Did you know this term has a Wiki page? No seriously, it states that:
"In computer and video gaming, a clan or guild is an organised group of players that regularly play together in a particular (or various) multiplayer games. These games range from groups of a few friends to 1000-person organizations, with a broad range of structures, goals and members. " --- Wiki
Afterwards it goes loosely into some overview on how they exist in games, but that's pretty much about it. But what really is a guild, and what does it stand for? What does it mean to be a part of a Guild and what do people expect from joining in the first place? Why do people seek guilds?
All I really have to pull from are my own experiences as a member, officer, and leader of guilds. Over the years I've been in and out of many of these gaming organizations and I have to say I've certainly witnessed their evolution. Perhaps too often I have purposely looked in the other direction as some of these guilds began to change and alter their structure, seeking success in many different ways. Maybe I just couldn't believe it was happening, or maybe I just didn't want to see it.
Tell me this, when did the running a Guild like a Business become a good idea? Well first, I suppose it'll help to tell you when that began to be popularized in the first place. The idea came from more Sandbox style games like Final Fantasy XI [October 2002] and EVE Online [May 2003]. Okay you can potentially argue it all started in Everquest, but really it blossomed and evolved into absolute ritual perfection within FFXI and EVE Online, so we're starting there.
In a previous forum post on MMORPG, I expressed my dismay about Why I Hate Raiding, and eventually this will work it's way back into this blog. But to summarize, I state that the whole reason of why I hate Raiding was: Guilds. These games were originally designed for people to play together and have a good time doing it, but somewhere along the line the idea of perfection and efficiency was more important than fun. Because back then the economies of FFXI and EVE were so real, that the capitalistic pursuit of the all mighty dollar became everyone's number one goal.
Fantasy began to mirror the bitter the taste of reality...
I come from a different time. I come from a time when online multiplayer was never really heard of, and when it finally came into being with the ingeiuous invention of the MPlayer.com Network, the inevitable occured --- people began to form Guilds and Clans. I myself jumped between several of these Clans in the game MechWarrior 2, and the structure that we put together was both fun and investing. Since it was a first-person mech simulator, we didn't have much to achieve other than the display of our own skill. We utilized the online Clan structure to give us reason to play, and give us goals to achieve.
Back then, MechWarrior 2 had no real online modes. There were no capture the flags, no bases to control, no territories to own -- no. We made all of that up, we created out of own Meta-Verse which evolved into Mech Warrior 4 some several years later. We used the game as a platform for a large Paper-&-Pen game we were playing between different organization and clans, warring over different plants that strangely looked alike.
We had structure and organization, ranks and leaders. The most of extreme of which adopted military practice and terminology, but never really became more demanding than the occasional Practice and Clan Battle that would happen on a weekly basis. But in all of this, we all treated everyone as equals. Even those who were seen as leaders and officers were just members who wanted to give a little more, and in the end all the choices that would effect the guild were made by everyone -- not just the leadership branch.
These guilds ranged in many, many people, often nearly a hundred most of the time. Indeed, it took a little while to make a decision, but we felt that everyone needed to have a voice because we were all playing together and all trying to cooperate and share the fun. Because that was the point, it was fun. If there were disputes between members, instead of letting there be a lot of drama, we tried to make a game out of it. If we had members who couldn't agree or wouldn't do well together, we'd put them in game and force them to fight each other to work out their differences. It was much better than letting them stew it up. They would litterally work out their anger on one another on the field of battle, and often it ended rather well.
Whoever won the battle, won the arguement. Simple. Really simple! And it worked. That's what important.
Now, there are many guilds who will not accept any form of disruption in their members. They will quitely document and take notice, only to eventually pull down those offending members into private channels and judge them in an exclusion miniority of the Guild's management and quitely pass sentence on individuals without the knowledge of the rest of the guild. Members can be there one day and vanish the next, and the vast bulk of the guild don't exactly know what happened because the Guild management only pretend the offending individuals never existed and just outright forget about them. Why? Because it's not good for business, that's why.
So why not just start your own guild? Why not just run it like you want to, and let people run theirs? Why does it matter to you?
It matters to me how Guilds are run these days, mainly because a lot of Guilds are not upfront about it. As a matter of fact, a lot of leaders think all guilds are run the exact same way and do not make an effort to really differ or become the true Community they should very well be. Instead they go on to believe that the only course of action is to run it like a well oiled business, and before long members may enlist to a guild feeling it is going one direction -- but instead strives for another. This a fault of the leadership, mainly because they do not properly explain thier true goals or do not feel they have to.
There several, several different types of Guilds of all different flavors. It all depends on who is manning the helm, but that does not mean that running a guild like a business a sound practice. I'm saddened really by people who feel they need to be Bosses and they need to promote people to Management, and then treat all incoming members like Employees that will service as the man power to fill the pockets of the Management and Bosses that will only make it down to the Employees if the Employees are good little puppies and do what they are told without question.
Sound familiar to you? Yeah, that's Trickle-Down-Economics and Social Darwinism.
Really, is this the only way Guilds can succeed? No, but this is how a lot of people do it now, especially since World of Warcraft dramatically popularized the structure with Raiding Guilds. People noticed that stern control and the treating their fellow gamers less like people and more like tools to reach their own desires was an efficient means to an end. This meant that the people of power would reep the most benefits, but continue to insist that their actions were for the betterment of everyone.
Gamers were no longer equals, and somewhere along the line the people who put together guilds wanted to set themselves up as being far more special than the other people they play with. You see, this is where things get merky. A lot of us have forgotten the reason we've started putting guilds together in the first place. We wanted to find people who enjoyed the same things we did, and we wanted to find greater enjoyment in what we loved with other people. We did not want to be better that others, we just wanted to share in the experience and have a good time doing it. We wanted to make friends, people we could trust to help us through thick-and-thin. The wanted a Band of Brothers, we wanted our own Fellowship of the Ring.
So has the ideas of guilds truly died? No, there are small pockets of people out there who do indeed want to retain the old ways of Guild making and game playing, without the aggressive need to be famous and better than every other guild out there -- to have THEIR guild talked about from all people. I write this now in reflection as I have found myself in a position where I've joined up with a Guild in April 2012 in hopes they would build more towards towards the old style. Starting in on the ground floor of it, I didn't see a lot of progression or rush to build the guild one way or another.
What happened though is that as the guild got bigger, the real image of what was happening began to rear its head. And sure enough, a guild-within-a-guild began to form as Officers began to become vast in number and they started to seperate themselves from the rest of the member base by hanging out in private rooms working on "Guild Business". And what did they say their reason for being in the locked room was? "Do employees join in on management meetings?"
The red flag had been erected. You see, if there any kind of business that the guild conducts, all members should make an effort to be a part of it. The people incharge should have greater trust in their membership, for why else would they seek to have people in their guild? Ask yourself this. If you are in a guild where a vast majority of the leadership hangs out in a locked room with nearly 10 or more people most of the time you're there, only to have them occasionally come down to tell you guys what you're going to do next --- does that make you happy?
Does it make you feel comfortable that hand picked select few can really discuss about what you're going to be doing when you play your game? Oh sure, you may be under the impression that you're doing it for the good of the guild, doing it for the good of everyone, to share in the benfits of everyone --- but is that really the case? Ask yourself this, when was the last time you recieved a paycheck from your guild master? What is your monthly salary? What is your average income other than the non-refundable Guild Point system that'll be stripped from you if you step out of line? Does that feel like a reward system, or a system that'll help to keep you in check through fear?
I suppose it is inevitable. I will have to put together my own guild again. For it seems that there a lot of people who just don't really know how to run a real community guild, mainly because they've never been exposed to the structure in the first place. So after all of this, what is next?
Well as some of you may have read in the nothing short of epic scale thread of mine, 15-Years and Still Searching, I'm looking for certain things. I'm no stranger to running Guilds, and one of the real difficulties I run into is just getting burned out. Working extremely hard to try and put together real, fun to play community is not easy. In many ways, putting together the Guild Business is actually far easier! Trying to ensure everyone is equal and has an equal say is by far easier said than done.
The last Guild I ran was in Fantasy Earth Zero, and the real positive experience from that was showing me just how successful to a well laid foundation can be. It can take time, but so can carving a structure of out stone instead of just choosing to mold it out of cement. As a person, as player, as a guild leader, I love to teach people and infrom them. I love to help people understand how to play something not just well, but really well. I'm not satisfied until they are of my skill level or better, are as well versed as I am, and are capable of being exact copies of me in a pinch -- skill wise that is.
I'm a mentor, a trainer. And people appreciate that sort of time it takes to really put something like that together. Because it does take time and patience to put it all together. So when I do start my next guild, it will begin in the very same way. I will find people who want to be taught, who feel they have something to learn, and want to learn and at the same time teach what they learn to others.
Guilds are a community effort, and it is up to the Guild Master to lay the foundations of that community and see that is populated, not to see that it is turning a profit. When the Guild Master needs a hand, it is the responsibilty of the members to lend a hand and ease the burden, and visa-versa. We are all trying to climb the mountain, and we all should be throwing in our ropes --- not forming a human ladder for people to climb up to the top on our backs.
So I'm saying it here and now, yes I am looking to put together a guild. And that Guild will be very much in the spirit of the old ways -- Fun. Guilds are not work, they are not a job, and as much effort as it takes to establish things it should be fun while doing it. Stress and tension should not be in the mix, and as long as everyone is really pulling their weight and all trying to see that everyone is having a good time with the effort then there really shouldn't be any problems. If there are problems, they can be worked out in ways which can involve the entire guild and if done right, try to keep it as a game --- not a reflection of reality.
So if you are reading this, and have managed to feel like perhaps what I've said so far has some truth --- then by all means, respond to this Blog. Provide your honest feedback and heck, even send me a message too. The real proof in the words I speak are in the reactions of those who read it, for if there is truth in them people will provide a positive reaction. The rest is up to you now, let's see what the community can really do.