Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why you should write your guild farewell letter today

The last few days we’ve lost a couple of veteran players from the guild. One went to another server since he felt he needed a change. Two left because they’re quitting the game altogether. (This makes me wonder a bit if WoW is starting to lose players after all? The queues when you’re logging in a Sunday night speak against it, as well as the lists over the top selling games. But still I can’t completely rid myself of the feeling that the top peak has been passed. Tobold put a finger on it yesterday in a post which left me a bit uneasy. This is another issue though.)

Each of those leavings has been followed by a beautifully written farewell letter, making my eyes go a little bit wet. My ex-guildies are talking about how the guild is the best they’ve ever been in since they started to play years ago, how excellent players we all are, and how much they’ll miss us. They express their appreciation for our guild master as well as for other officers in a personal way. A typical example:

“Never before had I been in a guild of such a high standard, with such a great mix of characters and with such dedication and drive for raiding … I wanna thank [GM] and the officers for putting up with my faggotry and tomfoolery - it must take a lot of patience to deal with a character like myself. I'd like to thank the healer team for keeping me alive during all the crazy stuff me and the rest of the tank team have done (I think we had a triple overpull somewhere in BT once...), and I want to thank the tank team we have here, for being the best community of tanks I've been a part of, and for showing such maturity, friendliness, respect and fairness to myself and each other.”

Now, reading a farewell post is never fun. They’re all written by great players who will be deeply missed. Not because they’re irreplaceable in their raiding roles - frankly no one is, you can always recruit someone else, even though some classes will take you a bit longer to find – but because they’ve been a part of our community.

At the same time I can't help thinking that this kind of posts actually boosts the morale in the guild and make us stronger. The farewells remind us about all the things we appreciate but so rarely say aloud. They also make me wonder: why do we have to wait until we leave the game before we tell our fellow players how much we like them?

We run all over Azeroth, doing /love to silly critters or /hug to enemy players just to get an achievement. But for some strange reason we forget or don’t dare to hug the players we see everyday and let them know they’re wonderful unless we’re about to say our last goodbyes.

A thought experiment
I have a suggestion: Make up a farewell letter to your guild in your mind, even if you have no plans of leaving it. What would you write in such a letter? Who would you thank especially? What epic moments would you recall and how would you sum your time in the guild?

This thought experiment will help you to remember and value important aspects of the game that sometimes are blurred by trivial everyday annoyances such as server lag, gold spamming or bad loot luck.

Maybe you’ll realize that there are people around you who make the whole difference for your game experience – people who you’ve never actually thanked properly. If that is the case – do something about it. There isn’t any law against showing some love for each other.

Of course you can also come to a very different conclusion. It may dawn upon you that you’re not entirely happy in your guild as things are now. Then you should certainly act accordingly. Either you try to help the guild change and go in the direction you’d like to see. A good start is to express your thoughts and wishes to the officers. Communication ftw! Or if it seems like a lost cause, maybe it’s about time that you started looking for another guild?

“Begin with the end in mind”, says one of my favourite authors when it comes to leadership, motivation and self improvement, Steven Covey. Visualizing what you would say about your guild if you left it – and what your guildies would say about you is a great tool to help you make your own choices and priorities in the game.

Another sort of goodbye
A few final words about farewell letters. You can’t help getting a bit let down by them. The real farewell letters are generally only written about players who cared about the guild and who the guild cared about (unless they’re bitter and the final of some kind of guild drama of course.) If you have a couple of them in a short time it’s inevitable that you feel a little depressed. Yesterday morning when I logged in on the website and saw another post titled “bye all”, this time by one of our officers, I let out a sad sigh and thought “not one more!” Then I opened the post and read the rest of it: “I’m off to work now :)”

In spite of the losses and some really bad recent raiding nights where we’ve had to call the raid due to the insane lagging in Naxx, we’re still capable of joking about it. That’s the best sign of a healthy guild. I’m so lucky to be where I am. And hopefully my real farewell letter won’t be written anytime soon.

8 comments:

Avonar said...

Writing your farewell letter now to trigger thoughts about how awesome your guild actually is... that's a fantastic idea. Thank you!

Suicidal Zebra said...

Increased realm queue numbers doesn't necessarily mean that population has increased on those realms. Given the issues with stability the game has encountered recently, reducing the maximum number of concurrent players on a server makes sense. No press releases on 'Western' subscription numbers also tends to indicate that player number have stopped increasing, if not started decreasing.

For what it's worth I've not noticed a drop in population on my server, but SWC-EU is a low-pop RP one.

Captain The First said...

Time to revitalize an old classic:

Dear Guild,

As many of you probably didn't know, today is my last day. But before I leave, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a great and distinct pleasure it has been to type “Today is my last day.”

For nearly as long as I’ve played here, I’ve hoped that I might one day leave this guild. And now that this dream has become a reality, please know that I could not have reached this goal without your unending lack of support. Words cannot express my gratitude for the words of gratitude you did not express.

I would especially like to thank all of the guild officers: in an age where miscommunication is all too common, you consistently impressed and inspired me with the sheer magnitude of your misinformation. It takes a strong man to admit his mistake - it takes a stronger man to attribute his mistake to me.

Over the past years, you have taught me more than I could ever ask for and, in most cases, ever did ask for. I have been fortunate enough to run with some absolutely interchangeable raid leaders on a wide variety of seemingly identical raids - an invaluable lesson in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium.

Your demands were high and your patience short, but I take great solace knowing that my work was, as stated by my class lead, “mostly satisfactory.” That is the type of praise that sends a man to bed happy after even a 10 raid, smiling his way through half a bottle of mostly satisfactory scotch.

And to most of my guildies: even though we barely acknowledged each other within guild chat, I hope that in the future, should we pass on each other in Orgrimmar, you will regard me the same way as I regard you: not at all.

But to those few souls with whom I’ve actually interacted, here are my personalized notes of farewell:

To the rogue: I will always remember sharing lunch with you, despite having clearly labeled it with my name.

To the guild leader: I will miss your screeching voice as much as you will miss screeching at me.

To the raid leader: I left a new wristwatch on your desk. It is so that you might be able to still tell time even without your hourly guild reminder to let us know the raid starts tomorrow at 19:00.

So, in parting, if I could pass on any word of advice to the individual who will soon be filling my slot, it would be to cherish this experience like a sponge and soak it up like a good woman, because an opportunity like this comes along only once in a lifetime.

Meaning: if I had to run with this guild again, I would sooner kill myself.

Fish said...

Its rough. I'm not the overly emotional sort. That having been said this game has at times moved me to both depression and tears. My situation is a little different from most, our guild wasn't formed to raid, it was formed as a group of people who knew each other in real life. I have played on other servers and tried to be a part of other guilds, its just not the same. When I leave my guild it will be because I have left Warcraft for good, and even then I can't garauntee I won't be back. There isn't a group of people in the game anywhere that I would rather play with than the guild I am currently a part of.

I hadn't intended to write a fairwell letter as a comment, but I guess it would be almost identical to what I just wrote.

Larísa said...

@Avonar: thank you!

@Suicidal Zebra: You've definitly got a point there.

@Captain The First: That was fun! Hadn't seen it before.

@Fish: beautiful. If you'll ever leave perhaps your guild will leave with you to another game.

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