Guilds are the crucial backbone of the social side of MMOs, yet they can also be the source of a lot of stress, drama, and anxiety for players. I always want to be part of an active, friendly guild when I’m spending any good amount of time in a game, yet sometimes it doesn’t always work out the way I hoped. Dealing with that can be oh-so-tricky at times, especially when you don’t want to come off looking like a callous jerk.
This past week I switched guilds in my two main games right now, The Secret World and FFXIV. I didn’t have any compunction leaving my old cabal in TSW with my leveling character, as people barely talked in it and I hadn’t made any strong connections. Weakness pointed me to a really great multi-faction cabal, Hive Pro, and I’ve been pretty happy with them since joining up.
The FFXIV switch was trickier. When I first got into the game last December, one of the big selling points was that there was a guild with several bloggers that I knew in it. That is a no-brainer for me — after all, you want to be with people you’ve known for a while — and for a while it was a good fit. Friendly folk with lots of helpful advice, and every once in a while I’d see a familiar face.
But over the last month or so I’ve had increasing thoughts about leaving, which left me feeling torn. Maybe I put too much stock in this, but when people take time to help you get a leg up in a game, run some content with you, and whatnot, it’s like they’ve invested in you a bit. To leave after that feels a bit ungrateful. However, I wasn’t getting what I want out of a guild there, which was a more steady stream of chatter and stronger connections (not to mention that my play time never seemed to overlap with the other bloggers). It wasn’t a bad guild, per se, just somewhat small and quiet.
A while back I saw a guild recruit ad in general chat that caught my eye, so I friended the guild leader and kept that in my back pocket. After reading a generally helpful post on MOP about how to leave your guild, I took the leap a few days ago and left the old one (after saying a short, positive goodbye) and entered into a new community.
The switch has been quite good for me. The new guild seems to have the right amount of players — enough to foster a lot of talk but not too many that nobody seems to know anybody else. It’s definitely boosted my interest in logging in every day, not just to play the game but to see the people as well.
And I didn’t burn my bridges with my old guild, either. I kept a few people on my friends list and assured the guild leader that it wasn’t any specific drama or failing on her part that caused me to leave. I know all too well in real life how personal one can take that when someone leaves, even if it’s for the best. Minimizing hurt feelings is important.
It’s also important to not be so afraid of rocking the boat that you refuse to take steps to find the right guild fit for you, too. If you’re not happy with your guild, you’ve lost a huge ally in keeping you bonded to a game. I’d rather deal with the social awkwardness of moving into different groups than stick it out with an imperfect fit.
Of course, this whole ball of awkwardness could be minimized if more MMOs instituted the multi-guild system of GW2 or the circles of WildStar. Sure, lots of them can create custom chat channels, but it’s not as intuitive as it should be, sometimes. Give us ways to stay in touch with all of the social groups we want, and I guarantee that your community will flourish for it.