I always say: “A guild can only be successful in what they do if all the members want the same thing and are willing to do it a similar way.” Focusing every guild member’s effort on the same goal is why guild masters exist, but human relationships inside the guild often gets overlooked by dps numbers or whether everyone has flasks or not. A wise GM of a raiding guild spends time on preparing for the next patch by not only arranging the comp, preparing tactics, and optimizing the time spent on bosses, but also by making sure people like to play in the guild. In addition to forcing rules that are fair and treating all guild members equally, the GM should pay attention to the fact that how guild members perceive each other plays a big role in how comfortable people are playing in the guild. When people enjoy each other’s company, they are less likely to leave. This also means you are more likely to get to keep the better quality members longer.
I’ve always loved leading people and observing them interact with each other. This blog post is about the things I’ve learned about leading; about building that mystical “guild spirit” and making people like each other more.
It all begins with “the right people”. The GM is responsible for selecting a bunch of people that can and want to commit to the cause of the guild, whatever that may be. After that, the hard part begins. You, as a GM, have to deliver what you promised your guild members, and what’s worse, you need to get everyone to do it together. At this point you actually get to see how different the people you recruited actually are, and you are the person who has to deal with everything that comes with it. It may be that all the members of your guild want the same thing, for example be a top 50 guild in the world, but some are prepared to do more than the others to reach that goal. At some point something in the guild doesn’t go as planned, and then you as a GM need to deal with with members’ negative emotions and behaviour. And at this point you need to be a damned great leader to keep it all from collapsing.
The best thing, however, is that you don’t need to hold it all together by yourself. People tend to act more sane if they respect the people they play with and even better if they feel like they are actually friends. So how to make that bunch of (hopefully not too) different people to get to know each other? How to build those relationships your guild members share? Where does that magical “guild spirit” come from and how is it actually made? Here come actual tips I’ve discovered in my earlier guilds and in the one I captain at the moment.
If you can’t be arsed to read the looong text that follows, TL;DR everything boils down to: “spend time together and do things together”
Make your voip the place where people want to spend time and afk
This should be a no-brainer to every GM who wants to make the guild members know each other more, not less. It’s extremely important to make the voip you use a place that is easy to join and fun to stay in. The goal is that after the raid people don’t simply log off but stay behind and talk about whatever. You as a GM should set the example (in this case as well) and be there a lot as well. You at least should be easy to talk to and people should feel like they can contact you if they have anything to say. From there you can build the community starting with the opinion leaders of your guild – the talkative people and the people who play like gods. The talkative people in the guild are the key to this – try to get them to your side. This means make them feel relaxed and free to chat and they’ll want to hang around. They will keep the discussion alive and make sure the people who are slower to warm up are comfortable and that those silent moments in the conversation get filled up.
I must admit this works the best if you have extremely competitive characters in your guild. (Like 95% of the people I’ve played with have been.) In raiding guilds the competition is of course always present in form of damage or healing meters. However, the winners usually tend to be the same people – often the best players in your guild. Your job is to come up with something else to make building your guild’s legend possible, and perhaps motivate your players to play a bit better at the same time.
One reset our guild was wiping on Mythic Archimonde pretty bad. Among other mistakes, people didn’t interrupt the add’s cast. I ended up starting a competition where the person with most interrupts on the kill would get a free alcohol shot and a commendation at our next meetup. Needless to say, all casts were interrupted afterwards. And of course the winner was a person who was under age and never showed up at the meeting, but it doesn’t matter. Now we have a great story of that raid and that member topping the interrupt meters when it mattered the most.
Play other games together
Everyone gets sick and tired of World of WarCraft sometimes. So pick a game together and start playing. In fact, many people from Paragon still stay in touch after all these years because they play other games together.
Meeting each other IRL is naturally the best way to get to know each other. When you can actually see how your guild member looks like when he says something or reacts to something it makes it possible for you and everyone else as well to understand him better. And when you do, you know better which strings you should not pull to keep the person happy.
The most important thing about organizing a guild meeting is that it should be open to everyone, so everyone should be able to fit in. A cabin or a boat trip (in Finland) have worked really well for me in the past. In addition you can of course arrange smaller happenings, such as house parties or picnics, but make sure even the ones who can’t attend because of whatever reasons feel like they would be welcome if they chose to come. If you already know each other better and people like similar things, sports like karting, frisbee golf (us going about it in the picture below) or bouldering can be cool. Or you can can go doing real sports like football together, but at least we Finns are too nerds for that.
I’ve always been a huge fan of IRL meets and nowadays I organize something for the guild almost every month. In fact, most of the people I spend the most time in my life at the moment play currently in my guild. And a few of those people are starting to feel like they’ve come to stay in my life for good.
Arrange so that different cliques in your guild mix
This is the toughest one and the most crucial one if you want to make sure everyone functions with everyone else. It’s natural there will be cliques in your guild since not everyone will like everyone. But it’s very important that everyone is at least on talking basis, and can play together if needed. There will be a moment at some point in the raid where the people who don’t like each other that much need to cooperate on some mechanic (or share loot!). At that point it’s crucial that the two have at least a basic level of respect towards each other. No one can make a person like someone, but the GM can require that when people communicate on raid, they behave politely (at minimum).
It’s not a good idea to force the people who don’t like each other spend too much time together, but it’s a great idea to try to encourage people from different cliques to play with each other. The GM should be active in this as well by trying to play with different members of the guild as often as possible. If there is need to organize groups for a task on officer level, making sure that people get the experience of playing with less familiar faces from time to time.
In the end it all comes down to squeezing people in situations where they learn about each other and end up having fun together. Fun turns into great stories of the people playing in the guild, and those turn into stories of the guild that will be retold to the new members joining the guild. And that is how guild spirit is born.
These important situations that bring people together also make them feel that they are first and foremost a member of the group; xenophics of <Rooster Ranch>. Those moments also make people feel like they can and should depend on each other (at least ingame). Besides, how can you play a healer if your guild can’t trust you to keep them alive? And speaking about guild legends, the ending of this world first video here is one of the more epic ones from Paragon.
Ps. if you are interested in hearing more from me and seeing more of me I have great news! I’m starting streaming in Legion. You can check my stream out at Twitch.tv.