Learning about Leadership Through MMORPGs, Part 1

I never thought playing a video game would teach me so much about real life and myself.  Yep, you can learn about leadership, teamwork, and yourself as a leader and a team player by playing MMORPGs.  I had an encounter tonight with a player who was quite a control freak.  This person claimed to be leading 4 Warbands in an effort to lock one of the tier 4 zones in “Warhammer Online”.  He was telling players who were below level 40 to refrain from playing in contested scenarios because he or she wanted to have only his or her pre-made groups in scenarios.  I popped into a contested scenario without knowing what was going on and then was promptly asked not to queue up anymore.  My feeling was that I paid to play the game, and so I will play however I please.  This guy then proceeded to ramble on about how low level players will cause our side to lose.  I was laughing pretty hard because his pre-made parties were getting their asses handed to them in this particular scenario and I felt he needed all the help he could get.  Indeed, it is tough for lvl 32 character to go up against a lvl 40, but there is some strategy involved in this game and I think that if you plan a strategy to include everyone and if players understand their capabilities, then it will be okay.  Also, I’m not obsessed with winning since Warhammer isn’t real life.  I’m happy if I get to kill a witch elf or two, disrupt assaults on our healers, or keep their healers occupied defending themselves from me.  I truly play to have fun and if we happen to win, then it’s an added bonus.  It not like real life in which I feel winning is pretty high in importance ;p.

Anyhow, what I didn’t like is how negative this player was.  He called people losers and failures and, in general, belittled people’s efforts.  And then asking some of us not to participate because we are too low level to help, zapped my fighting spirit.  I didn’t want to follow this guy and my feeling was that others weren’t following this guy either because we got into a heated chat debate on this matter for ~45-mins and when you are chatting furiously like this, it’s very difficult to play while monitoring the status of a warband.  In addition, I’m not quite sure how you can lead 4 warbands because the game doesn’t support that kind of communication.  Personally, I think this player may have been “a legend in his own mind” (he wasn’t that good a player in the scenario).  But that’s beside the point.  I ended up telling this player that I agreed to disagree with him (or her) and differing opinions is cool with me.  Plus, I felt that we had a good discussion.  I also suggested that he(or she) be positive and more inclusive and well as register his (or her) complaints about the character level disparity and pick-up groups with the developers (perhaps have a tier 5 for level 40 players and a server that only allows pre-mades, so us loners and low level folks won’t ruin those clearly superior players’ fun.)  Apparently, this person was not open minded and implored as to why I was being rebellious and why I wouldn’t listen to him, a lvl 40 leader of 4 warbands.  Hahaha … quite frankly it’s not my style to fight for the sake of fools, but I refrained from telling him this as I wished him and his warbands success and then logged off.

I logged back on about an hour later and played some scenarios without him (or her).  Lots of low level people were playing and we had fun despite losing a round or two.   We did our best by doing what we could and we recognized our accomplishments when made a lot of kills or won the scenario.  My fighting spirit was high and I got into “the zone” on one of the scenerio we won.  Yep, as Aeronna, I was a whirlwind of death.  She danced with her sword quite beautifully for me.

It seems funny to say that I’ve learned more about leadership through 3-months of Warhammer Online than I did in the 10-years I worked my previous job.  I think this is because I have observed many styles of leadership and I, at times, have taken a leadership role myself.  I’ve also learned a lot about teamwork and how a group of random people can come together and do some amazing things with good communication, strategy, and individual skill.   For the most part, teams clicked when the individuals clearly understood their strengths and weakness and played accordingly.  Leaders clicked when they were positive, gave clear and concise communications, and were honest about the situation.  Sometimes the team is losing and we all know it.  There’s no harm in acknowledging it and taking the lessons from the loss into the next scenario.  However, I have observed that blaming the other players and calling players or the team a failure causes a teamwork breakdown and doesn’t earn the mean player any goodwill.  I’ve been in situations so bad that mean players have been ostracized and denied healing.

Well, that’s enough rambling on this for now.  Next, I think I’ll write about some of the experiences I had in various roles in the game.  I’ve been a main tank, the secondary tank, a healer, a melee battler, and a ranged support character.  All of these roles require different mindsets to play well and I’m happy that I’ve challenged myself to step out of my tendency to only want to “tank.”

BTW:  If you ever what to go outside of the box for some work related team building, playing an MMORPG as a work group could be a fun and very eye opening experience.

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