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The Think Tank: What do you look for in a guild?

Shawn Schuster

Guilds are what make MMOs. It's that social interaction among real people that defines a massively multiplayer experience, but our guild preferences differ greatly. Some of us like to stick with the same guild throughout multiple games, some of us only play with real-life friends, and some of us seek out new guilds as part of the adventure in each new game.

The Massively staff is certainly no different as we all have our own way of interacting with guilds in the MMOs we love so much. How do you think each team member likes his or her social interaction? Follow along after the jump to find out.

The Think Tank What do you look for in a guild
I would love to join any guild in any game, but I feel bad because I have to skip around enough thanks to columns like Rise and Shiny that I cannot spend that much time with one group. Most of the guilds I come across concentrate on gaining levels or conquering content, and rarely things like roleplay meetings or simple hangouts. Still, the guild is the backbone of the MMO if you ask me. I really enjoy playing with others in game, I would just love to find one that has members that are willing to try out many different titles with a few constants that we meet up with once a week or so.
The Think Tank What do you look for in a guild
I've been in basically the same guild with a few name changes since back when MMO guilds were still called clans and you had to append your guild tag to your character name because actual in-game guilds weren't a thing designers designed for. My guild has literally been through everything. The pressure is low and the drama is non-existent. They're my BFFs.

The last time I looked for a new "guild," though, it was in Glitch, which was the first game I'd played that allowed you to join multiple guilds, called groups. (This is assuming you don't count Asheron's Call's monarchy system, of course.) Association with groups was so informal that I just sort of went through the lists and started joining interesting ones: a trader-centric one, a treasure-hunter one, and so on. I very much hoped Guild Wars 2's multi-guild system would be the same, but I've just never felt comfortable joining a second guild in a Serious Combat MMORPG, knowing my first loyalty would always be to my original guild. Maybe there are whole "second-choice" guilds out there who'd have me part-time -- I don't know!

Instead of multi-guilding, I usually build up my friends list through alliances and PUGs, which is why it's so, so important to me that the game have a good group-finder. If my guild vanished tomorrow, I guess I'd be navigating those contacts and the Massively staffers to try to find another new multi-game guild that would tolerate my game-hopping and weird obsessive need to cook in all MMOs. Fortunately, I don't think I'll ever have to go looking!
The Think Tank What do you look for in a guild
I look for guilds that have a dozen or so active members who play at consistent times every week, preferably three to five nights at a minimum if I like the game and I'm not just playing it for work. I'm also picky about websites. It's not always true, but I find that the guilds that take the time to set up nice-looking forums and/or a site with an original skin that isn't an Enjin retread are usually invested enough in the game to a) be good at it and b) not prone to bailing for the next MMO launch. Bonus cool points are awarded to guilds that avoid latin names and the phrase "tight-knit."

Looking for a good guild is a continuous exercise in disappointment, honestly. I envy the folks who are part of what I like to call small-town guilds because, by and large, the MMO community doesn't want to be a community. It just wants to use guild XYZ to get bonus 123 as quickly as possible because it's too busy with blah blah blah to actually experience the full potential of MMOs.
The Think Tank What do you look for in a guild
I look for a guild that has standards but isn't elitist. Generally, if I know people who are playing a game, I'll ask if they have a good guild, but if not, I'll go around asking for a "mature, friendly, and helpful guild." I find that those keywords, more often than not, help to attract the kind of interest that I'm interested in. Once in a blue moon I'll do some website research, but I'm turned off from a guild if there's a lengthy application or a requirement to use their forum. Listen guys, I play lots of MMOs and write about them; I don't have time to hang out on your message boards every day.
The Think Tank What do you look for in a guild
I am a purpose-driven gamer, so I join purpose-driven player organizations. The corp or guild or clan goals have to line up with my personal goals as a player. In World of Warcraft, I ran with hardcore raiding guilds because I was a hardcore raider. In EVE, I chill with casual industrial corps because I like to log in, mine, and sit quietly without pressure to do much of anything else. In games like World of Tanks or RIFT, where I have zero cares to give, I don't bother with joining anything at all. I don't play MMOs to socialize; I play them as a break from my exceedingly cluttered life.

This may go against the grain, but I'm not playing MMOs (or any games) to make friends. I'm playing them for a specific experience, and whatever guild delivers that experience is the guild I join. Don't much care if the people in it are jerks, friendlies, hardcores, or casuals. If I can get by in an MMO without dealing with other players, that's often the path I choose. I've always been a single-player person at heart and tend to view MMOs from the same perspective. It takes something special to engage me in the social aspect of an online game because most of the time there's nothing I care about less than a bunch of internet strangers who bought the same game I did.

That's not to say I haven't made friends in a game. It's just that building a social network isn't of critical importance to me in playing an MMO. This feeling is probably enhanced by the fact that none of my real-life friends play MMOs, and only a couple play games at all.

Strangely enough, I almost always play as support or healing classes. Make of that what you will.
The Think Tank What do you look for in a guild
Man, I don't even know. This question is so hard for me. To be honest, I prefer casual guilds -- the kind with people totally unlike me. However, I also prefer guilds with a standard of conduct and respect, and I think the only guilds that actually enforce those are really hardcore elitist raiding guilds. I prefer guilds where people like other people and caustic elements are removed. Also I really do like GW2's multiguild system in theory, but I'm so asocial that I haven't really bothered with it. Also, I am totally on board with hating requirements -- when a guild wants me to download two different VOIP programs and register on their forums, I am pretty much done with that.
The Think Tank What do you look for in a guild
It varies for me. I have a small group of friends who all play together in each new MMO that launches, and my priority goes to them. But if they're not currently playing a game I'm into, I'll seek out a random guild and try to see how I fit. I've made some good friends this way.

In real life, I am constantly leading and directing, whether it's at one of my jobs or at home with the kids, so in-game I like to be a follower who just sits back and takes commands. This works well with new guilds and doesn't cause any sort of conflict or guild drama -- just the way I like it.
The Think Tank What do you look for in a guild
Since my very first experience with a fleet in Star Trek Online was an absolute nightmare, I became very gun-shy about joining a new group. Months after I left the "evil fleet," several of its nicest former members talked me into joining a new, smaller fleet, and I haven't looked back since. We have a group in most of the games we play now, and I love the fact that it's an extremely low-pressure situation. I'm not expected to do anything , which makes it very fun to celebrate when we can do something together! There's only one game this group does not have a presence in and that's Lord of the Rings Online. When I began to play LotRO, I was forced to go shopping for a kin for the first time in two years.

I cannot stand groups of people who leach some sort of power-trip over what is essentially a coffee klatsch in a video game. I prefer groups of people who love to just "hang out" together and help each other with raids, missions, quests and builds. I do not abide by threats and schedules; it's my time, not that of the guild/kin. If I am able to attend an event, then I am. If I am not, I'm not. I hate guilt trips and I hate pressure -- of any kind.

So when I do look for a guild, I have determined that no glitzy website is indicative of the group's true nature. It ends up being a ritual of trial-and-error for me. But when I do find a good fit, I am beyond loyal because my fleet/kin mates have eventually become my "real-life" friends which is what makes the games so much fun for me. Whether we just hang out on Risa and dance, do fashion shows by the tailor (while we share stories of our day on Ventrilo), or decide to do a chicken run or kill a big-ass turtle, I want to do it with people who make me happy.

What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the carest of the carebears, so expect some disagreement! Join Senior Editor Shawn Schuster and the team for a new edition right here every other Thursday.

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