Sunday, January 14, 2018

Join The Club

Belghast alerted me to an interesting post at Digital Initiative, which was also a new blog to me. I added it to the blog-roll. Then I read the post. It breaks down the typical guild membership by type and Tamrielo, the author, clearly speaks from experience.

It's been a long time since I was in an active guild that had more people in it than just Mrs Bhagpuss, myself and one or two others but I instantly recognized just about all of the personalities listed. I could put names to most of them - if I could only remember the names. Actually, I could go "Oh, that sounds just like that guy, remember him, oh what was his name? Always wore green and used to sit in Plane of Knowledge all day moaning nothing was as good as the old days..."

Reading through the list was a little disturbing. I felt like I was auditioning for the lead in one of those T.V. movies about multiple personality disorder - that's me, and that's me and, oh, wait, that's really me!

I would lay claim to being any guild's lead Things Explainer - one of the "good" ones, I'd like to think, although other opinions are no doubt available. I literally left a guild over a stand-up argument with the Raid Leader because my You Need Yours position was so unwavering. I could make a strong case for being labeled Side Projects and I have certainly played the Chill AF role to the hilt on occasion.

The sumptuous and largely forgotten interior of the Guild Initiative Office.
There's probably a smattering of several others in there from time to time. I was certainly The Positivity Canon for a while in Vanguard, when I was having the best time of my MMORPG life while all around me people were just praying they could get the game not to crash for five minutes in a row.  I've been the Backpack to Mrs Bhagpuss's Hiker in a few guilds, too.

There are a few categories I am pretty certain no-one could ever accuse me of representing. I do talk a lot in guilds but apart from that I'm no Socialite. Come to think of it, one category that's glaring in it's absence here is The Chatterbox. /em raises hand.

I'd like to think I've never been The Downer or The Griefer but sadly neither have I ever been The Ninja or Silent But Competent. (Noisy But Incompetent - now you're talking...or more likely I am, while we're wiping).

Not sure if this is decoration or fly-posting.
Although all of this seems very familiar from the increasingly distant past, I wonder how accurate it is in terms of current guild practice and experience? Do guilds even work this way any more?

My view may be colored by five and a half years in Guild Wars 2, where guild membership is a very malleable affair. Apart from my own guild, where I spend most of my time, and a bunch of "Bank Guilds" I made for storage, I'm in two fairly large guilds each numbering somewhere in the hundreds of active members. Neither of them seems remotely like any guild I was ever in outside GW2.

They seem to be relatively structureless for a start. There's a nominal hierarchy with names for the ranks but no-one seems to refer to it. If we have "officers" I have no idea who they are (and I've been in both guilds for several years now). Events, when they occur, seem to be ad hoc and while someone got us a guild hall and did a bang-up job decorating it I have no idea who that might have been or when it happened.

Despite my apparent disconnection, I remain a member in good standing and if it all seems fairly anonymous and impersonal then that's because it is. In GW2 you join guilds by your Account rather than by your character and each account can be in up to five guilds simultaneously. Since it's common to have more than one account (I have four) the number of guilds you can be in at the same time is potentially quite large.

It used to be that you had to "Represent" a guild (which means specify it as your active guild) and you could only speak in the Guild Chat of that guild. Guilds were also server-specific. Over time all that has gone. Now you can speak in the chat channel of any of your guilds and you can join guilds on any server.

The even more sumptuous interior of the even less-frequented Arena in the Windswept Haven Guild Hall.

I wonder if that dilutes the intensity, indeed the cabin fever, that used to characterize the clubhouse mentality of many guilds in the past? It must be much harder to develop and maintain the kind of obvious idiosyncratic character traits listed by Tamrielo in an environment where guild membership is so much more tangential and fractured.

Finally, a reason to visit!
It also removes that whole "I quit" drama that made guilds so enervating in the past. If you get fed up, or someone's annoying you, you can just start chatting in another guild and go play with them instead, then come back to the first when The Drill Sergeant or Ready To Go has logged out.

I certainly have never seen anything in the two large guilds I'm in that comes anywhere close to the kind of emotional hothousing that so strongly put me off guild life back in the mid-noughties. It's a far more relaxed, casual, laissez-faire experience than anything I remember from EverQuest or EQ2.

As I do my dailies in DCUO, slipping my Qwardian coins into my wallet as I save up for Krypto, I'm still getting random drive-by guild invites. I haven't yet accepted one because it seems a bit louche to join and then never turn up for anything. At best I'd be a classic What's Going On Lately, dropping in for fresh events, grabbing the freebies, maybe staying for a week of dailies then disappearing until next time.

Even so, I am tempted. I never want to have to deal with proper Guild Drama ever again but I wouldn't mind being Things Explainer or Chill AF in a nice, quiet, steady guild somewhere. Maybe that time will come in Ashes of Creation or Pantheon, if either of them ever happen for real. Pantheon particularly strikes me as a game where a good guild would be more of a necessity than a luxury.

Meanwhile I guess I'll carry on as I have been, with the personalities I know from map and wvw chat standing in for guildmates. I could allocate a few names to categories there as well...


  1. I think the list is very much tuned to a guild culture where organized group events are a thing, specifically raiding with a limited group size.

    I can peg a number of my static raid group members to the various tags. I do think our long term success lies in the fact that most of our group are Chill AF/Ninjas/Silent But Competent, with the odd Socialite providing the glue here and there.

    I suspect the main brains behind our static group membership have a bunch of experience pegging people like this and picking and choosing; though beggars can't be choosers once you start running low on numbers and anyone basically competent to fill will do.

    I'm not sure how much use it is in other contexts. TTS, when it was popular some years ago, was mostly led by a few Things Explainers leading a large group of members that could probably fit into most of the other categories, except it was generally unnecessary to peg them to that level of detail. Folks could turn up or not, as they wanted.

    Ditto WvW. I suppose you could tease out those personalities in a WvW community over time, but from a Guild Leader Needs to Give Specific Emotional Support to This Type of Person so that they don't leave the guild angle, it doesn't seem necessary in that context either. Unless the guild is some kind of pro WvW guild where only specialized build members get to attend their raids. In my experience, they still are open to taking all their members along as long as the basic requirements are met, no matter the personality type.

    And when you can belong to multiple guilds, there is less of a onus for one guild to provide everything, cushy emotional support and all, to a member for fear of them leaving for greener pastures.

    1. Yes, it's very much the description of a conventional medium-size general PvE/raiding guild I would say. It's interesting to me, though, to see how many of the Guild recruitment messages in GW2 still attempt to appeal to that demographic with assurances of regular or even daily "Events", sometimes even including things like quizzes and trivia contests, as though the main purpose of the guilds is to keep its members both entertained and occupied.

      As for TTS and the explaining, if you go to Triple Wurm on an organized run today you'll still hear the same very lengthy explanations. I timed it once and the full explanation lasted nearly 15 minutes without a break! Not sure who's running it at present but someone does pretty much every day. I think it was EOS last time I went. I still need one head for the very last Achi - I ought to do that one day...


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide