A Guild by any other name…
Some recent discussions about soloing vs grouping have spurred me to contemplate the nature of guilds. A lot of people seem to only be familiar with one type of guild, and assume that their type is representative of all guilds (e.g. spinks speaks of “guilds” by which she means “raiding guilds”, as if they were one and the same). This leads to some communication breakdowns, where one party assumes things another party doesn’t.
Guilds can exist for a number of disparate reasons, and almost always exist for more than one. The five most central reasons for guilds that I’ve come up with are: achievement, friendship, crafting/trade, roleplay, and PvP. Let’s look at each in turn.
Goal: Achievement guilds focus on gaining power for the guilds’ members. Power can be achieved via levels, loot, faction, skills, etc.
Behaviour: Achievement guilds tend to group together a lot to complete quests, visit dungeons, etc. Some content cannot be soloed or cannot be easily soloed, and that content is the focus of achievement guilds. Many achievement guilds focus more on loot than on levels, with the implicit assumption that levels are easier to get than high-end loot.
Subtypes: One of the most common subtypes of achievement guilds is the raiding guild, which focuses primarily on endgame raiding.
Goal: Friendship guilds exist to foment strong bonds of friendship between members.
Behaviour: Friendship guilds tend to use guild chat a lot to talk about personal issues as well as make small talk; members enjoy sharing their lives and thoughts with each other. Friendship guilds are also frequently strong support networks for members, providing a lot of in-game gifts to each other as well as advice and support for out-of-game issues.
Goals: Profit! Crafting/Trading Guilds are often all about the money, though they can also support artistic expression if/when the game supports this.
Behaviour: Crafting/Trading Guilds thrive on economic interchanges. They often aim to help members master crafts, gain footholds in markets, or dominate said markets.
Goal: Roleplay guilds seek to provide a context for members to roleplay and to create a shared narrative.
Behaviour: Roleplay guilds often have a lot of in-game events scheduled that don’t directly pertain to achievement or crafting/trading. Remaining in-character in public channels is often paramount (especially /say and /emote).
Subtypes: Some roleplay guilds represent groups that exist in the game world, e.g. mercenary companies, businesses, etc. These groups tend to focus on roleplay centered around the group’s official activities. Some roleplay guilds don’t represent groups that exist in the game world, but are simply collections of people who like to RP together. It’s also worth mentioning that a small percentage of roleplay guilds focus on erotic roleplay, often forming as bordellos/escort services (this is most often an example of a group existing in the game world).
Goals: PvP guilds seek to excel in PvP combat encounters (as opposed to PvP politics, which is usually roleplaying, or PvP economics, which is usually crafting/trade).
Behaviours: PvP guilds tend to focus most often on either gank squad or zerg tactics. In a gank squad, quality is key, and members need to be disciplined and careful, and as skilled/powerful as possible for greatest success. Gank squads roam the game world looking for targets, most often easy targets, to overwhelm. Some gank squads seek fair fights or even fights where they lack advantage, for greater challenge. Zergs are all about quantity, and seek to add as many players as possible to achieve simple numerical advantage.
Subtypes: PvP guilds can focus on PK, anti-PK, or warfare. PK or player-killer guilds seek to gank unsuspecting targets, and can be home to griefers. Anti-PK guilds seek to hunt down player-killers and protect their targets. Warfare guilds seek conflict with the opposing side in a side-vs-side game (e.g. WoW, DAoC, WAR); this might involve capturing battlefield objectives, city sieges, etc.