Drama is Inevitable

Like most peo­ple, I learned the hard way about sec­ond chances at relationships–backsliding, regres­sion rela­tion­ships, what­ev­er you want to call it. Name­ly that they don’t work, despite the fact that regres­sion sex might sound like just what you need after a series of ter­ri­ble first dates. How­ev­er, unless one of you has been in a coma or sim­i­lar­ly life-chang­ing event, inevitably the crazy in your ex or the behav­ior that brought out the crazy in you (or both) man­i­fests again… and then you final­ly wake to find your­self stuck in a supreme­ly depress­ing place: exact­ly the same kind of unhap­py sit­u­a­tion you were in before, except you’re old­er and you have demon­stra­bly not learned your les­son. You’re con­nect­ed again to this per­son who makes you unhappy.

Then you some­how break it off. Whether you’ve extri­cat­ed your­self via your own force of will or via exter­nal caus­es, you’re free of this per­son and you now have some abil­i­ty to see this kind of sit­u­a­tion com­ing again. When faced with future back­slid­ing, even­tu­al­ly you either:

  1. Real­ize that the num­ber of sec­onds you have on this plan­et is finite, and per­haps regres­sion sex-and-crazy this isn’t the best way to spend those sec­onds. You opt out from that person.
  2. Let them back into your guild.

Big jump, but stay with me. I sus­pect that those of you who have walked both the dat­ing road and the long-time guild mem­ber road see where I’m going with this.

You’ve got this guy, Bob, in your com­mu­ni­ty who appears to be friendly/funny/talented and has learned to clev­er­ly dis­guise his crazy. Bob knows how to sound aligned to the goals of your guild, because how hard is it to sound like that when said goals are like­ly writ­ten on your guild’s front page? Hon­est­ly, only the real­ly thick peo­ple ever do any­thing stu­pid enough to war­rant imme­di­ate kick­ing. Not Bob–he can seem like a good guild mem­ber… but at some point, you know from first­hand expe­ri­ence that he’ll will do one or more of the following:

  • Feel jus­ti­fied in a bro­ken give/take ratio
  • Com­plain when­ev­er they don’t get instan­ta­neous ser­vice from guild resources, like offi­cers and crafters
  • Pick fights with peo­ple inside or out­side the guild
  • Beg for any­thing over /g, espe­cial­ly gold
  • Be an embar­rass­ment in pub­lic, like /trade, hurt­ing your guild’s con­tin­u­ous recruit­ment efforts
  • Make sug­ges­tions that involve a lot of work, not offer to help with exe­cu­tion, and then get pissed and complain
  • Sow dissension
  • Only par­tic­i­pate when there’s a clear chance for per­son­al reward/suggest large guild invest­ments in their own per­son­al improvement
  • Speak in txtmsg like they’re not sit­ting at a key­board (“y cant i come 2 ZA”)
  • Link ran­dom peo­ple’s gear over /g with text-drool of how much they want that gear
  • Tell Chuck Nor­ris jokes or oth­er com­plete­ly played-out memes
  • Freak out when they don’t get atten­tion fre­quent­ly enough

…or what­ev­er it is that push­es your But­ton of Incom­pat­i­bil­i­ty. The fact that Bob is tal­ent­ed and/or fun­ny and/or gen­er­ous isn’t the ques­tion; it’s that he brings out the crazy in you. The expe­ri­ence of being in this Bob’s com­pa­ny makes the game unfun for you.

How do you per­son­al­ly deal with Bob? For me, a notice of silence fol­lowed by enforce­ment of silence works. “Bob, I wish you well but I’m going to do my best to avoid you.” No con­ver­sa­tion after that is nec­es­sary. I’ve tried “hav­ing it out” and “an hon­est con­ver­sa­tion”, but hon­est­ly an extend­ed con­ver­sa­tion about incom­pat­i­bil­i­ty, how­ev­er you deliv­er it, isn’t nec­es­sary. You’re not going to enlight­en this per­son. The equiv­a­lent of silence in MMORPGs is some vari­a­tion of /ignore and refusal to group with this per­son. Do not break this silence for any rea­son. It works great!

If only it were that easy in MMORPGs.

The prob­lem is that you’re in a guild. The pool of peo­ple around you on the serv­er is most­ly sta­t­ic and is cer­tain­ly lim­it­ed. Your friends in this guild–the ones whose com­pa­ny you seek out and that you’ve come to enjoy–are per­fect­ly good peo­ple with the glar­ing excep­tion that they don’t share your opin­ion on Bob. This per­son who you’ve con­clud­ed is a com­plete waste of your time, he does­n’t dri­ve them nuts like he dri­ves you nuts.

As long as Bob plays the game and you play the game, you’re going to exist in the same lim­it­ed social cir­cle. You’re going to be around him. You’re going to see him in the bank, he’ll be group­ing with your friends. He might even still be in your guild! The only method of escape is serv­er trans­fer, but that means leav­ing every­thing you enjoy about where you are. The vast major­i­ty of the time, this is an unac­cept­able solution.

So what hap­pens? Dra­ma, that’s what!

Now take this two way rela­tion­ship that can hap­pen between any two peo­ple and bring that to a group of ten peo­ple. Or forty! The odds of this hap­pen­ing between any two peo­ple is small, but the more peo­ple you add to the mix, the more like­ly you are that it’s going to hap­pen. Add the vari­able of time and you can pret­ty much guar­an­tee that it’s going not just hap­pen to some­one in your guild, but hap­pen to you. No mat­ter how good you try to be, dra­ma happens.

This is why there’s always one thing you can count on in mas­sive­ly mul­ti­play­er games: Dra­ma is Inevitable.

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