Life as a gm: /cast [target=self] STFU

One of the (many) things I have learned in being a GM is that it demands a lot of self-censorship and self-control. As a GM, I no longer have the right to free speech because if I say the wrong thing –  or even the right thing in the wrong manner, I run the risk of creating one hell of a shitstorm. Goody.

As a side note, it does have the benefit of helping one maintain their composure when asked at work by a coworker out the clear fucking blue whether or not you consider yourself to be their enemy.

But in game it can get frustrating, to feel so muzzled by the title of GM and to have to always think before one speaks or risk the consequences. Guildies everywhere – stop doing this to your GM’s! How do you know when you’re doing it? Well, here are some common examples.

Scenario #1 – The won’t you be my ______?

Being a GM can make one feel like they have a target painted on their back from time to time, or that they are perceived as something other than just another regular person. Many people will see the title and assume that just because this person is in a position of leadership, it must mean that they are there to assist with whatever is needed. But there are lines – there has to be a limit. After all, chances are every GM out there logs into the game with the express purpose of blowing off some steam after a bad day only to get waylaid by a needy guild member.

So when you see your GM online and immediately feel compelled to demand their guidance or compassion or anything else for a personal problem that is limited to your real life and has no bearing at all on the guild, know that you are crossing a line.

You might say: “School work is just so hard right now and I feel like you don’t care that I am struggling with psychology because you never asked me how that test went, blah, blah, blah.”

Your GM might respond: “Oh, I am sorry to hear that it’s not going well for you. I guess I forgot when your test was because I’ve been so busy with work.”

What your GM really wants to say is: “Do I look like your fucking mother? Why don’t you go Google Fucking Search for someone who gives a shit?”

They had a bad day, remember?

Scenario #2 – I’m leaving the guild because ______.

If you’ve decided to leave the guild, it’s nice to say a little something about why you are moving on. But the key word is little. No GM wants to be trapped in tells with you for over an hour as you give every reason you’ve come up with to justify your exit. This is especially true if you are leaving for a very obvious reason that you are pretending isn’t obvious at all and are just spinning a load of bullshit.

And don’t even get me started on the person who says they are leaving and then draws out the conversation in an attempt to get the GM to beg or plead with them to stay in order to satisfy the need they have to be needed.

If you do this, when your GM says something like, “I understand and best of luck with your future endeavors,” what they really mean is, “Thanks for nothing you dirty, rotten fucker. Don’t let the door hit your ass on your way out. Wouldn’t want to damage all that gear you’re wearing- you know, the gear that we made sure to go back and get for you so you could be a viable raiding member. Hope you die in a fucking fire.”

GM’s are extra angry because there are so few opportunities to let it all out.

Scenario #3 – So-and-so r sooo mean to meh!

I don’t know for sure, but I am guessing most guild leaders out there have better things to do than to play referee all the time. I know I expect my guild members to make an honest effort to resolve personality conflicts on their own, without immediately running to me like I’m some sort of mother figure to their playground squabbles. Yet, I have had guild members do precisely that.

Next time you go running to mommy with a story about how Jimmy threw sand at you (and never mind that it looks less intentional on his part and more like you wandered into where he was playing) and your GM patiently asks you to try to resolve it yourself by, I dunno, talking to Jimmy about it and explaining why you feel the way you feel and seeing what shakes out from that, do not respond by stomping your virtual foot and declaring that Jimmy is a meanie poo poo head who only knows how to be mean.

Your GM’s frank refusal to interfere in that instance is a lot more kinder than them saying what they really want to say, which is along the lines of:

“Last time I checked, you and Jimmy were both adults, so why don’t you put on your big kid undies and march your quivering little lip over there and talk to him about your problems? I’m not your goddamn mother and if I were, I would be ashamed that I had managed to raise such a cowardly little baby. Now leave me alone before I give you something to cry about.”

No seriously, we don’t get to say things like this. But we want to. Oh, how we want to.

Scenario #4 – I have a stupid question… let me inflict it on you.

Let’s face it, there really are a lot of stupid questions. GM’s get asked these a lot, thanks to that whole target thing I mentioned earlier. They can run the gamut of anything from raiding schedules (what are we doing tonight?) to class questions (I know your main is a mage, but can you help with me with some feral tanking?) to time sinks (you just keep running between the bank and the AH so you couldn’t be doing anything important – want to run my alt through Deadmines about 20 times?).

The answers a GM might give to any of those questions may vary, but what we want to say are things like:

“Check the fucking calendar you fucking idiot.”

“It’s called Google Fucking Search. Go try that.”

“Right, I clearly have nothing better to do than help you level another alt you’re going to get to 80 and then want to bring to progression raids without gear or thought for the idea that we can’t accommodate another DPS anyway. Get back on your main and get back to practicing on how to stay out of the fucking bad.”

The rage! It’s a wonder we don’t choke on it.

Scenario #5 – You fail! (I totes could have done better, in other words)

Every once in a while, a guildie will get the notion that they know how to handle a situation given the fact that they have a little bit of an idea of what is going on or simply an agenda they would like to push. As any GM who has ever been visited by the drama llama knows, drama is rarely straightforward and usually ends up a thorny mess of problems that there is no perfect right answer to.

So next time you decide to be “helpful” and point out to the GM how something “should have happened,” maybe take a second thought and shut the fuck up. Chances are excellent that there’s a lot more going on than what you are aware of. Also, next time something is resolved in a manner that you find unsatisfactory for whatever reason, don’t keep beating the dead horse with vociferous complaints about how “this wasn’t done right” or “you didn’t act quickly enough.”

Your GM will probably say something polite like, “I am sorry you feel that way.” What they really want to say is more along the lines of:

“You do realize that I don’t really give a shit how you feel about the way something was handled? I don’t see you putting your ass out there, trying to deal with a constant barrage of various shit on a daily and sometimes even hourly basis in the middle of what is supposed to be a fun pastime. If you really think you know so much or can do so much better, how about you get the fuck outta my guild and go try to run your own guild? Get back to me when everything you think you know ends up not applying to the latest round of crap you get from your ingrate guildies and let me know how much you appreciate the pressure from idiots in a game to drop everything else you might have going on in your real life to deal with petty drama over purple pixels. I would really, really love to see how you deal with that when you can’t even deal gracefully with someone hinting that you’re too much of a fuckwit to be in charge of watching your own two feet.”

Or, you know, something like that.

I’m just guessing here. I mean, I never want to say anything like that. Ever.

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16 Responses to Life as a gm: /cast [target=self] STFU

  1. Analogue says:

    You know what GMs need? An addon that automatically redirects all whispers from them to the official guild Mean Officer. Then the Mean Officer deals with it. Meanly. Maybe everyone gets one conversation a month with the GM, the rest with Mean Officer, so they have to choose their real convo carefully.

    Or just get an update to that addon I’ve seen around that’s the “virtual pyschologist” that throws whisper-ers queries back at them, with fluff. You could have it keyed to certain phrases so it would intelligently respond with things like “check the calendar” and “I’m sorry to hear that” or “Google is your friend”.

    I’d call it the “Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares” addon.

    • Alas says:

      I would love to see this addon come to be a reality. The name is perfect, too!

      I’d get on board with the Mean Officer thing, but I would need to recruit a Mean Officer. Since, uh, I do that now, more or less.

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  3. theanorak says:

    Hmm

    You know, I generally think of myself as a nice guy (my attempts to steal @discopriest’s bank deets notwithstanding). But I would *totally* volunteer for a “Guild Mean Officer” position.

    Actually, I think I’d probably be a bit too … er … emphatic.

  4. Ophelie says:

    Hahahaha!

    Not laughing at your plight, of course, just the way you describe it.

    Yep, I’m happy every day that I’m just a raider and don’t have to worry about that sort of stuff. I log in and play. Although for a while there, I was getting a lot of random people whispering me about their problems, real life problems, guild problems, raid problems, you name it. I didn’t understand WHY, I’m not even an officer, I can’t do anything about their problems but it earned me the nickname “HR”.

    • Alas says:

      Hahaha, “HR”.

      I’ve never been able to tell if I get slammed with this stuff because I’ve been an officer/GM for so long or if it has something to do with the fact that I try really hard to appear to be nice. Either way, serves me right. :P

  5. theanorak says:

    @Oph — s’cos you’re a celebrity, silly!

  6. Syl says:

    Awesome post, so so so true!!
    there’s been so many times where I reminded myself or my fellow Os the past few years, that we are NOT babysitters! we are not paid to do this and we can only do so much…
    I was gonna write a post some while ago, about not being anyone’s shrink, but then I left it for a while thinking people might find it too offensive lol. Your post’s given me another kick to go back to it now. ;)

    And being as transparent as you can (and honest) towards your guild, is quite possibly the most important thing about leadership to me by now: it makes it so much easier for yourself to act consequently on something when it’s been spelled out before for everyone and you protect yourself from a lot of drama and woe if things have been made very clear from the start. don’t rely on “common sense”, because when it comes to opinions, well….people do not actually have them in common.

    • Alas says:

      It’s funny that you mention wanting to write a post about not being anyone’s shrink.

      I had been wanting to write this post for about a month and just couldn’t write anything that didn’t sound completely self-involved and whiny. So I whined at Zel about it, saying I wanted to write about how hard it can be to be a GM because everyone treats you like their mother or their shrink or just a convenient target for things gone wrong. Zel came up with the format (not to mention the title and the line about Google F. Searching for someone who did care), and bam! Post that gets the point across and managed to be humorous.

      I look forward to seeing what you do come up with if you get it done!

  7. Zelmaru says:

    I think the next time I whine to Alas in any of the above categories, I’m getting thrown in the bee pit.

  8. Saga says:

    I feel a sudden urge to link this to my GM.. and I would have, if he wasn’t too lazy to read anything longer than two sentences.

    Being an officer I can definitely recognise myself in some of those circumstances, and it’s difficult not to snap at people sometimes. But you know.. like you.. obviously I never feel like that.. ever *cough*

    • Alas says:

      Right. Officers are pure beams of light with nary a cross word for anyone. :D

      I still think we need an officer’s support group. It’s a sickness, this wanting to put up with other people’s crap.

  9. echo says:

    I always found it very easy to be a total jerk in game. So much so that I had a conversation with other officers in the guild I was in about how many whispers they get and short of people asking me stupid questions about timings for things (every alt run I did was at the same time every week and our main raids are always the same).

    They’d get all the drama whispers and nobody would come to me – generally because they knew my reaction would broadly be:
    “Why the fuck are you wasting my time?”

    I only ever had one “wah! dere being mean to me, make dem stops it” request and I quite heartily told them that while I both value and treasure their contribution to the guild I’m not a fucking babysitter and I could give a shit if they’re butthurt. Of course the downside was that I tended to be the “this guy is shit please kick him” goto guy for a lot of our experienced players.

    I actually miss the leadership side of things – even though you’d often have to do unpleasant things. However I think it’s important that you be honest when you lead, even in WoW. If you’re treading on eggshells and being nice all the freaking time then you’re inviting people to take the piss and abuse you.