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The Rise and Fall of Guilds

To many players, it is clear that individuals bring their own personalities and management styles into the game. And sometimes, it is the personality conflicts between guild officers that leads to a slow disintegration of a guild. After all, working with people who don’t think the same way you do is difficult whether in real life or virtual life. The following elaborate narrative comes from a female player who was an officer in a guild. Her account is remarkable because she demonstrates incredible insight for the attitudes and personalities of the other officers in her guild, and gives us a really good perspective of all the nuances and subtle dramas that occur within a guild.

Guild politics were a large part of the reason I burnt out on EQ. I found that I was playing for the guild most of the time, not for my own personal pleasure and that being a guild officer had become a second fulltime job of being diplomat, psychoanalyst, paper pusher, badguy authoritarian and cruise director to ensure 'fun' for everyone else, even tho I wasn't having a bit of fun myself unless it was time I stole on a secret alt to get away from 'officerhood' I was a founding officer of a guild that fell apart, pretty much thru mismanagement by the officers.

The tag is still around, but the guild is a pathetic skeleton of what it once was, and the blame should be squarely placed on the officer's shoulders. The officers Ali (me) (raid point/loot officer) Fulltime working professional with a boyfriend that played EQ, but far less seriously than I did. I had a background in LARP story telling and administration so I had a first hand working knowledge of how fragile and time intensive a group like a guild is to keep healthy. From my experiences there, I felt it was incredibly important to provide a set of rules ahead of time so that when there were the inevitable conflicts, decisions didn't appear retaliatory, but would be impartial based on a set of public policies. I was the only one of the bunch that had any willingness to do the administrative aspects of things, so it ALL got dumped in my lap. I was easily spending 10+ hours a week on maintaining the raid point system and the website and raids for me were a nightmare, trying to maintain attendance with people arriving late and leaving early, run loot auctions and track raid point expenditures and be lead cleric at the same time.

Brian (guildleader) Bri worked in tech support, stable job, but underemployed. He had some other interests outside of the game and while he logged some serious time on line, he at least had other things in his life. Bri became guildleader when we formed mostly from his on line charisma. I don't think he ever grasped the fact that creating and maintaining a thriving guild was WORK. He just thought that he could decree things and that was that. We were a council when it came to other people doing the work but a dictatorship when it came to any personal agenda he had. He wanted everyone to be happy, which meant he was great at not committing himself to anything one way or the other and living in his own personal reality where everything was rosy and he was well loved. He could be intensely loyal and also TOTALLY irrational when he felt someone had offered slight. He made slight overtures towards something off line and romantic when my relationship was on the rocks and when I turned him down, albeit kindly and amicably, our "relationship" as friends and fellow officers began slowly deteriorating.

Martin (first recruiting officer) Martin, like me, was a working professional. He traveled for his job, also had a son he had custody of and an online girlfriend in the guild so his time to commit to being an officer was limited. He was the only other one in the guild that really saw the guild as a community that needed to be nurtured and maintained not just a tactical force. But for whatever reason, Martin preferred to stick his head in the sand, disappear for long periods or be on line anon and avoiding everyone rather than speak up regarding his concerns. Martin's lack of response on officer issues even early on was perhaps the first crack in the guild. Rather than getting unanimous agreement, to get anything done, we had to go for a majority vote of officers voting since Martin and Dom would be so non-responsive.

Dom (Main Tank) I never totally understood Dom. He played an ogre warrior and because he was generally quiet, I think a lot of us underestimated the person behind the keyboard. He was very "hippie" in his perspective: Everyone should be "happy" and free to do whatever makes them happy. We didn't need rules as it would all just somehow magically work itself out. He was loyal and responsible.. when I paid for a year of web hosting, he was one of two of the officers to actually come up with his share of it. He and Bri had a long history together in EQ and it was pretty much a given that whatever opinion Bri had on an issue, that Dom would have the same one.

Chris (raid officer) Chris was a late 20 something college student with an ex-wife he hated deeply and a kid he saw sometimes on weekends. Chris was a poster boy for MMORPG addiction. Other than class, he had no life outside of the game. And, I suspect, he was trying to bolster his self-esteem through the game. Chris was the one that wanted the guild to move into the top tier of "uber-guilds" and take on all the hotly contested boss mobs. To him, the guild was successful if we were able to raid whenever he wanted and not wipe out taking on boss mobs. He simply didn't grasp "community" in the slightest. He saw classes and tactics, not people behind the keyboard. Chris was also positively desperate for a girlfriend, be it on line or in real life. I suspect that a good bit of the reason that our interactions turned us into bitter enemies is that I never realized that he was pursuing me in game and that he took my character's ultimate in-game relationship with his real life roommate as a slap in the face.

John (raid officer) John had a lot of good qualities but he was also myopically self centered. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too, and seemed honestly bewildered when his actions had repercussions. Despite being nearly 30, he still had no clue what he wanted to be when he grew up. He'd gotten a degree, ended up managing a discount store, then decided that he was going to move cross country and go back to school for computer science, despite having no real like for the subject. Then he wondered why the girlfriend he left behind wanted to leave him. John was Chris's roommate and my character's on line husband. John understood that the community aspect of the guild couldn't be completely neglected, but living with Chris (and also having not much of a real life outside of the game) he, like Chris, needed to feel powerful and important IN the game. And that meant pushing our guild to "bigger and better things".

The first crucial mistake we the officers made is that we never sat down and agreed on a direction and focus for the guild. And the longer that the guild was allowed to be each officer's personal vision rather than a consensus of all the officers, the further and further the opposing camps became. Martin and I wanted an intimate family atmosphere guild whose raid capabilities did not come at the expense of the community. We wanted very selective recruiting based on the personality and personal character of the person BEHIND the screen. Chris wanted an uber guild filled with enough people that we could raid any time of the day or night. So long as it was a competently played class that he felt the guild needed, the person behind the screen was totally irrelevant. Bri and John wanted the best of both worlds. They had visions of our guild challenging the 2 ruling uber guilds on the server.. but they also claimed they wanted to maintain the tight knit atmosphere. And Dom.. well, he wanted whatever Bri wanted at that particular moment.

Many of the people that joined the guild early on liked the fact that we raided a couple of times a week, but we weren't obsessive about it like a lot of the big name guilds. They joined us because of the tight knit atmosphere. The fact that we were honing our raid skills was a nice bonus, but definitely of secondary importance. Then Chris began working very hard on pushing the guild to bigger and better things. It made some sense initially: the officers were all 60 and working on AA points (this was pre-PoP) and seeking a bigger challenge. Bri would pretty much tag anyone that expressed an interest in the guild, so he was tagging low 50s toons while Chris was trying to ramp up for Level 60 encounters. This frustrated Chris so he started indiscriminately recruiting based solely on level & class and added people that were definitely not a good fit towards the tight knit atmosphere.

The second crucial mistake we made was our inability to act decisively. Because we were a council, we technically needed a majority to come to a decision. And as things deteriorated, officers either acted without consulting any of the other officers or ignored the issue on the board entirely, effectively consigning the issue into limbo. Chris would make rash threats on the server board, I would go ballistic privately to the officers (but felt that it was important that the officers maintain the appearance of unity publicly) and Brian would avoid taking a stand either way, just in case someone might not like him afterwards. So issues lingered on and guild members got disgruntled that the officers weren't responsive to them. As summer came things got worse. Chris was playing EQ pretty much 24/7 since school was out and he was wanting to raid more and more. My job was getting more intense so I wanted to raid less and less, since coming home from a stressful day at work and dealing with a stressful night of raiding in EQ, especially since there was much pressure for me to not log at 11PM EST because many times that effectively ended the raid (me being lead cleric).

We began losing people in the guild.. some because they didn't like the influx of new people Chris was bringing in and the new focus on high end raiding, some because we weren't doing the things Chris promised them the guild would be doing as fast as he promised them. Chris accused me of trying to sabotage his vision of being an uberguild, I accused him of making statements publicly that reflected badly on the guild as a whole (and destroying a reputation for honorable play that I'd spent 60 levels creating) without consulting the other officers and trying to sacrifice the sense of community on the altar of uber loot. Martin hid his head in the sand and stopped showing up to raids or reading the officer's board at all. Bri adroitly avoided taking a stand and managed to convince himself that everything was just fine, Dom was spending less & less time on line because of his marriage and John didn't want to keep putting effort into the guild when he was getting bored with what we could do with the people that we had.

The final issue was a player Chris recruited (against my vehement objections) that caused enough interpersonal strife in the guild that even the officers that didn't want to take a stand on anything finally spoke up and agreed that what this player brought to the guild wasn't worth the constant headaches he caused. Chris left in a fit of pique, John left a month later claiming burn out and boredom. John ended up in the top guild on the server, I think Chris quit playing all together. But at that point, the guild was too fractured to be re-buildable. Bri was getting bored with the game as a whole and definitely with leadership, but he still wanted to maintain the status of "guildleader". Dom was pretty much MIA, Martin was actively refusing to do anything guild related (yet he wasn't stepping down from being an officer or removing the guild tag) And I was just burnt out completely.

More and more people began leaving for what they saw as greener pastures. I gave it another 3 months trying to get the guild back onto a healthy track, but after a while, it seemed apparent that while people were fast to complain there just WAS no way to make people happy. And the effort seemed less and less worth it. So after a lot of emotional wrestling with myself, I finally removed the tag. I started recruiting with an uberguild where I could just be 1 cleric in a CHO and leave the running of the guild to other people, but I was so burnt out on the game, that I stopped playing completely a few weeks after that. [EQ, F, 35]



There are some success stories. For those that are interested I would suggest a visit to our Guild website and review the visions document.
Easy to find with a web search of (Everquest The Rathe Clan X)

Posted by: Lenny on May 3, 2003 9:23 AM

Having been in two guilds since my inception into DAoC, I can speak from experience about what happens as a guild disintegrates. My first guild was really special, I was brand new to the game and they really took care of me. I look back at those days and smile because I valued the friendships I made. I still she some people from time to time.

My first guild had a 42nd level character as the guild leader. He kept the guild focused and gave of his time willingly. There were several 35th level characters as supporting leaders.

When the guild leader decided to leave the guild, the 35s left as well. They all went their separate ways and left me with a guild with only a handful of low 30s characters and alot of low 20s.

I tried to keep the spirit of the guild going - but it was doomed to failure. The people in their 20s were young and wanted to get power leveled. Eventually I closed the guild doors and found another guild - one that had the same beliefs of fun and friendship.

I'm extremely happy with my new guild. All the players have multiple characters at 50 and we all help each other out. We have fun at realm vs realm, player vs environment, and crafting.

I believe the key is to have players at various ages in the guild - everyone brings something to the table. The leadership should be experienced in the game as well as in life. Stability is the key to a successful guild as well as having fun in what you do. Support is everything - be it verbal or monetary.

Posted by: Rastellian on May 4, 2003 10:28 AM

Interesting subject.

Any time a guild fails I usually ask its members what happened. Several of the reasons listed involve things a guild leader may not be able to control b/c of the game's dynamics, but there are still several things a guild leader could affect and at least mitigate.

Here are the common reasons I hear:

1) A perception that there was favoritism in loot distribution or other perks, benefits.

The person who spent less time playing was often penalized in the loot distribution, did not get perks, and ultimately became so dis-satisfied as to leave the game altogether b/c he or she felt they could never "win" in a time frame real life allowed.

Those who played a lot more than real life should probably allow left the guild b/c the lion's share of loot was never enough, and the grass was always greener on the other side.

Guilds who rewarded players who could invest inordinate amounts of time in EQ seemed to lose both ends of the spectrum and crumbled.

2) A sense that the guild was not moving ahead anywhere and never did anything.

Players weren't able to feel a sense of accomplishment with their preferred set of friends, so they began to go off solo by themselves in new zones. There, they began to connect with and make new friends, which eased the pain of leaving their old guild to join a new one that was doing things they were interested in. In this area, it seemed the leaders did not make a guild-wide groupy activity available often enough.

3) No one was really listening to concerns.

I've found in the game, many people don't talk to the person at the other end of the screen. They talk at them. They are disassociated with the other person's emotions b/c there are no facial or other cues. It takes a good deal of empathy to overcome this in an online environment. It also takes the courage to follow up on odd wording, which is often a clue to some emotion the person isn't quite letting out, and a hint at some problem that needs to be considered.

4) There was too much recruitment too fast.

People were being put shoulder to shoulder that had very little in common and whose values produced conflicts and rifts that could never be bridged, not even by the most-skilled negotiator.

What seems to help here is slower recruitment, from one friend to the next, but many leaders are too anxious about game success to be that patient.

5) Criticism of errors was too harsh.

Most players do their best to succeed in the game. Criticism, however, is often cast in a blaming way by leadership, and results in very miffed players who often would just leave the guild rather than discuss or explain the matter any further.

_ _ _ _ _ _

All these are tough problems in many ways, particularly when you consider this is a game that the leader is probably playing to supposedly have fun.

I started my guild for two purposes. Firstly, I was a new manager of a daily newspaper and being asked to motivate people and manage them was very new to me. I thought a guild would give me a chance to try out ideas in a safer environment. Secondly, I did not see many guilds catering to people who, very sanely I think, have decided EQ should not consume more than 2 or 3 hours a night, with perhaps a little more on weekends.

What I have seen is that many guilds if they started as a low-level guild where the main fare of the day was getting some experience in single groups, stayed in that rut and did not begin to shift focus to the next stage of the game, which seems in EQ to be multiple groups in harder zones. They were not, in this sense, responsive to changing needs from outside and within.

They didn't build a multi-group activity in at the start to get people used to thinking in a team-oriented way, and so when it was time to shift from more individualistic pursuits to guild-wide ones, the resulting tensions created rifts that could not be bridged.

Also, many leaders seemed to be continually waiting for that magic combination of players, classes and levels to do the things the guild members want. In the game, as in life, it just so rarely happens that easily. A leader has to create the opportunities desired, not wait for it to come knocking, or the players will leave to follow someone who can create those opportunities when they are needed. This is one of the most difficult parts of running a guild in the game.

I've personally learned a lot of things doing this guild about people, myself, and group dynamics in a pressure cooker ... it's been fascinating and helpful in many ways outside the game.

As children, we played dolls and other games that helped us learn lessons that applied to life. I don't see an mmorpg being too different in this aspect. And I think it is a better alternative in many ways than 2 or 3 hours of television, so I think it is worthwhile to consider what would make the games a better experience for a broader spectrum of people.

From my experiences as a leader of a guild, it would help ease the situation if the designers would realize or respect that an ordinary person who is not slacking real life probably doesn't have the time to put into the game to "succeed" as most of the games currently stand. Success I am just defining as building a reasonably decent character with skills, abilities and equipment.

The drop rates in some of these games require an INSANE amount of time to obtain the item, same for building the experience to be the top level. It is very hard to see any noticeable improvement in just a 2-3 hour time span for most people. A player thus must choose less than success in the game to tend to real life. This isn't too compatible w/ anyone's wishes for an immersion in a fantasy world as the hero or heroine.

It would be better imo to shift the games from being built around creating a character and improving it to taking a largely built character on a journey of some kind that is easily accessible in normal time frames with a band of friends. The largely built characters should not take so long to get to that point -- people who are starting anew really just want to catch up to their compadres so they can participate in what's going on.

Everyone wants the fantasy imerssion for their 2 or 3 hours, that's what they are paying for, and I think artificially restricting it so that the experiences/loot are so rare that only a few can go or get the things is ultimately cheating the players of what they payed for.

Posted by: Rubythorne on May 5, 2003 10:54 AM

A very nice reading. Good to see that the problems many guilds are plagued with in EQ and DAOC also apply to guilds in AO. Leading a guild myself in UO first and now in AO since 1.5 years, I have experienced all the problems mentioned here and learned some new things too. Thank you!

Posted by: Meister on May 5, 2003 3:00 PM

Very nice to read:) Been running a guild in AO for over a year now, but allways room for learning and improving. Guess one of my hardest learnt lessons is that of structure, goals and ideals.

3 things needed to keep guild running.

Ideals to build the guild by, goals to have something to strive for and keep things interesting for all, and structure to let the 2 former be possible.

Posted by: Littletza on May 6, 2003 7:09 AM

All this just reaffirms my belief that a guild has no part in my game experience. I play the game to relax and as an entertainment alternative to TV. My wife, sister-in-law and an online friend enjoy a realaxed (usually) 2 to 34 hours of game time most evenings, and have managed to bring multiple characters to decent levels with fairly acceptable equipment without the demands and stress of a guild.

Posted by: Askysis on May 6, 2003 10:03 AM

I have had some of the same experiences in EQ, AO, and DAOC. I have been in guilds that were mostly social, and in guilds that were gunning to be uber. The most enjoyable ones were social, and the least pleasant were the wanna-be ubers. I repeatedly saw guilds focused on power gaming self-destruct in pretty short order, and for me the idea of joining a group that MANDATED spending X hours doing Y activity per week or get kicked out was not something I associated with fun.
The last guild I was in was DAOC, and despite having great people it wound up imploding due to the same kind of personality issues that were mentioned above. We had a GM that was never there, and constantly over-reacted to criticsm. He really liked being the GM, but would not spend the time on managing the guild or at least delegating the rights to do so to one of the officers who would. Despite being an old and respected guild, it fractured, with most of the founding members leaving for other guilds or starting new ones.
I finally started my own guild, and while it is really small, we all know each other and get along well. I deal with enough drama at work, and the last thing I want to do is put up with more of the same doing something that is supposed to be fun. Afterall, if it isn't fun than why bother?

Posted by: Jarnvik on May 6, 2003 2:05 PM

The article "The Rise and Fall of Guilds" is a very subjective view of one person's experiences. I would have liked to have read the other guild members' opinions on the events and their obversations of the guild in general.

Guilds are online clubs. The ones I have joined get into my blood. They bring many sessions of laughs, fellowship, and common purpose. But then I am a casual online player and take the long view about guilds.

I too have had the joys and dreads of being a guild member in a few guilds in a few online worlds. The joys of the fellowship, new online friendships, and common goals and respect. The dreads of the guild splintering due to power struggles or internal strife, of political intrigue, of cliques and favortisms, and of sexual harrassments.

Anytime you get a number of people together, whether online or in real life, there will always be a 'yin-yang' effect...the bonding of friendships and having fun against the clash of personalities and everyone's objectives. In real life this appears at work, social functions, clubs and organizations, etc. The online world guilds are merely reflections of the social behaviors we already deal with in real life.

The longetivity and stability of a guild depends on the mix of the members and leaders. You can only get what you desire from a being an active member of the guild. Hangers-on, political griefers, and malcontents always end up leaving the guild and allowing the core members to carry on with running the guild. It has been my experience that those who leave the guild, either by choice or real life needs or misled to quit, usually end up slowly filtering back into the fold.

Noldor Numbwit
Eternal Newbie

Posted by: Noldor Numbwit on May 6, 2003 2:23 PM

Noldor, the article contains many different narratives, and each of them comes from a different person. The point wasn't to show exhaustive data centered on one guild, but to show the overall complexity across different players' experiences.

Posted by: Nick Yee on May 6, 2003 4:49 PM

As someone who went the Guild Officer/Guild Leader/Guild Officer route I found the narratives presented to be dead on. My Guild went through much of what was described above with the exception of uber loot distribution because we didn't do much uber raiding. Our guild was always (or tried to be) very selective in recruiting. We always let new recruits know right up front that our guild was a "small circle of friends" first, and an uber looting society second. Trouble makers just simply were not tolerated and were removed ASAP.

I can definitely testify that being a GL is no where near what it is cracked up to be and the stress of it almost caused me to leave the game. That was when I decided to step down as GL and have not looked back.

I could go on and on about all of the problems I had to sort through (personality conflicts, mutually incompatible goals, a truly psychotic recruit, and people who just thought that winning was THE only thing) but in the end the folks who proved that they were quality individuals, and were recruited specifically for that reason, are still in the guild and the others are gone.

Thanks for a very informative article.

Best Regards,

Jumgurorm Atrociter
Pawn of Prophecy
The "Brell"

PS - we currently have about 15 - 20 active members ranging from me a 43 year-old professional (official guild "Old Man") to a fourteen year-old young man who is just simply a joy to play with.

Posted by: Jumgurorm Atrociter on May 6, 2003 5:51 PM

My guild was founded on alot of the same principles that are described in the article.

Since we were made soon after beta, the goal then was to get exp...raids wouldnt come till much later.

I, too have had alot of the same issues as are described above. Right now we're at the crossroads of being a "training guild" for other guilds, and wanting to just see some higher end content...not be "uber"..but at least achieve what our abilities will allow.

What I'd like to see is not an article of how guilds fall apart...we all pretty much know how it happens. How do the "uber" guilds stay successful?? What is the reason that they stay on top, while others fall behind...that I think would be rather informative.

Posted by: Karas on May 11, 2003 10:50 AM

With the inception of the Planes of Power in EverQuest, there have been quite a few 'uber' guilds that have fallen apart.

It seems that the planes themselves are part of the problem. When only half a guild is flagged to enter the next tier of planes, the rest of the guild gets left behind to find their own adventure. This causes dissension in part because one facet of a guild is that they are united in cause and effort. The planes, by separation of 'flagged' versus 'unflagged,' divide guilds into two separate camps...and eventually, the ones who are left behind move on.

Posted by: Jennifer on May 11, 2003 12:12 PM

How überguilds and normal guilds stay together is answered as much as how they fall apart in the article - there's no recepy for sucess, only advice on the dangers on the road leading there.

Posted by: Littletza on May 13, 2003 6:52 AM

One thing I have noticed in the "Rise and Fall of guilds" is the leadership element. I've seen a few guilds fall apart just because real life caught up with the guild leader and due to restrictoins in promotion power new people dont come in and current people dont have the ability to take the helm unless said guild leader transfers the power.

One subject that was touched upon was the family guild issue. Most guilds start out recruiting just about anyone to fill their ranks with the pretense to help all advance. This fails often because many times characters are often engaged in questing and when a call for help comes out it is ignored because of traveling, loosing a camp etc, or spending to much time dealing with newbies who want to get big quick. One the flip side of the coin I have seen great success in the "PK Guilds". Playing on Rallos Zek which has the most flexible of PvP rules, there are some guilds out there that are very organised and skilled enough to claim a zone while being few in number. These guilds seem to be very bonded and are more selective of their members. I think the reason for this is the competition aspect of the game. These guilds set out to make an name for themselves and do it by eradicating all who do not bear their tag. In a zone of 40+ players, I witnessed a party of 6 PK guild members successfully take out about 10 people and scaring off the rest of the zone.

Due to this threat several other "AntiPK Guilds" have also came into existance, unlike the family guilds which exist to mutually benefit each other, these guilds set out and hunt down the PK guilds. These guilds also seem to have success as much so if not greater than the PK guilds. I believe these 2 types of guilds have what family guilds lack, and that is a sense of purpose. PK guilds exist to murder and loot ,whereas anti-PK guilds exist to avenge and bring justice. Family guilds and quest guilds dont have this same objective and usually aren't as cohesive as the latter 2. Everyone with a character aims to build and improve, however each in his own way. Because of that Family and Quest guilds dont tend to last because once a characters personal interests are sated, the guild no longer serves their purpose. PK/Anti PK guilds have a greater purpose, and have an image/ego in which they wish to sustain.

While I am no surveyist, I would ask those who are in the department to perhaps to touch upon these remarks and perhaps deliver a better analysis.


26/M/EQ (Rallos Server)

Posted by: Mose on May 19, 2003 8:53 AM

Every guild is going to have it's problems, but you still have to know what a guild is about when you enter in to it. If you join a guild expecting to get help with your quests, help with leveling, and go on an abundant number of uber raids, you can't blame it on the guild when you find out they are around for fun, go on random, sporadic non-raids, and just mess around all the time. That was your fault for not looking into it beforehand. =P

If you are on the Zebuxoruk server and looking for the type of guild described in the second half of my post, please visit our wesite at or and if you are interested e-mail us at the address on the site or find one of our guildies in game. =)

Dire Knights
"Striving for mediocrity since 2001"

Posted by: /grin on June 24, 2003 9:29 AM

Verry nice info about guilds indeed.

I myself ran a guild in another mmorpg called Helbreath for about a year.

And indeed in the beginning i know nothing about being a guildmaster and duties. So we just started out with exploring the game ,getting exp together But maybe the most important of all having fun.

As the game went on our guild got really popular and we had more people wanting to join then was good so i had to decided not to recruit anymore.
I had seen that other guilds grew to big to fast and because of that broke up again and again.

Personally i prefer a small guild in wich u know all people and in wich u can make fun. We constantly made jokes wich seriously boosted member happyness and their time they spended online. We even held quizes when we didn't wanna lvl.

What also is important is player maturity.
Wich often depends on their age. so apart from lvl requirements i always asked their age. Not to discriminate but to make things easier.
U can imagine that a 15year old boy won't have much to say against a woman of 25.So this is one of the things that will prevent major arguments from happening. Finally our guild broke up becuz of the opening of another server who was better for like half my members. Combined with the boredom that took place after a year of the same game we decided to break up and all went their own way.

Posted by: Frisbi on December 4, 2003 2:36 PM

I have been very fortunate in that my guild has been strong and successful since it's conception. We've seen guilds come and go, and have learned from their mistakes (sorry, that sounds bad).

We are 65 people strong, with a very low turnover rate. No other guild has had longer consistent leadership from one leader.

I believe some of this has come from a few guidelines I've tried to uphold and have been mentioned throughout this piece and its comments. I hope you do not presume this to be arrogance.

a.) Age does matter. Try to keep your guildmates in around the same age. We always strove to keep people 18+. This was largely due to huge amount of dirty jokes told by the members. (Stuff about what Troll women do to captive keen men). of course there was exceptions but this rule allowed us to speak freely and connect with like minded people.

b.) The guild will evolve as will its interests. The key is keeping it interesting for everyone. When we first started the guild all we did was XP. Then as people started getting 50, more and more started to RVR and those left to XP felt left behind. Host events to unite these parties.

c.) Have good people to support you. Do not try to do it all, delegate, delegate, delegate. When they get burned out, do not hesitate to replace them with other people eager to

d.) Talk with your guild, not at your guild. LISTEN!

e.) When you need a break, let your guild know, take a break, put someone else in charge, and come back very soon a better guild leader. Do not expect things to go back easily to where they were before. Remember when you had a substitute teacher for 1 month how funny it felt when your real teacher came back?

d.) Don't take it personal. If you are starting to get personally upset and are not listening to what your guildmates are saying you need to take a break. Tell them you value their opinions etc, but take a break and deal with it on a level head. It is your job as a GM to keep it unbiased. Your job is to look out for the interest of the guild.

e.) Say Hi to EVERY guildmate. If they have a connection to you, they will be more willing to express concerns, and will make the guild better because of their connection to you.

f.) Know when to say good bye. When a member wants to go, sometimes you just have to let them go. "If you love it set it free... blah blah.."

g.) Make decisions. That Bri in the article was not set to be a guildleader. He didn't act like a leader, he was a motivational speaker.

h.) There will be cycles where the guild will be strong, and weak. Wait it out. People return, people get burnt out, people join your guild because you are just that awesome.

i.) Keep a constant influx of fresh blood, but not too fast... If you recruit too fast people lose connection/bond to the guild. But maintain it quick enough such that you do not dwindle to such low numbers that you do not achieve anything.

j.) Maintain a goal and focus for the guild. allow it to evolve with the guild's values. Keeping the guild interested in similiar things is whats going to keep them grouping together...

whew.. I hope this helps...

Posted by: Raina on February 24, 2004 5:40 PM

Hello, I was in this guild , Many of the things you said where True but, I think you are puting blame on the Officers alone, this is not correct. The down fall of this guild was not just the Leadership but also the people that where in the guild, for the longest time we where a awsome guild, no fighting, we worked well and functioned as a whole. But in my view the down fall of the guild was conflect. Many of the people that where in the guild did not like other members, but tryed to put that aside. As more and more people begen to have problems with eachother tention was building. All you needed to break the guild was 1 large conflect. If you where inthis guild you would know what i was talking about. After a long time member and friend of the guild Left after being Pushed to him limets by another member, the guild broke, Once one person main person left, all the others that wanted to could just say they left because this person did, so it basicly snowballed, just kept losing more and more people. So infact it is not all on the sholders of the Officers but on Members too.

Posted by: Anon on June 18, 2004 4:26 AM

Seems like there are about a billion things that can go wrong with guilds. But even more that can make them worthwhile. I once founded a guild on another rpg site. the entire idea was anarchistic since the only two rules were to not beat each other up and to pillage whatever we saw/met. Worked well for a few months, then real life caught up with me. Next time I logged in the guild didn't exist. Anyway the thing that I remember most about it was how we were tight-knit and got along well (with each other anyway). That seems to have helped other guilds. And having a set goal and rules.

Posted by: Insanity on July 30, 2004 11:44 PM

One reason I have not seen mentioned, but have seen happen several times, is the formation of little exclusing cliques within the guild. These often (not always) consist of the "elite" 6-10 people, often officers, - those are the ones where when you look at the guild window are always grouped together in some uber xp or loot zone, but never with any of the rabble.

This creates a level of frustration in the guild which often leads to breakups.

Posted by: Laiina on August 2, 2004 10:55 AM

I'm sure some of you have heard of EVE Online, even though most of the player base is European. For those of you that haven't, EVE is a Sci-Fi, space, hyper-capitalistic MMORPG (EVE is very similar to Trade Wars and ELITE, for you older folks :-) ) All 250,000 subscribers play on the same MASSIVE server, so you can imagine the scale of the "guilds" (known as corporations and alliances) in EVE. It's common place for player made "empires" to consist of anywhere from 3000-5000+ individuals.

Because EVE warfare is a function of economics, large empires almost always collapse due to warfare. If wars (which are not necessarily a commonplace) continue for too long, and the losses on a particular side is too harsh to bear, the empire generally falls apart for a number of reasons (once more, economics comes into play. Members of an empire will frequently take their business elsewhere when the situation becomes unprofitable.)

The politics between "guilds" in EVE is like no other MMORPG I've ever encountered. Corporations and alliances are not just "clubs". They are nations with vibrant economies, glitsy navies, etc. There is intense hatred and rivalry between warring empires and older, more prestigious empires have fervent nationalists. It's simply mind boggling to watch 200+ warships blast away at one another in a large scale battle.

Below is a link to a map that has charted the most recent political developments.

Yes, every one of those tiny little dots is a star system (5000 in all.)

Each colored bubble is player run empire (the stripes represent disputed territory and sites of warfare). The middle of the map is is secure land, where players that don't want to participate in empires can play in peace (around 70 percent of the population). What's most intriguing is that wars have a dramatic impact on the economy of EVE. Because the economy is player run (everything that you can fly, shoot with, build with, etc. is built by players) wars tend to increase demand of warships and equipment. A savy trader can use this to his advantage.

At any rate, the political intrigue in EVE is the most fascinating of any MMORPG I've ever witnessed, and would be a spectacular subject of examination.

Posted by: Demian Sky on January 14, 2005 8:16 PM

The "clique" thing is a true phenomena. Even when it isn't the guild officers it can cause conflict. There was a group that always played together even though there were a dozen others at their level who could have teamed with them. They were powerlevelers. I suppose the clique wasn't the big problem, but the fact that they were powerlevelers in a social organization who didn't understand why we thought it important to spend time socializing, raiding and helping the new players.

Problems happened when they overtook the high level gamers who were high because they had been playing for three years, instead of powerleveling. Loot issues ensued, they started using guild resources and recruiting high level doctors (always in demand) to raid with them exclusively.

Eventually, after creating much tension, they burnt out and went on their way to another MMORPG.

Our organization has been around for over three years and still going strong, which proves that even social guilds can stick around if you are willing to put in the effort.

Posted by: Sychotic1 on March 18, 2005 10:28 AM

I think another take on this idea is to try and identify specific common actions that cause many guilds to fracture.

In my own experience in EQ and WoW, guilds often start with a core set of players, followed by an expansion period, then a purge that sometimes splits sometimes destroys the guild. This is related to the issue of power vs. casual players. Power players find themselves understaffed to take on raid content in a game so they build the guild by recruiting a lot of people who are casual players but are interested in the rewards from raid content. All of the issues described in this article come to bare in such a situation and people shed from the group in one of a few ways.

Sometimes the core players in the guild hold together and either force others out or leave to form a new guild with a definitive purpose.

The stresses of holding the guild together divide the core and the entire guild dissolves.

A large defection (often another guild that merged previously) causes the guild to no longer attempt the raid content and people leave as they are now impotant to perform the task that they joined for.

Posted by: Mothlos on November 3, 2005 9:58 AM

Hey Nick,

I think you should have a look at whats happening in Wow at the moment, just before the release of the new expansion The Burning Crusade. An awful lot of guilds have experienced problems and some of the best (at least on the server i play) have split up or disbanded. Seems to me the transition period between old and new content is problematic to some extent (although obviously third variables are bound to have a say in the matter), and waiting for the expansion creates a sort of in-between situation which creates insecurity and diminishes the pleasure players experience. While waiting for the expansion a lot of people feel playing is 'useless' (raiding for example) and slowly withdraw from the game. The lack of motivation to play was felt on the entire server i play on.
Ever considered going more in depth as to what happens when a gaming company announces major changes in the game? Perhaps it's already been done, i haven't read all the articles, but it certainly sounds interesting to me.

Posted by: Vache on January 9, 2007 12:05 AM

I would echo what Vache has posted. In the past year, my WoW guild has seen variations on almost every vignette in this chapter, and remarkably has remained intact.

But with the approaching expansion, nearly everyone has changed their focus, fearing all the work we've done to this point is now "obsolete", and due to Blizzard's changes in PvP rewards, have done PvP to the exclusion of all else.

It's been amazing: people have gotten depressed, quit the guild, quit the game, switched main toons, all out of some impending sense of doom that the expansion is going to break the game and render their previous efforts for naught.

Posted by: Ryan on January 12, 2007 3:06 PM

The guild I play with in WoW, is a social guild that moved over from FFXI. I've been playing with the handful of "core" players for over three years now. Our guild leader has remained the same throughout and we've always had a semi-relaxed attitude of, "Hey let go for it, if we win great" sort of deal.

Lately we had begun raiding with those who were of level and we realized we had some minor organizing to do in an effort to be fair, and for the future if we happened to grow more. As it was we were borrowing a member or two from friend of other guilds to complete our 10-man raid roster. It was basically 3 ranks, members, raiders for those that want to raid, and officers, which we were hoping some people would like to step up and try organizing events etc for the non-raiding or quiet (practically mute members)

When we renamed the ranks, which prior had been level based and were nothing more than pretty names ripped right from the Alliance PvP list, the backlash was immediate and vicious. A guild, who in a day had less guild chat text then i recieved from gold seller spam in a half hour, felt "betrayed". Attempting to explain to them, that they could continue to wear the guild name as a pretty banner and go about whatever it is they did all day was unsuccessful, there were no right answers.

Ironically now there is plenty of discussion, most of it negativity or questions, but no longer my problem. I have a zero-tolerance for drama, so after making my recommedation that we return it to the way it was to my guild leader, I resigned as senior officer and returned to my healing roots (whitemage in FFXI)on an alt as a draeni priest. Luck and fortune be with them, *shakes head*

Posted by: Xieryn on May 9, 2007 2:27 PM

Reading all of this reminds me of how much I miss my old guild. I joined because they seemed like friendly folks, and generally helpful - even after I initially refused to join their guild, they helped me with several intense quests, and in spite of my boyfriend informing me (as kindly as possible) that they were "a guild of n00bs" I decided to stick with them.

I could probably name five or six very active guild officers who were the core of the guild. Sadly, because we were so close we had trouble recruiting, and as people would leave or become inactive we never quite replaced them. Eventually, I (at this point guild leader) went on a month's vacation abroad, and when I came back two of our four remaining active members had left the game for personal reasons. A third left for a more active guild shortly after. Disbanding the guild was one of the saddest things I've ever had to do, and I haven't really been enjoying the game in the same way since.

Posted by: Alixna on October 20, 2007 3:07 PM


Posted by: Victoria Bright on November 12, 2008 5:32 PM

I'm impressed. You've ralely raised the bar with that.

Posted by: Luella on January 3, 2012 1:04 AM
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