When friends ask me what I've done in the past few months sometimes I sheepishly tell them about my level 70 balance druid in World of Warcraft. I'm a bit embarassed to list endgame raiding as a major life accomplishment, but the truth is the game is fun and challenging and something I care about.

One thing I've gotten out of playing WoW (and before, Eve Online) is some understanding about myself and how I am effective as a leader. The high end for online games is organizing a group of 25 or more people to play together and complete a challenge over a few hours. It's great fun to play with other people and it's demanding of everyone's skills. And it takes a lot of organization.

I've found that leading a group is a whole different thing than playing in one. Today I co-led our raid on Gruul's Lair and it was totally stressful. Not the actual game tactics, but the social stuff. Figuring out who to invite, giving guidance to people who needed it (without offending), organizing the raid strategy, distributing the loot. All hard work and totally exhausting.

I didn't care much for the experience, honestly. It's too much like work and not enough like fun. I think I'm more effective on the side, making useful suggestions and analysis offline and letting more charismatic folks do the actual day to day leading. An advisor, not a general.

I had an even harder time leading in Eve Online, where I'd risen to fleet command in my corporation. Spaceship fleet actions in that game are virtual military engagements of your fifty guys vs. their fifty guys and decisive command is absolutely necessarry. I'd always waffle at the moment of crisis, asking "what do you think we should do?" rather than commanding. Consensus is great in an engineering design meeting but a disaster on the battlefield.

  2007-11-19 03:49 Z