Farming Vader: Hamlet with lightsabers

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Despite my intial reservations about the guy Alex and I have nicknamed “Hot Tamale” (who actually goes by Doom Patrol), he’s turned out to be a great addition to the guild. He has a lot of knowledge about MMO mechanics, is familiar with all the SWTOR classes, and is willing to jump into some of the toughest situations without any of us asking him. For example, the fourth stage of Eternity Vault – one of SWTOR’s two operations – involves a one-on-one duel for every member of the party. There are three possible enemies: one with low HP, one with a considerable amount, and one with a ton. The first time we did it, Tamale immediately volunteered to take one of big dudes. Even more impressive is that he was the second person done with his fight, finishing just seconds after Alex.

He’s been with us for about six weeks now and he’s been a pretty great fit overall. We even considering making him the guild recruiting officer until he started something no GM ever wants: guild drama.

After the jump, trying to avoid a lose-lose resolution

Before we began playing SWTOR, most of my guild already knew each other from something else – we all started out playing competitive Day of Defeat, the Half-Life mod turned retail game, until that community died out. We all had a similar playstyle and approach to games, though, so we kept the Ventrilo channel up and continued gaming together. That was nine years ago – I was sixteen.

One of the guys from back in the DoD days is a dude named Roger. Roger doesn’t have any interest in the end game content, but still joined us in SWTOR just because the rest of us were playing. He even shows up and hangs out when we’re raiding just because he finds the conversation interesting.

Roger is also a big fan of what I like to call “grandpa jokes”. He really loves dumb puns, the kind of stuff that would make the Bard roll over in his grave. I imagine if I ever met Roger in real life, he’d greet me with the “got your nose” trick.

Besides silly jokes, Roger’s other big passion is politics. He’s very liberal, and often goes off on long speeches when he reads something in the news that he disagrees with. It doesn’t bother me much – I live in the northeast and am pretty used to that sort of mindset.

All of our new guild members were getting along fine with the old ones until I got a text from Alex one day while I was at work: Tamale and Roger got into a big argument the previous night when I was playing the Mass Effect 3 demo. Colorful words were exchanged – I’m pretty sure if this was the eighteenth century, they’d have to duel for honor’s sake.

When I got home and logged in, I was bombarded with whispers from nearly every member of our guild. Everyone wanted to share their opinion with me regarding what they’d been secretly been calling “Doomgate”. Everyone. And they all ended with “that’s just my .02”. When did that become a thing people say so much? Did some famous celebrity say it recently or something?

Feedback seemed split down the middle, the consensus being that Tamale overreacted to one of Roger’s rants, but someone needs to ask Roger to tone it down, especially during raids. Someone, of course, being me.

When I was an RA in college, I found the best way to settle a spat was get both people in the same room and have them talk it out. Yeah, yeah, conflict resolution 101, but everyone’s heard of that solution because it’s effective. When a person of power is standing in the room – a person who determines whether or not you get punished – suddenly everyone just wants to get the problem resolved amicably so they don’t get in trouble.

“It’s not going to work,” Alex tells me before I bring Roger and Tamale into the same channel to talk about what happened.

“I’ve seen it work over a dozen times.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s super effective in person. But this is the internet, Rudy. Dudes are jerks just because,” he said to me. “Listen, I really hope both Mr. Tamale and Roger are cool after you talk. I’m just saying don’t be surprised if it quickly turns into a shouting match.”

Here’s how it went:

[audio:http://www.quartertothree.com/podcasts/Farming_Vader.mp3]

It didn’t turn out exactly like I had hoped – I should have intervened sooner when they were arguing – but ultimately both guys seemed willing to cooperate. I considered it a success, and immediately went to rub it into Alex’s face, as one does to one’s brother.

“Told you,” I said.

“We’ll see,” he replied, with a foreboding menace.

And, as usual with anything MMO related, Alex was right. Roger never said anything to us, but other guildmates inform me that Tamale had been making unfair and cruel remarks directed at him when we weren’t around. When I asked Roger what’d been happening, he seemed almost apologetic about it. “Yeah, he’s made some comments, but it’s not a big deal. They’re mostly jokes, I think.”

The next time I saw Tamale on, I pulled him aside.

“You can leave quietly or I can kick you out of the guild and ban you from Vent.”

“Fuck you,” he said to me, then left.

Thankfully, the rest of the guild doesn’t make a big deal out of my decision. More than a few of them actually tell me that they agreed with my choice and wished I’d acted sooner. Even Alex, who came up with the idea to possibly promote Tamale, can’t find any fault with asking him to go.

Ironically, Tamale’s forced departure seems to cause Roger to become more distant and hang around less. Despite Alex and my assurances that it was our decision to kick Tamale out and not his fault, it’s clear Roger still partly blames himself. He hasn’t logged onto SWTOR in over a week, and I think he’s done with the game.

I see Tamale around the server every now and again, and he does the rude gesture emote whenever he notices me. He joined another guild and it isn’t long before some of his new friends start rude gesturing me too. It’s annoying, but whatever. I have a feeling that if server forums ever get up and running, we’re going to be constantly antagonized by members of “Empire’s Anguish”. Terrifying.

Looking back, I can say it’s very easy for someone who has never experienced guild drama to observe an event like this and laugh. I mean, we’re essentially adults playing virtual dress up; there’s certainly higher priorities in our lives than our e-dolls or the politics surround them. But when you’re in the middle of trying something like this, it can really get in your head and affect you. Alex was right when he brought up the power that anonymity can give someone; people have no problem going out of their way to try to ruin another person’s experience just because they think it’s amusing or have a false sense of entitlement.

“Guilds are basically miniature societies, but there’s no fear of punishment for breaking any real life social norms, which allows people to think that they have the right to say whatever they want,” Alex tells me. “I’ve seen people act in ways that make Hot Tamale look like Mother Teresa. A bad guild leader will let them slide because they’re good players, but you didn’t. That’s what matters and that’s why I asked you to help me out when I started this guild. If you let this bother you, you’ll just be giving that jerk the satisfaction that he doesn’t deserve.”

“I guess,” I say.

He punches me in the arm, not softly.

“Shut up. Let’s go to MMA practice. I’ve been working with the BJJ trainer one-on-one and I bet I can tap you in under a minute.”

Up next: the beginning of the end
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Rudy Basso, an accountant with an English degree, is living proof that your major really doesn’t matter that much. His series Farming Vader will appear here every week. You can find more of his writing (and occasional acting) at Cows Come Home.

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