This topic comes up once a year and every year the problem grows: Guilds are too important. I’ve been sitting on this topic for a month, and finally one of our readers said something that clicked for me.
We never used to lock ourselves away in our guilds and ignore everyone else. Our guilds were our friends and family and the people we liked chatting with all day. We were extremely careful who we picked to join our guilds, and considered joining a guild to be a serious commitment. Nowadays people join and leave guilds all the time. There’s no sense of commitment or duty. Everyone outside your guild doesn’t matter.
Guilds have become a mechanic designed to be overcome in order to access more gameplay in a MMO. They are too important to the actual game and less important to the people and ideals of a community. Everything is designed around a guild: Raids, PvP, etc. It’s all guild-based. The group or the server community has been de-emphasized and this xenophobic and anti-social tendencies have risen to the top. Now you can’t do much at all at max level without a dedicated guild, and one where the people subscribe to a supposed “hardcore” mentality.
I’m talking to a friend on ventrilo right now talking about how he was torn by the decision to leave past guilds because they weren’t progressing through content as fast as he wanted them to. That’s a HUGE problem! That means his guilds were about the game and not about the people. Those guilds are stepping stones and the people are heads you step on to get ahead.
I have been trying to combat this trend for years now. Six years ago I started the Keen and Graev Community in order to bring back that sense of playing games with the same group of people you want to be around. We always hover around 40 active members spread across all sorts of games. We occasionally find one we stick with for a while, but our bouncing around is more indicative of the times we live in and less about us. Bottom line, if you join us you join a community of like-minded people who join to play with the people and not to do something in a game. That’s what a guild is all about.
Developers have to do their part, though. We need end-game activities to emphasize servers coming together. Gameplay in general needs to make the friends list valuable again. Seriously, how many of you can honestly say you use your friends list today like you did 12+ years ago? I remember my friends list in 1999 was a pad of paper full of names with descriptions.
I’m ready for social and community to once again matter more than loot and progress. Perhaps impossible for a themepark, but I’ll take that challenge.