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Author Topic: Coping with moderator burnout?  (Read 5695 times)
Mr. Three
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« on: May 19, 2012, 10:50:26 PM »

For the first time ever, I am not looking forward to administrating future games of HvZ here at Berea.

I founded my team in early April last year doing abridged games and we snowballed into a fairly large team handling full length games by that September. This past April concluded my team's second week long game. The game itself went well, and we introduced a bunch of new features and brought our school's rules more in line with those of the 'official' rules. My goal was to revitalize the game at Berea and save it from stagnation. So far this project has been an overwhelming success, but much of the sweat has come from my brow.

I wanted to run abridged games this summer like my team did last summer, to cater to the HvZers who get bored taking summer classes, but I can't bring myself to start planning them. My playerbase is counting on me to deliver content, and it's not like I'm out of ideas... I'm just totally exhausted. As childish as this sounds, I don't really want to be in charge anymore but I'm afraid that the quality of games will suffer without me as I have no direct philosophical descendants and there are few with the almost obsessive drive I have concerning this game. I worry that if I keep administrating despite suffering burnout, I will fail the players. I also worry that if I retire, I will be failing the players.

Berea's player culture became stagnant, lame, childish, and small when Admins failed to address burnout or general staffing issues. I want to avoid that at all costs; I made the opposite my mission 14 months ago when I took on this task.

I'm trying to readjust my attitude to get excited about crafting experiences for my players, but I don't know if I can make it happen. Any sage words? 

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Berea College, KY
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Quote from: Dyslexda
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Dandelo
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« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2012, 11:47:38 PM »

This is EXACTLY how I feel approaching the 3rd Truman Invitational. We're going to start planning this fall, and we'll probably only have three--THREE, out of something like twelve from last year--veteran Invi Mods, and a bunch of newbies.

Now, everyone on the Invi squad works hard to make the event happen, but in the two-ish weeks before the actual event (in the spring when people are SUPER busy), the huge amount of last-minute work tends to get done by a very small handful who can afford to allocate the time (or who just decide to allocate the time anyway). I've been in that group for both Invis so far and it's very tiring during those two weeks.

From a design perspective, I do mission/mechanics design like it's my bread and butter (if bread and butter was also cocaine). Suddenly we have a group of young players from the community who have NEVER designed a mission before, and the temptation to want to 'direct' or 'design' large chunks of the Invi will be difficult for our veteran Mods to resist--we have the experience and knowledge to understand what will work and what won't.

Despite all this, though, I'm going to have to try to keep my distance, and I advise you to do the same. Your fellow Moderators will not buck up and get the job done if they simply assume that you, or someone like you, will do it. It is ENTIRELY possible that the quality if your game or what-have-you might suffer slightly without your stringent oversight. You need to accept that. In fact, having OTHER people flex their Modding muscles over the summer is a good way to avoid this--testing designs and ideas in these one-day games during the summer sounds like a fantastic testing ground for your other Mods to better learn the ropes.
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Gumbysmash

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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2012, 12:31:43 AM »

All that plus one. I've never ran a HvZ game, but I've been on story teams for LARP games that have ran by weekly for several years. If your feeling like you need a break, then your past the point that you should take one. Coming from the point of a Mod, if the admin staff try's to muscle past the burnout feeling they just make for a more stressful game for the rest of the story team and the player base will feel the effects of the lack of coordination. If your feeling the burn, bow out for a little bit. Let a new crowd run the game over the summer, your slow period, and if your feeling up to the task in the fall, scoop up the cream of the summer mod crop and your peak time team will be all the stronger for your hiatus. You may also see the summer crew doing things that you like and end up adding into your games as well.
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Mzzkc
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2012, 12:51:23 PM »

If it's not too late, try to find a decent successor for yourself and set them up with everything they need to keep the game evolving.

As long as you've laid out the infrastructure properly, and you give your protege plenty of room to come into their own, as well as real responsibility (like designing the layout of an important Final Mission, or running their own game for instance), they'll do right by the club when they take over.

Personally, I burned out completely after our third game, and during our final game (in which I played OZ for the first time) I found myself simply going through the motions. I played my part exceptionally well mind you (first time in our game's history zombies won every mission), but most of my focus inadvertently went toward collecting data on ways to improve the OZ and zombie experience as a whole and ensuring the Admins didn't screw over the zombies or yield to the complaints of humans who were being outplayed.

At this point, you'll never escape the mindset you've built up, but you'll never be able to deliver content with the same passion you once had. The best you can do is find someone who has the best interests of the community at heart and can design experiences as well as you can. Good luck to ya.
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Ozymandias
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2012, 07:03:09 PM »

Yay, I get to apply my education on something!

Burnout is basically the result of long term stress. The easiest way to cure it is to remove oneself from the stressors.

How to deal with Burnout:

1. Change of duties: Have the mods do something different. One way a lot of schools do this is have mods be players some missions and be mods on others.
2. Rotate out the 'feedback' role, or assign it to somebody who enjoys it: Because "OMG you suck" gets old fast.
3. Take a hiatus: rotate mods in and out of modding duties over several games.
4. Shortcuts: Every mission does not have to be unique. There are many established mission types (Scavenger hunt, Escort objects/VIP, Siege); don't be afraid to take a common formula and add in your own details.
5. Broaden the work load: plan missions/design props/have mod meetings weeks/months ahead of time.

Etc etc etc
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yuiikari


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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2012, 01:54:54 PM »

Offer the job to your best people; be available to help plan, attend most of the meetings, offer advice when asked...but let them make their own mistakes.  The fact is that you're not going to be around forever.  Letting some of the people who want the job (even if they aren't good at it) handle the summer game is probably the best plan: they will do the least damage, they can learn the real work that goes into planning, and you will have a better sense of who might have the potential to be trained as your replacement when the time comes (that would likely be more than one).  You've got to do what's best for the game, but moreover, you've got to do what's best for you.  At least if you start handing over the reigns now, you can take them back if the whole thing goes to hell; there'd still be time to save the game, which there won't necessarily be in the future (unless you go through grad school there and land a teaching job and simply stay at Berea forever, but that's probably not a good plan at all).
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gnomeofdoom
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2012, 01:18:31 AM »

I've been running games of HvZ going into my fourth year now, and thankfully I've never really been burnt out. Once the bug bites me to plan a game, I plan. However sometimes it's a matter of initial motivation. How about just strike up a conversation about the game with some of the players, tell war stories, things like that to get your mind into it. Once the game is done, unwind from it slowly and take a break where you don't think about it, this lets you recharge.

Lately I have found that I missed being a player as well, but I've been getting my fix by guest starring at other schools games for a little bit (and the penn state invitational really helped!) If you're really burnt out, try being a player again at least for a little bit just to get that back in your head of what that felt like.
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OKSTATE_Mod
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« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2012, 05:41:36 PM »

At Oklahoma State we've started an official club designed to house the game as well as other smaller campus games like Renegade and Assassin.  The bylaws of the club make it where there is a term limit for admin so that there will always be at least one veteran admin on the team.  These limits keep the game from going stale for players as well as the admin which really limits the "burnout" factor.  The way we've been choosing is by an application and interview process where applicants for the head position are chosen by the President and VP of the club as well as the previous head (if they are reapplying) then the new head (along with the Pres and VP) interview the applicants for other positions with the head getting majority vote on their team.  This way if the head had a poor performance during a game they could be removed and replaced by somebody new.  There are also bylaws where a majority vote could impeach the Head if there is probable cause to suspect they cannot continue their job and present an acceptable game.  This is working so far at Oklahoma State so if you think it would work for you then it's a good start.
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blendent24


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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2012, 09:06:54 AM »

"Those who love what they do will always find themselves in a stumble prepaid debitcard service. They only need to get up, and look beyond to get over it"

Is that enough for the sage words? You could try setting a new strategy, a new rule, or things like that. And if nothing comes to mind, you can always take a short break and get over your mental (decreased passion induce) block. Find new ways to be excited, maybe because of the new mix of players and such
« Last Edit: September 18, 2012, 12:27:17 PM by blendent24 » Logged
Walljack47


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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2012, 01:27:05 AM »

I have never had this problem, but have had mods under me who did. My advice is to get back to basics. Do research ( but the fun kind like watching zombie land or just peruse this site) for new ideas. Best mods are excited mods, not always happy mods ( one I knew did his best mod work while angry at all the players in the game, trying to kill all the humans off, and afterward loved the game). Remember why you started playing. Also, picking a guy or gal close to what you want to take after you, and get them to do a lot of the leg work, and just make the big choices yourself, and 'guide' them in the right way.remeber in teaching we learn more then we ever thought we would.
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Doctor
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2012, 10:36:09 AM »

I currently run the Kutztown game and last fall was the first time our game got over 100 people participating. Usually we had between 50 to 80 people depending on weather and semester. When we jumped to 170 people with absolutely no buildup, the mod staff was overwhelmed. We only had 4 mods and we were totally unprepared for the consequences of most of the club never playing before.

Not only did the new players not fully understand out rule set [we have many rules unique to KU], but many of our veteran players resented the new crop. This resulted in a lot of rage on both sides and all of the complaints got funneled to me. Over the first 3 days of our game [we play for 30 days], I received around 150 pieces of communication at ALL hours of the day an night somehow complaining about another player.

I snapped [a table or two may have been flipped] and questioned if I even wanted to still participate in HvZ. If the players couldn't go 3 days without making me crazy how could they go the whole month? Luckily I had awesome support from the other mods. After taking a week long break from play, and then removing myself as a playing mod in general, I was able to keep my sanity and continue to be involved in the organization.

If you feel like you need a break, I would suggest not trying to power through frustration as I did. Talk to your fellow mods and let them know your concerns and that you're taking a break so you can continue to love what you're doing. When I sat back and watched everyone else play and love the game, it reminded me why I joined and why I chose to run the thing in the first place.
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Jongscx


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« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2012, 01:54:45 AM »

Yeah, I tried to run a game by myself for our small college... by the third day, I had started drinking and was starting to rethink my life choices and an 8 yr relationship... it was bad.

Thankfully, I was able to find 2 random players and forcibly turned them into admins/mods.  We're recruiting more to distribute the workload.

We're on our third game coming up in 3 weeks.
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Mr. Three
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« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2012, 01:18:09 PM »

Ultimately, I lucked out in recruiting a trio of highly motivated, enthusiastic new moderators from the sophomore class to hand off my administration to. The transition process was a little ugly, with symptoms of my burnout showing but it all worked out rather well (one of the best games ever and a record (for Berea) 130 players) and now I exist in an advisory capacity to HvZ. It's awesome not being Admin anymore, because now I can call out cheating, punk-ass bitches, whiners, etc. with as much venom as I can muster without threatening the game. I'm back to being a grizzled vet instead of a baby sitter!
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 01:26:19 PM by Mr. Three » Logged

Berea College, KY
Proud member of Z Squad
Quote from: Dyslexda
Water on darts? Certainly would be banned
But now I'm mad that I got trolled so I'm going to ban you anyway.
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