This might be something of a biased topic, but I’m going to pursue it anyway in the wake of last week’s guild and player type posts.
In MMOs as they are structured now, what’s your preferred kind of guild to join? I’m thinking the divisions are more or less small/medium/large (and none, of course), and laid-back/focused. I prefer that last to casual/hardcore but even with different terms, a laid-back kind of guild can of course be very focused in achieving certain goals and a focused guild isn’t incapable of being laid-back.
This whole hardcore/casual thing gives me a headache. If you ask me, it’s time to put those terms out to pasture and start using descriptors that relate to activities and not to behaviours. I can be hardcore about some things and I’m entirely casual about others… or be hardcore and casual about the same thing at different times. Maybe we can use the Bartle descriptors instead — they’re labels like anything else, but at least they’re a little more flexible and yet less ambiguous.
So for instance, I tend to prefer social/explorer type guilds and I’m not too fussed about the size because mostly I go about my business in game on my own, so a small guild can fulfil my social interaction needs probably just as well as a large guild; I’m not interested in raiding or gear and I’m only incidentally interested in leveling, so the achievement-factor I look for in a guild can be very low; similarly, I don’t PvP much which means I don’t really care about the killer factor either. This is what I was groping towards last week — whether our player-types affect our choices for guild types. It’s pretty clear that they do, I just wonder how strong the influence is. Do we stay in a guild that doesn’t match our playstyle because we’re fond of the people in it? How long for? Or do we eventually move on because no matter how good the people are, if we’re not playing in ways we find enjoyable the whole MMO exercise becomes a little pointless?
The other thing that influences player/guild relations seems to be how a player is biased in terms of solo or group. Group-oriented players, as far as I can tell, seem to want achievement-oriented guilds, and tend to become (understandably) very unhappy when they end up in one that isn’t as achievement-based as they thought. (I also find it interesting that we tend to project what we want onto guilds we want to join, though it’s a common RL phenomenon too.) I can say from personal experience that solo players caught in a grouping/achievement oriented guild can get pretty unhappy too — it’s as bad to be constantly pestered to join people as it is to never be able to find someone else to play with.
If anything, I’m starting to think that guilds should examine their general grouping attitudes and advertise that as a selling point, because a new member’s biggest source of disappointment in most of the casual guilds I’ve been in (as usual I can’t speak for raiding/focused guilds) seems to end up being the grouping, or lack of it, depending on player type. Groupers tend to assume the guilds they join are full of people who also group, and if in fact a guild is mostly made up of soloers, than the grouper-oriented player is going to get frustrated, understandably so; if you play to play physically (well, pixelishly) with other people, then seeing 10 people online and having none of them interested in what’s a central aspect of play to you is going to stink. I think most guilds aren’t even aware of their grouping attitude, and maybe they should be.
I’m also interested in whether one’s grouping preference relates more to the social side of the Bartle descriptors or to the achievement side. Maybe both — the social grouper just likes to do stuff with others, while the achievement grouper looks for groups because it’s a more efficient way to achieve? You social achievers out there, what do you think? There must be killer-groupers out there too, and maybe explorer-groupers too. So is the explorer/solo more closely related to explorers out there, or to solo players out there?
Like all labels, even the Bartle ones can’t really encapsulate everything players can possibly be, especially since we’re not limited to one type of behaviour all the time. However, it’s useful to derive some kind of common descriptive terminology that fits relatively accurately (if loosely) because it lets us then use that as a frame of reference in discussions.
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As a final tangent, I need to get a mini-rant off my chest. Why is it that I can happily tolerate other people’s playstyles (unless it’s griefing) whether I group or not, but most groupers/achievers I meet a) absolutely cannot conceive why I wouldn’t want to be achieving and grouping every second of the day and b) feel the need to alternately berate and cajole me about it. For one thing, it’s a little self-serving — I get whined at about how I play because THEY need me to be grouping with them so THEY can achieve what they want to achieve. Secondly, it’s intolerant — there are many ways to enjoy a game and no, grouping and dungeoning isn’t the only one, nor is it the best one for everyone. I have good reasons for preferring not to group most of the time (not that I should even have to give reasons — it’s my bloody $15 a month). And I don’t like dungeons and probably never will, no matter a) how often I’m forced to run through them or b) how much you tell me I’d love them if only I ran them enough.
Really, and seriously. I have my own style and I do have fun in games, even if my fun isn’t at all your idea of fun. Please respect that and stop telling me I’d come to see the light if only I’d play like you do for long enough. I’m getting pretty tired of it and you don’t hear me telling you that you should solo and explore all day.