It's not uncommon anymore for guilds to hold regular, real-life meetups. Even entire house party weekends aren't too far off the radar among groups who really relish the game and one another's company. But the bar set by <The Incredibles> of Boulderfist (US-A) is simply ... Well, it wouldn't be stretching things for the sake of a play on words to say the IncrediCon event has set the bar incredibly high. There's not a detail of these gatherings that's not related to World of Warcraft: picnics, banquets, over-the-top publicity posters, hotel welcome packages, game-themed menus -- even custom-designed, WoW-themed beer labels. (Talk about tossing one back with the guildies ...)
The pièce de resistance of each year's event, however, is clearly The Increddy, a golden statuette (à la Oscars) awarded to a guild volunteer or leader for service to the five-year-old group. We'll be featuring the Increddy and the dizzying array of other items created for Incredicon-related fun in next week's World of Warcrafts (previously planned for yesterday, but bumped so we could serve up some WoW-inspired menus for your Fourth of July celebration). This week, we talked to Increddy crafter and guild officer Theraven, pulling together our conversations into a Q&A-style look at the incredible Incredicon meetups.
Main character Theraven
Guild <The Incredibles>
Realm Boulderfist (US-A)
15 Minutes of Fame: OK, let's take this from the top -- what exactly is part of an IncrediCon?
Theraven: Every year or so, my hometown is host to a guild event called IncrediCon. We have a cookout, get together to hang out, play games and hand out door prizes, just to have fun together like we do in game. In the evening have an awards banquet. Most of these awards are voted on at the cookout, like Ambassador (the person there who most exemplifies the guild's community spirit in and out of game).
Sounds like something you've been doing for some time now.
A member ... mentioned on the guild forums that he'd like to come up from south Arkansas and visit us up here in Northwest Arkansas. So we all started talking, things started getting more and more involved, and from a 22-page thread, IncrediCon was born. Currently between 12%-15% of our guild is from Arkansas, so we had a willing and able volunteer force who was pivotal in making the inaugural event a smashing success.
So there's a lot of guild involvement in planning and executing the event?
Loxen, for example, designed both invitations that we put on the guild forum calendar thread, while Indegomonty, Tyrelius and Saulvon came through with vendor donations for door prizes and for cookout food -- being in the home courts of both the world's largest retailer and the world's largest protein provider has its advantages! For 2009, some awards were 22-oz. bottles of home brew (made by Saban and Alarick), and I designed the labels for those. Indegomonty made a (private) website for 2008 our convention pictures. Aesar served as our 2008 Alliance Grillmaster, and Alarick was the 2009 Grillmaster.
We had WoW-themed decorations, foods (like Warp Burgers, Ravager Dogs, Mok'Nathal Shortribs, and Runn Tum Tuber Surprise, with dessert being, of course, Delicious Chocolate Cake) and games such as guild trivia.
Sounds like a truly massive event!
The 2008 IncrediCon had about 25 people from all over the country; the 2009 IncrediCon easily doubled that, with people making the drive to Northwest Arkansas from both coasts and Canada! Our guild has around 250 people, with 429 characters, and we hope that even more can make it in the coming years.
Everyone who came received a welcome package in their hotel room at the Inn at the Mill, a local historic landmark. We were initially concerned because the staff played Horde, but they took really good care of us both years. One ended up re-rolling Alliance (before faction transfers were available) and later became an officer! Local non-Increds also saw our direction signs in town and came out looking for us, posting on the Boulderfist forums asking where it was! We even had a local NPR radio feature about the event.
For Cataclysm, we'll undoubtedly repeat the leveling contest we did for Wrath, and there will be some other in-game and forum contests we'll hold during the expansion ("Find the Furbolg" screenshot contest is a favorite, and we'll have completely new places to figure out). But I when I wrote that we were not having an event in 2010 due to Cataclysm, I meant that it was more a matter of logistics and time: We had originally planned to have IncrediCon this fall -- the leaves are pretty this time of year -- but we're figuring Cataclysm will be released around the September-November range, as well as BlizzCon happening in October. We want people to be able to enjoy the game that we've come together around.
Ultimately, we decided that because this expansion will be so unique in how it will change WoW, and because of the amount of time and expense (for us as well as those travelling here) that it takes to do even a medium-sized meeting right, the timing just wasn't right. Instead, we are going to hold off until probably spring of 2011 so that when we do get together, we can swap Cataclysm stories like, "Where were you when it came out?" and "Have you done this yet?" and either laugh or cry about city raids. Goofy geeky stuff like that, 'cause, you know, that's how we roll.
Our guild defies categorization. We are not a raiding guild, but raiding is part of what we do and do well. In vanilla WoW, we had two 40-man teams, getting to Naxxramas and BWL, respectively. In The Burning Crusade, we had many 10-mans and two regular 25-man raiding teams, with our main one defeating Illidan before the nerf. In Wrath of the Lich King, our 10-mans have either defeated the Lich King or are close, and our 25-man has defeated him. We are not a PvP guild, but we have members that excel at it. We are not an alt guild; we expect people to participate in our community. Hardcore and casual, whatever your interests are ... There's enough room for everyone.
Each coast had a pocket of charter members who were either acquainted or related, but our initial growth was just as much from randomly spamming invites as it was from people inviting their friends. Our first GM, Inderal, spammed invites in Ironforge and randomly got his first cousin! That trend continued over the years until Vexer put up the forums; now applicants are directed to the recruitment section of the guild forum website www.theincrediblesguild.com, which is a strong component of our community's development and continued success. We've since added folks from almost every state in the United States, with contingents in Canada, Australia and even Belgium.
We've been through a lot; through the years, the Incredibles Guild has experienced both joy -- couples have not only met in the guild, but one couple also got married -- and sorrow: In 2008, we found out that a former officer and active member committed suicide. RIP Hylian.
<The Incredibles> guild has been around for a long time, and a majority of the folks on our server have at one time or another been in our guild; raiding-wise, we've been a stepping stone for some. Some stay; I've only been in two guilds, for example, and The Incredibles is my last one. Some leave the game, the guild, the server for either personal or progression reasons -- and many of those come back (or try to). Those that do come back, and those that stay, are there for the community; the camaraderie is the single-most thing they say they miss. Those that are just after the purples or progression don't last long. There's some words on the Increddy box text that sums it up:
Be sure to catch World of Warcrafts this coming Monday for a look at The Increddy award and many of the other WoW-inspired prizes, promotionals and fun stuff created especially for the guild's annual gatherings.World of Warcraft is "just a game." <The Incredibles> is a community. If you don't understand that distinction, then you probably don't understand this guild.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players. These WoW players from all walks of life range from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to Olympic medalist Megan Jendrick ... from a quadriplegic player to a player who's racked up every achievement in the game.