I’ve semi-recently (in the past year or 2) became friends with some folks who never had a solid raiding guild and it was interesting to hear their perspective. We mostly all agree that the LFR environment is shit, but for outsider players, there’s this perception that joining a good enough guild has too many roadblocks. First of all, there’s the misconception that you have to be at it 4-5 nights a week to be successful which is just not true. Also, as you said, encounters with douchebags are definitely a factor. When you have a somewhat elitist group or bad leadership not giving people any opportunities, it definitely can discourage people from raiding guilds in general. People like that gave my friends a very bad taste of what it was like to be in a guild, which of course I tried to correct by sharing my experiences.
There’s also the feeling among these players that many groups are only looking for people who already have the gear and experience, but they question how you even get the gear and experience in the first place without being given an opportunity. Perhaps we take for granted the fact that we ran a damn good guild, where new players could work their way in and integrate into the team with a clear path on how to move forward. The same can’t be said about a lot of guilds, who spend far less time allowing new players to grow into their roster. Higher turnover that way but they’d rather just plug and play someone already experienced/geared into their roster than build up another player with potential, despite the fact that such a player might end up far more loyal in the long run.
I think previous iterations of WoW made that work out of necessity for needing a group of players to continue moving forward. Players wanted to see the content and complete more difficult challenges, but the only way to do so was to get a group. Add in the social factors of being a team player and not being a dick in order to stay in the group and you got yourselves a game where you have to work together. Alternative ways to play the game are a positive concept in general, but when there are alternative ways to do the same group-oriented activities, I think that’s where you run into problems. Are you a toxic player? Well, good thing raid finder has little to no accountability. Don’t want to work with anybody? Well, you can still queue up solo with strangers!
At least with PUGs or the new group finder (dubbed LFX recently), leadership and social accountability are back on the table. Automatic queues strip away all that accountability and damages the MMO part of the game, which leads to the antisocial community that we’re all discussing here. Not that I don’t think solo play is important, but solo play shouldn’t consist of the same activities as group play to not diminish the importance of grouping in the first place.
So I agree that it would be important to educate players on the importance of being in a guild. The alternatives shouldn’t actively diminish that importance by fostering an environment where you could just as easily not work with other players for the same goals. I still think raid finder is the heart of this issue. Sure, make an easier version of the raid, but make players form their own groups for it, even cross-realm (like with LFX). it stays social that way with added player accountability. No automatic queues.
I really feel like that’s all we need. Want to see the raid but you’re more casual? You still can on normal mode but not as a lone wolf. Get talking and get into someone’s group. Even PUGs are more social than raid finder. There were some strong recurring ones like what @Mangetsu used to run in Naxx before joining up with us. An easy normal-mode “flex” raid as the baseline casual raiding experience would be a far better solution than raid finder ever was. Let the experts start in Heroic and progress through Mythic, but the one similarity that stays intact is the need to work with other players to see the content. That’s what we need.