The one thing I have found running a social style guild is that I get anxious about how guildies are doing. And by “doing”, I mean feeling internally about the guild as a place they want to continue to log into. Are they getting bored? Are they getting frustrated? Anxious?
Since ours is a smaller socially focused guild (about 180 toons and 40-50 accounts) the typical motivations of your “average” WoW player that fuel a guild are harder to count on. Establishing a regular schedule for our guild is a huge hurdle. This makes me, as a social guild leader anxious, because that is when you begin to worry if the community you have created is successfully keeping people’s attention.
We all know it’s a fact that the majority of players recognize they are “progressing” by getting new gear. This game is ultimately gear based as the source of fed accomplishment. At least 85% of those that play regularly would say if you’re not consistently upgrading your gear, what’s the point. I guess it’s good that 99% of our base is made up of that remaining 15%. When I start to personally stress that things are getting stagnant in the guild, that maybe my guildies are losing interest in being a member, that’s when I remember the importance of events.
A well timed, well planned event has saved my ass a few times. But events do more then simply ease my mind whether I am doing my job as a GM or not. As it goes with any guild that is successful and endures over the long term, the officers are a big part of it. Luckily, I have officers that are very creative and enjoy coming up with new ways to use the game in a non-traditional fashion. We have the typical stuff going on: screenshot competitions, races and such. But for each one of the standard type events, adding a twist or extra layer of flavor to make it stand out is extrememly important for it to attract the attention of your guildies.
I remember back in the day in high school and college when the teacher/professor would announce some big creative project. Then (the jerks) would begin rattling off all the great ideas that previous students turned in. It destroyed so many opportunities of putting my individual twist on an idea that I thought I could create. When I heard it was done before, I typically refrained from even trying. So the rest of this post isn’t about actual ideas and events that we run as a guild… but more about providing what we look at to help get the creative juices flowing and why conjuring those ideas help out the guild as a whole.
Recently, we have been using numbers off the stats page of the Achievement page to build events off of. Some of the numbers can change frequently and can be directly or indirectly adjusted. This provides a great source of creative fodder for events. I was blind to it, but luckily have creative officers who recognized this and used it to thier advantage. Recognize that time is a factor in this game… and time stops when you log out. This can be a great source of “racing”. The new guild achievements and guild profession achievements benefit the entire guild and many allow the entire guild to help out no matter what level. Look to those as a source of ideas. Even lore and the creative talents outside of the game can still be used in the guild. Remember, as social guilds, our contacts more often than not will extend outside of the game and social networking sites are a benefit, not a hinderance.
But the other way to brush some of that GM worry about a stagnant guild base in a social guild is to let all in the guild know that they can be creative and find their own way to devise a great social event opportunity for the entire guild. Making sure that your ranks are set appropriately and that all those in the guild you trust can offer their ideas on the calendar is of the utmost importance. Why… because it provides your guildies an opportunity to get busy thinking about the entirety of the game and not just their own toon. They have the opportunity to think about the community and how their specific perspectives on the environment can affect the guild as a whole. Some find out that they have a knack for finding wierd things out about the game. For others, they like to try to test an idea against the constructs of the game developers environment. The ability to create an event that has no loopholes, is fair with a minimal ability to cheat is a challenge… and you may have some great creative minds that enjoy that aspect of gaming. LOL, a game within a game.
The other bonus to making sure events are ever present is that it fills the guild calendar up. Perception is key. George Orwell taught me that. When there is a lot of items on the guild calendar it demonstrates that the guild is active. Creating opportunites for guildies to get together is what it is all about anyway, right. Of course events need substance. You can’t add a bunch of empty events on the calendar and expect people to be impressed by it. Though, it is equally true that a bad event, one that goes horribly wrong, brings guildies together and provides that, “remember that one time when we got together for (insert event here) and it was sooo fail.” That moment is a tying of guildies together. They now have something in common if they didn’t have anything in common before. The more “tying” events that are created between guildies, the stronger the bonds that are built between them. Once those bonds are created and the word spreads, more guildies will be inclined to sign up for the next event… whatever it may be. All they know is that the last one was so funny and even though it wasn’t perfect, those who were there had a great time.
Our events, and the way I describe them on our guild website, tends to be a great advertisement for the guild as a whole. New folks that join the guild quite often are impressed by the ideas of our events and remark on their originality. For those that want a social guild, it is a huge selling point that attracts like minded individuals to want to congregate together. This means more recruits. Then, you sit back and cross your fingers that since you have more players coming in… a bigger pool and base of players, that you can get that ever elusive raid going. Now you are satisfying that gear need for a base of players in the guild.
Another side result is that guildies see new people joining. Any ideas that the guild is floundering or stagnant are tempered with the natural reaction that if people are joining then I am in a guild that is rife with possibility. Ultimately it reduces guild stagnantion anxiety.
A word to the wise though… despite how awesome any event that you or your officers create may seem to be, it only makes it better when there are cool prizes available to the winner(s). If you have the means available, non-combat pets and mounts off the Blizz site are a real draw. But off course gold, rare in-game pets, high level crafted gear, etc., works just as well. Other ideas for prizes to consider are out of game, but still guild related benefits. I will break my rule and give you two ideas we have used: we have allowed members to name their own guild channels in our vent and choose the background music for the guild website for a particular period of time. These are little personal touch prizes that extend beyond the game and are very satisfying as everyone gets to see/hear their own personality shine even when not logged into the game.
As I stated earlier, being a GM of a social guild is about getting people together to create experiences as a guild and foster new friendships in game. In order to do that, as GMs we need to get people out of their comfort zones, into social environments and flourish. The best way to do that is by creating events that all can participate in together. In turn, by doing that, we, as GMs, are actively pushing the guild forward towards the goal and mission we created our community for in the first place. Players are not just active in game, but in many cases are active out of game. They log in and see activity… which breeds activity. They are out of game and want to chat with guildies or get in game when they can. When GMs provide the opportunity for creativity and an alternative to the “gear grind” we are truly embracing the MMO genre of gaming.