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The High-End Game


Criteria For Membership

And finally, I asked Talon about the criteria used for evaluating applicants. These criteria help frame and summarize the aspects of the high-end culture that Talon has described above.

1. Thick skin. There'll be a lot of harsh language thrown around, and critique will be honest and sometimes even excessive. If you can't take it, just go away already. Crying about criticism will be the fastest way to get voted out.

2. Attendance. If you aren't there, what use are you supposed to be?

3. Attitude. If you can't adapt to the "guild comes first" thinking, you have a potential of ebaying, simply being less useful or theoretically even causing drama. This is basically a sliding scale from "extremely good" to "drama". This is often tested by having them take a lot mild abuse/neglect originally. We're not courting them, they are courting us, and they should be aware of this. If they stick to it for a month of being nearly ignored, they are the type of material we will like. Never giving up is the quality we find most appealing.

4.Skill. Usually people who fit the above criteria do pretty well here. Yet sometimes there are phenomenally skilled people who don't do that well in #2 and #3. For example right now we have one player who does really well in #1, #2 and #4, but has an attitude problem. This is sufficient for us to try to work on the attitude some, but our patience is not unlimited.

Talon's description of the culture of his guild shows how the high-end game is not just about spending more hours in the game. It's about having a different conceptualization of what the game is altogether. The game is no longer about your character, or how good your character's gear is. It's not about how many hours you can jam in. In Talon's view, to succeed in the high-end game, the game has to cease to be about you.


 



Comments

Homosocial relations.. a communal upperclass.. balanced prerogatives and passions.. this reads like something taken directly from Plato's Republic. Clearly, where online environments have taken center stage in logographic spaces, each mmorpg has become a metropolis within these spheres.

Posted by: genericdefect on May 11, 2005 4:00 AM

Interesting interview .
It is actually rather banal - people who get a kick from BELONGING (I stress belonging and not being) to the best , will export that behaviour to MMORPGs and not only MMORPGs .
That's the motivation that leads some (not all) people in RL war wanting to enlist in "Elite" units .
They get a kick not of being acknowledged by themselves but by being acknowledged as being part of something superior/better .

Obviously it is not so simple because there is a always a relationship between being elite and belonging to elite .

I can confirm that it works that way for having lead during 2 years a unit in WorldWar II on line that I wanted to bring to an elite status .
Admittedly WWIIOL is a military simulation MMOLG but the psychological springs at work are the same as described here .
First thing I put in effect were the 3 Squad values : Dedication , Discipline , Patience .
New members were admitted exclusively on the basis of those values and members failing to comply with those values were shown the door .

And of course it works .
People with a mindset consistent with such values are people who make our of a normal Squad an elite squad .
Interestingly skills don't need to be explicitely mentioned in the values because they are in almost every case a consequence of the "right" mindset .
I always preferred a dedicated and disciplined member who achieved honorable skills to a godly gifted prima dona with doubtful dedication (to the squad and to the squad's goals) .

However I do not share at all the point of view concerning the age .
I found , on the contrary , that older players (let's say above 30) were always more mature , patient , disciplined and therefore efficient than younger players .
Being under 20 was practically a definitive handicap preventing being accepted as member .

Posted by: Valoril on May 11, 2005 4:52 AM

I still am looking for the game that I can have it all. I am not willing to give up flags, gear and character advancement to be part of a "family" guild, nor am I willing to give up my relationship with my character to be part of a "good" end game guild.

My character is my guy. Sure, someone I trust can use him to fullfill a certain role when I am not around, but I wouldn't want him gaining gear, XP or flags without me at the wheel, and that seems to directly contradict what the interviewed guild leader is saying is the culture in his "successful" end game guild.

#1 I want to be a part of a successful guild, a winning team, a winning organization, AND #2 I want,through my character, to be part of the social fabric, make friends, do favors, help people out with quests and get help. AND #3 I want to develop my charcter to ubber-dum.

I tried for 4 years to make that happen in EQ, and failed. And now I don't play MMORPG at all.

Posted by: frustrated fan on May 11, 2005 8:37 AM

Wow. er, not the game, my reaction.

Let's see... where to begin...

I'm GL of one of the top raiding guilds on my EQ1 server. We're also a family guild in the best senses of that term: we *are* a family-- at times disfunctional but definitely a family. And I'm "mom"-- I don't run the raids, but I damn sure run the guild, and that means making folks mind their manners as well as making sure everyone has a fair shot at the goodies that come with raiding.

Do I play shrink? No, but I do play "Auntie Mame" and "big sis" and "mom" a lot. I have raid leaders who run the raids, who can say "shut up and do it"-- and they do so very successfully.

I very definitely agree with the need for stable members rather than crash-and-burn folks who when they crash take with them items/flags/etc that would otherwise remain with the guild and help the guild progress.

Oddly enough, we don't "vote" but we do operate by officer consensus, and we are sensitive to the wishes/beliefs of the members.

I also agree with the "no special goodies for the officers" approach: we award raid points essentially for time served on raids. So if you're there and you work, you get RPS to spend on raid loots. But only for items you can and will equip immediately -- no buying stuff for your twinks.

Successful guilds are not, however, democracies. Talon said "In other words, the power is given democratically, but wielded in a dictatorial way." Talon is correct in saying one needs the support of the members in order to lead, but leaders LEAD, dammit-- and members had better be ready to follow orders during raids. We've booted people who can't do that. You have a question/issue/concern with how we do Raid_01? Bring it up on our forums and we'll talk about it. But STFU during the raid and let's just get it done? KK, thanks, drive through....

One of the best assistants to running raids like this is TeamSpeak. ALL members are welcome in TeamSpeak and they hear how the leadership determines and revises strategy. It gives them added respect and of course added ability to follow direction b/c they hear it as well as read it on the screen.

Where Talon and my guild first part ways decisively is on the issue of shared toons. We do NOT believe the pool of toons in our guild is communal, believe me! Will we ask a trusted guildmate to log on our toon for a needed flag? Yes. Will we log on that toon b/c we need a chanter, or a shaman, or whatever? No. Toons are not tools, they are who we ARE. And it cheapens our accomplishments if we do it using toons as tools. We are deeply attached to our guild, but we are attached not as interchangeable parts, but as individuals. Is that why we are not "first to kill" XYZ? Perhaps. We were either first or second to kill the revised Innoruk after Hate revamp... and we didn't do it by logging on other people's toons.

And then the sexist attitude Talon portrays! Good lord, my guild was founded by a woman who could kick more ass than any three men in the guild. I'm not an ass-kicker, but I damn sure see to it that if it needs kicking it gets kicked. (And I'm a little old lady retired English teacher IRL, btw... ) And we have no patience with suck-ups. Of course, we have only one RL male in our cleric corps (which has received praise from RL's of other high end guilds btw). We have at least 10 RL married/cohabiting couples in our guild; it makes us stronger, frankly, and contributes to our "Family" work ethic.

We've never had a female member who used sexual wiles to garner favors; we wouldn't tolerate it. Nor would a male sucking up to me as a female GL have any more success.

I don't accept that his view is not "sexist," Nick -- it is VERY sexist. It presupposes that women will invariably choose to manipulate men to rise in the guild.

Oh... and does he think that the homosocial atmosphere in his guild is devoid of the homoerotic? Does he ignore the fact that gay males also play MMORPGs and find romance there? /snort
I think the difference between our guild and his is *not* simply the fact that he has no women b/c he doesn't trust women not to manipulate.. it is that he's evaluating women on the basis of his high school and college experiences, experiences shaped by high levels of sexual tensions between males and females.

Our guild's average RL player age is at least 30. We have married couples in their 40's and 50's as well as in their 20's and 30's. One of my most reliable officers is 19, but most of the others are at least 30. People with real lives, jobs, family responsibilities-- people who need to know that we have set raid times and days so they plan raiding around RL and not the other way-- these people don't look to EQ for their "lives" and so don't need to interact in the "oooh will we fall for each other?" way that he seems to see in his guild experiences.

We do more with less, we're very efficient in our raiding. But we don't leave the "human" behind in our guild.

I would not like Talon's guild; I don't think most of my guildmates would either.

Talon is about "beating the game" -- my guild is about "playing the game" as well as we can, enjoying the high that comes from working out a strategy for a kill that fits *our* guild's approach. We are in many ways our toons; our toons are in most ways ourselves.

Talon is about making people suffer just to be part of the elite. We are about making people elite by being part of a cooperative whole. I confess to being repelled by his description of how they treat recruits.

He's not uber, he's an arrogant barstid, and if we were same game/same server, we'd get some of the best people on that server come to us after they decided that a GAME should not involve abuse from the guild they want to raid with. And I wouldn't want Talon or his fellows in our guild-- they'd destroy it, not make it more uber.

The "game" in our guild is about all of us, not any one of us... but we get there w/o the mindset he describes.

In summary: it may not be possible to be the #1 or #2 *raiding* guild on a server without the militaristic, impersonal, abusive attitudes Talon describes. But I can tell you from personal experience that it's possible to be in the top 5. Our guild *is* a raiding guild; we raid at least 5 nights a week, often taking on multiple targets. But we're also a family, not a mercenary army.

To each his/her own I suppose....

Posted by: GuildLeader_02 on May 11, 2005 9:31 AM

I have to agree with previous posters- Talon's perspective is so different from my own, it's difficult to read it expressed with such conviction.

I acknowledge the achievements of Talon's guild, but I also measure such things by the means used to reach them and the impact of both on the player community.

I don't find the means here to have merit. The achievements become irrelevant when exceptional means are taken to reach them, and the methods can be damaging to the player community, depending on the extremes they're taken and the visibility the guild strives for.

Oftentimes, these guild members are suprised or confused that other people don't see their achievements in the same light as they do. Rather than accepting that such extremes devalue the "achievement," they fall back to the "you're just jealous" defense to shrug off any criticism.


Now, I'm not as concened about the PvE achievements of raids and such, as most player communities will cull their lists of guilds that play outside their rules. It doesn't matter if guild x is listed first, we'll take pride in being the top guild that didn't resort to doing ____ (fill in the blank)

I'm more concerned with how this impacts PvP in games. I've seen plenty of instances where players of any BUT the extreme guild are effectively excluded from playing. They just simply don't want to play the same style as the "uberguild" but often only have two choices- play against a guild whose play style is not compatable with their own, or don't play that part of the endgame at all...

Posted by: chasyork on May 11, 2005 11:56 AM

You go, GuildLeader! I'm with you 100%.

Talon's attitude *is* sexist, and it's costing him some great players, guaranteed. As a female who's played MMOs for 6+ years, I can tell you I've never manipulated people in the way Talon describes. I've seen a few people do it, but they are in the minority. For him to imply that most of us do those kinds of things is insulting.

Posted by: Cookie on May 11, 2005 12:00 PM

GuildLeader & Cookie - I was very torn on the sexism issue as I wrote the article. It felt like Talon was getting at something that had just as much to do with the men as it did with the women - that as soon as you put men and women together, they both do bad things. It's a perspective that emphasizes the irrationality of both genders (a view GL frames - and rightly so - as a lingering high school tension). To me, the irony is that their attempt to suppress sexual tensions only reveals how salient it is in their minds and (as GL says) how they have come to view relationships between men and women. But then again, isn't that what would inevitably happen when you bring a group of young male college students together?

Posted by: Nick Yee on May 11, 2005 12:29 PM

GL and Cookie --
I agree that Talon's guild is not something I would want to be a part of, nor do I agree with his blanket characterization of how men and women interact, but I still don't see anything inherently wrong with what he's doing.

Yeah, sure, they're losing the opportunity to have a lot of great members in their guild, but it's clear that Talon doesn't care. He's not looking to be the only uberguild, just the best one. He has a plan on how to construct this guild -- a successful plan from how it sounds -- and he has followed through on it.

I enjoy MMOs becuase I like to play the games. My goal is to enjoy the world that has been created in that particular game. It seems that Talon's (and ostensibly his guildmates') goal is independent of the game. They are trying to be part of something that is damn good at what they do (whatever that is -- in this case, it's playing the end game of an MMO) and the game is a tool for creating that thing.

It doesn't fit my playstyle and I would not like to be part of it, but I can see how it would be a very viable framework for playing the end-game of an MMO and it's interesting to see one mindset of the people who are there.

Posted by: Bubba on May 11, 2005 1:08 PM

Let's be clear. "Sexism" is defined as "prejudice or discrimination based on sex." Talon is discriminating against women, based on sex (gender). The fact that he is doing so based on how he thinks both males and females will act does not change the fact that it is, indeed, sexism.

Of course, it's a game, and we are free to discriminate in games in ways that would be illegal in the real world. But let's call it what it is.

Posted by: Cookie on May 11, 2005 1:48 PM

I'm just a casual player that plays for 2 or 3 hours a day and has fun helping guildmates and making jokes on guildchat. Reading this is just proof that some people take gaming waaaaay to serious.

Posted by: David on May 11, 2005 4:40 PM

Nick, I appreciate that your view of intra-guild gender complications is that "that dynamic has as much to do with the men as it does with the women." However, I believe you are projecting your beliefs onto Talon's statements.

Did he say "Having both men and women in a high-end raiding guild is difficult and complicated because of the inevitable issues both men and women have?" No, he said that women--women specifically--lack the ability to be disciplined in a high-end guild. Even worse, women use their wiles to undermine his authority with other men--men who would never have the nerve to question him otherwise. I find interesting Talon's assumption that the men supposedly intervening on behalf of these maidens in distress don't agree with the woman, implied in Talon's added "(yeah, right)". As a woman, I have been in situations where men have used me as a pretext to express their own feelings to other men--"I'm not upset, of course, but she is hurt." But in Talon's world view, men are straightforward and honest and would never rock the boat unless those wicked sirens were seducing them to do it.

We can debate about whether gender relations make it difficult to run a high-end guild. We can even debate about whether a sexist guild leader can run such a guild better. But let's at least be clear in our definitions. If saying "Women are whiney and manipulative, so I don't like them in my guild. Male students are best" is not sexist, then I am impressed at the strictness of your definition.

Posted by: Starflower on May 11, 2005 4:47 PM

Cookie & Starflower - Thanks for taking the time to elaborate on the issue. I do agree with you two and GL about the sexism now. I think with this article being the first extensive interview, I tried to read and present Talon's case in the best light.

Posted by: Nick Yee on May 11, 2005 5:06 PM

I don't care what excuses Talon makes, his remarks and attitude are sexist. It sounds like he is using one or two examples from the past to justify everything else he said. And why is it OUR fault, and not the men? I have been playing MMORPG's for 6+ years and am one of the top Clerics on Stromm EQ1, and have NEVER used any of the tactics that he ascribes to women. And it also seems to be extremely rare with the many other girls I have played with and guilded with over the years. The one single instance I can recall was by a 14 year old girl in Diablo. To put it bluntly, successful guild or not, I think he is FOS.

Lot of other things in the way he runs his guild strikes me as "not quite the way it really is" also. Interchangable characters? - I don't think so. If you are some nameless pawn to be moved around from class to class or character to character as his wishes dictate, what is the point of being in a so called "elite" unit? Whee, a faceless nameless non-entity in an elite unit - yeah, that will motivate them.

Posted by: Laiina on May 12, 2005 1:04 AM

Most of us have made friends who played more than one character on their personal account. When you group with them, their personality shines through regardless of their avatar.

It makes a ton of sense for people to share their strongest accounts with guildmates who can be online when they can't. Many people don't want to give up their idea of their character individuation, but I would gladly trade that for membership in a group that trailblazed the higher end game. I'm in the game to see what it has to offer, to experience camaraderie in memorable or unbelieveable situations.

Of course, as a female, I am too busy nitpicking, flirting with dark elves, whining, arguing, and worrying about the size of my virtual butt to join a militaristic guild.

For real though, I'd be gung-ho about working for the team. That actually appeals to me more than joining a "family" guild, because there, personality quirks and conflicts dominate the day. Talon is missing out on some valuable team players. I wonder if his guild has a litmus test for gender.

Posted by: Violet Iris on May 12, 2005 7:09 AM

A lot of criticism....but this interview is EXACTLY what it pretends to be...an interview on how to lead an uber-guild. I don't like Talon, I don't like his vision on the game and I sure as hell am certain he's a sexist. BUT maybe that is the way to be the best...
And in a way it make me feel happy...to know I will never be like that, ad that I am perfectly happy with my average guild...

Posted by: Steve on May 12, 2005 8:26 AM

Interesting that he says on one hand he doesn't want the hardcore player and yet on the other he wants attendance. How much attendance does he want?

The sexist and the age discrimination is very amusing. He can couch it in whatever terms he wants but it boils down to discrimination.

Posted by: twl1973 on May 12, 2005 8:44 AM

I've played them all since DSO,Realms, UO, EQ1 all the way to WoW in large raid guilds.

Talon is right on about the women/relationship problem in guilds. Keep dreaming that he is not.

IRL I work for a woman and have many women in my departments...there is something about the anonmynity of online games and usually women that just makes the drama go off the charts. Heck I have seen real marriages happen in games, real marriages break because of women in games. Not the TIME spent in games, but ACTIONS in games.

I guess I started playing before cross-dressing and in game cyb0r were cool - I laugh at people who flirt and crap in game.

He certainly isn't going far IRL with that attitude, but his analysis is right on and happens a good 9 out of 10 times in guilds.

Don't get me wrong - I play with some RL women who ROCK in games and don't do the drama thing. I also play with some guys who are power hungry back stabbing mental freaks in game.

I guess I wouldnt discriminate against gender in game - but I would boot someone for drama in heartbeat. I had more women than men in one guild I ran for a year or so... O M G D R A M A. I finally let one of the queen bees take over and they ran it into the ground lol...

Anyways excellent site as always. Nice interview even if he is a little sexist heheh.

twi

Posted by: twilight on May 12, 2005 8:47 AM

Steve

He is likely looking for a 4-6 hour a night player with heavy weekends. Hardcore is 16 hours a day minimum....its sick but they do it.

twi

Posted by: twi on May 12, 2005 8:49 AM

As a former guild leader of a large guild (SWG), I understand a lot of Talon's motivations and reasons for the way his guild is organised. Performing at a high level in a MMO is a lot lke being a race car driver. It is about tuning and squeezing out performance in competition with others who are doing the same thing, with the same tools.

I have had the same problems with hardcore players burning out, and have had, personally the kind of leadership problems that Talon is talking about regarding coddling players. My guild was large enough, that we had a seperate military division, where orders were followed, quartermasters kept the PvP players in a state of readiness, and disipline was tight. Unlike Talon's guild, our military core was composed and led by folks who were active military or working professionals, mostly over 25. I found teenage players to be more of a liability than an asset in most PvP situations, or situations involving large numbers of combat personnel.

I have also experienced many of the same problems with female players, especially young, unattached (in RL) female players. He fails to mention (or perhaps realise) is that the primary reason that female players can be destabilising to a guild is the young and old men who enable and court them, creating an atmosphere that engenders the kind of drama that never benefits a well organised guild.

I will add, that I generally do all of my PvE playing with one of my roommates who is female, who has never been involved in anything drama oriented in game. I would never consider a players gender in approving them for recruitment, but I would most definitely consider their attitude and maturity level. The counterpoint is that for every young woman that wants to join your guild and revel in the attentions of dozens of boys and men, there are a dozen overly aggressive, totally non-productive, potentially problematic young men, who are probably already in your guild.

Unfortunately, it is easy for a guild leader to insulate him/herself from young men, who can be kept on a leash and at a distance, and be made use of (combat-wise, at least). Especially if, despite their attitudes, they respect orders and the chain of command. But drama, especially romantic drama has a way of trickling up the chain of command and becoming a major thorn in the side of any guild leader, occuptying a great deal of time. There are also the classic "loose lips sink ships" issues that are of deep concern in any PvP oriented guild, and this is a key reason that I keep a damn close eye on any young, likely to be a problem girls in any guild I am a part of.

I have played with dozens upon dozens of normal, drama free women in my years online, and I have rarely had problems. The real problem is that the majority of guild leaders are male, and the vast majority of male guild leaders have no ability to engage or otherwise work with women. The women, and girls, who are discovering MMOs often don't recieve the level of respect as equals that male players owe them. Also, because women, especially young women require different managerial skills to lead than young boys, guild leaders often become enablers of problems that should have been nipped in the bud early. Most guild leaders can identify a classic problem male player (young, anger issues, attitude) and discipline him quickly, but they may have more trouble managing classic problem female players (flirty, overly sexual guild chat, dependent on protector) because they don't understand how to discipline or manage them.

So it's easy for a guild leader like Talon, who has specific goals that he wants his guild to achieve to say "I don't want to deal with this other kind of managerial issue, so I won't". And that often relegates women to second class citizen status in uber guilds, regardless of their ability to contribute to the guild's well being and health. And that is unfortunate for the genre, in general.

Posted by: Marshall on May 12, 2005 10:44 AM

Very interesting read, Nick. I recently joined up with one of the 'uber' guild on my WoW server (first to kill Onyxia on the server, killed majordomo but only got Ragnoros to 49% so far), and our guild runs entirely different than the way Talon described his 'uber' guild structure. Nearly everything is democratic, and we even have an elaborate, mostly automated points system that helps distribute loot evenly. The more events you attend, the more points you get, the more points you have to bid on high-end equipment. In this sense, it is still about the individual, but also the guild b/c you are in essence getting points to spend yourself, but also helping people get their gear at the same time.

We have some guildmates who are in RL relationships, and they often play together. I haven't seen any real drama at all yet, but they will often 'do their own thing' with a few other people from the guild from time to time.

I don't really see our guild as militaristic, although we do have some outspoken people. We set general guidelines for Raids, and also set a general start time (which we never hit). People get bonus points for showing up on time, which is something new we implemented and is starting to get raids started within a half hour of scheduled start times.

Posted by: Bart on May 12, 2005 11:21 AM

Cookie: "prejudice or discrimination based on sex."

Talon's comment is similar to a mindset I often hear repeated in the "women in combat" debate regarding "findings" of the Israeli military after the War of Liberation (cited by historians as fact, but I can't find the original reports to confirm).

According to the analysis, combat units with mixed sexes suffered higher casualty rates and often underperformed because men moved to protect the women members of the unit instead of carrying out the mission of the unit.

Whether this study actually exists or not, it's a clever piece of misdirection- justifying one's own potentially "sexist" policy by pointing out the performance problems that occur because of other peoples' "sexism" if that policy did not exist.

Posted by: chasyork on May 12, 2005 12:30 PM

Also wanted to note that while the interviewer may appear to be sexist in his statements, I want to commend Nick for not censoring his interview.

The way to address sexism isn't to shove it aside, but to place a spotlight on it, so we cannot pretend it doesn't exist and can enter into constructive dialogue on it.

Good job

Posted by: chasyork on May 12, 2005 12:35 PM

As a former member of an "elite" military unit, I can understand SOME of the philosophy Talon espouses regarding the leadership of his guild. However, as a long-time MMORPG player, I think it's a shame that such dictatorial dogma should overshadow what is meant to be a "game".

I understand it MAY be the guilds methodology that has lead to their success, but to me, the high-end, if you will forgive the play on words, does not justify the means. Simply put, there are ways to continue to reap the benefits of High-End gaming and lead the "realm" as a guild, without resorting to such heavy-handed methods.

Additionally, with regard to the sexism that is clearly evident, I have seen first hand the kind of distraction the presence of females can have. However, the truth is that almost always it is the male guild member that is the true problem. I have seen time and again young male guild members behave in the most irrational manner imaginable when confronting the possibility of an on-line romance. I would hope that Talon would use the same relish he has in "hazing" his new members to also ferret out those male members that cannot help themselves from acting foolishly where female members are concerned. Then he can go forward with a truly successful guild where men and women work side by side, together.

Posted by: mgapen on May 12, 2005 1:47 PM

It doesn't exist. How does Talon know he doesn't have any women in his guild? Short of visiting his entire guild IRL, Talon cannot determine who is male and who isnít. He can only exclude people who he can't deal with. Thatís it.

My real problem with Talon's guild is that they seem to be preoccupied with virtual achievement, a trait Yee showed may lead to ďproblematic playĒ. So, while they might not all be addicts, their philosophy sure does seem to encourage addiction.

Actually, I'm kinda surpised that Talon's guild actually exists. Don't these people know that you play games to have fun, not to give meaning to your life? Don't they know that they are "achieveing" something essentially worthless, and in the most difficult, painful way possible? I guess suffering builds character but...

Posted by: Capt_Poco on May 12, 2005 1:47 PM

capt_poco:

The primary skills that make one be a good guild leader are organisational and managerial skills, not gaming ones. It is usually very easy to identify the actual gender of a player, if one has any experience in working with groups of people online.

In most large guilds players talk about their personal lives, have webpages with photos of players, gather together in person regionally and otherwise get quite chummy. I know most of the people I have guilded with by their first and last names, as well as their online handles. MMOs are not populated by totally anonymous, mysterious strangers, contrary to popular belief.

Guilds like Talon's are present on any server. There is always a population of people, who want to operate in a militaristic and disciplined way. A disporportionate number of MMO players have military training, or are currently in the militaries of various countries, and they tend to be serious, goal oriented people. What they are achieving may not be meaningful to you, but it may be very meaningful or valuable to them. I'm sure that they are enjoying themselves and having fun while they go about their achievements, despite their commitment to rigid discipline.

Posted by: Marshall on May 12, 2005 2:57 PM

Guilds such as Talon's are way too serious in the way they game, but have a right to exist. If this is the way they wish to "game" then so be it.

That said, I feel that they have a somewhat inflated sense of self-importance attached to essentially trivial and meaningless "accomplishments", and also a distorted view on how others view these accomplishments. First to kill Ragnaros? who cares, and congratulations on having owned the game for months before others have actually bought it.

The sharing of accounts is, to my knowledge, frowned upon if not actually in violation of the terms of use of the game, and provides an example of the lengths some people will go to in order to "be the best".

I am glad however that these people are spending longer and longer amounts of time in these virtual worlds - it reduces the chances of encountering such ruthless predatory manipulators in RL

My WoW guild is there to have fun, help others, and "play the game" (ie have fun, not "play" in the sense of deceive and manipulate to one's own ends) - go Nightcrawlers of Khadgar!

Posted by: peter parker on May 12, 2005 10:05 PM

This article made me laugh. I have met losers like this guy in EQ1. Military unit? What a joke. No matter how many uber widget items these people amass, they still have to eventually turn off their machines and look in the mirror. They should leave their parents basement and look for a job. Masters degree in Telcom management? Any decent comp geek could sleep through classes and ace it. Not that impressed. No wonder he got bored and played WOW.

So far, my experience with WOW guilds is that they are an extra chat channel - That's about it. The game is so easy to solo (at least to my chars level 33) anyway. I am not complaining as EQ's endgame was horrible without a guild.

The only people I feel sorry for more than Uberguilds is the chinese gold farmers. At least the gold farmers get paid real money. Last I checked reality, Neither Soulbound rare items nor slaying tough mobs puts food on the table.

Thanks for the laugh..

Posted by: Rocky on May 12, 2005 11:26 PM

Peter Parker: "Guilds such as Talon's are way too serious in the way they game, but have a right to exist. If this is the way they wish to "game" then so be it."

I would tend to agree- PvE engdame pursuits are not going to affect anyone, but I saw how this brand of extremism can make a PvP game all but unplayable for the masses.

Granted, that game (SWG) had terrible balance issues that let the extreme players be worth a dozen regulars, but players who didn't want to follow that path couldn't break into the monopoly of uberarmor, uberweapons, uberbuffs, and often didn't want maxed-out FOTM templates.

When non-optimizers wanted to PvP, we tried organizing in secluded areas of the map, only to be hunted down. We tried requesting they respect our effort to spar with like-minded people, only to be told that "red equals dead" (red radar blips are the enemy).

These guys cared only about being the "best" in PvP, much in the same mindset this one, and it made the "PvP endgame" almost inaccessible to everyone else- and it was... the number of PvP'ers at any moment was insignificant. The game stagnated at that level.

This isn't about military-mindset guilds. I had plenty of fellow soldiers and veterans that played the game, organized under military lines, and never, ever, took things to the extreme that these guilds do. Single-minded pursuit of these "goals" while disregarding the impact on the community is not necessarily "organized along military lines."

Posted by: chasyork on May 13, 2005 12:52 PM

Hmm came to read this post finally. Some interesting insight, though I think some are misunderstanding me. The "sexism" as you call it doesn't really have anything to do with women.

It stems from the fundamental fact that a great portion of the core of the guild is composed of 21-25 year old males that might be dating, but certainly are not in any real way committed. There can be... excitement... with younger single women getting guilded. Or screw the "can", there practically always will be unless the woman is very strict (I love them for it, but they aren't exactly the norm). They make great friends with someone and then they get in a relationship. This is all very natural, but net relationships tend to be more fragile than ones formed in RL. Certainly some last, but many do not. Now what happens when the 70%+ chance of that relationship going bad happens? Certainly we lose one of them, quite possibly both. It just seems like an unnecessary risk.

Perhaps I should have been more clear about it: young single women in a guild full of single young men can be a lot of trouble. Women in themselves are no trouble, and are actually hugely over represented among our officers. These have been stable women living in relationships, which means the guys won't have any silly ideas. IE a 30 year old couple would be MORE than welcome. A 18 year old girl who has her RL picture in the application? Ngh. (and yes it has happened)

To paint the picture even further, I certainly don't think adding guys to a guild full of young women would "improve" it. Though I must say I would think the young women in this fictional guild would be more sensible than I'd trust the guys of my guild to be :P

"Most guild leaders can identify a classic problem male player (young, anger issues, attitude) and discipline him quickly, but they may have more trouble managing classic problem female players (flirty, overly sexual guild chat, dependent on protector) because they don't understand how to discipline or manage them.

So it's easy for a guild leader like Talon, who has specific goals that he wants his guild to achieve to say "I don't want to deal with this other kind of managerial issue, so I won't". And that often relegates women to second class citizen status in uber guilds, regardless of their ability to contribute to the guild's well being and health. And that is unfortunate for the genre, in general."
This, btw, was extremely insightful. This is basically what it comes down to. Young men are "easy", and I don't feel bad being rude to them. However, sometimes I wasn't aware that a player was a female (I really don't care about gender until someone else makes it an issue). I've heard these people cried after a berating I gave them. Cried!! It's a game... I don't want to make people cry.

I can manage women pretty well if I need to, but I certainly haven't found a _FAST_ way to do it. And this is the problem. I might play in an uberguild, but I have limited time. TIME is the ultimate commodity, and I try to reduce everything that wastes my time. If managing X takes 3x more than managing Y, I _will_ have a huge bias toward X, because I see no reason why I would sacrifice huge amounts of my time (that would have to come from either my career or my wife) just for an abstract sense of fairness.

And yes I know making blanket rules (btw we totally have NOT forbidden women applying or shoot them down as they apply) with recruiting can be unfair. Alas, not like anyone knows how to get the full potential out of a recruit pool.

Posted by: Talon on May 13, 2005 2:40 PM

The flamers are, as always, hilarious. This is a hobby just like anything else, and "they still have to eventually turn off their computers and look in the mirror" sort of stuff just enforces my opinion. It's bit like golf, where - after you toss the bag in your car - it becomes 100% meaningless whether you played 5 under par or 90 over it. And especially if you consider the trip to there and back, my average golf round takes a great deal longer than my average raid (something like 5h30min vs 3h15min).

Frankly the whole constant optimizing scheme has taught me a great many things about handling people. You can call it "ruthless predatory manipulation" or whatever you wish, but I can not possibly imagine who is being hurt here. Especially with instanced content, I'd be REALLY curious to know who is being hurt.

Posted by: Talon on May 13, 2005 2:51 PM

This is why I as a female player sometimes masquerade as male player, playing a male character. To avoid the sexual tension and to lessen the time that goes to communication. In these contexts many male players are very caring, sometimes too much if they know that the co-player is female. At least that is my experience. If i want to get a quick overview of a game i play as female: its great. If i want to play "for real" I masquerade.

Posted by: Sofia S on May 15, 2005 4:13 AM

Having been a member of an American "elite" unit and a long time participant of MMORPGs, I have to agree with Talon on several points. I also disagree with several points on guild life. The main thing that anyone reading this article should remember is that all guilds are different. One needs to talk to the members before you join and pay close attention to the leaders' actions when one first joins a guild. I have been in many guilds and in many MMORPGs and no two guilds are the same.
And to Valoril: "They get a kick not of being acknowledged by themselves but by being acknowledged as being part of something superior/better." Not true. We have an understanding that the individual is less important than the unit when it comes to accomplishing the mission. No one comes home from war, proud that they "won" medals. They come home, happy to be alive and saddened by the losses. Of all of my medals, I'm only proud of one of them: my Good Conduct Medal. My Bronze Stars (of which I have two) only prove to me that I extremely lucky when others weren't and that I remembered ALL of my training when it really mattered.

Posted by: raeder on May 16, 2005 6:32 AM

Talon,

Thanks for coming back and posting your feedback. Many may argue that any pre-judgement based on one's sexual identity is sexism, but we must acknowledge that there is a dynamic at work that does affect guild performance. When that performance is the foremost goal, it's easy to see the judgements you made.

Granted, I question the value of performance above all else, but I'm a community builder that would prefer to build cohesion- addressing the problems that arise from the mixing of the sexes than addressing maximum performance. I know others who will believe that this interpersonal dynamic should not be addressed so lightly, and your answer will do little to stifle their concerns.

In the last line of your second post, you mention, "Especially with instanced content, I'd be REALLY curious to know who is being hurt."

I agree that in these raids, your system cannot be seen as trampling on the toes of many other non-consenting players. I'm more interested in how you handle the endgame-PvP.

The same hardcore prioritization can lead to incredible advantages in PvP that are unavailable to players who opt for a more casual play. They, then, can get regularly frustrated if a hardcore group makes their play time an endless corpse run. Does your guild attempt to address the rest of the community's needs (backing off non-elites)? Do you avoid PvP, except against other hardcore guilds?

Posted by: chasyork on May 16, 2005 10:03 AM

On the topic of sexism, I believe talon is in the right. It is true I am a male college student so many will instantly call me biased. I would like to however point out that talon did not just say any women could not play, he said that 2 players in a romantic relationship worry too much about each other and not the team. Also, females in games do tend to be softer in emotion than males and have attachment to different aspects than males. This is sometimes like throwing a wrench into a well oiled machine. Any female player can be as good as or better than any male player, but one that acts like one of the boys in game will function better in a guild. As for Cookie with 6 years of MMO experience, Iím sure you don't act like the females that fall into this category and are therefore exempt from any scrutiny.

Think of a police force or military squadron. If husband and wife were in the same troop, would the husband or wife possibly leave his or her post the protection of his or her spouse?
If 3 men were to the left, and someoneís husband to the right, the woman at hand had a choice to save one of the two groups. Itís probable that by going to the 3, that all 5 team members could escape, but itís positive that she could save her husband. (of course these roles could be reversed and still be the same)

Only one of these choices is acceptable.

That is my belief on romanticism in guild. (PvP orientation)

I come from a pure PvP background, They call it Neocron and it was a ruthless (and awesome except for the shitty devs)game :P

Posted by: Cerb on May 16, 2005 11:47 AM

I'm Julian, My game of choice is Ragnarok Online, I'm the Guild Master of the Silver Shadow.

Talon makes some good points, even the sexist ones.

Dedication is key.
Exluding female members, however, is moronic. Not only are some of my best players female, but when I started my guild, it was mostly female. Because they were more social, they kept bringing in new players who quickly became dedicated.
Thus, social = good.

Secondly, individuals do matter. Depite my guild's reputation, many players inside it have reputations, too. Most of the other upscale guilds know the name of one of my expert Assassins, not just because he's in the Silver Shadow, but because he can shred maxed out characters like toilet paper.
Such individuals raise morale and devotion of guild members just by following orders and being a good example.

Just my two cents.

Posted by: Julian on May 16, 2005 8:02 PM

"Many may argue that any pre-judgement based on one's sexual identity is sexism, but we must acknowledge that there is a dynamic at work that does affect guild performance."
Any sort of pre-judgement is discriminatory. I suspect that if I was a female in a mostly female guild, it'd work the other way around. So I'm not a chauvinist or feminist, I'm just a plain sexist, who discriminates against whichever sex fits him the best at the time! :)


"Granted, I question the value of performance above all else, but I'm a community builder that would prefer to build cohesion- addressing the problems that arise from the mixing of the sexes than addressing maximum performance."
Point: NOT against you, but there are others who take this further.
I can not imagine the arrogance of someone telling me what I should prioritize. I mean you shouldn't do that even in RL (where the choice might have more effect on you), but doing it in a game just boggles my mind. It's not like something like efficiency or social relations have inherent value... the only value they have is the value humans assign to them. I was rather raised to believe that people get to pick themselves what they value and what they don't value. You know, the diversity of opinions thing? :)


Anyway I really don't see how a guilds internal philosophy is any business of people outside the guild. I mean it's not like you're forced to join, or can't leave. It's IMO the great testing ground of social evolution. People can choose whatever sort of guild they want, and then see if it fits them. What I find strange is that there are cries to make all guilds exactly alike, which seems to me like a great way to destroy variety.

As for discriminating in general:
IMO discrimination can be good, but usually by discriminating you're shooting yourself in the foot, and will fall behind in competition. We've had great players from France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Egypt, Iran, Taiwan, Korea etc. Yet we did _NOT_ add them because they were "new and refreshing". They didn't NEED such a damn cookie. We added them because they were good.

We cut people based on their behavior. Girly girl behavior has practically ALWAYS lead to trouble, and we'd be stupid not to learn from it. Anyway there's the fine point that people who act like that aren't the material we want anyway. It's bit like guys who talk about how they got drunk yesterday and laid today (twice!) etc. I'm sorry but I really don't care about your social life that much. If you were a friend I'd certainly care, but bringing it up to 40 people on your 2nd day as an applicant is really pretty annoying and hints at many things I don't really like (low self esteem being one of them).


Oh and for the record:
3/7 of our officers are female
roughly 10% of the guild is female (half of them are officers)
girly women are voted out mostly by said females

As a fairly extreme example in EQ (this was the worst I could think of) I once went afk outside Plane of Fear, and an applicant proceeded to /emote cyber me while I was afk. I thought it was hilarious when I came back, and I quoted the best parts of it to the guild to show what the app was made of. Most guys were amused - 1 voted no based on that. Every female no voted immediately. Now was this sexism? I personally don't think so, but even milder versions of this tend to get people voted down - mostly by the females.

Posted by: Talon on May 17, 2005 4:07 AM

The above poster gets skirts a good guild management point.

One of the best tactics a guildleader can use to get better management of "problem female players" in their guild, or to better vet them before admission to the guild, is to make sure that you have good, experienced, female officers in your guild. They will be the harshest critics of any women that come in with an agenda, or who lack the maturity level that they want to see in a guild, and will have no problem disciplining them.

Posted by: Marshall on May 18, 2005 7:12 AM

I played in Planetside for about 18 months with two guilds. The first had leadership "issues" and collapsed and the 2nd was a good guild run by a ex-millitary cop who ran a very tight ship. For a "Holiday" some of the members of our guild were invited to join an "elite" guild on a US server and it was a shock.

The US guild (who shall remain nameless but if you have played planetside.... they are almost universally hated by both NC and Terran after they switched sides) were highly organised and well known throughout the server as the best.

However, the teamspeak chatter and text was some of the nastiest, racist, sexist, homophobic language i have ever sean or heard. I thought i was attending a online KKK rally at one point - i kid you not.

The group was about 50-60 strong, with a mix of 18-40 year old males, no females and led by a number of strict officers.

The guild leader was part charmer and part nazi (i dont say that in jest - some of his jokes are just plain sick) but everybody in the guild worshipped and/or feared him.

It was a strange few weeks and to this day im not sure if i enjoyed my time there but it was addictive for want of a better word. The attitude of this guild changed the way i perceived the entire game. I took part in battles where the cohesion of the unit defeated odds that would have been overwelming to my home server guild.

It was a feeling of power, knowing that i was dominating another player / team - because i was part of something elite (sounds corny but it is 4:00am and brain not wprking well)

Hmmm.. i read the above text and think i have lost the point of this post only to say: You cant truly understand the mindset of Talon until you have tried it. If you do, you may find it strangely compeling.


Posted by: Will on May 18, 2005 8:12 PM

I just want to thank the other GLs for responding to this interview and letting us know that Talon's is not the only method for managing an effective guild. I've been playing WoW since it was released last year, and it is my first MMO (I played Planetside for a couple of months, but I don't count that). I've been in two guilds so far, one was just an informal group of RL friends that never had more than 8 or 9 members, the other was a somewhat more organized guild of 30-40 members. Ultimately, neither really offered what I hoped to find in a guild. To be honest, I wasn't really sure what I wanted, but I knew I wasn't getting it.

When I saw the topic of this interview, I was intrigued because I've always wondered how really successful guilds do it, what makes them so successful. After reading the interview, though, I was very disappointed. If that's the only way to be successful, I thought, then count me out.

But then other GLs wrote about how they operated, and I realized that there is still hope for me to find a guild that fits my play style and personality. GuildLeader in particular described a guild that I would probably feel very at home in.

This is not a criticism of Talon, however. He has created a guild that fits his personality and accomplishes what he set out to do. Diversity is important in MMOs, and his is just one way of doing it. As long as there are others who share his goals and methods, more power to him.

As is often the case on this site, Nick set off a facinating discussion with a provocative article. Thanks for the debate!

Posted by: Slayve on May 19, 2005 12:42 PM

I'm part of a guild that is solidly 2nd-best on my server. We have a foul-mouthed leader who likes giving orders and screaming at people when things go wrong. Other than that, though, we're pretty relaxed. And that's why I think we're only 2nd-best. We have a lot of fat that needs trimming. There are a lot of once-a-week raiders who only show up on Sundays, and those are the days we are least sucessful. My guild needs to be more selective about applicants and kick people who don't play enough.

If I was on Talon's server, I would certainly try to join his guild.

Posted by: Elmindreda on May 23, 2005 1:35 AM

You have to remember that the body of MMORPG players is incredibly diverse. It sounds like Talon's method works for him and his members, and the fact that he can successfully lead a guild (and get a Masters) is quite an accomplishment.

As a 22-year-old female, I used to be part of an extremely militaristic guild on the largest server in SWG. The guild itself was one of the "elite," but over time I found that I had almost nothing in common with these people, who were older, male, and mostly had background in the military.

Bottom line - it's my opinion that the most important factor of online gaming is the community you are with. Even if it's an "elite" guild with the best loot on the server, in the end it's about who you are playing with and whether your guild is the right fit for YOU.

Also, along the sexism issue - Talon, I COMPLETELY see where you're coming from. I don't think you intended to make any sort of sexist comment, and it's the absolute truth that when women get involved in a mostly male guild, they make things more complicated. I think that a lot of the single women who play these games are looking for companionship, which can have good (or BAD!!!) consequences. This is not speaking from my personal experience, but rather from watching other females in past guilds. It has been scary, let me tell you!!! I have seen 3 separate cases, one in which a divorced mom was with a core guild member, a single mom with three kids who had a relationship with a 60-year-old and was manipulating to get into the core leadership, and a single mom with kids who had been dating a 15-year-old boy for over a year.

When I play online games these days, I prefer being assumed I'm a guy.

Posted by: Shadow on May 23, 2005 6:11 PM

This has been a very interesting read, I'm Guildmaster of a fairly large guild myself on Thunderhorn with 130 ish membership, and I find my female officers to be a total asset to my guild.
Firstly they are more tollerant with the newer members, second most of my younger/single players level very quickly to escort or protect the ladies.

I've created a guild that is strictly free trade...if you don't need it and can spare it. give it to someone who can use, without any costs.
This quickly levels up the newer members meaning more assets for the guild.
I was a lvl225 Tailor in WOW by lvl 29 and had to wait 6 lvl's to go artisan.

I understand alot of what Talon said....But his issues with the ladies...to me expresses a difficulty in managing the fairer sex.

I am male in my early 30's and would never stop anyone from joining if they are willing to work with our ethics....

I just kick those that are rude/stupid/Tantram/or greedy.

Maybe my guild has yet to become Uber in the sense of damage output and levels, but I know we have attained my definition of Uber in game in the sense of community.

Posted by: TheBoss on May 24, 2005 8:00 PM

I've been in 2 kinds of high end guilds in EQ1. One that was family and wouldn't accept an applicant that was rude and my present one which doesn't care as long as you are skilled. They're just different. The family one I felt connected to in a different way. The guild name meant something about my personality. In the current one I feel more like I work for a large corporation. I'm proud I belong but it's not my identity.

There is sexism but some depends on the game. I played a cleric in EQ1 then a mage in WoW and went back to the cleric in EQ1. In EQ1 clerics need a fair bit of help. Clerics in WoW could solo. In my present guild maybe half of the clerics are females, in my last one there were more women than men playing clerics. I have never seen a truly successful female warrior in a high end raiding guild in EQ1. I'm sure there are some but they seem to be in the minority. The game determines role to some degree and I suspect men and women differ in their willingness to assume some roles.

I think Talon misses the point on age but that's not unusual. He's attributing personality differences to age. News flash! Your basic personality doesn't change a whole lot as you age.

Posted by: Lulu on May 24, 2005 8:45 PM

I don't really see how one can consider him sexist to make the comments he made about in the game. As was stated in an earlier post, some types of women tend to be dishonest, cruel, and only wanting to advance their own gains. They can be entirely selfish and will try and screw other people out of the group you're with for their own benefit.

We've had a number of cases in our guilds where the women use their "female" status to attain higher rankings in the guild. Often time garnering special treatment by its leaders. There have even been times where these women net enough "votes" from guild members in a "democratic" guild to actually get their way. They end up "using" the majority male playerbase as a means to expand their own egos and miscomings in real life.

To me, this type of player is a danger to the guild and gaming community. But that's not to say all female players are like this. I know female players that are MOSTLY known to be male gamers in the game. They don't want the attention given to them as a result of being female--they just want to play the game. I respect this attitude immensely. Not to say that all female players should hide their sex in the game, but to take that kind of carefree "I just want to play" attitude like most of the other players IMO goes far beyond the typically social-connective attitude that attracts many female players. (As was stated in many interviews and surveys as to why female players play the game).

I'm in a very successful guild in WoW, and we have a couple of female players. They don't use their sex to any advantage--they play just like the guys. They don't try to garner special treatment, they don't try to advance their "social power" in the guild. They simply play like any of the other players in the guild. And for this, they are ideal candidates for the type of gaming that Talon has stated.

However, there are other guilds on my server that have females in their leadership and they use that position as a way to hog loot. By pacifying the rest of the guild and telling them how "great" they are, the rest of the guild members look up to her and allow her to get whatever she wants when she wants it. This includes epic loot and even defining the loot system in such a way that benefits her, her hubby, and their friends.

Such are the dynamic personalities of the players you find in the game. I don't think Talon was meaning to be sexist in his comments. I simply think that he's singling out the "social" types of women (i.e. the ones that can create, strengthen, and destroy guild relationships and often times don't care "because it's just a game"). These are the types of people that CAN be a problem. However, that's not to say that every girl you encounter in the game is that type of personality.

Usually, despite what many think about it, you can figure that person out by simply communicating with them on vent/ts and figuring out what their intentions are. If you're already involved with someone, it becomes even easier to turn a blind eye to the "attraction" of the female player.

Posted by: John on May 27, 2005 7:49 AM

I run a "family" style guild in WOW, and even in that, there are two things that will destroy any guild, but especially a highly organized one:

1) Single girls (or guys playing single girls)
2) Loser guys

The problem isn't so much the single girls, or even them making an issue of it. It's that loser guys will assume any show of any kind of friendliness at all means that the single girl likes them.

This will split a guild in half so fast it isn't funny, and all the opportunists in the guild will jump one way or the other, making for a very nasty situation.

Don't blame sexism, blame society. If I was running a hardcore guild, I'd follow most of Talon's example.

Posted by: skyknyt on May 27, 2005 5:22 PM

Anti-social play begets real-life crime.

People like Talon should be watched and imprisoned when they make their move.

Posted by: Amused on June 1, 2005 12:22 PM

For over two hundred years, the United States has been a Democracy bound by the laws of the Constitution, with a two-tier House creating the Legislative branch, the Presidency creating the Executive branch and the Supreme Courts creating the Judicial branch.

On the other hand, Communist Cuba has been the so call thorn to the United States for 50-60 years?

Chavez was elected president of Venezuela, and his supporters are still strong.

England has a Parliamentary system. The Vatican is still ruled by on man.

Rome stood for hundreds of years, it fell.

Sounds random? point is different people have different likings. And nothing is set in stone. In a hundred years, there can be no United States, maybe the world will revert back to Monarchies. Maybe Communism shall rise again. Who knows. What is important, ALL the players in Talon's guild accept HIS laws. If you don't like them, don't join his guild.

Surely, the world is big enough for two uber guilds. My Warcraft server has pretty much exactly two uber guilds, and a few wannabes.

Posted by: Shiva on June 1, 2005 12:22 PM

I also would choose to belong to guild such as Talon's. But then again I choose not to be in any guild anyway. I play a game different than anyone I've yet met in my goals. Gear collecting is at the back of my bus for example. What I do collect are classes and their abilities and skills as well as crafting professions - mastering them all.
At the time of this post on a PvE server for example I have three level 60's, two level 50's, two 30's and two remaining parked at 20 until I can get to them. By this coming Christmas I hope to have a level 60 of every class. Purpose? Then I can fit into any action anywhere at anytime in the "end game". A ronin. No guild would interest me full time. Why? The "chat channel" aspect of guilds is personally annoying and distracting from my game the way I play it. Once I have all classes mastered, the last act will be the opening of another account with just one toon that remains up on my other computer for contact purposes only. "Have Toon .. will travel" so to speak.
As for the gear? I'm not saying having the best "stuff" isn't compelling, but at the end of the day its just "stuff" .. abilities are where the game is and knowing how to work with within a team of any size to compliment and enhance other classes abilities and skills.

Who is going to be the better person to trust there? I think a player known for being level sixty proficient in every class , weapon, spell, ability, skill, and profession would fit the bill don't you?

Posted by: Zepher on June 3, 2005 8:56 AM

Wow. It's just a freaking game. People like Talon, and those nothing like him should just play the damn game and stop being so analytical about it. Who cares how much someone plays the game, and about the the possible problems that can arise with female gamers! Just because of a few incidents by unforgiving lunatics doesn't mean you have to be so paranoid. The only good guilds, are the ones with fiends you know in real life, not strangers.

Posted by: Rum on June 10, 2005 12:24 AM

I just cant believe it. Reading things like this creates a disinterest of MMO's for me more and more. Has it really gone this far downhill? It's a game for cryin-out-loud! First is was social problems, then psychological issues, now megalomaniacs! Whats next???

Posted by: RaYzR on June 11, 2005 2:11 PM

I'm a Guild Wars player which is basically a different animal. I played Final Fantasy XI for awhile and the best things i could remember was when i was in a party that really tore through the map. I was in a guild in that game but it never was a really serious one, just a group of people that helped each other out when they needed it. I eventually stopped playing do to time constraints.

When I heard about Guild Wars I was pretty excited not because of the fact theres no monthly fee or because everyone is able to play with everyone, but because there first promise was that it was a game of skill, not time. So far in my experience it has been that.

I have been in two guilds so far in guild wars (its kinda a no brainer in this game). The first i left because there was basically no activity in the guild. The second one, which i am in currently is much better since theres more interaction between the guildmates. I'm an officer in this one so i can agree with Talon when he says the guild is what you make it.

The conflicting thing I see with Talons idea of a guild and what most people see with mmorpgs is the sense of self. I think its safe to say most people when playing a game see the character as an extension somewhat of themselves, they want to make it the best it can be. This idea of an elite group of gamers within a game fits with this mentality. What Talon says though, is that to make a truly elite guild you must give up this idea of build a perfect character and have the idea of building a perfect guild. Some of his ideas i found a bit extreme, but being a gamer also felt that i would want to be in his guild. Being in an elite group in a game gives some meaning to the game, its a way to show you've spent your time actually doing something. Sure not everyone may view being in a great guild as time well spent (I dont think these guys talk to people they meet all the time about it), but the case is those aren't the people there trying to impress.

Posted by: (GW, M, 16) on June 17, 2005 7:09 AM

Shadow said
"Bottom line - it's my opinion that the most important factor of online gaming is the community you are with. Even if it's an "elite" guild with the best loot on the server, in the end it's about who you are playing with and whether your guild is the right fit for YOU."

I believe this statement defines the point most people are trying to make here. Talon's approach to leadership is one that is effective for those type of personalities they demand a strict and regimented structure. There will be many people attracted to his guild for the well defined rules and no-nonsense approach to the game. Emotions, drama and conflict are controlled and restricted to issues that affect the guilds ability as a whole. Personal conflicts and drama are shunned by the leadership and left to the individuals to deal with on their own. I believe there is a specific set of people who thrive in an enviroment like this. People who look for the structure of the military or police unit would flourish here. Young people looking for leadership and direction could find a home in this enviroment.

On the other side of the scale is the family guild. One that revolves around the personal relasonships of its members. Without a doubt a family guild is much more work than the one described above BUT it also increases the loyalty of its members. There will always be drama and conflict but a family guild will meet these challenges head on. By embracing these issues and working thru them the bonds within the guild grow stronger.

I played with a great guild in EQ for quite a few years. We managed to make a Family guild a very successful raiding guild. People came and went in the game but we always kept up with each other on the boards. I moved on to WOW when it was released. I joined a 'Talon type' guild because I wanted a strong structured guild and was anxious to experience the higher end game content quickly. We were extremely successful, leading the server in first time kills and seeing alot of loot drop for its first time. In 7 months I made very few friends but I was always getting invites to tag along on other guild raids to help and share knowledge. I was one of the best equip'd toons on the server. Unfortunately I burnt myself out quickly. The raiding become stagnant and I was not enjoying my time, but felt like it was more work that it was fun. I could not understand how this happened. I played EQ for years and never felt like this.

Then something happened. Many of my old guildmates from EQ started over on WOW. The old guild was reborn on WOW. I immediately stopped playing on my server and moved to a new server were my friends were playing. I had to give up -ALOT- to make this move but it made a world of difference. I started to actually enjoy playing again and started looking forward to spending time with my friends. Though I did enjoy seeing the end game previosuly, for me the experience is more rewarding when its shared with people you have bonded with.

For every personaility there is most likely a guild to fit it. None of them are really "wrong", its just that some fit better than others.

-Jestyr

Posted by: Jestyr on June 23, 2005 10:36 AM

I have to agree with Jestyr's closing comment. Folks who play will find the guild(s) that fit their needs and join them.

Personally, I like the one I am in - sorta between the 'family' and 'military' model. We don't have firm rules on membership, but like Talon's four points we generally have folks who opt out (or are opted), and generally it is on attitude. The point for us is younger/middle aged (I am in my mid 30's, I ain't going with older), gender, etc. are secondary so long as the individual fits with what we want to do and how we go about it.

To the folks who say (paraphrased) you shouldn't care so much about your guild it is just a game. My responce is while you're right it is a game, when I play it is my game. I know the experience I want to have and that is what I am going to strive for.

For me guilds/gaming groups (RL folks for table top) I am more inclinded to play if it is my style. I have left guilds, servers, and games to find the right personal style on the social side. In RL I have stopped table top gaming with folks, who while nice and 'good gamers' wanted a different social experience from playing.

Posted by: Garcia on June 25, 2005 10:42 AM

Everyone seems to give some background on their playing to give themselves better credentials, so here you go: I am teh pwner.

Moving right along to the sexism issue, yeah the words he uses to describe what he means are sexist. The problem with discrimination is that discrimination is based upon application. It's when one APPLYS words or something else to the real world. His discrimination is based in what he said, not what he meant. I have to go back and defend Nick for defending Talon. He interviewed him, and that may give him additional insight into what Talon was trying to get across. If you're going to attack Talon (and by all means, do so... except physical) then attack what he meant, not what he said.

Now, as for what Talon actually meant... I could say it this way:

I'm a Guildleader on Saryrn server. Due to previous experience (3+ years) as a guild officer and leader in another guild, I experienced a lot of male-female issues. I've come to the conclusion that people can't leave their sexuality outside the game, and will develop pseudo-romantic relationships in game, or at least treat the opposite sex differently from the same sex. As a result, when I formed my new guild, I decided to eliminate one gender to try to keep that out. Seeing as 85% of Gamers are Male and 15% are Female, it's a lot simpler to exclude women than men, for population purposes.

Now was that sexist? Sure, it's discrimination... But you can't really attack that logic without attacking the premises. The premises are based on personal experience and opinion, as a result, they're hard to logically defeat.

Just my opinion. Oh yeah, and I'm a racist too. =)

Posted by: Samalander on July 29, 2005 3:03 PM

The moment he started talking about shared accounts, he lost my respect. Who cares what they accomplish if they're willing to cheat? Who's to say they wouldn't dupe items, buy gold from farmers, use bots to powerlevel, or use third-party programs to check spawns that others can't see? Their guild is not competing with all the other guilds, they're only competing with the other guilds that are willing to cheat.

Posted by: Norial on August 4, 2005 9:22 AM

People who play in casual guilds have no clue how high end guilds work. We arn't social out casts, or megelomaniacs, sexists or racists. Fact is, while you find those in raid guilds, you find the same types in family guilds.

I am a male player, I am in the second best guild on my everquest server. We dont discourage female people from apping, and it does cause a lot of drama at times. Some women players do tend to use male players, let me give you a very real example.

We had this woman in our guild, married irl to her second husband(I think, could have had more) and like 5+ children. She has a cyber relationship with the guild leader and becomes the guild recruitment director. She then pushes the guild leader who shes having cyber relationships with to cut out the other members of the recruitment team and get her way, she did most of the work on the team, so she had almost total say on what happened in said team. In the end, she was getting less and less attention from people I think, and she decided to leave this guild like the last 5 guilds she was in to get noticed, but it didnt work that time, bottom line is, her accounts are now owned by other people. Moral of this story is, some, not all women but some, are manipulative drama queens. Has my guild had female players that play well and cause little or no drama? Yes, but this one member and the drama that almost ripped the guild apart is enough for some to say no to it.

That all happened as I said it, I was friends with at least one person on every side, so I know what was going on.

Fact is though, anyone you find in an "uber" guild, you can find the same type in a casual guild, and many high end players play less then the "casual" players, they just spend their time doing other things, and sure when expansions like in EQ1 come out they may play a little more it evens out. So dont call all high end people losers, because we all are not, we just like different things and enjoy playing the game our own way.

Posted by: omgwtfpwn on September 9, 2005 2:23 AM

For the most part I find his 'reasons' to be rather sophmoric. And is quite the 'teenie' attitude to what it takes. May I also ask what makes his guild so called high end or elite for that matter. A Guild is a Guild yes, there are some parts of it that has to be ran almost militaristic, but isn't the game ment to be about having fun?

My wife has an elite character in WoW, she worked herself up to lvl 60 on her own, joined an High end guild, and does at least two Instances a day when she is not working. The guild in which she is one of the Officers run Onxyia and others, they gather much loot and they help each other. She often goes on low level missions helping the lower caste so that they can reach the levels to enjoy the end games too. Guild is about helping one another..Not just about itself

To be honest..this guy reads like a teenie bopper control freak future cult leader that has low self esteam when it comes to women.

BTW..using another person's account to farm or lvl is considered illegal by some games..WoW has had a problem with Chinese farmers...for those of you who don't know who that is..there are several companies in China and other Asian countries that for a price will take your character and go out and farm gold..items..lvl your character to sixty...WoW and Blizzard has outlawed the chinese farmer, and outlawed using someone else's account for the purpose of lvling and farming, so basicly what Talon is discribing to you about this..is descibing an cheat where the account can and would be banned from the game

Posted by: J.A.G on October 12, 2005 3:45 AM

I could say a LOT about the various issues brought up here but I'll just focus on one, as I just got home from work.

The sexism issue. Many have said either Talon himself, or his methods, are sexist. Perhaps making this judgement isn't entirely fair. Talon may in fact be sexist, his views unreasonable, whatever. But I think he is correct so far as the fact that interactions between male and female players can cause "drama" which is NOT conductive to the success of the guild.

Assume for a moment, then, that you are a guild leader. You know that the sort of relationships which frequently occur between young men and women in a guild environment will be a thorn in your side. It has happened before. You need to do something to prevent it, you don't have the time to be a mediator between emotional struggles.

You can:

A.) Deny young males who are likely to cause said issues

or

B.) Deny young females who are likely to cause said issues

Since young males make up a statistically greater portion of MMO players than young females, which decision is more viable? Assuming that women and men are completely equal in every way (heh but they ARE different- whole other can of worms) it would make sense to go with the choice that will produce the greatest quantity of members. This is young males. It may not be "fair", but as a matter of what will be most successful, the choice of turning away women makes sense in a way.

Now, I'm not saying his methods are "right", or that there isn't a better way to deal with the problem. I do believe, however, that Talon IS dealing with the problem. There are two factors, we will assume, each contributing equally to the problem. Young males and young females. One has to go, and by turning away males you will lose a lot more members than females. It's not necessarily that he's trying to be a sexist or unreasonable leader, but rather that the nature of the problem forces him to choose one demographic at the cost of the other. In the end, the only thing to go on IS the statistics, which favor the young males.

It's possible that Talon is making the correct decision for the wrong reason, that is, he really IS sexist and the statistics coincidentally correlate to his choice. However, in drawing conclusions it is often prudent to choose the simplest of the possible answers (Occam's Razor). That said, it is more simple that Talon's conduct is the result of his observation of the problem, and the statistically preferred solution to the problem.

I'd like to also say that surely there are other ways to deal with the problem than simply generalizing and turning away members of a certain age and gender. However, given the rather small amount of information he has about the member (he can't very well ask for a resume can he? Even then could it not be false?) there is little else that seems reasonable. It is easy to criticize, but I would ask those who frown upon Talon's methodology to try and provide a different solution that deals with the problem in a more "fair" way, but remains efficient.

It's hard to make everything nice and equal in a world that is so heterogeneous, so vastly varying and dynamic as ours. If there was a way for Talon to not offend anyone in choosing new members I'd venture that he would try to do it.

Posted by: Ghost on October 20, 2005 2:40 PM

Ok, so this article goes into the mindset of how one type of guild is run and that particular mindset. Now let's see the counter interview with one of the more social guilds where the focus is on comunity and how much these groups can accomplish, all with a feeling of friendship and family.

Posted by: Anathema on October 25, 2005 4:14 PM

Much of what I've seen described: (selfless dedication to a cause, the loss of a sense of 'self' through account sharing, single sex focus, and a preference for the youthful)
are in game reflections of what the existing US military use to create effective *combat* units.

As a long time member of a real life 'elite unit' I can say that what is described works.

After all - When I was young, I wanted to be an Army Ranger/Army Paratroop. To do that I had to subjugate who I *was* and what *I* wanted to be part of that greater whole. The 'honor' of being a part of that whole meant more to me (at that time in my life) than being *me*.

Historically, this has created a hell of an effective fighting force. Distraction is removed, self-sacrifice is celebrated, and only those that are consistantly the fastest, strongest, and smartest (all three - not just one) remain on the team.

Ultimately, this works when shaping a fighting force - but not much else.

Beyond the concerns of inequality of the sexes (it exists - no females in combat units), the thrive or die mentality, and the loss of an 'in game self' - what they've struck on here works in a very limited fashion. Will his guild thrive? Yes. Is it an in game 'society' that *all* will want to belong to? Of course not.

These days (I'm 35 now) I'm with the folks here that are focusing on the game experience - the exploration, the interpersonal relationships, the discovery.

Regardless of how successful Talon's guild *is* - should we strive to create societies that are equally as successful while practicing inclusion, equal opportunity, and mentoring?

I think so.

(The Army does too since their reality is that of an integrated force. The concept of 'font-line' combat troops is also changing these days and with it the needs of the military to field an effective force are changing. The primary bullet throwers are still all-male and shaped on 'Talonesque' principles - but they're a significant minority and require the support of the greater (integrated) force to succeed.)

(apologies for structure - spelling - written in a hurry) ;)

Posted by: windpaw on October 27, 2005 3:05 PM

The most interesting thing to me about all of this is the tacitly assumed and unchallenged definition of what makes a guild "successful". Apparently killing the uber mobs, being the first to kill boss x, acquiring item y, these are the definitions of guild "success" that no one has here challenged.

If Talon's guild is "successful" then the success lies in this... they are doing what they want to do, and, ostensibly, enjoying it.

Would it be possible to be part of a "successful" guild and still not be part of an elite mob-slaying force?

I think so.

I'm part of a guild that meets once a week for casual play. There are five of us actively participating in the guild.

Our members are enjoying the game, interacting socially, and, generally, having a hoot. Level-wise, we're in our upper tweens.

We regularly get owned by tough mobs. In fact, we've often laughed hardest after getting wiped by silly looking mobs.

But, hey, I guess we're not very successul.


Posted by: Northern on October 28, 2005 8:59 AM

I like a lot of the information provided here, however I truly disagree with the account sharing.

1) Most MMO's Rules Section states that this is not acceptable. Not only this, but sure you can play games with someone for years, it doesn't change the fact that they could be a thief or otherwise untrustworthy person.

2) In the case of Guild breakdown, leadership change, new game starting, etc. What happens to your character? You focused all this time in being part of the elite and now it is gone. I Believe there must be a balance. You must constantly strive to make your character be the best, yet at the same time be proud when a guildie beats you to a nice piece of loot. The better he does in a raid the better you do overall.

Most of the things he has stated seem very intelligent and structured to optimize game time to succes, while still maintaining real-life time in large ammounts. I respect this and value this idea.

Posted by: on October 31, 2005 9:32 AM

I do not agree with Talon AT ALL. Yes, some woman do use their "womanly tools" to get what they want, but grouping all woman in this catorgory, is nuts. that is sterotyping, my friend, and as having the unfortunate luck of having to be subjected to it, it is not fun. in fact, you do not get to chose what you do, say, or act like, because some have already asumed what you will be doing.
(please bear?/bare? with me here, this might be long)

Someone brought up a good point. Warcraft is a game. i'm sure many game store clerks would tell you, you PLAY games. I for one feel very disheartened when i see people using cheats to beat any game, and although this is not quite the same, they both have the same goal---to beat the game.
i say, if you do not enjoy playing WoW, what is the use of subscribing? Beating World of Warcraft will not get you fame, glory, riches, status, or happiness in real life. Sure, you might get praise from friends, but no one will take it farther than that. You get fame, riches, glory, etc in WoW, yes, (well, only if you know how to play), but all in all, it ends up just the game you might be wasting your money on-it's virtual.

Posted by: WoW player on January 5, 2006 3:40 PM

I'd like to say thanks for this wonderful article. It really prompted me to think about guild leadership in the guilds I've run and been a part of. I thought a few of things covered were a little light. I also got the feeling that there was a bit of I only want the same sort of people in my club feeling. I don't think it has to be that way. But here are my two cents.

Guild Leadership.

Schedule Raids. The most important thing should be to lead the raids or get the games going. If there is not stuff going on, there is no guild. A lot of people like to raid but canít schedule one or even lead one. They like to chat and socialize but donít want to herd cats to do something. You can spend all the time in the world talking about guild problems or people not doing their jobs but when it comes down to it, if you donít have consistent scheduled play time, there is a major problem with guild. It is a headache at time getting people to sign up for raids and showing up for them. You have to balance classes. You have to recruit the right number of folks so that not too many are left out on raid day but still people are motivated to sign up. There is more work to get the right mix of people than most people understand.

Focus on Playing. Forums, chat, etc are usually that major outlets for drama queens. Forums and message of the day are great ways to communicate what is going on. What is planned and why. They are a good way to brainstorm and assign tasks but just donít let them turn in to flame starters.

Build in loot rules and communicate them. In most RPGs loot is the end reward for major efforts and time. Iíve seen a few guilds do special deals, change the loot rules in the middle of raid, etc. It typically never works out well. In wow, you have special circumstances in which you need to have a super well geared to tank to complete many of the raids. This is probably the only exception Iíd see using. However, I have seen a problem where you give exceptions and that person leaves. So you have a pretty big risk. Make a system that lets all your best players achieve.

Communication. Nearly all of guild problems and blow ups come from lack of communication. Rules changes on the fly, people become suspicious of peoples motivations, non-communication cause lots of problems. Give people time to let the rules sink in. Donít use the middle of the raid as a podium for communications.

Common Goal. I agree it is good to have a common goal and really helps in defining recruiting. But people do come to the game for different reasons. Hmm, what is a better way of putting this. The common goal should not snuff out what other people come to the game for. The game is about reward whether is being part of the best, being the best at your class, being the first group to take down a monster, being the most feared, being the best geared, being the most knowledgeable, being the fastest at taking down a boss, being the best dressed, having the most gold, hanging with your friends, joking with your friends, etc. The unspoken goal of all guilds is to access content. The speed and effort to access this content varies. The hard part is getting all the people on the same page to get to the content. I donít think the content actually demands a management style but it often requires major efforts from nearly all of its members.

Kicking people. Sometimes you have to kick people from raids and guild when the behavior is disruptive. The preference should also be to not do this during a raid. Iíve only had to do it three times in hundreds of raids, only once with guildies. Basically sleep on any decision and put it off for a day or more. I recommend trying to give a warning system first. Three strikes or whatever. Again communicate the issue and then move on. Put a time limit on the discussion. Say hey we have 10 minutes, this is the warning, put it to bed. Kicking people from raids and the guild is generally going to have a negative effect on the guild. Those people have established relationships with other people and it will bring our loyalty issues as well as questions about justice. If you have to kick people, you really have a serious problem with recruiting. On the other hand, people have bad days, people have bad weeks. Sometimes outside forces will give them a freak out. Let it slide for a few days and see if the issue goes away. If it doesnít, go back and look at your recruiting.

Not everyone is going to get along. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn. Despite common goals, sometimes people just donít like each other. You have to do what you can minimize these issues and keep the folks separated. You canít fix a dislike from the outside. You can only fix behavior that takes away from the guild goals.

Recruit good people. Attendance, gear, game skill, play times, social skills, concentration on raids (no afk), consistency, willingness to change builds/play style, willingness to help farm materials, willingness to help others, general attitude all play a role in getting the right people in. Personally, Iíd get rid of the yellers and hot heads. Doesnít matter how good or competent they are; they are going to cause you problems. If they are in a position of power, they will kick people unfairly. The worst part about them is they build up resentment among the quieter guild members who eventually seek out revenge. Also on the flip side, let people go that want to go or try to hold the guild hostage. It is a dumb power play. You canít make anyone stay. You can only create an environment in which people enjoy the successes. The more success on the goal, the more people you will have to choose from and the more people who will show up to the raids.


Posted by: Winx on March 1, 2006 3:24 PM

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Irrational fear of the opposite gender coupled with unrealistic approximation of their individual ability to contibute strictly on the basis of gender. Suppressed and unrecognized homoerotic inclinations coupled with intolerant and unforgiving attitudes toward individuals deemed "unsuitable".

Talon would be an immediate Section 8 discharge in the elite military units I served with. Sorry, but that's the reality of this interview Nick. His organization is not militaristic. It is a textbook example of a dictatorial personality cult. All that sacrifice, all that neurosis, and for what? To be the first at beating a software routine in a popular online game?

Sorry, Nick, but you really should have picked a better example.

Posted by: Greyhawk on March 27, 2006 6:33 PM

It seems that Talons style leans heavily towards efficiency on an entity level. It may not be an all rounding aspect of efficiency, but it seems in many aspects of his stipulations to benefit best from a guild standpoint. That's one way of running a group I guess, there's no right or wrong to it. As for the sexism comments, I tend to agree with how Talon works and the responses to this interview from women drops my regard for the representitive of the females up there by a notch. It's a flagrant display of ego which is unable to transcend a view beyond oneself. Women are a cause of the issues described by Talon, not all women are of that kind, it is easier to discriminate than to do damage control so the women up there who thinks he's sexist, get over it. The world doesn't revolve around you individuals and decisions are not made for your benefit only.

Posted by: new stranger on June 5, 2006 3:12 AM

I'm going to have to agree with Greyhawk on this one. I'm in the United States military myself. We have rules against officer/enlisted relationships for a reason; to prevent favoritism. We do NOT have rules against specific genders. Make rules against disruptive actions, not groups of people who *may* cause a disruption.

Talon's guild doesn't sound militaristic, or at least not the military I know. One doesn't loose one's sense of self in the military; one becomes the best individual one can; contribute to the whole, don't become it. Any organization is better off with a thousand minds and a thousand than a thousand bodies controlled by a hive mind.

Talon controls his guild in such a way as to avoid complicated issues, or as he puts it:
"I see no reason why I would sacrifice huge amounts of my time just for an abstract sense of fairness"
Let's say you notice an issue that is unfair. It certainly is easier to remove the problem-child and avoid the issue in an online-guild setting. Is it right? Does Talon even believe in fairness?

All this "Drama" he works so hard to avoid is what keeps the game interesting. It proves your guild is alive. A true uber-guild is one that has people that are so incredibly different no interaction is ever the same, and yet the guild works as a close-knit team regardless.

In the *real* military, you take what you get. A unit becomes elite not because they are all the same, "Ideal" soldiers, but because when "the shit hits the fan," everyone in it will raise whatever hell they can to get one more of their own home. But that's the real military. MMOs are not real.

UO. EQ. SWG. WoW. These are games.

Posted by: Jonathan on June 5, 2006 8:46 AM

(moderated - no swearing please)

i was a harcore gamer and wanted nto the guild, they hazed me and I defended myself, so I didnt get in.

After a while tho it became clear that they weere different. There were rumors of them powerleveling characters and gearing them up ro ebay the accounts. You never knew WHO was on any memebr with their name tag. Old friends I had in game would join their guild and the enxt time I would see them I would whisper them to be told, this is so and so, your friend is not playing today, was really really wierd. Almost like a neo nazi underground group.

(moderated - Godwin's Law)

And this interview and my personal experiences mirror this uncannily.

Taln appears to be a Narccisist, psychologically speaking, and his views pervade the vast majority of young males I have encountered in game, and on the forums I ahve browsed.

Guilds like this do impact the servers theya re on, others look up to them, as they have learned to do from youth the best are to be admired, youth have a need to belong.

This is a great case of abuse of power:

1. Take their identity(their characters future loot, advancement, spec etc.)
2. Take their possesions(their characters)
3. Threaten to remove them from the guild, their new identity, if they do not comply, to the letter.

There is a difference between fear and respect.

Fortunately for me I have neither feeling for Talon.

Posted by: Dejoblue on July 27, 2006 4:18 AM

(moderated - no personal attacks please)

"Some interesting insight, though I think some are misunderstanding me. The "sexism" as you call it doesn't really have anything to do with women.

It stems from the fundamental fact that a great portion of the core of the guild is composed of 21-25 year old males that might be dating, but certainly are not in any real way committed. There can be... excitement... with younger single women getting guilded. Or screw the "can", there practically always will be unless the woman is very strict (I love them for it, but they aren't exactly the norm). They make great friends with someone and then they get in a relationship."

Yes, women get involved in relationships. Every relationship is not a sexual/romantic one, as you clearly state here you beleive it will be. I think this is a ruse to preotect yourself from being jealous should a woman you like comes along and someone else steals her heart.

"This is all very natural, but net relationships tend to be more fragile than ones formed in RL. Certainly some last, but many do not. Now what happens when the 70%+ chance of that relationship going bad happens? Certainly we lose one of them, quite possibly both. It just seems like an unnecessary risk.

Perhaps I should have been more clear about it: young single women in a guild full of single young men can be a lot of trouble. Women in themselves are no trouble, and are actually hugely over represented among our officers. These have been stable women living in relationships, which means the guys won't have any silly ideas. IE a 30 year old couple would be MORE than welcome. A 18 year old girl who has her RL picture in the application? Ngh. (and yes it has happened)

To paint the picture even further, I certainly don't think adding guys to a guild full of young women would "improve" it. Though I must say I would think the young women in this fictional guild would be more sensible than I'd trust the guys of my guild to be :P"

It is nice to see that you think it is not possible to ahve a guild with a lrge population of women (moderated - personal attacks)

"Most guild leaders can identify a classic problem male player (young, anger issues, attitude) and discipline him quickly, but they may have more trouble managing classic problem female players (flirty, overly sexual guild chat, dependent on protector) because they don't understand how to discipline or manage them.

So it's easy for a guild leader like Talon, who has specific goals that he wants his guild to achieve to say "I don't want to deal with this other kind of managerial issue, so I won't". And that often relegates women to second class citizen status in uber guilds, regardless of their ability to contribute to the guild's well being and health. And that is unfortunate for the genre, in general."
This, btw, was extremely insightful. This is basically what it comes down to. Young men are "easy", and I don't feel bad being rude to them. However, sometimes I wasn't aware that a player was a female (I really don't care about gender until someone else makes it an issue). I've heard these people cried after a berating I gave them. Cried!! It's a game... I don't want to make people cry."

If it is "Just a game" why did you berate them to the point they would cry? Do you NOT thik that males have feelings? I think you abuse these young males and form a type of codependant relationship wherin you berate them and ask them to try to please you, and since you have stolen their identity they want nothign more than to please you (moderated - personal attacks)

"I can manage women pretty well if I need to, but I certainly haven't found a _FAST_ way to do it. And this is the problem. I might play in an uberguild, but I have limited time. TIME is the ultimate commodity, and I try to reduce everything that wastes my time. If managing X takes 3x more than managing Y, I _will_ have a huge bias toward X, because I see no reason why I would sacrifice huge amounts of my time (that would have to come from either my career or my wife) just for an abstract sense of fairness."

So you want people to devote themsleves to the guild but you refuse to if it is incovenient to you personally, something that wouldnt be tolerated otherwise by anyone else. I wonder what other luxuries you afford yourself.

"And yes I know making blanket rules (btw we totally have NOT forbidden women applying or shoot them down as they apply) with recruiting can be unfair. Alas, not like anyone knows how to get the full potential out of a recruit pool."

Recruitment is about the persons projected contributeion. Not their projected subdjugation.

And yes people DO know how to properly reccruit. Go to any temp service and their standards of measurement are not about how much punishment we can take, but what ones strengths are and how they can work together to exploit those strengths so that everyone prospers.

(moderated - personal attacks)

Posted by: Dejoblue on July 27, 2006 4:51 AM

Goodwins Law? You have to be kidding me.

I admit I may have digressed into "personal attacks" but the comparison is pertinent.

I dont believe invoking Goodwins law here is appropriate when speaking of militant groups (even within a video game). Would you rather I, not to be smug or provide a personal attack, use a Charles Manson analogy? The pattern is there.

This isnt about abortion, war, politics or any other subject that isnt relevant to a comparison which Goodwin has predicted. And perhaps I am stating the obvious and that is the reason for its invocation.

It is about recruiting a singular demographic of human beings that most likely, due to the recruitment mandate of young males only and various other traits as stated within the interview, involves those persons that are easily influenced and manipulated for personal gain while those recruited lose their identity and look to the guild for ego and esteem for the world and themselves and approval from the figurehead whom is admitidly detatched and not willing to put in the time for interpersonal relationships or guidance of his members while he maintains that those members must give everything they have to the guild for its benefit.

I believe in video games that there are many easily influenced minors that look up to guilds such as Talon's and seek them out to boost ego and self esteem. I feel that guilds such as these should be sensitive of that and not exploit, intentionally or not, the stripping of self esteem and ego making "the guild" ones identity so that removal would be emotionally detrimental to those persons recruited.

I've lost the debate, the thread is over, Talon won.

Unfortunately I have just now read this as I discovered this website only recently. For that I will apologise. My beliefs still stand. I wanted to contribute constructively to try to aid what I percieved as a dangerous situation.

Talon I am sorry. I would like to ask that you consider my statements while you lead your guild ahead. I do not think you are intentionally pursuing any type of cult following or intentionally manipulating anyone. I ask that you look to your members and try to see if they may have developed this dependancy of the guild. Thank you for your consideration.

We cannot allow apathy to blur our recognition of well defined patterns of behavior as Talon describes. I seriously think this should be considered in your research. Whethere it comes from the leader or the the willing submission of the members.

Perhaps you should do a followup on one of the regular guild members to better see how that relationship works.

I suspect that wiling subjects can also coerce a leader to develop such a relationship to meet their own needs, hence codependancy. I would be very interested in readding that interview.

In the future I will refrain from personal attacks, i dont beleive there are any within this post. If you find one please remove it.

Thank you in advance.

Posted by: Dejoblue on July 29, 2006 4:58 AM

I think and met Talon under a similar name as a guild leader/raid leader in Stromm. After three raids with this quasi-Talon I quit playing in that guild. He represented the worst traits of the worst junior officers I had met in 20 years of active duty in the military. He was constantlly spamming the raid channel with vituperous insults to the guild as a whole. Major violation of good communications procedure.

Frequently, he would scream and yell at the guild for failures which were directly the result of mistakes in raid planning an leadership. This only served to waste raid time and make failure by despawning of the target mob more likely.

In the real military we have after action reviews where the performance of all, officers as well as enlisted is evaluated by a team from the training center at which the maneuvers were conducted.

After the third raid I attempted to make my criticisms known in the guild website. I never criticized during the raid, or wasted comm space in guild raid channels.

This led of course to my being accused of revolting during the raid, which I had never done, and of creating 'drama'.

I swore when I retired from the Military to never put up with this kind of immature stupidity again. I had to put up with it from an occassional second lieutenant in the Army but I will not tolerate it in a video game.

The thing is some of the principles are true.

1) in a raid you should not start griping and attacking the raid strategies. During the raid obedience is the first virtue of the guild members.

But, honest criticism of how the raid was conducted after the raid cannot be suppressed.

2) Drama queens are a problem and should be avoided.

But, honest criticism of poor tactics is not being a Drama queen.

Talon is right, of course, about the male female role in a guild.

I currently duo with our guild leader, in two toons which we only play when both of us are online. She is a fairly new player and during raids would frequently ask me to defend her from what she felt was unfair in a raiding situation.

I was not really ready to do that and would instead attempt to explain the situation to her and make a fair call on what was fair and unfair.

The result is she has pretty well learned the rules of loot distribution and raid behavior.

Another younger man paired with her might have created the problems which Talon cites.

The bottom line is that many of the principles Talon cites are valid for a good raid, but can easily be abused into a kind of slavish tribal worship of the guild leader as being withour fault and above criticism, or may exclude valuable players who with patience and experience will develop into good players.

Posted by: Stephen Huff SSG USA Retired on May 24, 2007 3:11 AM

I joined the quasi-talon's guild because of a guild merger. Two successful raiding guilds on Stromm were merging to form an Uber guild. The raid leader of the guild I was in refused to participate in the merger. He knew the quasi-Talon and would not join a guild with that guy in it.

In his guild leadership there was a quiet emphasis on guild discipline marked by a sense of humor. The name of the guild was humorous itself. Raids went well without my ever hearing a single abusive comment, criticism yes, but no abusive comments. He later went on to have one of the highest reputations on Stromm. I occassionally see him mentioned with reverence in EQ forums online.

In contrast with the quasi-Talon the new guild broke up and the quasi-Talon reputedly quit playing EQ and went to another game.

My next raiding guild was mostly French. Again there was an emphasis on discipline during the raid, but no real abuse. The raid leader had been a raid leader so long that she (was a female toon not sure of actual gender) did not function well in the game except as a raid leader. Form a group with her and in a few minutes she would have recruited three or four more people and made it into a mini-raid. Thus messing up the xp for everyone involved. Still a nice person and pleasant enough to play with and a great raid leader when it came to researching a target and knowing a successful battle plan.

I quit playing with that guild when one of the class officers became abusive. I would consider logging on to play, discover that I would really rather watch TV than enter that unpleasant situation, and just not log on. I never made a decision to quit. I just had a choice, put up with abuse or do something else. I always ended up doing something else.

Modesty, a sense of humor, and respect for their people become a group leader in an MMORPG. I suggest that war leaders among the Comanche Indians are closer to the model for MMORPG leaders than Officers in a formal military.

These qualities will keep peeps coming back for raid after raid.

Posted by: Stephen Huff SSG USA Retired on May 24, 2007 3:30 AM

Having played on several different WoW servers I can attest that guildmasters like Talon seem to exist nearly everywhere, though thankfully in small numbers. Every server has a handful of "uber" guilds, and they tend to be like Talon's. Discipline and Hierarchy are rigidly enforced. The power of the Leader is absolute. Members are expected to subsume their entire existence to the guild. You will respec when told, you will farm mats when told, you will show up to raids when told, you will not receive any loot until you've survived a hazing period in which you are subject to continuous abuse until either your personality breaks or you quit. Anyone who dares question the leadership or underperforms in their given role will be immediately ejected and replaced from endless pool of applicants salivating at the opportunity to be "uber".

While these guilds do "succeed" at a group level, their memberships turn over frequently. Odd though this may seem, most sensible people don't enjoy being subject to the arbitrary lash of a megalomaniac and quickly become disillusioned when they realize that in spite of their "success" and "advancement" they aren't having much fun. Their favorite game has become work. The entire membership of the guild may churn over the course of months but the guild itself stays in the headlines because the churn is gradual and they continue to down new bosses in spite of the burnout. But that doesn't matter, because from the start it has always been and continues to be about the leader's ego. The guild effectively becomes a giant pseudo e-phallus for the guild leader, who cares about his membership only to the extent that they enable him to maintain his lofty position.

Eventually, but with certainty, word gets out that life inside the uber guild isn't all roses and their pool of applicants dries up. Then the leader puts up a lengthy post on the realm forums declaring in a seemingly gracious (but in fact unsubtly self-serving) tone that he thanks the server for the good times, but is moving on to another where he can people good enough to satisfy his vision of glory. And so he transfers servers, presumably to repeat the same process all over again elsewhere, and in a few months his guild and their "achievements" are forgotten.

Talon and his methods may be "effective" as conventionally defined, but that doesn't make him any less a tyrant.

Posted by: Michael on December 15, 2007 4:26 PM

All this talk about online guilds and being the best dissolves when the electricity goes off and your sitting in the dark discovering that the blank computer screen is an empty promise.

Posted by: flicker on April 14, 2009 5:30 AM

All this talk of sexism is slightly irritating. Talon says his reasons why he does this, and while it is sexist, it works for them.

Posted by: Josh on April 17, 2009 12:01 PM

I'm female, play wow, and belong to an end game raiding guild that is one of the best on the server. I've also belonged to a guild that was completely socially focused, and one that was in between. I've made a few observations.

1. Men cause as much - if not more - drama than women. Sometimes this is because of romantic involvement, more often it's just clashing egos.

2. Misogynistic behaviour is tolerated more than it should be (or, more than I feel it should be).

Being told that I should play wow "like a guy"? I will not *ever* hide the fact that I'm a female. With the way most guilds use vent, it'd be difficult to do, anyhow. I don't go out of my way to trumpet it, either. I've earned my spot in my guild by skill, dependability, and not behaving in an antisocial manner towards my guildmates. I don't play wow like a guy. I play wow like a human being who's working towards a common goal with other human beings.

In the past, I have received inappropriate tells from male players. I have no issue putting my foot down when someone crosses a boundary. In one particular case, asking him to stop (first politely, then less so) had no effect. So I talked to the gm, who managed the situation not by talking to the offending the player, but by keeping us seperated. We had guild notes identifying who everyone's alts belonged to, he removed mine, and I was asked to be a bit less vocal in vent (when I'm leading raids...). In essence, because a casual male player of median skill was causing an issue, a stronger female player had to be hidden and silenced. In that situation, the problem was not ME. It was both the offending player, and our gm's attitude. I didn't ask him to protect me, I asked him to deal with a player who was acting in a disrespectful manner towards an officer. Ask yourself, if he was whispering me racial slurs, would the gm's actions be acceptable? How about if it's an officer making a casual player uncomfortable? Why is a male guild member harassing a female officer something to be shushed up and treated as though it's the female's fault, merely because she happens to be female?

Posted by: Cadence on November 7, 2010 2:08 AM
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