While I’m sure there are quite a few solo players today who have eschewed the use of guilds, they’re more often the standard than not. I won’t go so far as to say they’re necessary or mandatory, but they are incredibly helpful, especially if you’re trying to extend your interest in the game and minimize frustration.
People tend to join up with guilds for one of two reasons (or both): for personal gain and for socialization. Personal gain includes having a group of folks to readily team up with, to help you gain items in higher level combat, a mutual support system for crafting, mentoring, protection, the use of the guild hall, guild recall scrolls and so on. Socialization is pretty much how it sounds — the identity of belonging to a group that provides constant companionship and relationships throughout your adventures.
As even the most anti-social player should see the advantages of joining a guild, the question remains: just how do you get to know your guild once you join up with one? Some folks are natural chatterboxes and friend-makers; some are painfully shy, socially awkward or unsure of how to handle this new environment. Over the past ten years or so, I’ve been a part of several guilds spanning many games, and while I’m not exactly Mr. Social, I’ve long since gotten over being the guy in the guild who never, ever says anything in guild chat or does anything other than log in and be a guild statistic. As part of your duties to your guild, you should be expected (at a bare minimum) to participate in guild chat. Here’s a few suggestions:
1. Get A Feel For The Guild Before You Make An Idiot Out Of Yourself
While I think some guilds are way too anal in their recruitment policies, far more guilds don’t do anything past just accepting the random “LF guild plz!” goober in general chat. If your guild accepts you without at least an informal interview or a request to check out their code of conduct or what have you, then that should be a big warning sign of the guild’s quality.
That said, most guilds have an external website and/or forum where they post their rules, guidelines and policies. Read ’em before you say word one in chat. Maybe your guild doesn’t allow foul language in chat — that’d be good to know, right? Maybe most of your guild uses Vent or TeamSpeak, and you could look silly without that information. Maybe, as in the case of my current guild, there is one guild channel for in-character RP talk, and one for OOC. Spend a bit of time reading posts and getting a feel for personalities, the sense of humor in the guild, and perhaps any in-jokes. There’s always a social pecking order in the guild as well — leaders, officers, “mothers”, the “jokester”, etc. If it requires you to jot a quick flowchart down on a post-it note, so be it. It’ll help.
2. Start Quiet (But Not Silent), Start Humble
As with everything, first impressions count. I’ve lost track of how many new guildies I’ve seen burst into guild chat with completely inappropriate humor, or requests for immediate gold/powerleveling, or talking far, far too much for their first day.
There’s really a balance that has to be struck in your first few days and week — you want people to get to know you and vice versa, but you don’t want to come off as trying too hard, or being an obnoxious intrusion on an already established social structure. Remember, the guild didn’t start the day you showed up (well, unless you’re helping to start one) — it has a history, it has a past, and up to this point, you haven’t been a part of it. Just signing up doesn’t mean that you suddenly have a right to intrude with a cult of personality. Be congenial in chat, let people get a feel for you, and if you tend to be a crazy, weird, or otherwise strong personality — reign it in, at least at the start, and let it out only a little bit at a time.
Never forget that you have to earn your place in a guild before true acceptance can take place. That takes time, experience and trust.
3. The Guild Is Not Your Personal Dating Arena
Yes, this is a social environment, and hormones being what they are, some measure of flirting and/or romantic talk is going to transpire. But! This should never be why you joined the guild — to be your own meet (meat) market. In my experience, romantic/sexual relationships that start through guild connections tend to be highly disruptive and sometimes extremely offputting to others, especially if you carry out your business in general chat. We all know stories of bad feelings that grow into Major Situations through the mix of inappropriate flirting (dude, if they’re married, that’s not a challenge — that’s a hands-off situation), special exceptions and general weirdness.
4. Don’t Be A Drama Llama
For some reason, people just flock to drama, even though they often claim to be repelled by the occurrence of it. Like any long-term social organization, guilds generate drama over time, usually more than is necessary due to certain members seeing their job as putting a fan to the flame and getting the gossip train going. Drama destroys guilds, wrecks friendships, and can turn people off of the game forever. And scary as it is to think, you have the power to bring it to your guild — or to deny its temptation. Sometimes new guildies, desperate to fit in even more, will eagerly latch on to the latest string of rumor or drama and use that for conversation starters. Don’t. Show the guild that you’re a stabilizing force, not a destabilizing one, and you’ll be more appreciated in the long run.
5. Respect The Leadership
We chafe under authority — it’s the human condition — and some folks have a hard time submitting to an authority figure or figures during their “fun” gaming time. Yeah, you’re an independent soul and all that, but when you’re in a guild, you’re in someone else’s house, and you better wipe your feet and follow the house rules. Guild leaders and officers can be friends and buddies, but they know that it’s sometimes their role to put on the big hat of authority and make decisions. When they do so, you should be able to offer your opinion respectfully (through tells if need be), but be supportive and compliant with whatever decision is made. If you’re chastised for breaking a rule or doing something dumb, don’t make an issue out of it — say “sorry” and do what they say. Being a leader of a guild is hard, hard work (I’ve been both a GM and an officer in several games), and they know they have to make unpopular choices at times for the good of the guild entire. Respect that.
6. Give More Than You Get
In other words, don’t be a black hole of neediness — be open to requests for assistance, advice and even items or money to those you trust. MMORPGs train us through the gameplay to be very selfish and self-centered, to want everything for our character and his/her advancement. Guilds are the exact opposite (or at least, should be), in that members want what’s best for each other and the guild as a whole. If somebody needs a helping hand, then hey — drop what you’re doing and be okay with not advancing your own character that night. Good deeds in guilds get deposited into an unseen bank that builds over time, until that day when you need a major hand in return, and are overwhelmed to see how many guildies come to your aid.