Eventually all good gamers find themselves in a place where they must decide between the good friends they’ve made on a game and the staffers they dislike who happen run the game.
This is not to say that all staffers eventually will become corrupt, or even that most staffers are disliked. Games are created for the admins to have fun, and nearly every time a player will find themselves wanting to have their own fun and being shut down. The real issue here is that players and staffers have different end-goals with games.
A good staffer has a story arc for everyone. This is where the game starts, this is where it ends, how you get there is the journey. The player, on the other hand, wants to generally be the hero and save the day. There are a lot of sweeping generalizations going on here, and none of this is meant to reflect everyone. The end point, however, is that on nearly every game staff and players will hit an impasse because they approach games with different mindsets. This is an inevitable truth.
If you’re lucky enough to be on a great game with great players and great staff, then you’re likely to stay there for a very long time, happily ever after. When you have a fun game with fun players, no matter how bad the staff are, and no matter how much you dislike their plots, you’re bound to stick around for a while because, well, it’s fun! There is nothing wrong with this. The problem happens when you can no longer have fun because of either the players or the staff.
Staff can make or break a game. When a player finds themselves judged inconsistently between staffers (staffer Joe says you can use your climbing skill for trees, but staffer Bob says it only works for climbing rope), they’re inclined to complain about the unfairness of inconsistency. When staff bicker publicly, players will begin to wonder if this is the sort of environment they want to enjoy.
Players, of course, can also break a game, but in the end you have to decide who is more important: You or everyone else. Rarely should ‘self’ be advocated over community, however when it comes down to having fun, your personal enjoyment matters more than your friends. If you aren’t having fun, you’re dragging them down, even if you don’t realize it. If you log onto a game and right away wish you weren’t, you should log off. If you only log on to be with friends and not play, then you should leave.
There are always other ways to communicate with friends; IM, Facebook, other games, to name a few. There is no reason to make yourself miserable just to make friends happy. If they’re really your friends, they’ll understand. At the same time, your friends should never demand you leave just because they do. If you’re still having fun, great. The break-point there is in why the player left.
Here’s where it gets hazy.
Sometimes your friend was in the wrong. If he mouthed off to staff and called them names, and they responded by banning him, then your friend is clearly in the wrong. Sometimes its the staff, who flew off the handle when your friend suggested they change something. But as we all know 90% of the time, it’s more complicated than either of those situations. It boils down to trust. If you trust your friends more, you side with them. If not, you side with staff. Deciding who you trust is a personal adventure that no one can make for you.
Just remember, if you trust your friends, know and can prove Staff is unfair and unjust, and yet you decide to stay because they haven’t bothered you, personally, then you’re asking for trouble. You can’t have your cake and eat it too, here, and eventually you’ll have to decide if the people you have left are worth the pain that will, eventually, come your way.