Flameseeker Chronicles: The pros and cons of multiple guild membership

Yay guilds!
ArenaNet may have increased the speed of Guild Wars 2 reveals in a big way, but we've still got a long-running question that's not been answered: How will guilds work?

In a game where guilds are an important-enough feature to be included in the game's name, it's natural that we'd be very eager to know how they fit in. We still don't have many details, but last week we got one very important one. The ArenaNet crew made an announcement regarding guilds at PAX: "Guild membership is account wide, and you can add as many guilds as you like. You will be able to choose, at any time and on any character, which guild chat you are viewing and what guilds you are currently affiliated with." (Hat tip to Elixabeth at TalkTyria.)

This is an exciting development, and it's spurred a lot of talk in the GW2 community, so I want to take a closer look. Follow along the jump and let's talk guilds in Guild Wars 2!

The good

On the whole, I absolutely love this idea. Ravious had a lot to say about why this development makes so much sense, and if you haven't read his take, I highly recommend you do so. I'd like to add some thoughts to his.

Like I said before, we don't know a ton about how guilds will work in GW2, but the big factor that will carry over is the human element. I've seen several instances in the current game when the single-guild system has caused a bit of strife: Longtime guild members have left the guild for a period of weeks or months to join guilds that would help them get a difficult title or expensive items more quickly, and there was resentment from those "left behind." People muttered various versions of "What's your hurry?" or "OK, so we're only good enough when we can give you stuff for your account, huh?" It's easy to feel an implied rejection when that happens, and I know it's happened in many other guilds and alliances. It's not that anyone intended that or felt that way, but there's that human element again.

The ability to have multiple guilds eliminates this. If you want to join a social guild with your friends, great! If you want to join a farming guild to farm... whatever it is we'll be farming in Guild Wars 2, you can do that too. If you want to join a hardcore dungeon-running guild, there's room.

An offshoot of that advantage is the racial issue. People have been wondering for a long time about the juxtaposition of roleplay, lore, and the various playable races, particularly given the history behind each one. What if you wanted a Sylvari-only guild? How would alts work if we were tied to an account-based system like we have now? That problem is pretty much eliminated with this, much to the delight of those who wanted to create their own Charr warband or Asura college but not be tied down to that and that alone.

It's great to see ArenaNet work out a setup that acknowledges that just because a player is very interested in one aspect of gameplay or roleplay, it's not his or her only interest.

Finally, this settles the question of "which guild will you be in when Guild Wars 2 launches?" This is the one that really hit home for me. People have been asking me for a long time whether MVOP will carry over into GW2, and frankly, I've avoided the question. I love MVOP and want to carry it over, but I maintain two accounts: My MVOP account, which I purchased for the sole purpose of starting the Massively guild, and my main account, which I've had for four and a half years.

The latter account is in a guild that I am extremely devoted to. I've talked about that guild before and how much I love my "family" there. We play together, sure, but we also cheer one another on, encourage one another during real-life hard times, fight, make up, and get together in person when time and distance allow. I hate the thought of not being with them in GW2, but I hate the thought of not being a part of MVOP as well. I wasn't sure what to do. My time is very limited, so maintaining two accounts will be pretty much impossible.

I can't possibly be the only person with that dilemma, and it was pretty exciting to see that eliminated with this announcement. So to those of you wondering about MVOP in Guild Wars 2, I can now give you a firm yes!

The bad... maybe

Nothing is perfect, and while I love the upcoming guild system wholeheartedly, I'd be remiss not to address a few potential downsides. I don't see anything inherently bad about what ANet has planned, but there's that darn human element again!

People being what they are -- only human -- I worry that there will be a rivalry to be everyone's favorite guild. I think that no matter how much people like their various guilds, it's impossible not to have one that they spend the most time with. People have limited time and various interests, and unless you break out an egg timer and some spreadsheets, it will be physically impossible to give each of your guilds equal time and attention.

I can easily see most players having a main guild and a handful of secondary guilds, maybe switching favorites occasionally as interests and goals shift around over time. In theory, that's absolutely fine because it's nothing against the people in the guild. It's a personal decision about gameplay.

Unfortunately, it's very easy for the other guild members and leaders to feel slighted, particularly in large active guilds where someone's always saying, "Hey, I'm going to go do such-and-such, anyone want to join?" After several answers of "Sorry, going to play with my other guild right now," there could be some hurt feelings or resentment.

Am I overthinking it? Possibly. However, I've seen it happen more than once, and I wouldn't rule out the possibility of guilds responding to this sort of thing by jockeying for position in their members' personal heirarchies.

What's the solution? I honestly don't know if there is one. People have feelings, and sometimes they get a little bruised, albeit unintentionally. People also have egos and pride in their guilds, and sometimes they need to be fed. (That's not bad in and of itself, but it can lead to problems.)

It's a potential downside that can't be pinned on ArenaNet but is likely going to happen here and there in various social circles. That sort of bumping into one another is common in any ongoing social situation.

In the end, it makes me happy that this is the only big downside I can find -- and even that is only a potential problem. Overall I'm very anxious to know more, but I feel we're off to a great start with this.

Now, as always, it's your turn! I'd love to hear what you guys think and what you hope for. Hit the comment button and let's talk.

Rubi is a longtime Guild Wars player and the writer of Flameseeker Chronicles here at Massively. The column keeps a close eye on all the events in Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, and anything bridging the two. It's also the home of a weekly summary of the travels of [MVOP], Massively's Guild Wars guild. Email Rubi at rubi@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.