The Rise and Fall of Guilds, extending the game beyond login
Interacting with people in my guild outside the game, be it through guild forums or social media like Twitter or Facebook, is like playing the game when I’m not logged in—and this is a valuable experience that I hope increases either with tools from Blizzard or an increased adoption of extant tools by people already in the game.
Ideally, I’d love to be able to participate in guild chat when I’m not logged into the game.
WoW is primarily a social game, or it is becoming that. The most recent episode of World of Warcast suggests as much.
One of the thrusts of the podcast was that the hosts used to be classically hardcore, the game shifted out from underneath them, and they’ve adjusted to what they call “WoW 2.0,” which is their term for the rise of tools in the game to enable less-hardcore players to see more game content.
I agree that it’s significantly easier, compared to day one, for any individual to see more content. The emblem system (in particular) and the Looking for Dungeon tool enable people to concentrate more on the social aspect of the game than the hardcore progressing, which used to be a horrifically draining experience from my perspective. It forced you to exclude other aspects of game play because you had to devote so much energy to raiding.
That never sounded fun to me.
But today I’m raiding and having more fun playing WoW than I ever have before. I’m thoroughly enjoying it because even though I raid at least twice a week (working toward Arthas) the game allows me to do that without significantly consuming my entire WoW experience. I’m free to enjoy being social for social’s sake. Not every interaction has to be in the context of raiding.
At the same time: I don’t have to be in a guild any more.
Given that it’s easy to LFD and even to get PUGs—workable actual productive PUGs—for places like Icecream Citadel, guilds are slightly less important than they used to be. You can see content by yourself, so to speak, that you couldn’t before at all.
So why should you be in a guild in WoW?
Playing WoW solo diminishes the overall experience of the game. Guilds are necessary outside of the logistical support they give because they provide what no other mechanism can: Close and easy interaction with a group of friends (or people who become friends).
As our multiplayer games offer more opportunity to experience them outside the game proper, guilds will have a very strong role in that activity. It’ll be the primary thing that you’re thinking of when you use those tools, it’s the first obvious thing to “be” in that space.
A friend of mine doesn’t log on to the game until 11 pm or so. Thus, he has no one to play with because all his friends (including me) have logged off by then after having an adventurous night having adventures. The rest of the guild is hours ahead of us, so even fewer of them are online by then. His participation in the game lately has dropped precipitously.
I’m not sure whether the social would have much effect on such players or not. Would my friend play the game more if he had access to guild chat? Probably not. The primary obstacle is his atypical schedule, not the lack of opportunity to interact. Meaning, the core game experience is playing with others. Interacting with people outside the game is ancillary, an extension—a mirror that reflects the fun you’re having inside the game normally. If you don’t have friends—a guild—to begin with, you have nothing worth extending.
This shows that despite all the tools for getting gear and seeing content, there is still a critical component to the game: The social. Without people to play with, the game’s not hardly as fun.
But if this social aspect was extended beyond the game, it would be more fun.
That’s what I want, I dare say.