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MMORPGs are, at their core, social games. They share many of the same elements as single-player games -- items, quests, combat -- but the strong appeal of an MMO over a standard RPG is the opportunity to play with other people and make friends. One of the effects of this type of gameplay is the tendency of players to band together in like-minded groups. These groups are called guilds in World of Warcraft, or corporations in EvE Online, but whatever the name many players log on again and again simply to chat and hang out with their group.
Of course nothing is forever, even in MMOs. The guild that a player couldn't get enough of six months ago may have changed in a way that they don't like now, or a player can develop different interests or schedules. Perhaps someone is quitting a game completely. Whatever the reason, people often want to quit their existing guild with a minimum of hurt feelings and guild politics.
So how do you leave a guild without causing drama? Here are four things to think about on the way out the virtual door:
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1. Talk to the guild leadership first.
The majority of the time the guild leader or officers may not even know that a player is unsatisfied, particularly if they're busy with game or offline issues. People become part of a guild's leadership group because they generally care about the guild, about the game, and about the players. They want to solve conflict, and help everyone work towards the same goal. Give the guild or corporation leader a chance to address concerns and make changes. If nothing else, you might feel better just blowing off some steam and talking to someone about your concerns.
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2. Act respectfully and keep disruption to a minimum.
If there is a universal truth about leaving a guild, it's this: any reasonable guild leader wants a minimum of disruption for the rest of the team, no matter what your decision. Anything a departing player can do to help their ex-leader with this goal will go a long way to creating a satisfying conclusion for everyone involved. This means no lingering dramatic posts on the guild forum (or other public discussions), and no angry fits in guild chat.
A considerate player will understand that when a popular or important person leaves a guild, it can be a bit like a death in a family, particularly for close-knit groups. If you want to continue your friendships with ex-guildies, consider giving them some "grieving" time to get over the loss. A respectful departure should be a clean, concise break. Wait a week or two before checking in with old friends. Players who want to be extremely considerate can even wait until off-peak hours to quit a guild, reducing the number of alarmed witnesses online.
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3. Be honest about the motivation for quitting, and don't shop around for a new guild in secret.
Generally there are two core reasons that people quit a guild: they want to move to a different guild for a different gaming experience, or they are quitting or reducing their overall gametime. Either way, honesty is (as always) the best policy. Players who are straight forward about their reasons will usually find a much more sympathetic ear with the guild's leadership. Resist the temptation to make up crazy stories about your departure, and stand by your decision.
If a player is hoping to immediately find a new guild, they should resist the temptation to start talking or applying with other guilds until they've let their existing guild leadership know of their plans. Guild leaders talk to each other more than one might anticipate, and have entire private communication and support networks. A "secret" application can quickly become public knowledge. Additionally, part of a guild recruiter's job is to keep tabs on all the usual recruitment sources, so it's very likely that they'll stumble across your plans! Again, being honest, while occasionally difficult, is better than being caught.
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4. Quitting isn't eternal. Don't burn bridges!
Many players will stick with an MMORPG for years, to varying degrees. Often people take some time off altogether, play alternative characters, or try other new MMOs for a while, and then return to their original guild. Perhaps they won't come back to the exact same role or activity level, but historically players will likely want to return in some capacity.
Keep that in mind when quitting an MMO guild. Going out in a "blaze of glory" may seem satisfying at the time, but six weeks later when you're bored and miss your online friends you might regret your decision.
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MMOs are social gaming by their very nature, and the popularity of MMORPG guilds is a natural part of gameplay. However, at some point players may want to move on to a new guild or even a new game (or quit altogether). Players who plan to leave a guild should consider opening the lines of communication with their guild leadership, acting respectfully towards everyone involved in the departure, and being honest about their motivation for quitting. Leaving a guild is rarely completely stress- and drama-free, but by considering these issues a player can minimize hurt feelings and lost friendships, and leave the door open for a potential return to the guild in the future should they wish.