There was a time a few years ago that was my Golden Age of Guild Membership.
The guild was small but big enough that we had the people to do something fun and/or productive most nights. If we didn’t have enough people, we all had friends in different guilds we could ask along. If someone needed a particular weapon or piece of gear, we went and got it for them. We ran dungeons repeatedly for friends to get everything they needed. If what we wanted didn’t drop, we came out, reset, and did it again.
Copious amounts of alcoholic beverages and coffee were consumed. Voice chats got downright silly. We probably wiped more than we should have but we laughed A LOT! We weren’t there for the game, we were there because we were hanging out with our friends.
BUT…and this is a HUGE but…this wasn’t a game where there were requirements for doing dungeon and raid content. No item levels and gear scores. No once a week limits to your chances for good drops. You could do any content you liked as long as you were prepared to wipe. Frequently.
My guild experiences since then, and this is across a number of online games, have been vastly different.
Don’t get me wrong, having such a Guild Utopia was always going to set me up for disappointment later but what I find myself musing over these days is how much of this is due to guild management and how much is down to the structure of the game itself.
For example, my most recent guild openly admits that though there is enough interest to warrant trying to start a second raid team, none of the officers have time and desire to recruit for it, set it up and organize it. I (or anyone else interested) was welcome to do it, however I don’t have the time either. It’s kinda the reason I like being a Member of a guild these days instead of running one. Been there, done that. Had 100 members to keep satisfied and all the drama that goes with it. No, thank you.
While it’s great that some guilds are rigidly structured with Schedules and Loot Tables and others are more happy-go-lucky letting people organize events as they wish, it makes me wonder what the role of guild management is and how the games themselves influence this.
Personally I always believed the priority of Guild Leadership was to try and fulfill the needs of the guild members, but that’s just my opinion and everyone is of course entitled to run their guild as they wish. Plenty of guilds started out as just groups of friends that have opened their doors to a few other players without any intention of trying to be more. As long as they are open and honest about it all, no one can or should complain. It’s great and totally necessary to have a variety of different guild styles around!
But my question ultimately is what incentive does the game itself give to inspire people to help others? What incentive is there to bring other players and characters up to max level? And other than having a substitute for the raid team in case someone is missing, what reason would there possibly be (other than kindness of heart and generousness of spirit) to spend your Personal Gaming Time to help someone else catch you up in the ilvl department?
In fact, unless you are a member of a Full Raid Team, you can’t even get gear as shiny anyhow. Helping people is all just distraction from what the game presents as the ultimate goal which is finishing the (current) final raid and maxing out your Personal Awesomeness.
Elitist goals breed elitism.
In the online world, just like this crazy old real one, some people are happy with that and would argue noisily on Game Forums that if this is ever changed they will cancel their sub and be off to a different pond to be King Fish in. Besides, from the developers point of view, the pursuit of elitism is a powerful motivator which continues to bring subscription money. Because as soon as you think you’re done, the next Patch arrives and you start the whole cycle all over again.
Rinse and Repeat. And Repeat.
This is why I’d love to see more Guild Achievements. More co-operative targets worked into the game that reward people for helping other people. Maybe a Guild Ilvl achievement or one for bringing along those who are under-geared to the weekly party? Maybe no lock out on the raid if you have below a certain team gear score? I’m sure brighter people than I am could come up with something.
No, I haven’t thought it all through, and maybe those ideas wouldn’t work in practice, but you get the picture. Something from the Devs that encourages the spreading of Good Karma.
As for me, I’ll continue on MMO journey. I’m spending time back in Lord of the Rings Online where I had my lovely experience, but also passing through a host of other games along the way.
None of which, in case you haven’t guessed, are DOTA2.