Of guilds and friendships

Last night was probably one of the most fun raid nights I have ever participated in. We did a full clear of Nighthold (N), a few people got some tier gear, and the whole evening was one of lighthearted banter and easy camaraderie. We started by me accidentally resting my fingers a little too hard on my keyboard, pulling Skorpyron just as we were filtering into the room, but we recovered sufficiently to not wipe. I was horrified, but everyone took it in good humor although of course they did not let me live it down for the whole night.

It was the kind of night that reminds me why I am still playing this game — the social aspect. In my case, I do not play with any real life friends, only people I have met virtually. Still, after spending at least 8 hours a week with them for over a year, they are people I would call friends. There are real life friends that I spend far less time with.

“Virtual friends” is a legitimate name for online relationships, and I suppose it could be shortened to “v-friends”. It’s an interesting phenomenon in our modern world, and I am sure someone has written a PhD dissertation on it at some point.

Prior to the computer age, people had “pen pals” — someone with whom you corresponded via letters — so I guess they were the v-friends of long ago. Sometimes pen pal relationships went on for years, but they depended almost exclusively on mutual appreciation of exchanged words, possibly with the occasional graphic representation in the form of drawings or maybe a photograph. You had no ability to look at their facial expressions, to hear vocal nuances, to hug or hold a hand in times of distress. Yet we read of many such relationships not only enduring but growing over the course of a lifetime.

V-friends seem to me to be the pen pals of the modern age, but they are pen pals on steroids, closer to real friends than to letter friends, but still not the same. You can share experiences in real time, and you can use voice chat to hear their vocal inflections, regional accent, even their laugh. But you cannot hug them or hold their hand, you will almost certainly not run to pick them up if they are stranded at the airport or have a flat tire, and you cannot see the emotion in their faces or body language. Still, you care about them and you enjoy their virtual company.

Anyway, I am not sure where I am going with this, but it was something I was thinking about as we made our way through Nighthold last night. I was just really reminded of how social this game is, or at least how much more fun it is for me when the social aspects work.

Which leads me to another point, and that is that I would very much like to see Blizz make guilds more relevant in the next expansion. It seems to me that the trend since Mists has been to make the game more of a solo endeavor, that the benefits of belonging to a guild have been steadily chipped away. I am not saying guilds are dead, and I am not implying that someone should have to belong to a guild to play the game. But from my worm’s-eye view, it feels like the most successful guilds are the ones that exist primarily to facilitate end game raiding — a fun activity, but it just seems like there should be benefits for guilds that exist mainly for the game’s social aspect aside from raiding.

I don’t know if the guild leveling idea was a good one or not, but I do know that its existence tended to promote guild activities in pursuit of a higher guild level. People showed up on guild activity night to work on the next group achievement, and small groups of guildies often worked on the more obscure achievements on an ad hoc basis. There used to be tangible benefits to guild membership, but about the only one I can think of now beyond raiding is guild mail. Blizz apparently found instances of abuse among some of the guild perks, and in their typical lazy fashion decided to eliminate the perks rather than fix the loopholes.

In the next expansion, I would love to see:

  • Guild halls, with some vendors and gathering places and maybe their own pseudo-custom music, a hearthstone portal, and guild ability to decorate. (Maybe with actual guild screenshots as wall hangings?) I have no idea how technically feasible any of this is, but it seems like if we can have individual garrisons and class halls, we can certainly have guild halls.
  • A new approach to guild achievements — make them ones that guild members need to work on together for things non-instance and non-raid related. Maybe add some more weekly achievements, consider adding things like community service guild achievements (pick up paper in the park, sweep the streets of a sector in Stormwind, repair the roof of the Keep, all members of certain classes in the guild do things like mages conduct a free portal activity in the square or hunters gather X amount of meat for the King, or tailors create X number of pieces of clothing for the orphans, etc.)
  • Make the rewards for achievements actually mean something — yes, I think this should involve reinstatement of guild perks. Bring back cauldrons, mass rez, guild summoning, significant gold for the guild bank, more guild-earned gear and mounts and pets, whatever.
  • Set up some kind of system whereby small guilds are not penalized — maybe a series of categories by size, and the achievements are pegged to that in terms of the scale of effort needed. Something I have mentioned before — and I still think is a good idea — is allowing guilds to belong to consortiums, loose organizations of guilds where the members cooperate in activities (maybe even have their own consortium chat channel) but retain their individual identities and memberships.

These are suggestions I have not totally thought through, and there may be reasons they are not feasible, but the point is I would like to see Blizz  come up with creative ways to strengthen the role of guilds in the game.

WoW’s major attraction when it started was that it was a social game, and I would like the next expansion to start to reverse the solo trend and return us at least a little to the game’s roots.

Because v-friends are friends, too. Even when they accidentally pull the boss.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

6 Responses to Of guilds and friendships

  1. Marathal says:

    Yes yes, so much all of that.

    Years ago? Wow, I’ve been playing this for a long time. Years ago I worked out the ultimate guild structure. It involved 10 people. It could be further exploited if those 10 had an army of Alts each with their own 10 person guild. They could quickly max out dungeon rewards with two 5 man groups, and by just downing 1 raid boss a week. Quest and leveling perks were minor in the grand scheme. I forget what the number was, but at the time it would have been a tidy sum of gold.

    To me, one of the greatest times as a guild function was getting Crittergeddon. Watching dozens of people destroying the plateau near Thunderbluff to get those final few thousand. Lol. Good times, much laughing.

    • Fiannor says:

      Yeah, when I think back on some of my favorite times in the game, nearly all of them involve some shared activity, some social group accomplishing something together. And the thing is, on every scale I have ever been measured on, I am an extreme introvert! Yet I derive most of my satisfaction in this game from social interaction. That should tell Blizz something about the importance of the game’s social structures, and I really hope they devote some resources to beefing them up in the near future.

      • Marathal says:

        Sadly I think they are trying to push it more into competitive eSports. Less large group organization, more 5 player group content on ever increasing difficulty with a time limit.

  2. Guilds and even “sister” guilds, a connect with another group would be helpful. I think guild perks are very important. The thing is: we call all imagine it — you and I may think of different solutions but the idea is solid enough that we can, indeed, imagine it; so it must be done.

  3. demonnick001 says:

    Very good points. I too play this game for the social aspect, and to me the guild system is the very core of this. I wish they would put in some worthwhile rewards for guilds, but I don’t really have any ideas to contribute at this time.

    I love the idea of guilds belonging to a larger consortium, and my guild has actually done this in a round about way by using an addon called Greenwall. Greenwall basically allows you to join multiple gchat channels into one, so people in sister guilds can communicate with one another. Still I would like to see Blizzard adopt something more official, but hey, the technology is possible.

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