I just read through Patrick Prax’s article in the Proceedings of Nordic DiGRA on leadership styles in WoW raid guilds. A lot of this article is probably not news to anyone who has ever played the game seriously and watched a guild’s leadership team, but he argues that there are two styles of guild leadership: a results-based style (killing the boss without concern for the feelings of the people) and a people-based style (worrying about conflicts of personality and everyone having a good time). Sometimes, these two styles intersect, and balancing them is really important in raid situation. This article connects to an article by Friedline and myself that we’re trying to get published in a Digital Games reader.
(Note: we’ve been trying to get this article published since 2008… someday I’ll actually be able to link to it!)
At any rate, we talk in our article about two different linguistic styles: collaborative and aggressive. These styles have obvious meanings, but one of my favorite parts of our article is the analysis of a raid leader’s linguistic style. We have a passage of chat where this raid leader, Jeremiah, proclaims that PlayerX “needs to give us shadow protection… Player Y suggested that I yell and swear at you, but I thought a friendly reminder would be better”. Here he is really setting himself up in contrast to an aggressive language and leadership style — or one that is purely results-based rather than people-based — while still getting the results he looks for. It’s a nice synthesis of the two linguistic styles, as well as Prax’s two leadership styles.
Jeremiah eventually went on to lead one of the most successful raiding guilds on the server, and is someone that I personally still count as one of the best raid leaders I’ve ever played with because he operated with an enjoyable yet productive raid environment. His leadership style was evident in the way he deployed language to be collaborative even when in a raid situation that demanded results.