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The Guild Counsel: Proof that it's more than just a game

Karen Bryan

I'll admit, last week's poll was a surprise for me. For those of you who missed it, I asked which philosophy describes each reader's playstyle: "the brotherhood" or "the game." The former won with a fairly large margin of victory, which I didn't expect given that our community here is one that tends to focus on games as the main topic of conversation. As it turns out, almost 60% of the Massively community loves MMOs but also loves the bonds that come from them.

Looking back over the past year, I think there were actually many stories that highlighted the player behind the pixel and reaffirmed our belief that we are indeed part of a brotherhood even if we don't always see it in our MMOs. This week's Guild Counsel is a recap of some of those gaming stories, and I believe even the most die-hard "game-focused" player will agree that there are moments when it really is more than just a game.

SOE player panels

SOE Live this past fall marked the first time that player panels were included in the lineup, and the ones I had a chance to cover were a terrific beginning. Those in attendance got to hear from military veterans on their efforts to build a community for servicemen and women. We also heard from guild leaders and fansite operators as they shared their experiences managing their respective communities. Ironically, the week before that, I attended a panel at GDC Online by SOE community director Linda "The Brasse" Carlson about her lessons in managing the SOE player community. The one strand of truth I found running through all the talks is that each speaker's end goal was to help create a fun experience for everyone who's a part of the community. It might be done with spreadsheets and networking or it might be through goat farming, but regardless of the methods and despite the job titles, I think everyone is on the same page at the end of the day. Or at least, that's the way it appeared at 2 a.m. (just three hours before my cab to the airport) at the Kelethin Bar on the last night of SOE Live.

Sean Smith

See this political third rail? I'm moving as far away from it as I can right now because I want to stay away from the politics of the Benghazi attack and focus on the loss of Sean Smith (aka Vile Rat to gamers). In EVE Online, he left a lasting legacy, and there are many in-game tributes as a result. Out of game, most of us will never know the full details of his mission or what happened, but he died while serving our country, and he left behind a wife, two children, and a following of gamers who will always be in his debt. I don't play EVE much, but I still felt a connection when I read the news report here at Massively, and I think we all felt a loss when we heard what had happened at the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. He was a gamer, one of us, and the response from the Massively community to news of what happened shows that we all felt a genuine sadness.

The Guild Counsel Proof that it's more than just a game
WoW speed dating video

Here's what I love about the World of Warcraft speed dating video: Shy guy sits on his hands until girl volunteers the fact she plays online games. Shy guy breathes heavily knowing this girl has something in common with him and he has a chance to impress. Shy guy then tosses out that he was in Method, one of the top guilds in WoW. Following the video's release, his claim has been questioned, but whether or not it's true, it's not really surprising that a guy would boast a bit to woo a woman. The real gem of the video was that for almost a whole minute, every non-gamer was stupefied trying to understand what the two of them were saying and why they were as jazzed as they were. And you can't even chalk it up to the British accent. Kids today!

Officer's Quarters

Scott Andrews marked five years of the Officers' Quarters weekly column at WoW Insider this past year. For those who haven't read his column, the short description is that he offers practical solutions to common problems in guild management. The between the lines, though, is that he provides a compassionate voice in an otherwise starchy (and borderline antisocial) world. Here's to the next five years because we all need Andrews' voice to nudge us in the right direction.

The Guild Counsel Proof that it's more than just a game

A thoughtful boy on a little Mickey-Mouse chair. If there's one image this year that both breaks the heart and inspires, it's that of Ribbitribbitt. Most of us play in worlds where fight makes right, where wolves hunt sheep, and where stats are devoured like baseball scores on a morning newspaper. I saw some of the most hardcore players on my server (Guk) come together and coordinate with some of the most hardcore players on other servers who paid for transfers to help build a tribute home to Ribbitribbitt. The result was much bigger and nothing short of amazing. At the time, we all knew from his mother's brave post that his time was short, but I'd like to think that the incredible turnout from the EverQuest II community helped give Ribbitribbitt and his family a brief break from tragedy. And I cling to the thought that he's got his very own playground and roller coaster up in heaven. In an MMO world that resembles the Wild West, the innocence of Ribbittribbitt and his ability to bring gamers together was something everyone should learn from.

The Guild Counsel Proof that it's more than just a game
Seven Samurai

This was one of the first columns I did this past year, but it's one of my favorites because I love the film and think it works really well with guild roles. The movie is almost 60 years old, but the story and character breakdown are classic, especially for budding guild leaders. I was lucky enough to have each of the different player types from the Seven Samurai in my guild, but even if you don't, there are many great lessons in leadership in the film that are valuable to any guild leader. Even the "sincere loose cannon" can be an important figure in your guild. Now pass the popcorn!

At the end of the day, we all are part of the larger MMO community, we all feel a loss at sad news like the stories above, we all share an understanding laugh at funny moments within our circle, and we all share a common faith that the ties we make are valid. Our fellow players are worth getting to know. For those that believe in the brotherhood, make it a quest to find them. (And please let me know any time you do!)

Do you have a guild problem that you just can't seem to resolve? Have a guild issue that you'd like to discuss? Every week, Karen Bryan takes on reader questions about guild management right here in The Guild Counsel column. She'll offer advice, give practical tips, and even provide a shoulder to lean on for those who are taking up the challenging task of running a guild.

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