Ask not what your guild can do with you

This is a hypothetical discussion. No resemblance with guilds, persons or pets, living or dead, is intended. Seriously – this is just general rhetoric. There are no fingers being pointed at anyone.

We join guilds for one primary reason: company. Unless, that is, we’re nasty raiding selfish bastards who just want the loot and then leave, but this isn’t WoW so we’re not talking about them.

Company comes in many flavours — I certainly won’t be the one to tell you that the M in Multiplayer means you have to be joined at the group hip all day, every day, and that if you want so much as 5 minutes by yourself you’re a sad, marginalised bastard with no social skills. I have great social skills, I need a LOT of time by myself, and yet I still count myself as both very solitary and very sociable. That part of it has been discussed here and elsewhere of late.

This post is about getting things done. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

There comes a point in any guild bigger than 1 person, where someone will say “So, what has the guild organised for us today?” What it’s done, is put people together with other people. Guilds do not have to organise daily, weekly or even yearly events for their members. What they do is provide a framework where ALL of its members can organise stuff. Not just the leaders and officers.

Fred: “Hello everyone. Anything going on today?”

[Chorus of guild channel hellos]

Fred: “No? Man, I really wanted to do that AmazingDismemberingHero PQ, or maybe the NoGorePleaseWe’reBritish scenario. But they haven’t been organised! Oh well…” [Logs out]

Bob: “Hey, I’d do that! I want to do both!”

Larry: “Me too!”

Joe: “You too what?”

Bob: “You know, the ADH PQ and the NGPWB Scenario.”

Joe: “Cool we’re doing those? I’m in!”

Bob: “Naah, we’re not. Fred came on and said he’d do them, but then he logged.”

Joe: “Oh well. Never mind then.”

Larry: “I’m bored. We never DO anything!”

Of course guild leadership will organise stuff. Or at least, they will try as hard as their real life schedules and not actually getting paid to lead/officer a guild will let them. Playing is a hobby for them too… but we’ll discuss that one some other day.

The point isn’t what the guild leaders and officers are doing for you. The point is, a guild is there to provide a focal point for its members’ activities. And that means doing more than sighing that nobody is doing anything.

But, but, you say. I’m not as dashingly social as [insert dashing and social guild-leader type person]! I’d never dare! Besides, when I *do* dare, nobody responds!

All true, I’m sure. Here’s a secret : I’m not greatly dashing and daring either, and I hate rejection as much as the next person. The only weapons I have that Joe, Larry and Bob don’t are fear — fear and surprise — fear, surprise and a fanatical devotion to the herd — /tangent — the only weapons I have are a guild officer tag, and a little bit of previous experience. So, shy retiring guild violets everywhere, you folk who lead social groups in RL, manage boardrooms, run marathons, raise kids, raise money, keep other people safe — you wallflowers, you timid hares; here are a few pointers, next time you’re looking at the guild calendar and wondering why nothing is scheduled.

1. Take the initiative. EVERYONE will love you. The Pope will love you. Better yet, all your guildies will love you. Do this and you will get laid (ok, maybe not, but it seems to work in commercials). By this I mean — put yourself out there. Say something, even if it’s just “I’m doing BlahBoopdeBoop PQ, anyone else wanna come?” Say something. Say anything.

2. Don’t fear the Silence ™. It’ll happen. It’ll probably happen a lot. You say “I’m doing BlahBoopdeBoop PQ, anyone else wanna come?” and tumbleweeds start blowing through the channel. If you listen closely, you can here the theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

3. Start small. Don’t commit yourself to anything huge right off the bat if that kind of thing worries you (it worried me, too). If you just do 1. now and again, you’ll be doing a lot. If you’re really anxious about this kind of thing, just start by inviting the other folks you see running around in public quests. When you’re playing with a friend, open up the group now and then and see what happens. And yes, when you want to move on, it’s perfectly ok to leave the group.

4. Work up to more “official” event– err, groups. Don’t call them events till you’re comfortable with the concept that it’s just a group with an official name. Again, don’t forget 2: sometimes nobody will show up. It’s not because they hate you, it’s because they’re shy or busy or not online. It happens.

5. Once you get into the habit, encourage others. Testify! It’s not that bad, really, is it?

The great thing about WAR isn’t how it’s invented anything particularly new, but rather how it is innovating on some of the old. Open Groups are surprisingly innovative, as others have previously noted.* It’s not just that you can join them whenever you like, which is good enough — it’s that they foster a no-strings-attached kind of socialising. True, most people never say a word in them, but most people never said a word in other games’ PUGs either. In other games’ groups, however, I always felt awkward — it’s awkward to ask to join, then it’s awkward wondering how you can make a graceful exit without seeming like a selfish swine if the group moves on past what you’d intended, or if the group isn’t quite what you hoped.

In WAR’s open groups you start with a ships-in-the-night thing and, if you like, you can make the interaction a little more sociable. It’s amazing how many people respond if you just say “Hello there!” when you join a group. (See advice #1.) But you don’t have to. You can accomplish a few goals together and then move on, with a word or without, and nobody really minds. Because open joining implies open leaving, too. It would seem to encourage antisocial selfishness, but in fact I’ve witnessed the opposite : when I’m not worrying about how long I need to stay with people and how much I need to do with them, I’m much more friendly. When I need to move on, I say so, and usually get a varying chorus of “Next time” or “Good luck!” (and I do the same for them). I’ve stayed around to help groupies fill their INF bars, or get a reward bag, or just because we were having fun. Novel concept, eh?

What I’d like to see people do is figure out that open groups are liberating, and then apply that to guild groups, or indeed any other group (unguilded alts, random strangers, whatever).

It’s an old cliche to say an online game is only as good as its players, but there’s a reason it’s a cliche. Learn to start and join groups, learn to put yourself out there, and learn to live with /tumbleweed. You’ll have a better time and so will your friends and guildies. And, eventually, they may start doing the same.


* There should be other links here but damn my just-awoken brain, I can’t find em.

4 responses to “Ask not what your guild can do with you

  1. Great post! I hope it inspires people (including me!) to dip their toe into the waters of starting up groups!


  2. Good lord, this couldn’t come at a better time (the 1st of October as I’m reading it now) for me. Thanks, Ysh.

    I struggled with disappointing our members by letting someone else lead the event tonight, but then I realized… I’ve been leading and starting groups since launch when I play. Tonight it’s about Bildo and his little Ironbreaker ass.

    The event’s still on, but thank Gorsh I’ve got folks like you and Hud to back me up so that we don’t see anyone else claim, “Oh man! Now that JoBildo’s not here we can’t possibly start the thing ourselves!”


  3. Pingback: Declaring my independence « Stylish Corpse·

Comments are closed.