Sunday, February 10, 2008

Recruiting according to the spread-the-word-method

As you all know there are many kinds of guilds. Everything from a bunch of RL friends who most of all see the game as a kind of MSN with colour and sound effects - to guilds which with military discipline and the uttermost precision go into the game as into a war battle. Resistance is futile, as the Borg always say in Star Trek. Feelings are irrelevant, it's the result that counts.

But no matter if the guild is small or big, social or achievement oriented, no matter if it's playing in the bottom league or in the national team, I think most guilds have one thing in common: they need to have some kind of recruiting. No matter how fascinating this game is, how wonderful guild you create, there will always be a certain amount of leakage from a guild. Careers, child births and other things can make the most enthusiastic player put their character to rest. Or you're suddenly grabbed by an irresistible urge to play with your best friend on another server, or to finally have a look at that mysterious horde side. To put it short: there is an outflow and if you don't replace it it will become like an hour glass. Eventually the sand will run out. Not over a night, but little by little.

If there´s something that really makes the differences between all sorts of guilds clear, it's in the recruitment process. Here are a few of the methods I've encountered along my way in Azeroth:

"We ninja-invite-everyone-we-see-recruitment"
A method mainly performed by 12 year olds, fooling around in Goldshire and other starting zones. Without even a whisper they send invites to innocent newbies, who're just taking their first confused steps in the game. The odds are 50 to 50 that they'll happen to click "yes" without understanding what they've done. And to get out of that guild isn't so easy if you don't know how to do it. As you probably understand I'm speaking out of my own experience. When I was like level 3 or something I happened to say yes to such an invite. But as many others I hadn't got a clue about how to leave the guild. To right-click on my name in the guildlist isn't exactly the first thing you come to think of. I begged and begged that little 12 year old monster GM to kick me out of the guild. It took me a week of whispers and letters until he agreed and let me go. I've never quite understood the purpose of that kind of recruiting and those guilds. The only motive I can see is that they've made some kind of bet between friends, who can lure most newbies into a guild in the shortest time.

We've all seen the guilds filling the general chat marketing their often newly started "nice" guild which "accepts all players" and "soon will start raiding" (believe it or not...) Their main reason why you should joint hem seems to be that they have a "cool tabard". It's beyond my understanding how this has become a selling point. Maybe it's a bit like pizza recipies. When you start a pizza restaurant you look what names and ingredients the your competitors have. Why change a winning concept? If the other guild say "we have a cool tabard" we should do it as well, those guilds seem to think. The we-have-a-tabard-guilds are clearly connected to the Ninja-recruiters. Probably you'll find the 15 year old big brother to the 12 year old GM of the Ninjas here.

Then there are guilds which recruit actively but focus on having a form on their website, marketing it in some web forums, rather than spamming the general chat. Those guilds may be social, but many are quite raid oriented, more or less hard to please, depending on how far they've come in progression. The recruitment department of the websites of those guilds is often filled with long wishing lists and questionnaires where the applicants are asked thoroughly about their gear, experience, attunments and how much they intend to play. Often there are a few attitude questions too, where the answers they expect are quite obvious - you must show your willingness to wipe with a smile on your lips and to always come to the raid fully prepared, your bag teaming with pots and buff food. The idea about putting those questions probably isn't to get to know the player better, but rather to state an example, to show what you expect from your raiders and try to scare those who probably wouldn't live up to the standards.

"The spread-the-word-method" or "We-live-on our reputation-recruitment"
Now I want to introduce and advocate another form of recruitment, which we perform in the guild I belong to. Actually I don't know if the proper word is recruiting, since it's quite a passive thing, making you think about how they run Rotary and other half secret society, which flourish and slowly renew without having to run huge marketing campaigns.

Our guild hasn't got a single ad, not in chats, nor in forums. We're rather a bit hard to find. Not so that we're secret, but we believe in growing slowly. New members come, but those are people who have found us out of their own interest. Sometimes they are relatives or RL friends, sometimes it's people we've met in the game and got to know when doing instances or questing.

We don't have any form and we're completely uninterested in armory links or CV of downed bosses. But that doesn't mean we don't have any demands. We just watch the person behind the character. Everyone have to pass at least a week as a trial member, a period when we ask ourselves: is this really a person who fits into this guild? Is this someone we want to spend a lot of time with, whether in instances or just in the guild chat or on the TS server, where we're hanging around bantering. You may hav full epic gear, but if you're an unpleasant person you just don't get a spot in our guild, it's as simple as that.

And what's the point in this kind of almost anti- recruiting? Don't we risk to miss out players who could have helped the guild to progress further and faster? Well, maybe. But by growing slowly and being a bit picky we also create stability. In spite of forms and demands on new members, how often don't you hear about huge raiding guilds that break down overnight, start over again like a Phoenix out of the ashes, in order to break down another time a short while later, now just shattering into small pieces, lost and gone for ever? Guilds are born and die faster than a pig can blink, as they say in a Swedish children book.

By just accepting a single new player at a time we get the opportunity to adjust to each other - the guild and the newly recruited. The new blood is incorporated, but we can still keep the soul and spirit of the guild.

Spread-the-word-recruitment. A method I think works in the long run.

No comments: