|Mature arrives in Pandaria,|
The Jade Forest
At Least I Got ChickenTwo years passed. By the spring of 2014, there'd been a lot of change. Jul was back to being a full-time stay-at-home Mom. I didn't have kids...I had teenagers. In games, Flappy Bird was dominating much of the mainstream muggle news, while the majority of us glanced over with a troubled, concerned look. It would be a few months before Destiny released to mixed reviews, revisiting the hotly contested topic of addiction-by-design. Streamers were the new normal, with Felix Kjellberg leading the pack in what many of us still consider a profoundly bizarre turn of cultural events.
The hotly anticipated Diablo III finally launched, complete with its real money auction house. Gamers around the world converged on the infamous franchise, only to walk away a short time later with a very bad taste in their collective mouthes. Something was missing from the carpal-tunnel inducing game that Blizzard was famous for. The thrill of the treasure hunt was gone, a cruel side-effect of the alleged necessity to ensure items had some real money value. Uniques in Diablo II came at just the right time -- when they dropped from the hands of zombies or demons, they filled players with newfound uber-power, renewing the player's descent into clicking madness. By contrast, "Legendaries" in Diablo III were but shadows of their predecessors. The end end game lacked any semblance of balance, nigh impossible to master -- a shoddy design bent out of fear that players would clear it too quickly. Eventually, Blizzard admitted defeat, and promised to make things right.
Blizzard released a free card battle game, Hearthstone, which saw immense popularity and growth. I immediately recognized the battle mechanics, mirroring an older, lesser known game for the NeoGeo Pocket, SNK Vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash. It made sense, considering how often Blizzard employees were self-proclaimed fans of SNK's various fighting game franchises, particularly Samurai Shodown. I'm sure it only took them a matter of minutes before deciding it was a game they could do better. Just like Dune II. Just like EQ. Just like Team Fortress.
Of course, the WoW landscape continued its evolution. Eight months after the 25-Man progression team threw in the towel, Mists of Pandaria was released. Many familiar faces returned to DoD, each of them displaying varying degrees of interest in a radically changed game. For a great majority, they came, consumed all that MoP had to offer, then left. Only the truly hardcore stayed on, tending to their farm on every single alt.
During that initial burst of interest, stories about former guild mates trickled back to me. I discovered (not to any great surprise) that our server's #1 raiding guild, Enigma, floundered and retired only a week or two after us. I can't say for certain what the root cause of their collapse was, but I suspect many of the same variables that affected DoD were involved.
I also learned of Herp Derp's fate, which wouldn't be fair to keep from such a loyal readership. Shortly after Ben acquired Tarecgosa's Rest, the legendary staff, his computer broke down. To keep things moving forward (as we know Drecca was an expert at), HD's infamous leader purchased and shipped a MacBook to Ben to immediately get him back into progression. Shortly after this -- and without Drecca's knowledge -- Ben up and switched servers, leaving his Herp Derp guild mates behind. In his inimitable style, Ben was off to PvP in a new battlegroup, armed with a fantastical staff and a shiny new laptop to power it.
Things did not go too well for Herp Derp after that. Rumor has it the guild finally imploded under the weight of a forum argument. The topic? Star Wars. DoD may not have been perfect, but at least we were able to keep things running for more than a single tier of raid content.
|Many months after the end of the 25-Man,|
Mature's mediation continues,
Valley of the Four Winds
Achievement UnlockedOne thing had not changed, however: I was still at the same job. Now celebrating my three year anniversary, things hadn't quite played out to my favor. My new boss didn't possess that same set of nurturing, mentoring genes I'd enjoyed in previous managers. My current project was embroiled in a daily design-by-committee battle, its most important goals now lost to petty arguments among the "experts" at the table. I longed for a new challenge.
An email arrived from a familiar name. Dave, my former boss -- the same one who shared an airplane flight with me while I typed up a guildy's "dismissal" letter -- posed a question to me.
"Read this, call me."
I navigated the job description, skimming past the buzzwords and perusing for anything concrete. Health Data and Analytics company. Corporate website and SharePoint intranet. Lead a team in development and maintenance. Work with the business to establish and implement ongoing vision, ensure best practices. The company was looking to hire a Senior Manager of Web Services.
"You know they use SharePoint in Hell, right?"
Dave laughed, running with the joke by rattling off an ad-hoc sales pitch, "Hey, 'If it's good enough for Satan, it's good enough for HR'."
We both laughed.
"Good times, good times," Dave replied, then cut the looming awkward silence, "So, other than the CMS from Hell, whaddya think?"
"Well, I mean...it really reads like your old job, back when I was missing meetings on account of dragons."
"Actually, it is my old job. I moved to a different department, another guy came in...then he left...and now they need someone."
"I'm honored that you thought of me, but this 'manager' thing, I mean..." I hesitated, "It's like...you, Allison, Dawna, Diane, you all keep saying it, but..."
"It'll be fine," Dave dragged the long 'i' out, as if to make it sound like a thousand acre forest ablaze was merely a campfire that 'got a little crazy'.
"Hey, I appreciate the support. But let's face some facts. You've got a degree in business admin. I took, like...two years in liberal studies and dropped out. I'm just a code junkie. I've never professionally managed or lead anything."
"Remember that flight back from Dallas? You know, the one where you were typing that thing up for that guy in your guild?"
All too well.
"You cared more about your guys in that WoW guild of yours than I've seen from most of the professional managers I've worked with in my career."
I stayed silent, took a deep breath, letting the impact of Dave's compliment soak in.
"Look. What is it? It's tactics. It's managing up and down. Right? It's motivating a team and keeping them happy and making hard decisions when you need to. Ok? It's mentoring...negotiation...knowing when and where to pick your battles. It's delegating and taking care of rockstars and knowing when to say no. It's giving a shit. Like I said...it'll be fine!"
I stood in silence a moment, still clutching the phone, contemplating the possibility. The feeling was not unfamiliar -- fear of the unknown, of complete and colossal failure. But like all of the things Dave named, my first experience of that feeling was perhaps the most important lesson I had as leverage. It was the one key take away from guild leadership that was most important: failure is only one potential outcome; it's a possibility, not an inevitability. Once you embrace that, a logical conclusion falls easily into place: there's a chance you might actually succeed.
So, why not?
"Fuck it. Let's do this."