Talk about teamwork: The First Responders-H bring pack pride to Lightning's Blade (US) in a big way. This two-and-a-half-year-old, multi-game clan had cleared most of Black Temple prior to Wrath's launch, is digging into Naxxramas with a vengeance and, beyond WoW, maintains a well known and successful XBox team.
Their tactics: military precision – literally. The First Responders are primarily firefighters, medics, police officers and military personnel. The guild accepts civilians on a case-by-case basis, emphasizing common attitudes about teamwork rather than the usual min/maxing or gear focus of other guilds. While their nontraditional schedules may dampen progression speed, it certainly doesn't dampen their enthusiasm or guild pride.
15 Minutes of Fame: How are The First Responders different from your typical WoW raiding guild?
Paradin, overall leader of The First Responders: I had been working as an EMT for just a few years at that point, but I had already realized how disciplined, respectful and fun-loving my co-workers were. I started the team as an attempt to bring the attitudes and discipline of the people that I respect the most -- firefighters, EMTs, medics, police officers and military personnel -- into online gaming.
The principles of honor, integrity, compassion, accountability, professionalism and respect are a part of our mission statement, and they are at the very core of what we expect from our members.
The First Responders has been gaming together for a good handful of years now. How did you get started as a clan?
We originally started as a group in January 2004 as an XBox Live team. I searched for people to help me and found four others while cruising the Ubisoft forums for Rainbow Six 3, which was the most popular game out for XBL at that time. They understood the principles I was going for, and together we dug in and started searching for more.
And what sparked the creation of a WoW branch?
After doing very well winning a few championships and picking up a few sponsors, we received a request from one company we were working with to start becoming involved in PC gaming. They wanted to work with a more "diverse" group. Our WoW guild was initially started up as a request from a potential sponsor, so we humored them.
Today, we have well over 100 members playing from six different countries that represent each branch of our military, including police and fire/rescue from other countries such as the RCMP of Canada (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). We've grown very slowly, but as a whole we are very proud of what TFR has become.
What's the philosophy behind limiting the number of civilian members in TFR?
There has occasionally been the misconception that we don't allow any civilians into our team, which is entirely untrue. We learned very early on that we couldn't function without the stability of others who have a more normal schedule.
However, we are very choosy about the civilians who join the team. They have to show they understand the concept of why we are here, understanding that we don't base success around the speed of progression but the friendships to be found while getting there. I won't pretend to say this is a guild for everyone, but those civilians who can show they belong are truly valued and treated just like everyone else. Some of our most key and influential members are our civilians. They are an exception, so we expect those guys to be truly exceptional -- and they are.
Does TFR have a core group of players who know each other in real life, or are most of the relationships virtual?
In general, I would say the relationships are mostly virtual. There are certain areas of the country where we have a lot of members who live near each other, such as New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida. I have breakfast after work with Tarmac, the GM of our guild, to discuss how things are going every Thursday.
In addition, once a year we have a team meeting where we can all come together, both WoW and XBL, and just hang out for a weekend. We have been doing this every year with great success since we started, and it really is a great way to connect with people. Our next meeting will be around Memorial Day next year in Chicago.
What are the special gaming needs and challenges of public safety and military players?
A lot of patience and a weird sense of humor. These men and women see the worst aspects of life every day they go to work, so their sense of humor can be a little warped at times.
The biggest challenge is when members get deployed or called into work from a disaster. Any time you see something like that on the news (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, etc.), it usually means we're having a hard time at that particular moment.
Do you have many military members who play from overseas?
We actually had a few guys just return home from overseas, after serving a tour with the Army. They were able to adjust their patrol schedules and other responsibilities so that they were online and able to attend raids. We have other members stationed in Japan and Afghanistan who try their best to attend as many things as possible.
In light of all the crazy, overlapping work schedules of your members, how do you pull off a raiding schedule?
Our base raid schedule is Thursday through Saturday, for about three hours each night. We seldom get the same group to raid every night, so we rely on people that can step up, fill positions and be prepared. Being as organized and prepared as possible is the key.
Do the schedule limitations affect progression?
Because we don't raid for as long as most of the other big time guilds on our server (such as Aftermath or Timeless), our progression is very slow in comparison -- which is completely okay with us. We aren't trying to compete with anyone and aren't trying to race through the content as quickly as possible just to prove how fast it can be done.
Come to think of it, there are a few others that do that as well! The ones I can think of have named their 'toons based on heart rhythms (Asystole/Aflutter), medications that medics typically carry in their drug boxes (Lidocaine/Adenosine), or tools a firefighter works with (Nomex/Haligan). Guess we aren't the most imaginative people, just naming our 'toons after whatever happens to be laying around at work!
Tell us a little about your X-Box Live team.
Our XBox division is led by FR Mephisto, who oversees its general direction. Those guys are typically very competitive compared to our WoW guild, and they work very hard to practice and get communication and movements just right. They're won several championships over the years in various leagues they're played in. They're the smaller part of our team but the most tenured. They are mainly focused on Call of Duty 5, for the time being.
Sounds like a solid group of people to shoulder up with in game.
If anyone is interested in joining us, they are more than welcome to catch one of us in game or go to TeamFirstResponders.com for more information. Thank you so much for the interview!
Continued success to the whole group!