Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The soul of a guild

“You cannot create a functioning raiding guild”.

This statement comes from Gevlon at Greedy Goblin. In this post he explains the futility of trying to create a new raiding guild and why it’s wiser to join an existing one.

If I understand Gevlon right, the only reason to stay in a raiding guild is to progress in raids. But people will not carry exactly the same weight in raids and because of this the most skilled members are likely to leave the guild sooner or later to join a guild that’s doing better progress, according to him.

He also refuses to talk about the guild as an organism in its own. “Since it is not a body, it cannot act. You cannot touch or hit or talk to a guild”.

I guess it won’t come as a surprise to the regular PPI readers that I disagree about this. I seriously think that guilds will develop life of their own. At least the good ones will - the guilds which will last in the long run. Actually I think the existence of a guild soul is one of the great benefits, one of the reasons why we form guilds and don’t just pug out all the instances. There’s a saying that 1+1 isn’t necessarily always 2, sometimes it makes 3. And that’s what a guild is about.

A good guild will develop a culture of its own, a special atmosphere, which you can’t clearly credit to any specific person. It’s all over the place. It’s in the forums, it’s in the guild chat, it’s in the raid. The guild soul carries the heritage from earlier members, but also the visions for the future by the ones who’re in it now.

Describing this soul isn’t easy. You feel it, but how can you put words into it? Bre at Gun Lowing Dwarf Chick once suggested that you should picture your guild as a landscape. Is it dramatic with high rocks to climb, pretty harsh? Or is it a green bright meadow, full of colour?
Guilds with and without souls
Do ALL guilds have souls? Not necessarily. If the guild is just a platform for members to gear up – an agreement where you’re more or less a freelancing soldier, doing your job and getting your part of the share, but without connecting to the other members in anyway whatsoever, looking at them more or less as NPCs – well then it obviously hasn’t got any soul. Can a guild like that work? Yes, I guess it can. But I wouldn’t like to be a part of it.

The soul of my guild Adrenaline is invisible, but it does exist. It’s cold as ice and red as blood at the same time. And it’s got dramatic peaks as well as some nice grassy areas where you can rest and just enjoy watching the clouds and watching some really silly creatures playing around having fun. I wish you could feel it to. You just have to believe me when I tell you it’s beautiful.

Finally I’d like to go back to the initial statement, that you can’t create a functioning raiding guild. Maybe Gevlon's right about it in one way? You can create a guild, but to make it work in the long run the guild will need a soul. And that can’t be created artificially; you can’t force it to be born. It’s something that will just happen to you, and you can’t put your finger on when it happened or who made it. But one day it’s there, and you will see it – the soul of your guild.


krizzlybear said...

Well said.

I suppose a contributor to my confusion regarding my future with the guild stemmed from not being able to recognize the soul. Oddly enough, I had found it in the newer members rather than the old ones.

Gevlon said...

It sounds really nice to be in a guild with a soul. Too bad it can't be measured, so one cannot determine what's inside unless he is already inside.

I doubt if I ever get a share of any organization with a soul. Most would definitely not have me. However I can be (and already is) in a professional enviroment, where bosses go down. Yesterday 2 more, today more to go. And this can be measured.

Captain The First said...

So... what defines a raiding guild then?

Where does this soul come from? Is it inherent to those that actively participate in building the guild? The leadership and the core so to speak? Or does it come from somewhere else?

I've had my gm-ing days in a multitude of games and it always seemed like: if you build it they will come.

Gear gaps, members experience... those are all things that can be overcome and you can forge a raiding guild from practically nothing if you have a handful of dedicated members.

So when is the soul born, who carries it? (this is not a loot question)

Anonymous said...

The guild im in have a core set of about 20 people who make the soul, there will be other people come and go but there is a set bunch (im one of them i hope) that makes it.

There is yearly guild meeting etc.

If there is no raid there is naked guild runs with all on TS we are very fun guild and have so much fun.

Chris said...

Alas Gevlon is wrong, it is hard to create a raiding guild that fills the same niche as current ones (why not join a current one), and it is difficult to create a raiding guild on a server like Silvermoon-EU (lots of good guilds), however on a less dense server its easier.

What you need to find is a group of people with the same ethos, and currently dissatisfied with their guild. For example I would ideally like a hardcore 3x4hrs raiding guild for 25mans. I figure that it is more than possible to complete raids in this time if you don't spend 5hrs running back, and 12hrs dying in fires. People agree with me, I could recruit 4 people right now, and have a functioning 10 man easily, then you trim and recruit for 25 man. It isn't hard to do but you need a niche, and a goal. If you want a guild where you can say "We raid 12 productive hours" then you penalised / kick people that don't. In a 7 day 5 hrs guild (35hrs a week) its easy to take 8hrs of stupid time running between wipes, buffing etc rather than doing it right.

A guild doesn't need a soul, but it needs a purpose, and I think a lot of hardcore guilds are too quiet (I don't die in fires, I don't wipe raids, yet I talk a lot :P). A guild needs a reason to exist and a reason members should come to you rather than elsewhere.

Unknown said...

What 2ndnin mentioned about guild having purpose will only work if enough people share the same passion.

Our guild recruited heavily during the end of TBC, we even got top pve/pvp players to reroll to join our guild. Our ultimate goal back then was to grab all server first when Wrath comes out.

In the end we did, we cleared our first 25man with 23 people. If I didn't believe that we can get server first I wouldn't have rushed to 80 and so did the rest of the gang. But I believed in the leadership.

Now recruitmentis getting crazy and competition amongst the trial members is up.

I guess if you ask my guild what is our soul, it would be to be #1 on the server. And that's enough to keep likeminded members.

Beth said...

I wrote a post not too long ago about some guild members who left my guild because they chose not to take part in the guild's soul -- actively discussed it and decided they wouldn't post member pages or photos or personal quirks -- because they just wanted to play the game, not be part of our family community. Which is fine for most guilds, but not us. People get frustrated (they "don't recognize the guild soul," as krizzlybear said, but our people phrase it that they're not "part of the In Crowd") because they, consciously or not, decide to keep things surface-level. A nice comfortable level of acquaintance. And then they wonder why they feel on the fringe of things.

Our guild raids, but our most important focus is nurturing the guild soul. Raiding is a part of how we satisfy our members, but we view it as a tool to keep our members fulfilled (not to say we don't take it seriously, because we do, but we don't gkick the worst raiders).

I've always thought that hardcore raid guilds have the least soul -- not because they can't have a soul but because the people who go to hardcore raiding guilds are the kind of people who chose not to buy into my guild -- chose to keep everything pleasant but impersonal. They're also the competitive people who don't always like each other but stay because the arrangement is mutually beneficial. I've read that some raiding guilds hate each other but they're solid enough players and follow their own rules (ie, don't cheat each other), so they stay together because they fulfill everyone's needs.

you can forge a raiding guild from practically nothing if you have a handful of dedicated members
You can do anything with dedicated members. Anything. The trouble is when members don't connect with the guild or the guild doesn't satisfy their needs. Without enough dedication, they leave. There needs to be a heavy-duty connection and trust. And sometimes dedication is forged because needs are being fulfilled.

It's all a delicate balance.

Anonymous said...

@Krizzybear: it isn't necessarily the oldest members who carry the soul of a guild. It may very well develop among some of the newer players. Which may be a bit painful to the older ones to discover.

@Gevlon: It's a pity you've put up those restrictions on your blog, limiting it to economical matters. I'm curious to hear about how you're settling into your new guild and how you like to be back to raiding. But it sounds as if you've got what you were looking for, which makes me glad to hear. Even though I disagree about that you should be condemned to play in soulless guilds. Having a soul isn't necessarily the same as being care-bearlike and soft (which I imagine is not what you're looking for).

@Captain The First: aaahhh... don't ask those hard questions! I think that I agree that a dedicated "core" is necessary for a soul to be born. However I think the soul will inevitably die if the core is unable to assimilate newer members. The core needs some fresh blood to stay healthy and alive and to be the heart which keeps ponding blood, nourishing and feeding the soul. Was that any clearer? Hm.. doubt it.

@Esdras: I'm glad to hear that you're in a guild with a soul! If I remember it right you've been struggling a bit to level and aren't sure about how to keep up raiding. But in a guild with a good soul the game may still be enjoyable.

@2ndNin and Herc: I wonder if we're using different words trying to catch the same phenomena - a feeling of the guild. Is it a soul? Is it a purpose? Is it a personality or a guild spirit? Is it passion? I don't know. But what I DO know is that a guild is an organism of its own and it definitly is more than the sum of its members.

@Birdfall: thank you for a very long and well written comment! I agree completely! I do hope that it's possible to combine being fairly hardcore or at least "serious" about raiding with having a soul. Or I don't only hope it, I know it's possible - we do it in my guild. But of course there are many guilds which are much more hardcore than we are and I'm not capable of telling if they've got souls or not, never having been in one of those.

Anonymous said...

The language defining the components of guilds is so young. Every article like this brings us all closer to understanding what these things are.

Regarding the original GG post: It's the difference between saying "I can never hit a three-point shot" and "You can never hit a three-point shot".