Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Motivating Raiders: Part 3 – Respect

This is the third (and for now final) part of my series on Fear, Love, and Respect. Check out parts one and two as well as the original article if you like.
Today we will talk about what I consider the most important tool of a raid leader, respect, and how to achieve it.

If you have read the previous posts you might have noticed a trend – there’s always more than one type of whatever I’m currently discussing. Oddly enough there were two types of fear and two types of love I discussed – and now I’m going to tell you that there are two kinds of respect as well.
Actually, that can and has been disputed among philosophers. For a full overview have a look at the excellent (but incredibly wordy) post over on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on respect.
I am going to use the definitions coined by Stephen L. Darwall in his 1977 paper “Two Kinds of Respect”: recognition respect and appraisal respect.

Recognition Respect
The Stanford Encyclopedia defines recognition respect as “the disposition to give appropriate weight or consideration in one’s practical deliberations to some fact about the object and to regulate one’s conduct by constraints derived from that fact.”
In other words, you acknowledge the power of something or someone and include it in your calculations. An example would be to respect the ability of destruction warlocks to nuke your arena partner within seconds if you leave them alone or to respect the ability of your guild master to remove you from her guild as she pleases. Recognition respect is actually closely related to a certain type of fear. The only distinction between fearing the guild master’s power and respecting it, is an emotional one; the outcome is the same. Yet the distinction is important, as the emotion of fear can have negative effects on the behaviour and performance of your raiders, while respect usually does not.

The fear is created through a lack of understanding of causes for an effect. Children fear the dark because they do not know what might be hiding in it, and many people fear god because they do not know whether their actions in this world will have repercussions in the afterlife. If we knew clearly what is going to happen to us after we die, we would not have to fear god. Instead we would react in such a way that we will be treated well in the afterlife (if there is one.) In other words, fear of god would no longer be necessary if we understood the exact rules – it would turn into respect.

This gives us a clear goal to shoot for as raid or guild leaders – make your actions foreseeable. A leader that punishes her suspects seemingly on a whim when they do something inappropriate will inspire fear; a leader that punishes according to a set of rules will inspire recognition respect. The important part here is, that it does not matter what your rules are or whether your members like them. Recognition respect is not connected to an individual’s desires but only to the outcomes of an action. Respect is the recognition of something “as directly determining our will without reference to what is wanted by our inclinations.”1

This is not to say that you can chose any rules you want and your guild will be fine, but to say that you acquire recognition respect by establishing a set of rules and keeping to it. If you threaten repercussions but don’t actually use them, people will not respect you or your rules. If you just punish without adhering to rules, you will inspire fear but not respect.
I cannot stress this enough, it is vital that your raiders view you as impartial, fair, and bound by rules. If they do, they will be very likely to adhere to your rules as well without need of actual punishment. This is the second lesson from the above quote – if people have respect for something, they will adhere to it even if that goes against their will. This means less players disobeying your orders and less whining about unpopular decisions. In case you didn’t notice, that is a very good thing indeed.

Appraisal Respect
Darwall’s second type of respect is called appraisal respect and refers to an attitude of positive appraisal of a person or their merits. As an example, someone would have recognition respect for a raid leader’s ability to kick them from the raid but appraisal respect for her ability to change tactics on the fly. There are many different things one can respect about a raid leader: her ability to play her character, her ability to deal with unforeseen issues, her ability to make snap decisions, her kind nature, her fair attitude, and so on. The important part here is that you can only have appraisal respect for characteristics that you value. Among two players there might be one that puts high value in a calm attitude while the other doesn’t mind if the raid leader yells all the time. The first one will have high respect for the leader, the second one won’t.

To earn appraisal respect as a raid leader you therefore need to show abilities and character traits that the majority of your players value highly. Since you as a leader can’t change a lot about your own characteristics, you should select your player base appropriately. The socially competent, calm, and intellectual raid leader shouldn’t go looking to lead a raid full of players who only value play skill and success (unless, of course, she can provide that too.) Vice versa, a raid leader may be great at creating tactics, identifying issues, and know every single class well and still be completely disrespected (and therefore unsuccessful) due to not having the social skills her raiders value.

The first rule of acquiring appraisal respect is therefore to pick your raiders wisely. A raid leader may be great for one guild but terrible for another one, depending on the characters in the guild. This does not mean that you can’t do anything about how you are perceived by your raiders if you are stuck with your raiding team. Your players can only judge what they observe and can only observe the qualities that you show them. Make sure you identify the qualities your raid expects you to have and of those show those that you actually do have. If you aren’t brilliant at dealing with people, don’t attempt to and have someone else do it instead. that way you can still be respected for your technical abilities without making it obvious that you lack the social ones. To go back to Machiavelli
(you just love when I do that, don’t you):

“it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them.”

– Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince – Translated by W. K. Marriott

Interestingly, appraisal respect has the same effects that recognition respect has – it makes people follow your lead even if it goes against their own direct interest. A raid leader that is not respected for her skill at modifying tactics will quickly find herself buried in complaints about her approach when the raid wipes. If she was respected instead, many people would think twice about complaining because they would know her as someone who makes the right choice, even if they themselves don’t see it yet.
Likewise, a leader that is respected for her fairness (a very important trait in the mind of most players) will get much fewer issues when making decisions to the detriment of certain people. If your decisions are known to always be fair, then your future decisions will generally be accepted as fair as well.

Obviously, you will still have people complaining, no matter how respected you are in general. That is due to the above mentioned differences in what people value. If a player doesn’t have the mind to value fairness but only values her own advantage instead, no amount of fairness on your side will stop her from complaining when she doesn’t get that Betrayer of Humanity. This is where you carefully pick your raiding team.

That all said, there is an array of abilities and attributes that are generally valued in raid leaders and should provide a good starting point for building your reputation. This list is by no means exhaustive – and, following Machiavelli, you don’t need to check all points to succeed. Just make sure it doesn’t show too much.

  • Fairness – No preferential treatment, not even for yourself. Actually, make a point of showing that you are not above the rules and punish yourself if you violate a rule. This is a huge source for respect.
  • Transparency – People are generally curious and like to know what is going on. Being intransparent can also lead to people questioning your fairness, which would obviously be bad. Explain your decisions, especially the unpopular ones and make sure people know what’s going on. If you don’t invite someone to your raids, make sure they know why. If you give loot to someone over someone else, make sure they know why.
  • The ability to respect others – Respect and you will be respected. If your players feel that you don’t respect their qualities and issues, they will be far less likely to respect you. This includes the ability to respect opinions that are contrary to your own. You don’t have to share them, but you have to accept that other people have them and deal with it accordingly. Never punish someone for having an opinion, even if you decide to ignore it. (You may sometimes have to punish someone for sharing an opinion in the wrong channel, but that is something for another blog post.)
  • Play skill – Even if you are a great leader you may have problems with being taken seriously if you are not respected for your playing skill. You don’t have to be the best at what you do, but it doesn’t hurt. Under no circumstances hide behind the “I perform badly because I’m leading” excuse – even though it is very often true.
  • Class knowledge – Don’t just know how your class works, know how every class works. In detail if at all possible. Your raiders are far more likely to listen to your suggestions, if they believe you know what you are talking about. As a nice side effect it also makes adjusting tactics on the fly much easier if you know what tools you have at your disposal.
  • Encounter knowledge – If at all possible, know exactly how each encounter works that you are attempting. If players don’t respect you in this aspect, they will question your tactics even on the occasions where you do know what you are doing.
  • Player knowledge – Know your players. Get familiar who excels at which tasks and who shouldn’t be assigned to certain tasks ever. Know their personal quirks and issues. Also know how they will react to criticism and situations of pressure.
  • Social skills – This goes hand in hand with player knowledge. Many players will respect your ability to deal with them on an individual basis and to respect their personal feelings. As much as this may be gender stereotyping, in my experience it usually pays off to have a girl on staff for this. That is not to say guys can’t have social skills, and definitely not to say that girls can’t have play skills – but I have seen way more girls with the necessary abilities than guys.
  • Conclusion
    Being respected is vital as a leader and you should aim for as much respect as you can achieve. Make sure you get both appraisal and recognition respect. You neither want to be the unskilled gnome with the rocket launcher (they respect your power but not you as a person) nor the paper tiger (they respect you as a person, but you have no power for any punitive action). Even if you can’t be loved or feared, be respected.

    1Daniels, N., 1975, “Equal Liberty and Unequal Worth of Liberty” in Reading Rawls: Critical Studies of “A Theory of Justice” N. Daniels (ed.), New York: Basic Books, Inc.