Guild Guide: Reasons to stay with a guild you aren't fond of

We talk a lot about leaving when you aren't happy, but sometimes it might be better to stick around just the same.

We talk a lot about leaving guilds where you aren't happy, and that's important. You shouldn't be in a group that makes you very uncomfortable. There's no reason to stick with members who constantly ruin your day, and there is definitely no reason to stay in a guild that has decided to nickname you "Fart Magnate" and calls your real-life boss to share that nickname.

Unless, of course, there is a good reason.

The fact is that sometimes, you have every reason to stay with a group that you'd rather leave behind. We talk a lot about reasons to leave, but not much if at all about reasons to stay even if you're tempted to leave. Yes, those reasons do exist.

You're in a game that requires a guild

There's a famous and possibly apocryphal quote that gets attributed to Canada Bill Jones - upon being told that a local poker game is crooked, he responded, "Yeah, I know it's crooked, but it's the only game in town." In some games, that's where you are. Sure, you might not like the guild very much, but if your options are between being in no guild at all or being in a guild you don't like very much, the latter is the better choice.

A lot of this depends upon your goals and whether those goals are worth whatever you dislike about the guild. If you want to make headway on progression raiding at Mythic difficulty in World of Warcraft, odds are high that you're going to need to have a guild at your back. That's worth dealing with some people you may not otherwise be friends with. On the flip side, if you're dealing with constant harassment and abuse and no longer find the game fun because of the guild, it's far more important to get out than to worry about your Mythic raiding goals.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about when a guild becomes too obnoxious to tolerate, obviously, but my usual rule of thumb is to treat the guild like a job. If it's at the point wherein I found the job annoying but not horrible and you have a need of the guild for the game, it's worth toughing it out. If you're getting to the point where you'd rather be unemployed than have the job, you should probably swallow your metaphorical pride and just leave the guild and deal with the fallout for your other goals later.

It's some members, not the whole guild

Sometimes, the real problem isn't the guild as a whole, it's Steve. (My apologies if your name is Steve, assume I'm talking about another Steve.) Steve is an absolute jerk. The rest of the guild finds him useful enough to tolerate, but he rubs you so far in the wrong direction that you're considering leaving the guild just because it would mean not being around Steve any longer.

The plus side here is that your problem isn't really with the guild, it's with Steve. The down side, obviously, is that as mentioned, Steve provides enough of a function that the guild isn't just going to kick him out. But the key element there is that there is a window for Steve leaving; it's just that it's not automatic. There are reasons to keep Steve around and reasons not to.

Often, this isn't as simple as one or two people, but an entire clique within a guild that has certain ideas about how the guild should work. Just leaving is the easier option, but it's also the option least likely to affect actual positive change. You might not like that the guild too much as that clique takes control, but as long as you have a voice, you can actually use that to affect positive change despite the best effort of Steve and his fellow Stevealikes.

In other words, the issue isn't that leaving is a bad idea or would hurt you, it's that leaving would mean leaving the guild to sink. If you care about the guild but just want Steve gone, as soon as you leave there's nothing to stop the guild from turning into The Steve Show.

No one actually knows you're unhappy

Sometimes, it turns out that the real problem isn't that the guild is awful, it's that you haven't said anything and bad habits have gotten ingrained in your fellow guild members. Leaving is premature, because while you might not like the guild very much, that has more to do with objections you never raised.

Let's speculate, for example, that you really have a problem with people talking about insects. They bother you. A couple of the guild's members are exterminators, though, and then another member joins who turns out to be an entomologist, and the next thing you know guild chat becomes talk about bugs all the time. It bothers you, and you're thinking about leaving just so you don't have to constantly hear all of the bug talk.

But do these members know it's bothering you? Or did you mention it once, offhandedly, as something that mildly annoyed you, then never again?

On the one hand, this might seem like it's the sort of thing that's not really a reason to dislike the guild as a whole, but when you feel as if your needs aren't being met or considered, you tend to hold on to a certain amount of resentment for the people who you feel are ignoring you. That's normal. This is a case where no one is spurning you by design; it's just bad luck and bad timing working hand-in-hand, essentially. So while you still might not like the guild, you need to give it time to change course after you've said something to the people inadvertently upsetting you.

People you like are relying upon you

Sometimes it's not about you, honestly.

Maybe you have four or five friends in the guild who can't leave for various reasons. Someone has family in the guild, for example, and even if they don't like the guild that much that's obligation enough to stick around. In cases like that, you have a good reason to stay in place even if you're not fond of the guild as a whole, because you're making those people enjoy their time more.

Yes, you're still going to be just as annoyed by the guild, and no, it's not likely to get a whole lot better. However, you aren't sticking around in the vain hope that it gets better, you're sticking around because Tanya's nephew is in the guild, and Tanya can't leave while he's there, and he doesn't find the guild annoying. So you can at least make your friend's experience more pleasant.

The overall point here is that it's not always a simple matter of deciding to leave just because you don't like a guild. I've been in guilds where I'm not fond of the group, but there's enough reason to stick around despite that distaste. The goal might be to eventually move on to somewhere better, but there are lots of reasons to stick around even if you aren't exactly happy. Guilds are not romantic relationships, and "good enough until something better shows up" can be an entirely adequate philosophy.

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Published Mar. 17th 2016

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