Thoughts on MMO Leadership follows is a highly opinionated and uncited essay about my thoughts on Guild or Free Company leadership standards that should be upheld by the highest members of their respective groups. This is not saying the job is easy and that there are easy solutions to most problems, but as a leader, there are standards that should be maintained for the benefit of all those that the leader serves.

I am Fox, currently I serve as a member of the Executive Council for the Orion Syndicate Free Company on the Diabolos world on Final Fantasy 14. Previously I was a leader in the guild Under The Sea on the Tempest Reach Server on Tera. While I may not have a long pedigree experience in the MMO community, I have a long list of Leadership achievements including the Eagle Scout award and the Award for Outstanding Leadership for the Scottish American Military Society (usually given to students at West Point Academy). So I have my share of opinions and training in that matter. I have also served in leadership roles for Student Organizations while I was studying in college and have also had roles like Stage Manager, House Manager, and Fine Arts Center Liaison, all while still a student.

As a member of a fortunate group of people who get to call themselves Guild Leaders, FC Masters and the like, I find that it is our place to serve the members of our respective groups to the best of our abilities to make their experiences something that they will enjoy and remember. By that I do not mean that it is our job to walk people through every little thing and hand people all our money and time, however I do mean that it is in our place to curate an outstanding group of likeminded individuals who have a strong dynamic with each other that is not unhealthy to the original intent of the content we are taking in.

The major thing that is to note, is that in the end we are all playing a game; and as such that game should be fun. We as players should enjoy our time that we spend logged into this world apart from our own (well as much as we allow ourselves to enjoy it anyway). as leaders are charged with a small portion of the larger community to in essence aid and protect from the pains of poor player conduct and griefing. We lead our groups through interpersonal disagreements, unending grinds, and confusing tool tips. We are the ones that take the responsibility to give up a little bit of our own free-willed play to help others escape from the muggle world and have a brief study at Hogwarts.

That being said, the number one responsibility we have is to keep the game fun for those who have joined us. This responsibility is unfathomably beautiful, while at times almost impossible. Be that by self-created content to fill in gaps, leveling unwanted crafting jobs to fill in for what others already have or even switching to a damage dealer, because your company is full of healers and tanks (what an awful problem to have HA).

As a leader in the world we are also looked to for information on play, gathering and gearing; usually because we have been here forever and a day. The information we provide and the time we give others not only enriches our own play experience, but also makes the challenges we faced getting there the first time easier on others, because we are a resource to them. Our knowledge and time is more valuable to the people who are playing this game with us, than many people are willing to recognize. It is a challenge but we have taken that upon ourselves as servants of the community.

The little things we can do, like cheering for members when we see them, congratulating the milestone achievements, and occasionally running low level instances with members when they are just starting their grinds helps people enjoy their time to the fullest. a couple days ago I was chatting with friends (officers in a different FC) in a Link Shell (a limited scope chat group) when a fresh level 60 White Mage was saying that he couldn’t get a clear of Neverreap. It was actually disheartening to hear what the 3 other duty finder parties had done to him. Being as geared as he could be at the time, they hadn’t bothered to explain mechanics to him, make controlled pulls, or even make it a larger point to assist in making the experience more bearable with the situation he was in. I know it was hard when on us when we got there the first time, but now it is even worse with over gearing, massive pulls, and holyer-than-thou opinions people take when running “easy content”. After forming a party to take him through the instance, we discovered that there was nothing wrong with the way he was trying to heal, and that he just lacked the knowledge of mechanics and gear to make it fast. The end outcome is that we helped him clear the instance and started making plans on how to help him get the gear he would need so that he wasn’t faced with this grief later down the road when we would not be available to help him.

Every action we take as a leader impacts the play of others around us. If we can do things like helping people through hard instances (even if they are easy for us), organize group events, or even put together gathering lists to help supply needed items for the group at large; we are positively influencing the play of others.

This does lead to some challenging things as well. As leaders, we get to deal with the bad apples, the silly squabbles and unending needs of others. This is just something that we have to balance and not let make our gaming experience degrade. Even with that we will get situations where there is no good solution that doesn’t hurt someone.

ffxiv_07022016_214702There are times when someone is unfortunately toxic to the community that you have created; and it is our job to protect the community at large. When we are receiving countless complaints about interpersonal disagreements, witnessing people logging in less, not talking in the group chat, or even all out avoiding interaction with the group, we are the ones that have to make sure that the group is still having fun. Even if that means uncomfortable 2 hour long conversations with problem starters, ultimatums of behavior or even dismissal from the group.

Even with all the challenge and heartache, the trials we face, and the ridiculous requests we make reality, we are not allowed to take advantage of the group resources as if they were there in payment to us. All things the group earns are for group advancement. Airships that bring home to us wonderfully rare resources and unique mounts are not first for us and then our profit. They are for the company should we choose to get them. The money in the company chest or guild bank is not our personal expense account. The only payment we truly receive is knowing that we have made someone’s gaming experience better; and sometimes that really pays off in the end.

The way we act, the interactions we have with others, and the content we make accessible to our members shines back on us as leaders of our little communities, makes them flourish and bloom into large beautiful gardens of bountiful enjoyment for all to see (and maybe even want to join). We are the defenders of fun, conquers of the dull, pocket libraries, life coaches and comrades in a fantasy world full of ugly monsters, high taxes, and glamorous end-games. I, for one, would never trade in that experience; that joy, for anything in the world. I am thankful for all the people who enrich my gaming experience, and I hope that I have made your experience even a little bit more enjoyable.