice the kind of things that are listed on that page.  The goals and purpose behind those things.  Especially notice the lack of "if you want to" listed on that page in comparison to the abundance of "YOU MUST".
I guess what I am trying to explain here is that a guild is not something you join because you expect it to give you something, it is something you join so that you can find like-minded individuals who are in pursuit of the same things that you are in pursuit of who you can coordinate with in order to achieve that same goal. 
Likewise, to the guild leader, it is not something that you start because you want someone to give you something (such as praise, glory, etc...), it is something you start because you want to gather like-minded individuals under the same banner in order to turn the power of one into the power many.
All of the screen actors in the screen actors guild don't really hang out together though.  They are not even forced to do the same movies together.  What they do try to do however, is drop the hammer on anyone who messes with them as a group.  This is how a guild protects its own interests.  And it should be how any member of any properly run guild in any MMO should be ordering its business as well.
Your guild then should not be telling you who you should or should not be hanging out with unless that person or party is in direct conflict when the general pursuits of your guild, in which case they shouldn't have to tell you not to hang out with them because, as a good guild member, you should already not be.
Alternatively though, you should ALWAYS be telling your guild how you feel about the general direction of said guild.  You joined the thing for a reason, to find like-minded individuals to coordinate with in order to protect your general interests.  You don't want to be in a guild then that is being led buy a guy or girl who has an alt in a whole other guild!!  That's a conflict of interest, and you can trust me when I tell you that it is not going to work out well for you.
You also don't want to be in a guild that promotes a lackadaisical attitude either.  If a guild bills itself as a social guild, social things should be taking place.  If a guild bills itself as a raiding guild then raiding should be taking place.  Whatever they told you before you signed on the bottom line should be happening, and you should be participating, or you should not be in that guild.
The worst thing for any guild member or guild leader is to sign up for what they were told was a raiding guild only to hear, upon entry, "Yeah, uh, we hope to get some raiding done soon but right now we don't have enough people" and two second later get promoted to second in charge.
That's called the bait and switch, and if it happens to you get out immediately because the guy in front of you is not going to do you any good.
Better that you are told that the goal is to "form" a raiding guild.  At least that why you will know what you are up against before you join.  If you have to ask to get this kind of information though I would take that as a red flag because whoever you are talking to has attempted to get you to join up to something that isn't really what they said it was.
Ok well, I guess I have bored you enough with this discussion on semantics this time.  I never said that it was going to be that interesting.  What it is though, in my understanding, is important.  Because a relationship that starts with a misunderstanding will only continue to have misunderstandings while a relationship that begins with a clear understanding will have less misunderstandings as the time passes.
I want us all to have the best chances at having fun that we can.  So think about the things I have said here, and even some other ways that you can be as clear to the people that you deal with in these games as possible, and lets try to have as much fun, in our own ways, as we possibly can.
Wow, I feel all shiny and clean all of a sudden.
See you in the games.
Jesad writes:
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