The Need for a Guild

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all players are created equal, that they are endowed by their Developers with certain unalienable Points, that among these are Karma, Influence and the pursuit of Experience. – That to secure these points, Guilds are instituted among Players, deriving their just powers from the consent of the members, – That whenever any Form of Guild becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Players to complain or to leave it, and to institute a new Guild, laying its foundation on such Servers and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Influence and Experience. ~ The Declaration of Independence (as interpreted by Me)

Yesterday was the announcement of the launch date for Guild Wars 2. pause for cheering

Yesterday was also a time of happy planning for our guild. We’re a small group in GW1, usually there are just five or six of us that play together often. Porting the guild to GW2 is going to be as natural as pie. But with that move (and probably in an effort to busy ourselves until release day) we’re sprucing up the place. A few of us are creating a website, a few are looking after the details of organization, a few are writing content, etc. We’ve the start of a spangly new Guild Charter, and I’m trying to think of a suitable rank for myself as second in command. (apparently “The Cat” does not demand enough respect, and “The Goddamn Cat” was not acceptable either.)

What does all this have to do with a game design blog? Why should you care? Because I’m going to talk about guilds, an important part of gaming society.

The Need for Social Groups

Long ago in the beginning days of online multiplayer gaming, a pattern started to emerge. Whether the designers saw it and reacted to it, or whether they planned it out beforehand doesn’t really matter to this discussion. What matters is that it was there. Just as in the ancient days, people gathered together in tribes for protection and companionship. There were always those loners that could survive on their own, but most people either needed the group or enjoyed having other like-minded people around.

Is it any surprise that when players entered a world of digital avatars, faced with challenges and the promise of glory, they banded together for their greater good? Tribes… Guilds… Friends List… whatever you want to call it, it’s a group of gamers playing together. Sharing an experience only make it stronger.

The Need for Order

With the advent of social groups came the need to organize them. Developers helped this along by coding tribes and guilds into their games, but even in games without that ability people started creating websites and chat forums to keep in touch. Whichever method of communication was used, it demanded order.

Guild leaders, officers, and members were made. Much of the organization was modeled after either government or military hierarchy. This offered a familiar system of “who does what” and “who gives orders” that even the newest members would recognize. Different forms of “government” evolved. Some tribes are democratic, some are more of a dictatorship or a monarchy. They all work for their members.

The Need for Competition

What happens when many groups occupy an area in real life? War. In games? War. Guild vs. Guild sprang naturally out of the competitive spirit of the gamer. Joining a guild became not just a gathering of friends, but a bid for power and victory. Some guilds played for casual fun, some for fame and prizes. A division grew between these ideals and “casual” and “serious” guilds were born.

The game itself influenced which type was more prevalant. Some games evolved into intricate political simulators, mirroring the real “game” of politics so closely that they could have been a university study. Others divided gameplay into PvE and PvP to allow for both types of guild. These systems evolved into more of a leaderboard focused community.

The Need for Immersion

And finally, the underlying desire that haunts the gamer, that makes them buy “making of” books, art books, figures, wallpapers… Immersion. Games are an escape, usually from either an undesirable life or a dull one. It’s an opportunity to become someone else. It’s a chance to be a hero. How many girls want to be a princess? How many boys want to be a superhero? Well I was a Queen once, loved by my tribe. I was the Vice-Commander of a combined group of nearly 1000 gamers. I’ve been loved… and hated.

My best friends are my guildmates. I’ve met people all over the world, and I’ve opened my mind to the wonders of other cultures and beliefs. I’m not talking about magic and dragons and Jedi, although those happened too. In playing out a fantasy world in a game, with real people at my side, I have learned about the real world. I’ve learned tolerance, compassion, and cooperation. And I have shared a dream.

Viva La Guild!