/failcheck: To guild or not to guild

That is the question! Or, to be more specific, how does being a new player being in a guild from early on affect their growth? I don’t think anyone would disagree with me when I say that being in a guild (or at the very least, having a higher level friend helping you) makes leveling MUCH easier. What concerns me, is that making leveling too easy could lead to stunted growth as a player.

Let’s lay out some scenarios, to get an idea of where I’m coming from:

  • Erin starts playing WoW because her best friend Jamie is an avid player who convinced her to give it a try. After making her first toon, Erin is immediately invited to Jamie’s guild, and Jamie personally sets out to help Erin level. Through the course of leveling 1-80, Erin is helped and/or carried through the struggles of leveling and never really develops a real image of how her class works and becomes dependent on Jamie’s guild. After reaching 80, Erin joins the guild raid team, but because she’s not used to being in a situation where she’s a contributing member of a team, she struggles to find her place amongst the rest of the raid.
  • Sheila starts playing WoW because she saw it in a local store and decided to give it a try. Through the course of leveling from 1-80, Sheila develops a strong sense of how her class works in different situations, where her limitations lie, how to be self-reliant, etc. After reaching 80, she decides she’d like to give raiding a try, makes an honest effort to scrounge up some effective gear, finds a guild with whom she can raid, and ultimately becomes a fine raider, who clearly understands her role and how best to fulfill it.

Now, to be fair, there are countless factors, both seen and unseen, that contribute to a player understanding and becoming good at a game, but for the sake of my hypothesis, I’m assuming that classic “trial-and-error” will lead to a more knowledgeable player. I feel the contrasting argument to my hypothesis would be that it’s easier for a new player to learn by watching skilled players.

Personally, when I leveled Nehmen (Nehmen wasn’t my first toon, but the rogue I had initially created didn’t really click with me, so I deleted her and began anew with Nehmen), I was subjected to both sides. I did regular, hub-based quests almost entirely alone, occasionally grouping up with another similarly leveled player, for group-specific quests. For almost every dungeon I did, however, my friend and guild leader (who convinced me to try WoW) would either lead me through herself or arrange for another guild member to do so.

Since I don’t have a perfect memory, I can’t say I remember every moment of my first couple of months as level 80 (I do remember the last struggle to get to 80, but that’s a story for another time), but I do remember this: I knew almost nothing about Vanilla WoW dungeons and raids. Because I’m an achievement horder, I decided to myself one day “wouldn’t it be easy to get [Classic Dungeonmaster]?” I quickly realized that I knew absolutely nothing about these old instances, and it was only through the careful examination of dungeon maps/guides and good ol’ trial-and-error that I managed to navigate my way through dungeons and pick off the correct bosses for the achievement.

I don’t have the time or materials (two people who don’t play, but are willing to try, WoW) to see an appropriate experiment through on this topic, but at the very least, I find it food for thought. My current method of dealing with new players is thus: don’t. It seems harsh… because it is. And I feel that’s the point; if a new player can make it to 80 by their own force of will, then I suspect they’ll be much better off than if I had carried them there. Muscles get stronger through appropriate workouts, yes?

And for the record, whenever I mention an experiment in a post (which won’t be all of them), I will refer to it as a /failcheck. After all, what is an experiment but a sophisticated /failcheck? Until next time!

  1. Another possibility (and one that I have more personal experience) with is some combination of the two scenarios.

    I could have been your “Sheila,” I picked up WoW on a whim to try it out after playing around with the free trial. My husband joined because I was playing. I had a friend who played and we played with him briefly on his server but found it frustrating. He knew all the quests and was zipping around leveling very quickly, whereas we knew very little. We ended up making new characters on another server he didn’t play on.

    The first little while we spent meeting people and leveling together. The thing is, though, that unless you set out to deliberately isolate yourself – no person exists in a vacuum. We met other folks around our level, other people who were in guilds, and eventually applied and were accepted to a guild.

    Even without a prior “in,” people in the guild were helpful and yet it was really isolating. We saw all of these things going on at level 70 and nobody was leveling alts or really had time to spend with us. The sole interaction we had with some of them was “I’ll run you through Scarlet Monastery.” I hated it.Sprinting along behind a max-level tank annihilating an instance and playing loot-monkey was not my idea of a good time.

    Eventually, a few people who hadn’t been playing for some months started to play again – they had characters at our level. We ended up becoming close friends and we all quit that guild together. We simply had nothing in common with the “level 70” people who lorded it over us and made us feel like stupid noobs. At least one of the folks we befriended was an experienced player who had re-rolled the character he played with us, and he taught me sooo much that I wouldn’t have known on my own, how to maximize my DPS, how to gear, how to gem. He was a valuable resource.

    My leveling experience would have been a poorer one without his help, and it wouldn’t have been any fun swept behind a veteran, but it also would have been bad to not have anyone willing to help me or answer questions. I think it comes down to the “teach a man to fish” idea. I am happy to help new players or answer their questions when I come across them, but I won’t carry or boost them through content so that they don’t experience the game on their own.

    • I remember you mentioning that friend during one of your posts on Pugging Pally (I think it was there… maybe Manalicious?), and that’s a perfectly good way to look at it. That’s actually rather similar to my own experience, as I mentioned, in regards to dungeons. I’d be questing alone (I did do this part alone), and for dungeons, some level 70 from the guild would come and clear the dungeon so I could play loot monkey (I like that terminology! heh). Maybe it would have been more fun, if they had taken the “teach a man to fish” approach – it’s really hard to know without running an experiment. Considering one of my goals with this blog is to run experiments to prove/disprove stereotypical wow related things, I really should pick a more testable experiment! Lol.

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