By Kip Konner
For this issue’s Glitch on the Go, I chose to do an in-depth interview with a single Glitch, Bachjess, founder of the Civility Group. We met at her lovely home and stood around for a chat [When are we going to be able to sit on our furniture?].
Civility is a group dedicated to avoiding the sometimes aggressive, sometimes abusive behavior common to most MMOs and, occasionally, even seen in our own Global Chat. The Group’s core values center on mutual respect, tolerance of differences, and empathy. Members are encouraged to support each other in game and be a civilizing influence out and about in Ur.
The Group’s activities include maintaining an active and friendly chat channel, helping each other’s restoration projects, responding to each other’s mourning calls, and hosting parties for little or no reason other than getting together.
I joined the Group myself a couple weeks ago and I can say that it has been refreshing to engage in an active chat channel where no one is bashing anyone else, where any question (no matter how n00b-ish) gets answered in a friendly way.
When we started out, I asked Bachjess to tell me about the Group’s purpose.
“Our official purpose is to help others and, in doing so, to help ourselves in the process (which is a nice bonus). We focus on our members for the most part; however, we do try to encourage the wider world of Ur to attend our events and share the way we treat others.”
“One person who commented on our recruitment thread in General Forums observed that our code was pretty much TS ToS [Tiny Speck's Terms of Service]. And I actually took that as a compliment.”
She added that the group is “very intent that, given the diversity of cultures and experiences, it is important that we be able to perceive and treat differences with respect and empathy.”
I asked if she finds herself actively policing behavior, either in the Group’s chat channel or abroad in Ur. She admitted that, since most of the membership rarely venture into Global Chat, she doesn’t bother policing members there. Once, she had to have a private word with a member who was making possibly-offensive jokes on the Group channel and who promptly apologized publicly on the channel. In general, though, she thinks “we have folks with really good shoulders on their heads. Belay that! The other way. LOL!”
I asked her about the Group’s history and she shared that she actually founded a Civility Guild in World of Warcraft™ as a response to the “horrible, drama-filled break-up with 2 other co-guild leaders of a Christian guild that was only Christian in its name. That guild left many of us with scars.” But the membership in that incarnation of Civility expected her to do all the work, only stepping in to prevent the guild falling apart.
Following that, she went on to play Star Wars: The Old Republic™ and founded another incarnation of Civility there. Four or five of the players in her WoW Civility Guild even followed her to SWTOR. But this guild had some of the same problems: members wouldn’t step up to do the work of maintaining the guild unless it was on the brink of collapse.
She found that, in both games, players who got together for fun ended up becoming extremely competitive, that raiding killed the game for her. “They both needed a slice of Civility.” I pointed out that those competitive qualities were really built into the game mechanics in both cases and specifically avoided in the case of Glitch. She agreed.
She thinks that, “although all the dragons and other mounts and gear and pets [in those other games] are pretty, …in the end, it’s the relationships that endure, the friendships you make.”
Having observed her work in Civility, I noted that keeping that level of intensity going takes a great deal of time and energy that most other players wouldn’t be able to provide. She agreed and says that she blames that factor for the eventual failure of the previous incarnations of Civility once she moved on. “My successors were unable to continue my vision. But our leadership in Glitch Civility is very different.”
Essentially, Civility in Glitch has a leadership team made of a few enthusiastic players who expressed a desire to help organize. “I like the concept of guiding rather than ruling with an iron fist. That way, we can vote on matters and I just step in if we’re all tied or something.” The other members of the leadership team are asked to help mediate and to plan and help guide events. She also thinks it’s important that they be a regular presence in the chat channel.
Bachjess waxed eloquent on the subject of various leaders’ contributions, then apologized for being long-winded. I jokingly called her “Blabby McGabberson. LOL!”
At this point, our interview quickly devolved to idle chit-chat about the game in general and I realized we had been talking for about two hours. It was time to wrap it up and bid the enthusiastic and charming Bachjess a good game.
If you’re interested, I can definitely recommend the Civility Group as a place to find well-meaning players striving to make Ur a better place for all.