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Guild Guide: The Seven Big Benefits to Guild Membership

Why do you need a guild? Let us count the ways...

Why do you want a guild?

That seems like the sort of question that should have been answered a while back with this feature, doesn't it? I mean, it's possibly not one you need answered; you aren't reading "Guild Guide" because you think it's going to talk about how dumb guilds are. But you may very well be unsure of what actual benefit having a guild provides. And the answer to that can be extremely multifaceted.

But let's be straightforward. Here are seven big benefits to having a guild.

People to talk with

An online game is a game you play with other people, but a lot of the time you don't actually need to directly interact with them on the regular. That is, in and of itself, all right. You don't always need to be buddied up with everyone on your server. But sometimes it can get kind of lonely when you log in and haven't got a single person to actually interact with.

Guilds change that. Sure, there's still going to be times where no one is online, or the people who you really want to talk with isn't around. But you actually have better-than-zero odds of having a friend online who you can talk with, and you're more likely to make friends you can connect with in the future. That's an obvious benefit.

Shared resources

This isn't always about actual items. If you have a dedicated League of Legends team, for example, your guild is not trading items to one another to enhance your play experience, more likely than not. But -- and this is crucial -- you are still benefiting from shared resources. You may have friends who can fill roles that you can't, people who can offer you strategies and point you toward useful tips that you wouldn't see otherwise.

And in MMORPGs, this is compounded. Other players have items you don't, levels in various skills and classes that you don't. They can do things you cannot do for yourself. Instead of having to beg for random people to give you what you need, you can tap into a shared resource of your guild and help others in the same fashion.

Necessary guidance

You will be lost sometimes. You will not know how to do a quest. You will not be sure how to play your class/job/build. You will need guidance. And having a guild means that odds are good you either have access to that guidance or have people there who can point you in the right direction. Or -- and this is also good -- it will give you motivation to be that guidance for other people in the future.

Seriously, sometimes the benefit of a guild is learning enough that you can be right when other people are wrong. It might seem spiteful, but it works.

Content pushing

We all tend to fall into certain ruts of content. There are things we all do on a regular basis almost instinctively, and left to our own devices it would be easy to assume that this is what everyone does. It's easy to queue up for the same content and join the same sort of premade groups while looking at outside content as "well, no one does that."

Join even a small guild, and there will be at least one person who enjoys content you do not. Join a big one, and you will find groups of dedicated players for that content. And that forces you to have a larger perspective, to realize that something you don't care about might be something that a lot of other players are looking forward to. Perhaps even the majority.

That doesn't mean you'll necessarily want to take part, but it does mean you know people who can help you get into it. It nudges you out of your comfort zone. That's a good thing, really.

Anecdotes for the future

I have a lot of stories that start "I was in this guild where we..." and continue on from that point. And that makes sense; while there are all sorts of emergent situations that will come up in any game, especially an online one, dealing with a mass of other people is always going to produce more interesting stories. We remember those odd social dynamics and the way we work together better than we remember arbitrary mechanical weirdness.

Do you really want to collect anecdotes? Well, they can be useful for offering advice in the future, and you could argue that the whole reason to do things with other people is to acquire experiences you wouldn't have had otherwise. It is left as an exercise to the reader whether or not this is a desirable outcome.

Understandable community

I cannot understand The MMO Community. I can't even understand the community for one game. I have been playing Final Fantasy XIV since its original hot disaster of a launch, and I do not fully understand the community. I have been part of its roleplaying community equally since launch, and I don't totally understand that, either.

But I can understand my guild. And really, guilds are a microcosm of the larger situation. You can't comprehend the game's entire community, but you can filter it through the small slice that you get to survey. It turns the community from something sprawling and incomprehensible into a smaller portion that you can interact with. And it lets you get a sense of the macro through the micro interactions that you do have.

Sure, you don't know everyone or participate in everything. But your guild members are out there, and they'll know and see things you don't. And you can filter that with your own perceptions to at least approach accuracy.

A reason to log in

On one level, this might seem to be more of a benefit to the designers than the player. Having a group of people who know you, like you, and expect to see you on a regular basis keeps you playing and logging in. Designers obviously want that; that way you keep playing and (presumably) paying.

But if you take a step back, you realize that it's your benefit too. Online interactions are, in many ways, just as real as the interactions we have in our day-to-day lives. The people you know and speak with are just as real, and sometimes they provide you a perspective you might not otherwise have. It's like having your favorite bar, except you don't have to be sloshed out of your mind and you can get there from anywhere that's got an Internet connection.

I know from personal experience that there are times when the real world is unpleasant. Being able to slip into a world with people you like seeing, companions and friends? That's a good thing, and that's a benefit. And having a guild full of people who are happy to see you reminds you of just how many people out there are happy to see you.

So there are lots of reasons to be in a guild. And sure, that also means you'll have to deal with some unnecessary drama and nonsense, but that's not all you get out of the exchange. That's important to remember over the long term.

Published Dec. 9th 2016

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