For those who don’t know, I’m a member of the guild Southern Cross which has been fairly successful in the rather well-known MMORPG World of Warcraft.

None of my guildmates really believe me when I say I don’t enjoy the game anymore, and don’t play for the items or the progression. And why would they, when I go on guild raids that are anywhere from 4-6hrs. Until recently, I did this 4 times a week.

About a month ago, the guild passed a pretty significant milestone in progression and I took a break because I was sick of it taking up 100% of my spare time. I attended a few raids, getting back to twice a week until my Mum arrived in town a week ago and I went cold turkey. Sitting here tonight, I’m not sure if I want to go back at all.

Not that any of my fellow Southern Cross buddies read this blog, but I’m not lying when I say I don’t find much enjoyment in the game at the moment. There are only 2 reasons I haven’t thrown in the towel:

  1. Playing with friends I’ve made. I have been playing this game since November 2004, and my character has racked up something like 55 days of play time (yes that’s 1320 hours; however it’s spread over 19 months and is far, far less than many people I know). When you’ve been playing with people for that long and communicating via forums, MSN messenger or voice chat software, you tend to become really good friends.
  2. Helping my career. This is one that will no doubt confuse a lot of readers, and is something I’ve never really explained to my co-workers so I’ll go into a lot of detail.

Southern Cross was formed in 1999, and while I didn’t join until City of Heroes in April 2004 I found myself suddenly given a leader rank sometime around September/October (I don’t remember exactly, but it was definitely before the release of Warcraft). This kinda surprised me, and was the first hint in the back of my mind that maybe I actually could handle that sort of role.

Everything that follows is about the Warcraft chapter, started November 24 2004. I wasn’t an immediate choice for officer but it only took a few days before I was invited to become one; admittedly this was mostly because one of my uni mates was an officer 😉

I’ve been an active officer ever since, and I like to think a fairly useful one. This has involved quite a variety of experiences:

  • Getting involved with decision making, even in situations where I have no idea what people are talking about (I just go and learn before commenting)
  • Mediating / moderating the forums, arguments, bitchfights etc
  • Learning to deal with the pain of people leaving despite copious amounts of help they’ve received from the guild, and migrating my opinions from "what a waste of my time helping them" to "hey, it happens, hopefully they’ll remember where they got that help from" (something that I’m still learning TBH)
  • Learning to deal with people basically stabbing the guild in the back
  • Helping to organise 40 people to go to a raid zone for 4-6hrs and not only sit at their computers, but actually achieve something in game as a cohesive team. I’m not a Raid Leader, and I don’t want to be; but I do help out behind the scenes
  • Watching people get sick of a guild that progressed slowly and moving on to bigger / better guilds so they can see new content and get better items
  • Doing what I can to help keep the guild going despite a personal feeling that it may just fall apart (more than once)
  • Helping maintain the guild spirit of being one big happy family who helps each other out; quite a few people who left for various reasons have since returned purely because of this

If none of that sounds familiar, take it out of a gaming context and try again. I didn’t realise it until earlier this year, but if it wasn’t for my activities in this role I would never have believed that I was capable of any sort of high-level position this early in my career.

And yet at work I find myself involved in more decisions, given bigger responsibilities and generally respected far more than I was 2 years ago. And in the time it’s taken me to write all this down tonight, I’ve realised that I will be sticking with Warcraft for this very reason. I still have a lot to learn, and this is a great place to help me do that.

I still refuse to commit to another year of raiding with the expansion pack later this year, but there are a few MMOs on the horizon that look right up my alley and there will need to be a Southern Cross chapter started there… 😀