Hardcore, softcore, casual, elitist, or n00b… What kind of guild is this?

This was inspired by something I read on Windsoar’s Jaded Alt blog here: <link> (her post is a little over a year old)  It is also a topic of discussion that Roksi and I covered frequently all throughout last summer as we were talking about where we wanted to take ProCo and how we would want to be classified.

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Roksi and I both agreed that we hate the practice of trying to apply generalized labels to guilds.  Casual being assumed to be the opposite of hardcore.  The idea that it would be impossible to have a hardcore raiding guild with friends and family that like leveling together drove us both nuts.  the idea that you can’t possibly be “serious” if you relegate yourselves to “settling” for “only” raiding 10mans.

On the other hand, I work in the world of science and math, classifying things is sort of the foundation for much of what I do in the real world.  Everything can be labeled and pigeonholed into its proper place, and if you can’t figure out how then you set about studying the thing until you figure out how it fits in with the rest of the world.

Anytime you ever see anyone discussing their guild, or their feelings about guilds, or their former guilds, especially when either advertising for recruitment or discussing the process of shopping around for a new place to call home, there are a lot of really common generalizations used to label a guild.  It is always interesting to me how insistent people are when it comes time to find that perfect (single) label that will best describe a given guild:

  • Casual
  • Hardcore
  • Elitist
  • Family & Friends

These are great perhaps for describing the intensity of the guild, perhaps somewhat more helpful though are the guild labels related to the primary focus of the guild:

  • Alt/leveling
  • Social
  • Raiding
  • PvP

I think that it would make even more sense however, rather than trying to encapsulate each guild into their own individualized label for classification, if we instead tried to borrow from some of the lessons found elsewhere for trying to describe and classify something.

First off, we should try and identify some commonly shared traits found in the majority of the guilds we are trying to classify, and then we can follow that up by coming up with a rating system for each trait.  Maybe a couple of examples would help…  this is what I would start out with as a list of “Primary Guild Attributes”

Primary focus: As mentioned above, what is the primary activity that motivates the members of the guild to log into the World of Warcraft?  Leveling and gearing up alts and exploring all of the different aspects of the game together, hanging out with each other like a big 3D interactive chat room enjoying each others company, organized raiding in an attempt to conquer all of the group content in the game together, doing battle with the evil <insert opposite faction here> as a group night after night in an ongoing campaign to stop their global domination efforts.

Intensity (How serious?): What sort of expectations does the group hold for each other?  Is it sort of like a regular gathering in the park (like a block party or family reunion) where everyone is free to come and go, and there is a laid back policy of “if enough people want to do it, it will happen” or is there more structure and organization to the group?  Are events scheduled in an organized fashion, or just thrown together when the opportunity presents itself?  Does the group set goals for itself?

Time commitment: Is there an expectation that each member of the group will commit a certain amount of time each week? How flexible is this, does it come with sick days and vacation?  Or is it closer to the neighborhood pub where whoever shows up shows up and we’ll adjust the plans accordingly?

Personal accountability/autonomy: How important are defined roles and personal accountability within the group?  Is it going to be ok if I want to stack agility and play my mage as a melee dps for the raid? If I get bored with my healer is it ok with everyone if I switch to my tank for a few weeks? She just hit the level cap this morning!!  Is it ok that I haven’t ever really looked into this boss fight and will need a few minutes for someone to explain it to me over vent and then a few more minutes for someone else to walk me through setting up one of my addons before I take a short break to switch out the laundry?  Will anyone mind if I am having trouble out dps’ing the tank?

Professional development opportunities: How much interest does the group put into the training and development of its team members?  Is it sort of like a mercenary group where everyone is expected to just take care of their own stuff, or are there mentorships and intern opportunities available for people looking to learn the ropes?  How much tolerance is there for the naturally non-gifted while they are working their way through the current learning-curve-of-the-week?

Social atmosphere: Does everyone in the guild have each others phone numbers? Share pictures of each others pets, kids, and family vacations? Or are people just expected to show up, do their job, and head back to their own separate corner of the world?  Is it one of those groups where everyone is polite and the emphasis is put on making everyone feel as comfortable and welcomed as possible, or is it a normal occurrence for people to point out when mistakes are made and openly discuss when someone is struggling with something (not necessarily in a negative way)

I have personal preferences for all of these attributes when it comes to what I am personally looking for in a guild, but I also recognize that they are personal preferences and that people with differing viewpoints are equally justified in their opinions as I am with mine.  One of my biggest pet peeves though, both in and out of game, are people who pass judgments on anyone who doesn’t religiously adhere to their own set of standards.  Some of the most talented players I have played with only occasionally raid and have substandard gear scores, and contrary to all of the misconceptions, most of the people in the top raiding guilds actually lead pretty full lives outside of wow and spend significantly less time in game than most of the altoholics I have seen in “casual raiding” guilds.

The key to everyone being happy in a guild is a mutual understanding and acceptance of differing viewpoints within the group as long as there are no conflicting views for the above attributes.  You need to understand what you personally want out of your gaming experience and then you need to find a group with a similar mindset.  People trying to force others to accept alternate play style choices is where the drama usually starts

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