That buzz word in the title should get some attention. Regardless of your stance, good reader, on federalism and what any U.S. founders believed, the premise of “big government” is control. It’s this issue of control, or perceived lack of control, with the hinted Guild Wars 2 guild system that has the community in a tizzy.
The Guild Wars 2 guild system lets players join multiple guilds through their account and characters. My asura warrior, Guvvernator, might be in some main guild, an asura-only role-playing guild, a 6-man real-life friends guild, and a casual PvP guild. The full details of the guild system are missing, but I suspect that since I can rack up influence for my guilds, I would likely have to choose one guild as my “main,” which would receive the benefits of my activities. The others would be exclusive chat rooms with whatever other guild features ArenaNet is planning, hopefully like a guild bank.
The tizzy seems to come from guild-focused players that stick to one guild in their MMOs. Questions of loyalty, position, accountability are thrown in the air as soon as the system allows more freedom. This is the part I find a bit ironic and silly, all the negativity I have been saying seems to stem from a loss of pure control. I say pure control because a super-exclusive guild can require that they be the sole guild for a player. This, of course, makes said super-exclusive guild look like a bunch of snobby jerks that just want to destroy fun, and so said snobby jerks would rather have the developers require the players to submit to one overlord…err guild.
First, MMOs are for fun. My fun is different than everybody else’s fun (even if just in small degrees). One night I might just want to solo explore. Another night I might want to go have fun in a lowbie area. Everybody is different. Second, players that want dedicated fun are going to seek it out anyway. The high-end “raiders” (Guild Wars 2 has no raids) and PvP’ers are still going to mostly be dedicated and practice with their main guild to become a well-oiled machine. Having ancillary guilds for that raider that takes pity on her real life friends, or that PvP’er that wants to roleplay one night a week, has little or no negative effect. In fact, I would say giving them the freedom to branch out to other interests will strengthen their tie to the core.
The closest guild I ever had was in A Tale in the Desert. It was a small guild with only a rough half-dozen of dedicated players at any given time, but we were tight. Nights of grass picking and charcoal making were filled with jokes, real-life problems, and the current Egyptian gossip. Oh, and did I mention I was in at least 10 other guilds ranging from a deep well corporation to people that liked to share wine. It seems unlikely from a white paper standpoint that I would be more dedicated to my guild when I was in a dozen or so, yet I would say that was the case for nearly everybody in A Tale in the Desert.
The bottom line is that there will be players in Guild Wars 2 that still remain dedicated to one guild, and there will be players that act more like social butterflies flitting from one open community to the other based on the nightly gaming gods’ whims, and everyone in between. The worry that guild leaders have is that they will have to decide on some subjective amount of dedication or activity required. I don’t think anything has changed. Fun guilds with fun activities will attract fun people. Hardcore guilds with challenging activities will attract hardcore people. Casual guilds will remain casual and mega-guilds might be all the bigger.
If anything has to change it’s the guild leader’s perception that they ever had completely dedicated players. Those players might have had a character/account in another guild, or simply played other games (shocking, I know) on off nights. If there was control it was artificial to begin with.