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Samhain's Zergwatch

Samhain's Zergwatch is a blog that started in 2006 on a different gaming community server and has since evolved into, a place to gather my twisted thoughts on the whole mess. Explore the oozing underbelly of gaming with me.

Author: zergwatch

GuildCafe - The MySpace for Gamers

Posted by zergwatch Tuesday March 11 2008 at 1:06PM
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Here's an article I wrote over the weekend, but I was not too sure if it was suitable for because I don't want to step on anyone's toes and they might view GuildCafe as a competitor.  If this is the case, please let me know and I will remove the article.   I'm pretty sure the two services don't overlap in anyway besides forums.. but every site has forums I guess.


In last week's WebWatch feature, we took a look at the web based MMORPG ForumWarz. This week, we shift gears from the insanely absurd world of online forum trolling to the future of online gaming social networking at GuildCafe.

GuildCafe is a social networking website for people who play multiplayer online video games. While the website has often been branded as the MySpace or Facebook for online gamers, this branding is not a completely accurate description of what GuildCafe really is.

Founded in 2006 by GuildCafe Inc, led by Jon Radoff and Angela Bull, GuildCafe is not just a place where gamers can go to create their own personal gaming space on the internet. GuildCafe is a tightly interconnected social community where gamers, guilds and clans, bloggers and industry professionals come together to share ideas and information about nearly everything that is online gaming. Unlike MySpace or Facebook, the overall community interaction at GuildCafe takes precedence over individual one on one communications which are the backbone of those services.

Jon Radoff and Angela Bull are no strangers to building successful online communities. In 1991, Jon created one of the first commercial MMORPG's, Legends of Future Past on CompuServe which saw service until 2000. Jon and Angela also ran a very successful MMORPG gaming community called RPK (Ruthless Professional Killers) a PK oriented gaming guild with over 1,000 members across dozens of games through the years. RPK was known throughout the games they played as a no nonsense and well respected top notch gaming guild, a tradition they take with them to GuildCafe.

GuildCafe has been in an open beta since the Fall of 2006 as the staff works feverishly on new site enhancements, feature updates and integration with API services provided by game developers such as Blizzard's WoW Armory. No official launch date has been set.

In 2007, GuildCafe received a reported $600,000 in seed funding from Boston based IDG Ventures and expanded it's online portfolio in November of 2007 by acquiring Uberguilds, a network of gaming websites which includes several flourishing high profile niche gaming communities. In a move that bridged the gap between GuildCafe being one of the most technically superior online gaming social platforms and GuildCafe being a successful gaming social community, the company hired Sanya Weathers, a long time MMORPG community relations manager for Ultima Online, Dark Age of Camelot and Warhammer: Age of Reckoning. GuildCafe also hosts a popular GuildWars tournament called the RAWR Cup.

One of the key features of GuildCafe is its Gamer DNA Panel (sample profile), a profile management suite where users can fully customize their game playing history, provide detailed information about their in game characters from a list of MMORPG's, guild associations, photo gallery and manage their gaming friends lists. On the backend, the information players enter in the Gamer DNA Panel become industry trending statistics that can be used by game developers and players to get a snapshot of what games people are playing, how long the played them for and what games people are looking forward to.

Once a person creates their GuildCafe account, they begin participating in the community by posting blogs, interacting in the community forums, making friends, giving others respect, inviting friends and gaining respect from others. Most activities on GuildCafe translate into GuildCafe Fame, or experience. The more a member interacts and contributes to the community, the more Fame they are awarded which is similar to the familiar MMORPG process of leveling your character through the ranks of GuildCafe and one day becoming a "Famous" community member or even becoming a GuildCafe Champion or Conquerer.

GuildCafe also offers online gaming Guilds and Clans free and easy to use guild management tools which include player rosters, forums, recruiting tools and other tools to create guild branding and awareness on the internet. Players can use GuildCafe to find other people with similar online interests, search for the perfect guild or just socialize with one another.

When you log in to GuildCafe, you are presented with a dashboard interface that gives you a generalized overview of your personal GuildCafe community space. Here, you can track what your friends have been up to with the Frendship feed, check out recent popular photo gallery images, read up on hot gaming news topics and see what's going on with any guilds or groups you are associated with.

Other notable features included with GuildCafe is the favorites system, which is a Digg style news submission engine where community members can submit interesting news and engage in open discussions about the event or news. GuildCafe is the home of the BartleTest, gaming's most notable gaming psychology survey to see just what kind of gamer you and your friends are. GuildCafe also offers blog services, online chat, shoutbox and forums.

GuildCafe has the potential to become the primary social community for online gamers on the internet and they are well on their way to doing just that. The tools provided by GuildCafe are very practical and useful for gamers seeking to build their own online gaming communities and to interact with the overall community.

I thoroughly enjoy using GuildCafe. To be able to interact with old gaming friends and foes in a neutral setting is quite refreshing. One of the areas I think GuildCafe can improve on is how to bring totally unlreated online gaming circles closer together. While this problem goes beyond GuildCafe into the psyche of gamers being creatures with pack mentality, there needs to be a way to build better bridges within GC. Without those bridges, the overall community is just a collection of unreleated and isolated communities.

GuildCafe focuses most of their attention on the "Online Gaming Universe", but to become the standard social outlet for all online gamers, the site needs to go beyond their current reach of the MMORPG and embrace other valid forms of multiplayer online gaming experiences to truly win over the hearts and minds of the Multiplayer Online Gaming masses.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds for GuildCafe. In the race to become the standard social gaming community or as some say "The MySpace of Gaming", the odds are heavily in favor of GuildCafe.