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Life as a Guild Leader

Acquiring Leadership Skills

One theme that has flowed through many of the narratives we've seen is that people have learned important leadership and management skills from their game-play experiences. After all, leading people involves many of the same skills regardless of where it happens. Several players noted how these new skills have helped them outside of the game.

Being a guild leader has effected my RL ability to lead people and stand up and do what is good and needs to be done. I have received numerous promotions at work into leadership positions and I make almost 8 times more now than when I started WoW last year. [WoW, M, 24]

I learned several things; I could manage events for a few hundred people, I could mediate agreements, I began to notice traits in individuals which where helpful in predicting what they were most likely to do next or likely to be interested in. I learned to delegate authority without releasing responsibility. I am very proud to say that my experience strengthened my diplomatic skills which had never been a strong point prior to my experience. I also learned more about the internet, building sites, moderating forums that I didn't know before. [WoW, F, 56]

These examples highlight games as places where the opportunity to learn important skills emerges, without prior planning by explicit teachers, and without a set curriculum. Video games do change people, and fortunately, those changes aren't always towards mindless violence or aggression. It is unfortunate that so much of the current media attention on video games, with the incessant finger-pointing at addiction and violence, distracts us from the far more interesting ways in which games can affect and change people.

Most valuable lesson is that realistically, its not whether you win or lose, or even how well you play the game, but who you meet, the relationships you form, and the personal growth that happens as a result of meeting and playing with people from cultures that can and do significantly differ from your own, and even if they don't, just learning of different attitudes and approaches to everything from the game to life in general. [WoW, M, 19]

In being a guild leader for most of my 6 years of online gaming, I have learned a great deal about what power means in an online gaming environment; compassion, understanding, organization and cooperation are required, and I have become a better person for my experiences. My personal journey has been largely through my interactions with people who are intelligent, understanding, creative, supportive, skilled negotiators and good friends. We have people from all walks of life in our guild, and everyone has much to contribute to our ephemeral social fabric; we are all in the same guild by choice, and I am honoured to be among them. I may 'Lead' but really ... I learn and I follow by example. [EQ2, F, 42]


 



Comments

You could not pay me enough to lead a big guild ever again. It does becoem more like work than your real job. I have lead a guild in the past which had over 200 members in it and seemed that I spent 95% of my gaming time settling issues between members and dealing with in game politics. I refuse to ever do that again. In my current game, I have explained to my guidl members that I don't want a huge guild. We are doing well as a small, unimportant guild to the grand scheme of the game itself. We don't openly recruit new members and have mamaged to form a great team of elite players from this small group. Everyone has become friends and all the headaches I hate have stayed out. Sure big guilds are nice for raids and always having someone on to help with quests. But due to my experince with both a big guild and a smal one, I prefer the smaller ones because they are less of a hassle to manage.

Posted by: Zypher Wynn on March 23, 2006 8:01 AM

To me this is all about changing people's lives. In the game universe I play, it's full of credit card fraud, assassins, jerks, etc...

So tired of all that, I dedicated myself to honor and justice and cleaning up kal online...

And I enjoy being a guild leader, not so much to prove that i am mr. ego, hack n slash guy, but to both be an example of kindness, integrity, compassion, and honor.

Maybe things we learn in mmorpg's can change the real world.

This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson is what motivates me every day, to make a difference in other people's lives.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

When you die, what kind of mark on life and on others do you want to have left?

Posted by: Craig M.Rosenblum on March 24, 2006 6:39 AM

Been in (and led) several guilds/clans and it just didn't work out for me. I prefer to do things on my own, and I just didn't have the time to organise events and keep up sites etc. Never again!

Posted by: Jojo on March 24, 2006 8:56 AM

I have been a guild leader for 4 years now. I must say that this study you have done really sheds a lot of light on the issues I face every day. I have yelled, screamed, cried, and thrown my hands up after logging off plenty of times.

Leading a guild has to be one of the most frustrating and rewarding things I have ever done in my life...and without any thanks most of the time.

I run a very successful guild, and for that I am proud, but it is those few people or issues that can ruin it all for you. People get ideas about you stuck in their head that aren't true, and spread drama. You can't make everyone happy no matter how hard you try. You have a real life, such as work and school, but are expected to be in game all the time. But, then you take down the "last" boss, or accomplish something great a guild, you can't help but smile and appreciate what you do.

Being a guild leader encompasses every skill in the book. I can relate to every single quote that you posted...which is rather humorous =).

Thank you so much for creating this compilation,

Nahimana ~WoW, F 24

Posted by: Nahimana on March 24, 2006 2:54 PM

I almost forgot, one thing you have to appreciate is those members that make it all worth while. We complain about the duties we suffer through, but there are those people who you develop friendships with that change your life for the better. We often spend more time with our guildies than our own family, and although it's stressful, I must send out a thank you to may guild and its members, for being great people and giving me some really fun and memorable moments.

Nahimana ~WoW, F 24

Posted by: Nahimana on March 24, 2006 2:58 PM

I have found that my prefered position is really as lieutenant. No one is as zealous as a functionary pursuing his function afterall. I just can't bring myself to initiate anything, especially when the group is not conditioned to regular group activity. I never really tire of answering questions because it often gives me opportunity to devise new strategies. I usually give different advice to people simply to see how they fare. Sometimes it is necessary to work more closely with the loyal opposition than your members, in order to generate the kind of narrative that keeps your members occupied and unified.
Things I have learned by observing leaders include what kind of character traits are necessary for a guild to succeed. Coldness, willingness to give commands but never really apologize, and reserves of stubborness are critical for a corporation to thrive. The gang leader has to be on top of everything from minute to minute because the game controls are heavilly centralized and battles are won and lost based on the fluidity of strategic information networks.
The troubles of leadership have inspired me to study everything from photomanipulation and webdesign, to oracle software and multi-user databases. I'm a glazier by trade. I suppose salesmanship is the only real skill I bring to the game.

EVE, M, 23 (Caldari)

Posted by: James on March 24, 2006 7:52 PM

After reading through this, i can't believe the similarities to my life as a guild leader. It is a great read and i have posted it on my guild site so they can get an idea of what it is really like in my shoes. Being a guild leader has been one of the most rewarding things i have ever done. I believe that it has changed me as a person for the better. Though, i think when it is my time to step down from the top, i will be more happy as a follower, or soloer.

Posted by: AC, M, 25 Immortalbob on March 26, 2006 2:39 PM

I play Asheron's Call, and have been an allegiance monarch (our term in AC) for four years now. We started small, but grew rapidly; and some days when I log in and see how many folks are in the allegiance, I scratch my head and wonder why.

Most people who play an online game and join an allegiance don't think for a moment what the actual leader goes through. They don't realize we may be asked the exact same question they just did multiple times daily, or have the request they just made many times already. Many times they completely forget that we pay a fee to play just like they do ... and it can sometimes get frustrating for us not to HAVE time to play. Sure, we can step down, but what about those who came into the allegiance because they'd heard you were a good leader? Do you just abandon them ... or call a meeting and try to explain that you need time to play too?

The most rewarding thing, IMO, is when someone leaves, often to try a new game, and gets in touch later to share their experiences. When that person tells you, "I'm a guild leader in my new game, and I NEVER realized what you went through!!! I'm glad I got a chance to learn from you by watching how you did things!" ... it kinda makes all the frustrating moments and times of hair pulling worthwhile - because in a small fashion - a part of you is out there helping others in another game. What greater honour is there for someone to have - than knowing you helped influence someone else to try something they weren't sure they could ever do? It may be "just a game" ... but what happens inside the games often mimics/influences real life. As a leader, I'm honoured that there are people who feel I'm worthy enough to be followed; as a person, I'm humbled at their trust and confidence. It is an experience I will never forget, even long after the game I play fades into obscurity ...

Posted by: Ashake, F, 40+ on March 26, 2006 6:09 PM

The funny idea I had someday, was to have a seminar on how to lead in guilds...

I mean we have all this knowledge and wisdom and experience and there is no incentive to share it.

Maybe someday there will be offline and online seminars for mmorpg guild leadership..

That would be interesting...

Posted by: Craig M. Rosenblum on March 27, 2006 8:49 PM

Pretty interesting article (how I like reading these, this site always shows so much insights on various MMORPGs matters!).

I've led a guild once, and like another commenter mentioned, it's been both one of the most rewarding and most ingrate positions in my life--not even in my professional endeavours have I had to cope with this (yet). It was even harder, I think, in that my guild was of heavy roleplaying, and this was an added difficulty to keeping people happy. Unfortunately, while this experience taught me lots of things, it didn't end very well, and it made me lose hope and interest in the game itself after so much struggling to keep things going.

One thing I remember is one of my members telling me privately one day that everybody in the guild "was taking me for granted", and that perhaps this was wearing me out as well as the other duties. When you strive to do everything right, to name the right officers, to please as many members as possible, to organize guild events... sooner or later, you become a figure that seems invincible, on which people can rely on, and this is extremely tiring.

All in all, this taught me that delegating tasks is a key point, and it can be a nightmare when you have good potential officers under the hand, but none of them wants the added responsibilities (and blind recruitment just to fill the ranks proved early on to be a bad tactics). No leader can do everything perfectly, nor do everything, period. If thinking this way, you open yourself up for a boatload of broken illusions.

This also taught me that I do way better as a lieutenant than as a leader. In my current guild (again, of roleplayers, though more laid-back), I hold an officer position, I help taking care of the forums, I offer events ideas, help organizing, and this is just what suits me. I like providing a good place for my fellow members, such as a website to post their RP stories and share ideas, I like preparng "tools" for them to enjoy the game more, but I cannot do this efficiently when I'm a leader as well.

And it's good to understand this, because I know it will likely turn true in my real life as well for many things (work being the first one that comes to mind).

Posted by: A. on March 28, 2006 1:25 AM

Very nice article indeed, and as the creator and leader of a society in a MMOPRG (project entropia), I can relate to a great many of points made. I eased the burden for myself somewhat by allowing the majority of the soc to influence decisions relating to the future of the society. While this at times meant I had to go against my own instincts, it worked out pretty well.

Yes, I, too, have been mediator, referee, and whenever any of the members did anything that displeased members from other societies, of course I was always the one they came to (it helped that I had quite a good rep in the game/forums).

The majority of our members were handpicked based on their posts on the forums or our in-game experiences with them. We did not actively recruit, but rather had brief periods during which we would recruit a few new people. We had them write letters of application. This made the feeling among our members that we were an exclusive club, and seeing the many reactions and applications we always got, that might indeed have been the case. People wanted to be a part of the soc. It also greatly increased the odds of knowing the new people would fit right in.

The negative side of this hit me when certain members ceased playing, and moved onto other games. Guys we highly enjoyed playing with just gave up. This happened to a few members, and basically, it's the worst thing that can happen to a guild leader if you ask me. It's like watching the hard work you put in just fall apart.

We decided to therefore take the soc beyond Project Entropia, and can now be found in other games as well.

Cheers.

Peter "ViagraFalls", 30, M, PE.

P.s. For those guild leaders looking for a good package to set up a guild page with, check out our site at www.lootius.com. It's a product made by the company of one of our members, and I find it to be extremely flexible and easy to quickly set up a decent guild page. (We're in the middle of skinning it, so keep that in mind).

Posted by: Peter on March 28, 2006 5:38 AM

I'm leader of a fantastic set of people in my linkshell in Final Fantasy XI. It really helps to induct people who are of a similar mindset as you. I'm married with a family and a job, so I try to gather other married people into the shell. Having the majority of the shell being able to relate to real-life activities and scheduling has gone far to make the linkshell such a success. Since we're all a little older (and hopefully a little wiser), we don't have much "drama" in-game since we're all playing to relax/escape, not stir up trouble.

And as far as it being "unrewarding," having two different members give me some decent items in-game at Christmas was both a surprise and a joy. I love my linkshell members! =]

Posted by: Toxik on March 28, 2006 8:42 AM

great article!

...i personaly found, that most important thing is to find several right people an make a core of the guild from them. This core makes you to be surrounded with great people and lately by great friends. Those should be the same age and should agree with clan politics at 100%. All others can be relatively ignored, because guild doesnt rely on them and they get a good working clan as a reward for their contribution to the guild.

Problem is that all will become core members sooner or later *brink*

USKO-PRAETORIAN

Posted by: DESTROY on March 29, 2006 10:56 PM

Well, I am the leader of a small/medium-sized guild. I would not call it particularly stressful. Then again, surely this depends on the type of person? Some thrive on stress and complex situations, others prefer complacency. I am one of the former. There have been worries; I was appointed joint-leader of the guild after our leader left the game. However, we have rallied, and are currently considered a popular group to join.

Posted by: Anon on April 2, 2006 7:58 PM

I could careless if this made sense or not.. It's my comment so read it or not.

As the guild leader I am. I donít have any problems... Why do people have problems leading a guild?

Recruit people with patience! Most players tend to leave their guild because they lack in patience e.g. not raiding once every day, Not being able to kill a boss, guild members Not getting their loot because they were too dedicated or not dedicated to raids, etc.

I have received 30 of these complaints from users who just joined the guild recently in 2006 and they were all G/kicked the day after raiding with us because of it.

I organise some fun events for my guild in Gurabashi arena where we have 1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3, 4vs4 and 5vs5 tournaments against one another. 1st Prize is 2x BOE epics.
2nd prize 500 gold split.
3rd prize guild promotion + 10 DKP.

41 active members in the guild, 1 Guild leader, 2 officers, 28 generals, 10 Sergeants

My guild has be running for 9 months now and has not suffered DRAMA over loot, time and/or skill. I keep consistency for all raids! Unless we all suffer realm issues.

Guild rules are clear to understand and not be disobeyed. Other wise guild members get penalized and minus 50 DKP & if they complain about it i demote them and if they persist in whining i g/kick them.

Other than that my guild has stayed the same shape and form... with the same old members... Assuming they donít have plans to leave because where else could they find dedicated / consistent raids. AS well as DONT ignore an argument and push it to the side for one day letting it become built up arguments which practically builds up to hate and eventually leads to some one having a sad and leaving the guild.

We donít create the past because it's hard to forget about it... we live the same thing every day. Nothing changes besides our real age and offcourse what we gain in-game :D

WoW, M, 17 and Pwns

Posted by: Axemedoom on April 3, 2006 5:08 AM

I have been a guild leader for close to two months now and i love it. Even when i want to pull my hair our I love it. I get frustrated yes , simply because I am a very organized person and its hard to deal with a mess..But when we suceed at something no one thought we could do then its worth it. Or when i see one of my members get their mount etc etc..And unlike alot of people I don't want a large guild..i mean seriously why would you want more than 50? Then you wouldn't have time for the ones you already have..

Posted by: Trav,f , greymane on April 4, 2006 7:14 AM

Very interesting project you've got here. Here are just some comments/experiences I've had myself.

I'm currently the guild leader of a group consisting almost entirely of friends from real life. The pre-existing friendships have put an interesting dynamic on some of the already complicated aspects of guildmanship.

First off, it's hard to take charge without feeling like you're overbearing. The added consciousness of knowing that what you say and do in the game and how that sends ripples out into real life can be stressful at times. Telling a friend that he's wrong is a lot more difficult than telling a stranger.

Guild recruiting is also harder in a situation like this. New recruits don't feel like they belong. The guild chat has a tendency to be flooded with banter and inside jokes that they don't understand. Also they feel ignored and unappreciated, when it's really just that we don't know them nearly as well as we know each other so we're not going to be able to interact with them as well.

Managing the structure of the guild can be difficult because how do you stratify your friends if all of you play the same amount and have the same relative skill? Do we just have 15 people with full guild privileges? It takes a fine hand at manipulation and it can be done, but being forceful with it would be less tiring.

I've also found it difficult to guide in a good direction. Overall there seems to be the mentality of "I don't feel like doing that, but I don't know what I want to do and don't have a better suggestion". They'll disagree with certain changes, but they won't give recommendations or better ideas. From guild alliances/mergers to widespread recruitings to guild name changes. They've all been routinely shot down by at least a couple which essentially leads to a complete veto.

The guild doesn't have enough to run the 40-man raid instances and so this hampers our progress for better gear and loot. I don't particularly mind it for myself, but I believe that some of the guildmates could do much more with their time. I've seen lesser players get epic gear that I know my friends easily could have gotten in a bigger guild. So I feel like it's my fault as the guild leader for not doing a better job at recruiting and bolstering our ranks so we can do more as a guild.

With all that negative talk, it could be hard to see why I even play the game at all. The irony is that I would have quit this game a long time ago except for my friends. There's something extremely gratifying about working together and taking down an elite boss. Or all congregating to assist a lower level that is getting harassed by a member of the opposite faction. Or just BS'ing in guild chat while we're idly killing monsters. Being a GM might suck and be time-consumingly thankless, but being the real-life friend of these guys and girls is awesome and worth any stress that they may cause.

Posted by: Jonathan on April 8, 2006 8:26 AM

This article is pretty good, and it rings mostly true.

It's easy to degrade from facilitator to caretaker as a guild leader, and the primary downfall is to not delegate enough in my opinion.

My solution is one that I learned from my father who was an executive corporate manager and management trainer. The general outline is to delegate everything where feasable, establish multiple points of contact, establish clear expectations about everything material and finally to invite democracy only when you can afford the outcome to go against the goals and vision of the org.

Trend was in an org I ran in beta with the goals of furthering hunter issues and providing guild support for hunters which were at that time in real trouble. I'd be interested in hearing his observations of my methods.

I could write volumes about this, it's my primary fascination but I'll just say that the job is mostly if not completely thankless. It's not 'fun', but it is satisfying in a way that nothing else is. If you need that form of satisfaction, there are few other ways to get it.

Posted by: Nox on April 12, 2006 8:06 AM

A very insightful article.

I have been a guild leader and deputy. In RL I have been a middle manager for many years, managing between 20 and 50 staff.

The major differences between on-line management and RL are in the communication systems and sanctions. In RL we use body-language, hierarchy, peer pressure, etc to "coerce" staff into doing their jobs.

On-line, communication is VERY 2-dimensional. Inflections and nuances are completely lost and misinterpreted thru the key-board, making communication much more difficult. Add in cultural and language differences and it is something of a miracle that many guilds function at all.

The other difficulty that a Guild Leader faces is in persuading members to follow the Guild objectives, as opposed to doing their "own thing". In RL we have company goals, targets, etc and there are a variety of sanctions that can be used short of dismissal.

Sanctions against errant guild members are very difficult to enforce and have much more limited effects.

Altho the boundaries between work and play on-line are blurring, they have not yet merged, imo. In fact, of the two professions, Guild Leader or company Manager, I would suggest Guild Leader is actually the more difficult as there are fewer established social structures to support the Guild Leader.

Makes for interesting social dynamics :)

Eve-online M, 49

Posted by: Malarkey on April 17, 2006 1:48 AM

I've been a guild leader for around a year now. Before I was an officer in several guilds through several games. The number 1 issue I've noticed lies with objectivity, fairness, and favoritism. Too often Guild leaders fall into the trap of letting real life friends get away with doing stuff they don't allow others to do. He takes the attacks on his friends personally and ends up punishing the wrong side. By the time he/she notices where they went wrong, half the guild has left.

Many other guild masters just take too much on at one time. They don't delegate responsibilities and tend to burn out really quickly and fall into a "do-nothing" attitude.

Posted by: Durnan on April 17, 2006 6:19 PM

Being a corp leader is terribly time demanding. I had to allow my corp members to contact me by email to make decisions. (corp=guild in eve-online)

It is very important to have other players you can rely on the lead the corp in your absence. The biggest problem for me is it lashes you down and doesn't let you do your own thing.

Posted by: Scagga on April 21, 2006 7:40 AM

Many guilds (guild leaders) are too open about recruitment. If you allow just anyone into the guild, of course there are going to be problems.

We have a manditory 2 week trial period where voice participation is mandatory. Granted, we're never going to be the biggest guild, but we have great people, and avoid the social problems that plague any group of randomly collected people.

WoW, M, 32

Posted by: ee3 on April 24, 2006 2:13 PM

Dear Readers,
I think your website is a little to light so can you maybe make the backround red and the words blue,purple, or even maybe green.Thanks for your help in making the website look a lot better for me and the other people on theis website.
Thanks
Amanda

Posted by: Amanda on May 2, 2006 10:31 AM

I have really enjoyed being a leader of a Villain Group in CoV. In RL I am a business management student and much of what I learn I get to experience leading my group; my own convictions of fairness, participation, reward, loyalty, and just having fun seem to be shared by a large majority of my teammates. Alot of fellow gamers/villain groups like to team with us in order to power level, earn prestige, or gain loads of XP. It's really quite rewarding to see that the time you invest in fellow players is not wasted and that you are able to help someone just have fun! After all isn't that why we play games in the first place?

Posted by: Chris on May 10, 2006 5:59 PM

I lead a multi-guild Alliance on a high-population WoW server, and I've recently discovered the joy of saying "no", or "that's a great idea - why don't you organize that?". People seem to think that my resources are unlimited, or that everything must be approved by me... so a little delegation of authority goes a LONG way to keeping me sane. I've also decided not to log in on Thursdays, and cut my raiding to 3-4 nights a week, although I could raid every night if I wanted to.

One of the best things about leadership in MMOs is options... you have access to so much content, at any time. One of the worst things is trying to solve conflicts that are based on events OUTSIDE the game, where you can't get accurate information, and can't really do anything about it anyway.

The thing to be most cautious of is not to ignore festering issues for so long that they blow up in your face, yet be able to push aside the mundane issues that you don't HAVE to fix, until they resolve themselves (and the wisdom to tell the difference!).

Sometimes I feel very out-of-touch, and it's only a trustworthy group of "officers" that can give you that ear-to-the-ground information that is so critical. VERY few people will be jerks to your face, but they still can't remain in your organization. Do not be afraid to remove people, and do not try to hang onto people who want to leave. Wish them well, hope they return, but let them go play where they'll be happy.

E. (WoW, M, 31)

Posted by: Eric on May 12, 2006 1:23 PM

I have thoroughly enjoyed being a Clan leader, I don't play wow or eve, but Theninja-rpg, a browser based MMORPG. Though I haven't led long, I have enjoyed it even with the trials and tribulations. It's been a very rewarding experience, and I hope to stay clan leader for quite a while.

Posted by: Blackhyuuga on May 21, 2006 12:37 PM

Congratulations for your great work, seems like you had a hard time pulling all this together.

Contact me when you have time please. Im about to finish my degree in psycology and i'd like to exchange some points of view about this matter.

Posted by: Felipe G. on May 21, 2006 11:41 PM

I have been playing WoW for about a year and a half now, and am on my third guild. In the first, i didn't participate in anything relating to the guild at all - i was such a lowbie. In the second, i was an officer, but it was a small, leveling guild comprised mainly of RL friends, and friends of friends, etc. That guild fell apart because of not understanding the need for leadership. I am currently an officer in an end-game raiding/pvp guild that is going through quite the dust up.

We have had high level officers leave with MUCH drama, we've had our guild leader quit the game because his RL marriage was on the line because of his playing. We are losing players to other guilds because we're not advancing fast enough. Its a struggle to log on daily and see that people have /gquit. Especially when they are real life friends, or friends i've truly become attached to that i've met online.

That said, i LOVE my guild, and i love my guildies. My job so far has been specifically to mediate disputes in the guild. Our guild was set up after the demise of another one, due to drama. I am supposed to prevent that drama from happening. But, i've ended up the guild mommy - its stressful. Not to mention with the shake ups, i'm moving up the ladder of leadership, taking on more roles - class captain, raid leader, banker, and even third in command of the guild. Its good - the guildies seem to listen to me, respect my opinion, and like my leadership style. But it is a LOT of work.

Ihave really appreciated the insights that i have gleaned from reading this site - i've read a LOT of it. I am the type of person that feels that if you can't do something well, you shouldn't do it. So i research my role. I see the challenges I face, and i feel i'm as armed as i can be to face them. I like the suggestion, though, in the comment above. It would be truly amazing if there were a seminar or book on guild leadership - there's so much you can learn for even real life situations... Well, i've rambled - and dealt with THREE guild issues over IM while trying to draft this (at my RL job, natch). It never ends!

WoW, F, 28

Posted by: Anon. on June 5, 2006 12:25 PM

Having the stones, the conviction, the certainty that regardless of any one elses input you LED that collection of toons to whatever, is part and parcel of being 'Leader'.

thats the Pro of being Guild Leader.

The 'con' is everything else that goes with it.

I've read this entire thing front ot back. twice. I've played online for hte past 5 years and more. JumpGate. Eve Online. WoW. In each I have been afforded the privilege and respect and have achieved 'officer' or Guild Leader status.. The decisions i took and course i chose were to uphold and protect the imaginary status of something as intangible as an idea, a collection of rules written by the unruled, to organised the unruly, to impose a sense of togetherness on the loners, for order to emerge from chaos.

I wouldn't change a thing.

People have written above about the honour bestowed, the humbled, the human responces to pleasure and pain. I've been there. Seen it done it read the book starred in the film yada yada yada so why am i posting here...why are any of us posting here. Is it that we need to trumpet our achievements, to broadcast to all we did it. I sincerely hope not. I post here in the vain hope, the merest glimmer that someone who hasn't done ANY of the above, reads and inwardly digests the pitfalls and peaks, and then goes and creates something that can NEVER be taken away. A sense of self worth and confidence that I never knew possible.

Posted by: Cyber on June 7, 2006 6:03 AM

I was in charge of a guild because the original leaders left. In my experience across 3 MMOs, guilds tend to be good investments but over months there is a degration that occurs because of lessening involvement and people losing the drive to play. Guild leaders, who tend to be at the higher levels, are ususally the ones who go first since there "isn't any more fun left for them." In terms of leaving, higher level characters are usually drawn to other MMOs while lower level characters get picked up by other guilds when the current guild ceases to become involving. What I did to float the guild for the last few months of my playing the MMO (FFXI) was to have my guild meet constantly and do completely stupid stuff (having voicechat REALLY helps the fun, btw) like gathering as much of some low level crap we could get adn then giving it away to noobs, taking frequent pictures, and providing "escorts to the view" in which we would take teh entire guild out to dangerous areas for pictures. Sadly... I eventually had to quit the game, but I would say I left the guild with what good memories I could.

Posted by: Laikan on June 8, 2006 4:28 PM

Having been in the military for many years has helped me being a guild leader. This was not my original intent to form and lead a guild. I was upset with the leader of my exguild for not leading and also not delegating powers to his officers to help alleviate the response time. He had decided to keep complete control of the guild and nothing would happen till he decided to go online. So he was a control freak as you can see. Being a person that would do constructive critisisim, many members knew I was upset on how slow things were happening in the guild. They started to let me know that they agreed and would follow me if I left the guild for another guild.

The time came when many members edged me on to lead them. I formed the guild and within a 1.5 months was already in the top 10 guilds for membership on the server. I could not pull such a thing alone. I decided to open my guild to all types of members, low level, high levels etc. without any requirements except that members register at guild forums within 2 weeks.

I have trusted my senior staff with powers and mostly "TRUST" them to help me run the guild. They are the ones that will promote members of the guild into the senior staff. They can change rules around by concensus of all the senior staff. The members look up to them and they all have their niche where they are the best at. Some are good at tradeskills, some at Raids, some at making special events or helping out our members. I show them to lead by exemple and try to show or teach them how to solve problems within the guild. I put trust in my officers and I back their decisions even if they make a mistake. Nobody is perfect and we must learn from our errors. Being a Family type guild where we enjoy the company of each other and nobody is forced to do things they dont want to do, makes this guild somewhat unique.

Like any family we have had some bad apples and we tossed them out or dealt with them. My playing time as decreased a lot for I spend a lot of time in guild administration but it is expected when you lead a guild. I realy enjoy this guild for its members, past and present. When someone leaves for another guild, I wish them goodluck and will still answers tells and hails from past members without any grudges.

Sure I had to disciple some members and even some senior members, but I always did it tells or emails and explained why I took the decisions. I cant solve every crisis but I do have a fantastic group of senior staff that will back me up when things get rough. Its been almost 11 months now and we are preparing our first anniversary.

Micmac, EQ2

Posted by: Micmac on July 7, 2006 7:23 AM

I have led a number of Guilds in my time, mostly FPS games. The one thing that remained constant for me was to keep it small. As small as was possible for that particular game. I was lucky enough to become part of a fun albeit small group of friends that enjoyed gaming together, and for the most part we stayed as a group as we went from one game to another.

As we gravitated to MMORPG's it became apparent to me that Guilds in this realm were a lot bigger. Managing a group of friends with a few new people joining up everytime we switched games was one thing, but once it got to be organization size, I knew it was not for me any longer. I don't have nearly the playing time I used to, and I want to actually play when I have the time now.

More Power to the Ones who want to Lead, and Off with Their Heads when the ego kicks in too hard!

Posted by: ShadowMaster on July 7, 2006 8:52 AM

I have not been a guild leader but have had several. Some were good and some were god-awful, but I always appreciated that their job was hard. What I find amoungst alot of Guild leaders tho is a tremendous EGO. So no matter how much they complain, they still prefer the position of power. The second most common trait I find amoung them is cowardly behaviour when it comes to confronting bad behaviours. I find many of them do not have the nerve to deal with problems directly and quickly. I have seen people kicked from guilds while they were offline due to the fact that guild leaders didnt want to face them at all. Or problems fester because Guild leaders didnt have the nerve to confront people about them. I am not sure the reasons for this, maybe its so much time spent online as opposed to dealing with people face to face that accounts for these things. I plan on being a GL one day, so perhaps I will realize why I see those two traits so often, however I will do my best to always face people honestly and sincerely. In my rl job I have to have uncomforatble confrontations at times so I am good at face to face contact.

Posted by: Delia on July 14, 2006 1:44 PM

i newly became a guild leader. i made my guild ( night of the living horde) not to long ago.i like being a leader it makes you feel strong even if your a level 3.my guild has had up's and downs in the few days it's been active. one person left because nobody in the guild would give him 10 gold for nothing. i have had only some people come in who are nice, and fun to be around.i am recruiting people into it (which is the only hard part). the truth is: everybody is in a guild nowadays! i am a level 16 orc shamen and most people don't join the guild because of my level. they think, in general, that it's full of noobs. it reminds me of my last guild i was in.( rolling thunder) they were nice people and i liked being around them. i had 2 characters in the guild. when i told them my main wanted to crate my own guild, they kicked both of my characters out because they didn't want me to lead two lives.i was OUTRAGED! but i soon realized they did the right thing. maintaining my guild is hard, trying to be everyone's friend and supporting everyone. most of the people don't even talk to anyone in the guild. but, overall it's a rewarding experiance and i advise many people to make guilds themselves.

Posted by: gorloc on August 14, 2006 8:07 PM

I just wanted to say thank you, I felt as if I were all alone in my joys, pains and feelings. I would have to say as others have I relate to each and every one of those quotes. I have noticed in real life that I do manage things better, be it my time, or people I am supporting. I hope that other Guild Leaders read this, it gave me a pat on the back. I think I am going to post this for my officers to read, maybe even my guild members.

I am glad I have a group of officers and other leaders (our GM postion is spilt by 4 people) around me to help with these task.

WoW, M, 22

Posted by: Avar on August 17, 2006 1:12 PM

I took over a guild, a big one in it's prime, but was failing so I took it over and started to change it for the good. I shouldn't have recieved the guild as I was pretty new compared to a few people, but I had fresh ideas and aspirations to return it to it's old self.

The points mentioned here directly paralleled the problems that I occured. It amuses me reading them now, as back then I thought it was just me failing as leader.

It felt like a great weight was lifted when I left the guild, although part of me still cares about it. The person who the guild elected as new leader, destroyed it completely and rewrote everything I had achived in building the guild back, which is a shame.

I don't think I'll ever go back to that guild, many people ask me to create a new guild, I certainly won't be doing that!

Posted by: Rufus on October 26, 2006 11:19 AM

Being Guild Leader made me learn many things. And I'd tell you, i've been leader of one of the most hatest Guilds in Guild Wars, Your Math Teachers And Your Math Teacher.
Leading a guild like that made me know how someone feels leading a top guild, even through we've been hated by half and maybe more Guild Wars Commnunity.
Leading a succesful guild its cool, gives a lot of deserves.. and gives also the opportunity to get friendship with a small group of people.. it has been great.But its a game...

Alfredo

Posted by: Alf on November 7, 2006 1:59 AM

I worked & supervised in a volunteer Center in New Orleans this past summer, many of the comments that your guild leaders are making reflect many of the interpersonal problems that we faced at our center. Conflict resolution, trust, honesty, negociating alpha males and females, and logistics. It is interesting how the two activities parrellel one another.

Posted by: Matt M on December 13, 2006 6:15 PM

Amazing highs and the lowest of lows...being a GM is a tough job. I've run an 80+ member end game raiding guild in WoW for the last 7 months having played the game for 2+years and been an officer in my last guild (on a different realm).

I have learnt a lot about managing people and without doubt the hardest lesson has been to kick a RL family member from the guild for being the instigator behind a mass mutiny. I just didn't see it coming and when I did kick him it was way too late.

The workload can be enormous: I've built a huge website with a massive infrastructure and what I like to think is the most professional site short of a "company" like site. Bad move.

I've spent a lot of my own money running the site, paying for the TeamSpeak data traffic and ridiculous quantities of time staying on top of all the WoW related websites and newsletters cherry picking info to add to my site. Really bad move.

The game is about people playing the game. Not about the "world" you make outside the game, like my website.

That was my second mistake.

My third would have to be promoting folks to an "officer" role because they were RL friends and close friends of friends.

These folks knew nothing about end game raiding or being in a guild and caused considerable trouble when they felt that they weren't being heard. Despite using logic to address each and every concern they had, I found that at the end of the day it was the "emotion" which won out and caused a lot of ill feeling.

My guild is now falling apart and I'm seriously questioning why I'm even considering staying in the game.

I think if I did it all again, I'd not invest the enormous time ("investment") I did in levelling characters so that we could raid, I'd be far more vigilant of any dissension and I'd be a lot more
unforgiving...I guess I've become the not so benevolent dictator: shoot all those who oppose you.

I did have nagging doubts very early on that a number of people who later became officers didn't have the same goals as myself and the other founding member and that was my first, last and biggest mistake. When they walked they took ~30% of the guild with them, a guild bank with a stacks and stacks of items worth a lot of in game money and the whole affair has destroyed a lot of RL friendships which stretched back over ten years.

(WoW, M, 40)

Posted by: A Nony Mouse on March 25, 2007 7:30 PM

I found myself leading an "alliance" in Travian when the alliance founder left the game. He turned control over to me because I was the most engaged player, always in the forums, discussing strategy. For me it was emotionally exhausting and a bit frustrating, too, so much that I had to quit the game.

The good was that I made many NAPs (Non Aggression Pacts) and alliances with other alliances, always sticking to a no-first-strike philosophy. I also recruited heavily, and so our alliance quickly broke through the top 100, no mean feat in Travian.

The part that was frustrating was getting the other alliance members on the same page. The nature of the game allows alliance members to be very independent, and trying to coordinate things with them was like trying to herd cats. Yet coordination is very important in Travian, which is entirely PvP (a multi-city SimCity where cities fight each other). And as our alliance got bigger, I knew we were going to start getting attacked by the big guys, who up until then had left us alone because we were too small to worry about.

And the part that was emotionally draining was seeing alliance members, the same ones who never wanted to engage, getting attacked and their villages damaged. I would get their "please help me!" messages, but there was nothing I could do. We had not coordinated, much less even come up with an operating strategy.

Rather than see what I had worked so hard to build destroyed, I negotiated with a much more powerful alliance to take all my alliance members into its ranks, and then I left the game after turning my villages over to a friend.

But it was a positive experience overall. They can't teach management like this in business schools.

Posted by: Bortre on May 25, 2007 12:54 AM

What I have noticed now is that most long time guild gamers do not want to watch the mistakes of a first time guild leader. It is already a small world and reputations can be built and destroyed in a day. So for the player looking for a guild for a long duration, the exp of the guild leader is very important and more important is to see a structure in place, where as, the guild is not led by one person, but as a well oiled machine with duites and responsibilites delegated. And the direction of the guild very "clear" in the charter. Where new guilds usually fail ... To many players pulling in different directions. Before someone is invited it needs to be made clear of the direction the guild is going in, and the goals that are ment to be achieved. You don't invite a casual player to a raiding guild, and a raider to a family guild. To all guild Leaders ... Know who you are! And understand by not doing so affects others playing lives.

Posted by: 10ryr L/O , eq1-2 on July 2, 2007 6:57 AM

After 7 years of dedication to MMO's such as Everquest, Everquest 2, and World of Warcraft, I have witnessed and experienced the life of a termed "guild leader." As stated in the text, a guild leader takes upon himself, or herself, a position of authority over other players to lead groups, raids, and other group oriented situations in game. An interesting discovery I could conclude over the years is the diversity in age and willingness of responsibility of the people who take the position.
I have interacted with young adults who are full-time college students who maintain "leader" status far better than retired war veterans who get a thrill reliving their previous lifestyle through MMORPG's. Getting to know these individuals has enlightened my knowledge to their personal lives and how they maintain structure in real life situations and careers. An interesting point of research on the lives of guild leaders could lead to evaluating their real life leadership skills, as well as other attributes of their lifestyles.
Consequently, I have also met individuals with outstanding knowledge of the game and elite avatar persona, yet in their real life made a living not as prosperous.
Just some thoughts that may lead to further research in the area.

Posted by: Anthony on July 19, 2007 11:06 AM

Very interesting study, thank you as always for the good information. I agree with everyone who said that guild leadership can make you a stronger leader in real life, especially in the work place.

It is painful reading the posts from folks who are torn between being people's friends and being their leader because we have all been there, and when you choose the friend angle you always lose in guild management. It may be a temporary win, but over time placing relationships over the guild as a whole creates an unstable environment because people no longer trust you ... they know you will make decisions based on your friends, or worse who you feel your friends are on any given day.

As a guild leader, your loyalty is to the guild as a whole and not one individual person - no matter who they are to you in RL, no matter how well they play, no matter what their rank is or what they have contributed. The good of the group always has to win out over the good of the individual. Period. Once you figure that out, it makes life and leading much easier. And just like in RL, people may not always understand every decision you make but if they trust you then they will give you the benefit of the doubt -- and trust makes all of the difference in terms of keeping good members on your roster.

Posted by: zeus on March 17, 2008 4:08 AM

I read all the stories and recognize a lot being a Guild Master myself (in the beginning).
But I found out that a guild will run itself. There is no need to be busy and it is posible for you to play yourself.
You are only a mascotte and once in a while you do some cleanup administration.
A good tip I want to share; Keep it simple!

Make a few ground rules and follow them (like 5)
Take some officers who can help you, they like to work :)
Take a few officers to spread the risk and keep the competition going.
Don't use DKP or whatever system. Just master looter and roll. (You eventually end up with people in your guild who are thinking of the greater good and that is to gear up the whole team for higher raids)
Don't stay too low on the ground with your guildies but keep a little distance. Stay high in the air (untouchable).
Reward/promote people you can use and show effort.
Demote and eventually boot people who don't show effort.

Let me give you a little "the guild will run itself" example:
We had a player who always spammed the guildchat for help, money etc. People will get annoyed at a certain point and even more when they never get help back. You always have a few people in the guild who just say what they think. Plz let them :-) The player will be ignored and leave by itself eventually. If he whispers your (and he will!) just tell him you agree with the guild and don't respond anymore.

Also a good tip; if you are used to respond to every whisper you get and respond quick. Than you can be sure to get even more whispers. Use your enviroment, you got a nice website with all information on it. Just tell them to go there!And if they still got questions let them come back. It's really all about how you manage things.

Greetz Snader
WOW, M, 29

Posted by: Snader on September 10, 2008 7:58 AM

Greetings,i am the Darklord of Diobolical Mods

Im guild leader of 4 guilds on 1 english / euro server in WoW.I have read your posts and find it very interesting.Our main guild is on of the largest on the server and we cover many angles of WoW play(twink,leveling and main`s)i find the best thing to offer the guild members is strong leadership and a fair place to play,free from verbal abuse and the like.The pressures of leadership can be managed effectivly with some pre-planing and a LOT of listening to members needs

In truth i left the game years ago only to find i had a "cult" waitting for me to return lol ( even had 1 former guildie rebuild a guild to wait for me all that time..gotta luv guildies like that)..and after all that time had passed ppl still waitted for me to return...i believe that happened because ive always lead the people in the correct way..yes their are many ways to govern a guild or set its ranks but to be truly on top of things is to always try and be kind,show some empathy and consideration to your fellow guildies..anyone can develope guild leadership skills but unfortunatly not all can develope a sense of team spirit and a collective feeling of creating a greater good within the game itself.

I do hope this site continues the good work as we Guild leaders always need places to leave comments...like so many have said before me its a loney job with little thanks BUT remember as a guild leader you have the power to shape your server to help those who want to only play the game correctly..Tbh i cant stand ppl who create a guild to satisfy their own selfish desires,a guild leader is but one and the members are many..Show them that kindness and goodwill in-game is greater than the greed they had seen before and they shall always help you and in time your guilds will prosper...I am currently in the process of taking over an entire server :D ..Impossible i hear you say and yes your correct BUT "a noble act in defeat is greater than a foul deed in victory" (quote from the darklord of Diobolical Mods)

A good system ive used in the past is
rank 1 GL
rank 2 Co-leaders
rank 3 officers
rank 4 ,5 and 6 ( reputation ranks..honored,reavered and exalted)

the co-leaders oversee the officers and the officers in turn take the commands of the rank 2 and gather the high rank guildies ( rank 4,5 and 6)insuring the guildies take on the roles of organising events for the general members ( ranks 4 ,5 and 6 are guys who crave high rank but are yet to go through the process of promotion...with 3 reputation ranks you give guildies something to work towards...worst thing ever is to have a guild rank right under an Officer rank..where is the guildie gonna go if he cant be officer yet?? this system sorts it and frees ALL your officers and co-leaders from mundain in-game chores..except the normal stuff like bank cleaning dutys lol

The reputation ranks then get events on WoW calendar and they turn up on time and head an event ( if need be an Officer will attend )and the rep ranks know if they fail to deliver anything to the masses(no guild events etc..) then they will be demoted back down to normal rank..motivation of the guildies is key,once you can motivate you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour...remember for this to work all guilds i run accept that a officer rank may take up to 1 year to get...only because there are many ranks of status to go through first and i can select the best to oversee a guild and run it with my basic laws in place.laws like equality and fair play..no spamming or disrespecting fellow guildies...

I also pump about 1500g per week into my guilds banks to give guildies FREE guild repairs (its a limited amount,a few gold each.. i dont ask for any donations..lead by example)i do this because i want to and im a damned good gold harvester ( no im not a gold farmer lol)
Ive found that as i do these things other do see and many follow suit,yes their are the few guys who abuse the system but that should never make you turn your back on the guildies as a whole...always give no matter what or how much it is.

And there you have it,4 guilds under 1 system with the possibility of many more,all swearing a pact to the Darklord of Diobolical Mods..it works but like anything in life its not perfect lol:D

I bid you all farewell my friends,i hope the above brief explanation of a high rank system i created can be adopted and possibly tinkered to suit your guilds needs..ive not been very detailed in some areas of the leadership subject but i hope ive added some infomation on how a system of strong leadership can take you beyond the confinds of 1 guild...a good idea cannot ever be stopped it festers then grows into something beautiful.

So Speaks the Darklord of Diobolical Mods

Posted by: Darklord on November 17, 2008 4:05 PM

I lead a guild in Dream of Mirror Online. We govern ourselves in a sort of democracy. It works like this: We have 5 Elders and 5 Branch officers, plus the chairman, me. Every month we look at our currently stocked items, and choose possible raid locations based on what we need. from there the members of each branch vote for where to raid, with the branch officers representing them. The raid with the highest votes is then compared to the number of players usually in the area (the elders job). elders then vote based on player density. if there are too many we don't raid there, and redo the voting without the previous choice. this narrows down where we raid until we get only one option. From there its my job to get everyone organized, pass out equipment, adjust the schedule, assemble the groups (usually three to four groups, six people each, per raid) and give orders over the phone with friends who lead the groups.

Posted by: on April 30, 2009 7:37 AM

I've been a guild leader for 5 years, my current guild I created nearly 3 years ago. I identify with many of the lessons learned described by others who share this experience.
For me the MMO is more about the people than the actual game, when I go to solo I find it boring! I wouldn't say leading a wonderful guild for 3 years is the greatest thing I've done with my life so far, but its up there in the top 5. I've learnt a great deal too, about people, personalities and myself, mostly. I've learned about my limitations, weaknesses and my strengths, and when its time to be quiet and let others speak! I would have to agree it has been a worthwhile experience, but also a heartbreaking one.
The absolute hardest thing for me has been not actuallly delegating tasks to trusted officers, but actually wondering wtf to do when it doesn't get done! I really detest having to chase up after people I would prefer to just socialise with and call friends. A lot of the time, its just easier to do it yourself, or better yet, just let go and not be too precious about how its done, to let people do it their own way.
Its bizarre and ironic to me to find you can play a game online with someone for years and years, spend a lot of time with them and share experiences, yet still never learn their real name! After all this time I still have trouble reminding myself its just a game, and just like real life work, you spend all this time with these people, but at the end of the day, it doesn't seem to mean as much as it should.

Posted by: Mary on November 30, 2009 10:37 PM

That's really shwred! Good to see the logic set out so well.

Posted by: Maggie on January 3, 2012 4:07 AM
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