Thanks to Jojo’s more detailed reply to yesterday’s Breakfast Topic I’ve been thinking a bit about guilds, and why ‘how did you choose your guild?’ is cunningly phrased as opposed to, say, ‘how did you join your guild?’
Don’t get me wrong, the moment when you first join, when you first gain that new guild tag, is a great opportunity for the other members to welcome you in and provide a solid first impression. But I feel that moment is really the culmination of prior thought and the start of new exploration rather than a big deciding instant.
I believe there are two critical points in the guild-choosing process: the moment when you become aware of that guild as an option to you, and the moment when it becomes your guild.
The former point could easily happen well before the move, perhaps if the new guild houses your rival raiding group, or if they’ve been actively recruiting for a while, highly visible in Trade.
Equally, it could be the moment when you first log into a new character and receive an instant, random invite from a guild that was hitherto unknown to you.
What matters at this stage is potential. There are all kinds of things a new guild might offer.
- New people
- Raiding opportunities
- A chance to reconnect with old friends
What matters at the next stage, when you’ve made the leap and joined up, is how well the guild delivers on those things – and, if not that, how well they’ve hooked you with some other element you didn’t originally anticipate.
The path to discontent
Obviously atmosphere is a major factor in how well you get on within a new guild. If other members are cruel or cordoned off in their own dedicated cliques, it’s going to be a lot harder to get involved. If there’s frequent bickering or awkward silences, the sense of community is going to suffer.
What I think is sometimes forgotten, however, is that atmosphere is the sum of all the different attitudes and expectations of a group of people. Within a guild, the atmosphere is most likely to sour if its members’ wants and goals don’t quite line up.
There are various ways this can happen. Existing members might decide they want ‘more.’ New members might be recruited on false pretences. The leadership might chose to try and take the guild down a new path.
Breaking the doom and gloom with some standard Hammered chatlogs.
How is this all relevant to the way we choose a guild? Well, what I’ve perceived to happen with some frequency in struggling guilds is that the guild has some winning aspect – perhaps a core of friendly, helpful members, or a strong raid team – that hooks people in past the point when they realise this guild is not providing the things they joined it for in the first place.
Perhaps you wanted a mature, chilled-out atmosphere, only to find that this guild has members raging at each other all the time. Goddamn, though. The raid bosses fold with ease beneath your raiding might, and you really want to keep this rate of progression.
Perhaps you really wanted to raid with friendly people. This guild has friendly people, and they do raid, but progression is tapering off and you’re just not playing at the level you wanted to initially – and perhaps that level wasn’t even all that high, so what gives? But you really like your guildies. You really like the chat in /g. You don’t want to lose it.
I think things start to fester when some aspect of the guild is letting you down. I witnessed this in action fairly recently, when our raid leader and his friend, also a major member of the guild, grew so frustrated with our slow rate of progression that they became increasingly prickly and difficult, and finally kicked off monstrously in Vent.
Both players wanted the guild to perform at a higher level than it had done or was likely to in future. They wanted to be rewarded for their excellent performance to the exclusion of those other members who were slightly less skilled but equally as reliable for their attendance and tenacity.
This on-going, unaddressed clash of expectations and entitlements drove my guild’s atmosphere into the ground. It’s the sort of thing that contributes to my feeling that the moment when you join a guild is comparatively insignificant, because the choice to be part of a guild should be the result of an on-going evaluation.
Does this guild do what I want? Does it now? Does it now?
If it doesn’t, why am I still here?
Within the leadership
You know, on-going evaluation amongst the members is good, but the officers should be doing the same on a wider scale: we need to keep the guild as a whole on track.
This means matching recruitment messages to the reality of life within the guild; encouraging open discourse about guild activities; and generally making ourselves open to people to talk their complaints through.
My guild had the shit hit the fan in Vent because a small but important section of our guild was starting to veer away from the rest. They were able to do so as stridently as they did because we officers had not made a point of defining and reinforcing the aims of the guild and of the raid team.
Uncertainty within a guild is actually outright insidious. It’s easy to point out other weaknesses, like a failure to deal with an offensive guildie, or the hoarding of loot for officers and their mates.
It’s harder to pick out the fact that, hey, the iffy atmosphere in here, the irritation in raid, that’s down to a lack of direction. Because, well, everyone is pretty sure they want to enter a raid and kill things. It seems straightforward, but it really does need managing.
How did you choose your guild?
Prior to this year, I entered all my guilds in one of two ways: I followed friends, or I was headhunted. I’m shy. It’s a problem.
Returning readers may remember that I resolved to get Nyxrinne on track when I was Navispammed back in January. Her prompt teamed up with my earlier resolution to be brave. When I saw Hammered recruiting for their second raid team I built up my nerve and, er, did nothing until I saw the message go out twice more, at which point I asked to join and was accepted.
I think I ran with the second team once before I was brought into the first instead. I was a bit awkward on Vent, and during my first heroic run with the guild master I went randomly crazy pulling stuff and we wiped, like, five times.
I had the best gear I could cobble together from LFR and ye olde rep grind, and the guild bolstered that with kit crafted from blood spirits. I raided MV and HoF with them before we had to take a hiatus on the cusp of downing Empress. Vent banter amused me. Guild chat was always lively. I was promoted as new blood during a major leadership reshuffle.
I wanted to stick with Hammered most of all because of all the people who took time to draw me out of my shell, and who made a solid effort to include me. That was what brought me to start thinking of it as my guild rather than a guild I happened to be in.
What cemented it all, interestingly, is my own contribution to the guild. I do my best to keep the atmosphere good overall, and hopefully you can see the sort of thing I’m aiming for even if the only brush you have with the guild is with our website. I try to keep raids running smoothly and I make a point of talking to people as the old officers did for me.
Maybe that’s the thing. I put a fair amount of effort into the guild, and it all pays off. People respond well to encouragement; they’re fun to be around; and even the more trying officer tasks generally prove worthwhile. It’s nice to see results, and it’s nice to be a part of something that works.
Nah, I’ll be honest. I chose my guild because they are awesome.
Unless they read this, in which case... stop pulling snakes, you miserable sods!