Raid Leader Anxiety Never Dies

I started the guild Machiavellis Cat in late 2005. We began raiding in 2006, starting out in Zul’Gurub and moving on to Molten Core and a bit of Blackwing Lair. The guild gradually got more serious about raids, eventually moving into “hard modes” in Wrath of the Lich King and a bit of Cataclysm.

I stepped down as the guild leader and people manager in early 2011 and quit WoW completely (for a while.. you know) shortly after that. While it was just kind of my time, much of the reason I quit was the Icecrown Citadel doldrums at the end of Wrath. ICC, for those not in the know, was “current” content for a year. That’s a long time to be doing the same raid.

It wasn’t very surprising when people stopped showing up after six months of ICC. I would recruit more if for no better reason than a core of us wanted to finish hard modes, but after a while the drifters and quitters started to get to me. I took it personally, even though it wasn’t meant that way. Over time I started to get pretty bitter from logging on only to see yet again a raid of 21 people, a size that meant no progression could happen, and having to apologize for wasting their time or jolly them through old content.

(I should note that although the situation was pretty terrible for me, it’s not any individual player’s fault. People stop playing games, it’s okay.)

It’s only about six months ago that I fully embraced WoW again as my “main game”, and only in the last six weeks that I started organizing very casual flex raids on Saturdays. That is a break of almost three years. I am certainly no longer burned out on WoW or group content.

But the moment I got an inclination of expectations around these new flex runs — reasonable expectations like actually doing them or having fun during our scheduled time — all of the old anxiety came rushing back. My heart started beating a million times each second and my stomach flopped. I started to panic. “Maybe I just shouldn’t make events. Maybe I should stop wanting to try group content. No wait, I know, I’ll just change my name, disappear, and never log on WoW ever again!”

It’s been three years, and although time has rekindled my enjoyment of WoW apparently that enjoyment is contingent on me never again being responsible for anyone’s in-game happiness but my own.

It’s a testament to the power of MMOs — they can create friendships (and relationships in some cases) and opportunities for amazing positive memories. But on the flip side, all that emotional investment can also set up some easy triggers to make us anxious and terrible, and they will linger even years later.

Author: Jessica Cook

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7 Comments

  1. Raid leading is hard. Anyone who says otherwise is probably not leading, or not doing their due diligence. Like any other position where you’re responsible for the productivity and happiness of 9 – 24 other players, it’s a fair bit of pressure. For me I don’t think the anxiety of leading ever truly goes away, not if you care about what you’re doing, but at the same time I take that as a sign that I do care, and that’s a good thing. Turn that negative emotion into a positive one. When I got burnt out leading, I could tell because I was no longer anxious, just irritable.
    Talarian´s last post: The Elder Scrolls Online: What’s in a Name?

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  2. Your post title reminded me of a webcomic that some guild in EQ2 used to make. I can’t find it to link :-(

    Basically it was 2 panels: The left side showed “what the raid sees” and it was a group of intrepid heroes ready to take on the dragon! The right side showed “what the raid leader sees” and in it, every character was named Leroy Jenkins, most were afk, lots of chat talking about unrelated things, and noe one was ready tfor anything, much less slaying a dragon. . . .
    pkudude99´s last post: [TESO] NDA is down, finally.

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  3. I go through this same thing every time it comes up. I keep trying to convince myself that I could do it again – the in-game, in-encounter wrangling, at least – but the problem is that it is basically never just that. And even if it is, I still get the same anger, frustration, and panic starting to seep in. Part of that, I think, is rooted in the desire to play the game well, but to still keep it “fun” for everyone. Whatever that means.

    Those two things are invariably at odds, and for various reasons, I’m not reasonably able to divorce my personal performance from the group’s success very easily. At least not in structured content. I seem to be able to do this a lot better in LFR, but that is so incredibly anti-social that it has its own issues.

    I know that there must be a compromise common-ground somewhere, and I’ll admit that it can be kind of freeing to just go into a Flex fight with a known less-than-optimal character. And maybe that’s what it will come down to: caring less about whether I, personally, am optimizing might allow me to relax my feelings for everyone else doing the same.

    But then that person just stood in the obviously-avoidable fire, and couldn’t they have just spent 5 minutes looking up the mechanics of the fight ahead of time? And wouldn’t it be better if we stood in this other position, and WHY ARE YOU SHOOTING THAT GUY HE’S NOT THE GUY WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE KILLING FIRST, and OH GOD IT IS HAPPENING AGAIN…
    Ellyndrial´s last post: Cat Context 45: The One Where We Fight About Player Generated Content

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  4. I don’t think any of us Cat community members can ever say thanks enough for the efforts that you have put into the guild.

    I know I was one of the members that quit raiding during the ICC time and when I came back my beloved guild raids were gone and I spend a long time trying to find something, anything that would bring back the satisfaction of cat raiding. Sure we had some brief stints in TOR and RIFT but the feeling never truly came back until we started gathering in WoW again.

    By the way it is just too darn funny that the reason I left is entirely your (Liores) fault. You see you had talked about going back to school and attending classes and I realized that I needed to have more ambition and get off my but and go finish my degree. You not only made me want to be the best raider I could be every week but you made we want to be a better person in real life. So I quit playing wow but I darn sure leveled up in the real world and for that you will have my eternal gratitude.

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  5. I’d like to second, third, and fourth Nor on that. I met my current partners, moved halfway across the country, and didn’t get kicked out of grad school on account of the Cats.

    I’m doing things like having job interviews with confidence and sticking firm on my salary/working from home/other requirements in a way and for reasons that definitely have to do with meeting up with a group of semi-strangers in a bar in Vegas. Trustory.

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  6. Heavy hangs the head that wears the content-creation crown.

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