Watching the recent docu-film Race to World First by John Keating and Zachary Henderson, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the aim of every single raiding guild out there is to clear the content first. You’d be forgiven for thinking that over 58 thousand guilds doing progression are all in the race.
You’d certainly be wrong.
What I think that Race to World First fails to mention is that the vast majority of guilds out there are doing things for a different reason than that top elite. Don’t get me wrong, many do aspire to attain world top rankings and that’s an eminently respectable goal but… that’s not what it’s all about. Not always.
I think that the guilds out there can be broadly divided into two categories – the guilds that have a mission, and the guilds which don’t. Dream Paragon, Vodka, Method, Blood Legion and all the top-tier guilds fit into the first category, but in there with them are many more guilds which aren’t famous at all. In the other category are what many elite players would sneeringly call the casual guilds – there are legions of them – and also many guilds with progression tied to mediocrity, perhaps even some guilds nearer the top. This kind of distinction isn’t something that you can tell just by world progression rankings or player counts or gear score. It’s a different thing entirely, and I really wish there was a way of distinguishing guilds of the two types. Let me explain why I think it’s important.
Guilds without a mission are like ships without a destination – they might have a very interesting time but ultimately they don’t really get anywhere. There’s no feeling of purpose or camaraderie. This lack of a cohesive direction between guild members means that if something goes wrong, there’s nothing to pull the guild members back together. Arguments over loot, raiding spots, or just generally over people being mean can be common in guilds like this and this makes them unstable and prone to loss of key members. I’ve personally seen this happen several times, and it’s a huge cause of burnout.
On the other hand, what constitutes a ‘mission’? Some people might say that the only valid missions in this sense are goals of being the best at something. The aforementioned guilds certainly have that, but I reject the idea that the only valid goal is to be top. That doesn’t make sense – not everybody can be the best, in fact most people will never get the opportunity so it’s unrealistic to expect everybody to strive for that single goal. No, I believe that there are many valid aims for a guild, all of which are shaped and affected by the participation and effort of the leaders. This is what really separates good guilds from bad ones – a bad leader points a guild at whatever he likes and tells them to do it. A good leader communicates aims and obstacles to her members, encouraging them and comparing progress against her stated goals for the guild. That’s what makes or breaks a guild when times get tough – the ability to set and maintain goals which are meaningful and achievable for the membership.
One real aspect of this is an overarching philosophy that each guild seems to need. For example, Paragon might have an overarching philosophy that doing anything for a competitive advantage is not only worth doing but must be done – another guild might believe that the key to achieving world first is by creating a team that works together well and executes their strategies perfectly – again this is another valid philosophy. Yet another might be that the main idea is to just have fun – not a specific goal on its own, but a valid way of approaching problems.
Harvest Moon’s philosophy is perfectly summed up by something our GM Reliq said;
Don’t be an asshat.
That’s pretty much it. We’re a guild whose founding principle is to use common sense to guide our actions. Simple as that. Our goals fit perfectly to this; raid regularly and effectively, trying hard for success and expecting equal work from every raider. Maintain a top notch social atmosphere both within raid and in the general guild. Aim to work hard on a regular basis and enjoy content, doing the best we can. Fundamentally go about this practically and sensibly without upsetting people and without annoying each other.
In my experience, not many guilds do that.
So to sum up; I think that guilds need to find their own niche. That’s important – you have your niche, you know what you do, you go do it using your philosophy. Nobody can take that away from you or criticize you for not being cohesive. Everything else is in the execution! 🙂
Sources and Further Reading