Thursday, December 3, 2009

An Open Invitation For Advice

So I've recently found myself in a situation, and I want the interwebs' advice on how to handle it. However, I don't want to make it completely RL-boring for you guys, so I'm going to try to describe the problem in WoW frame of reference. We'll see how this goes. (Thus, this is an actual RL situation, definitely not an in-game issue, but I think the parallels will be perfect).

Say for a moment that for the last three years, you've been involved with a moderately successful raid group.  This group is pretty hardcore, requiring some time nearly every night of the week.  You're not always raiding, but you have to do a lot of preparation, so a lot of time goes into that: learning strats, making sure you've got the materials you need, etc.  It's pretty stressful on you, your wife (a fellow gamer who is not part of the group, but is supportive), and your life in general, but you also really enjoy the nights you raid, and don't always mind the preparation so much.  Still, you almost never get an "off" day because if you don't do the little things, you don't get to attend the raids.  In other words, it's not like you can just take a night off to go to dinner with your wife, or to get stuff done around the house. There's always something you'd have to work around.

Now, this is not "just a game" to you, so that excuse won't work here.  It's not your job, it's not your family... it's a hobby, but it's a hobby that means something to you and is important.  It's a hobby you made a commitment to three years ago to be there and do this stuff.  You knew what you were getting into.

Also, this hobby really only effects three months of the year.  It's not perpetual.  Let's say, for our analogy, it's like a hardcore raid group that can clear all the content in three months.  So you come together for three months, work your butts off to clear the content, and then the rest of the year go your separate ways.  Some of you may still play the game on your own while others go play other games.  You can still PuG and stuff, but the group doesn't officially come back together until the same time next year, when you'll be put through the wringer again.

So for three months, it really dominates your life.  You still get your sleep, get to work on time, and you have an hour or two of leisure per night... it pretty much ties up 3 hours after work, every night, with the raid nights taking the whole evening (lets say two per week).  Also, you can't really travel during this time because you're playing on a PC (not a laptop), so you're really stuck at home or confined to short weekend day trips.

Finally, you're not the raid leader.  However, you are an individual class leader (this is a larger raid, 25-mans for the purpose of this analogy), so that's part of your investment.  You were selected to be a class leader for your expertise, and you can't really turn that down.  You can't just be a normal raider, those spots are filled.  They need you as a class leader.

Now, you're three years into this gig, having mostly proven yourself and earned the trust of both the regular raiders and your raid leader.  You're a valued member of the team.  Heck, next year they're even thinking about letting you raid lead one of the "just for gear" raids.  That's a pretty cool step up for you.

However, you're a bit burnt out (not on the game, but on your affiliation with this group and what it demands).  You never wanted this to become a job, and it's feeling more like a job with each passing year.  You still really care about the group and it's success as a whole.  What's more you really care about all of the raiders.  They're friends or fellow warriors.  You've gone to battle together.  You've been through some shit together.  These are people you don't lightly leave in the lurch.

You're not sure you want to do it again, and it's a lot of time for something you're unsure of.  You think it might be nice if they let you scale back your involvement a bit, yet still raid, but there is no guarantee they'll let you.  In fact, it would almost certainly leave them short-handed for leaders.

Soon, you are scheduled for a one-on-one meeting with the raid leader to discuss the future of the group (he has these meetings with each class lead).  What do you do?  Do you lay it all out there, knowing it might leave him short handed and he might get angry with you, questioning your dedication to the group (because some people view "stepping back" that way, especially other leaders)?  Do you suck it up and hope another leader steps up so you can graciously hand the reigns over to them?  Do you back out entirely because any hobby is not worth such consternation?

Personally, I think I'm just going to be honest with the leader and let the chips fall where they may.  I've always believed honesty is the best policy in raid groups and beyond.  Still, it's not always easy to be honest.  Especially when you care about the group and would be very upset to have your dedication questioned.  It's a group I really care about and don't want to abandon, but it's really hard to put in all the time too.  I mean, I really want to have my cake and eat it too here.  I want to be involved, but on my terms, as it fits my schedule.  However, life rarely works like that, does it?

So interwebs, I ask you, what's your advice?


  1. Ouch, that's going to be tough.

    If it was actually a raid group, I'd suggest finding another one that will let you be just a rank and file member (it's really hard to step down within the same raid group after they've seen you as a leader, other leaders get twitchy because they'd like to do less work also.)

    Or more productively, is there any way you can actually reorganise the whole way you approach this hobby so that the workload is less invasive for everyone? Because you may not be the only person feeling the strain. Would it be possible to delegate more, or to trim down the scale of the work?

  2. I have to admit, I'm running the scenario through my head over and over, out of curiosity, trying to determine what RL event could follow so closely to a true raid issue. But that's neither here nor there and just means I'm odd. =P

    But I say I agree. Be honest, let the chips fall. You know how much the group means to you but you also know what effect it is having on your life and your wife.

    If they care as much for you as you do for them, and I'm sure they do after 3 years,then surely a happy medium can be found for all involved.


  3. I agree with your decsion, just let the chips fall as they may. I am happy to report I understand what the hell you are talking about too! WOOOOOOOT! Took me till when you said "three months a year" till I figured out what RL hobby you were talking about :)

  4. I agree with the honesty plan. Tell them you're feeling burnt out and want to eliminate your leadership obligations for the next "year" but that you'll see out the current "year." (Assuming you're not already at the breaking point of wanting to throw up your hands and say screw it.)

    It sounds like the 3 months of being active is happening now, so continuing the obligations you already have doesn't leave the group in the lurch, but it gives them plenty of notice that they'll need someone to step up. And if they have someone who wants to contribute more in that capacity, it gives you time to show them the ropes of what it is that you have to do and how you do it while you're in the thick of things as well as easing some of the burden on you because the trainee will be taking on more of the responsibility.

    Just don't let them guilt you into leaving things as is.

  5. When your hobby becomes work.. it's time to re-examine the hobby.

    If you're doing something and you find you're dragging your feet on it.. then you won't give your best effort. Sometimes it's better to just move on.

  6. What Nibuca said :P

    Be honest with what you feel, and let them know that you are feeling a little burnt out. It's okay, If your guild leader is understanding, I'm sure it will be okay with him :)

  7. Good suggestions all around. And I know what you're saying, Nibs, but it's not quite reach that threshold yet I think. Then again, isn't that a classic rationalization?

    Oh, and the answer to the riddle is: High School Football Assistant Coach.

    It's funny that raiding can be very similar to any team sport, yet if you tell someone you're a coach it's all good. Try explaining being a raider... you're strange. Hobbies are hobbies, IMO.