It was announced recently which guilds were selected to participate in the WoW guild mentoring program. For those of you who have no clue what the guild mentoring program is, it’s a program that has guilds on select servers open their doors to whoever wants to join so that they can be shown how to play the game by people in the guilds. Each guild will welcome new and old players(under 85) alike and I assume that blizzard is hoping that by doing this the number of people who stop playing the game because they have no clue what they are doing, will decrease. When I first heard about the program I thought it was a cool idea but after some thought I had mixed feelings about it.
On one hand it can be a great experience for people who are starting the game and don’t know anyone who is playing the game that can help them. We assume that with WoW’s subscription numbers being in the millions, everyone who wants to play the game is already playing it but of the 9 million subscribers only a quarter or so of that is from North American players. That means that there are plenty of people who are not playing WoW but see the commercials/game box and decide to give it a spin. These new people start out with nothing and have no clue what they are doing. Remember back to when you first started, how many of you had no friends/family that played the game? How many of you ran around exploring the world alone? How many of you resorted to asking in trade/general chat for answers to questions you had about the game?
For new players, being alone and having to figure everything out by yourself is a tough thing to do and will cause many people to stop playing the game rather quickly. Running an instance like Deadmines or Wailing Caverns can be a daunting task for a completely new player. I remember when I first ran it with friends in college and even though I had friends around me that I could ask questions, I was still overwhelmed at times. Vanilla veterans will remember the first time they found out that you could jump on top of the boat wheel to avoid a wipe near the end. Most people in the lower dungeons are alts of people who just want to finish the dungeon as quickly as possible and have no interest in walking a player through the game. Hell, just surviving a LFD group can be tough. Between name calling, dps meter linking, and gogogogog attitudes, a new person can easily be frightened off.
Having a guild that can be patient with your questions about the game is great. Being able to get answers and explanations without being ridiculed or given wrong information is great.
At this point you may be thinking to yourselves that all that sounds like a great idea and what exactly is wrong with the guild mentoring program. Well my biggest problem with the program is that you are inundated with people who are new or coming back to the game, want to join your guild, and whose personality may clash with your guilds culture. I haven’t seen anything that says that you can turn away new people from your guild. Having one or two new people who need help learning the game isn’t that bad but when you can potentially have 20 or 30 new people all at the same time who want help, it can wear you down. You also open your guild to people who just want to troll you and cause problems for you. I have no clue why people do things like this but some people do seem to enjoy being a troll. I guess bad attention is better than no attention.
All the new people would have to be treated like regular members which can also be problematic if you use a forum because they would register and have access to private member stuff. I know on our guild forums we have a thread with myspace/facebook/twitter links for members to put their info if they’d like to be friends with other guildees. Since all new people would have to be treated like real members, they’d have access to that info and that could definitely cause problems. When people join my guild they usually go through a process before they join the guild so we can get a feel for who they are as a person. If they mesh well with us in vent/raid they will get an invite into the guild. We aren’t just throwing random people into the guild all willy-nilly.
There hasn’t been a lot of details explaining what you can or can’t do if you’re in the program and to me, that’s not cool. The FAQ for the program is very vague and doesn’t really answer a lot of the questions I have. Maybe once the program is over, we can get more info from the guilds who participated in the program about what they received from Blizzard in terms of rules. If I commit my guild to something for four months, I want to know upfront what I can or can’t do during that time frame.
I hope that the guild mentor program works out and helps a lot of new players get better at the game and causes them to stick around. I know that I won’t participate in the program but I wish the guilds that are participating in it the best of luck. To the guilds that are mentors, I say good luck. It’ll be a lot of work for you but with any luck you’ll each come through just fine.