On May 3rd 2013, Robin Torres posed the following question over at WoWInsider: What if WoW didn’t have guilds? An interesting question to be sure! I can’t say I’ve ever thought about it in the past. Having guilds in WoW is just something that comes with the territory, isn’t it? I think the only way I can imagine what it would be like is to think back on how guilds have shaped my WoW experience. Although as I think about it, the idea of a “guild” really didn’t begin for me with WoW. It all goes back to Halo 2 as I recall.
During my Halo 2 days, I was in a clan. Clans were rather limited in the sense that a clan was nothing more than a second friends list on the original Xbox console. Still, you could see when those players came online and what they were up to. You could quickly hop into custom games and when you saw half your friends list playing Lockout, you knew it was time for FAE (please don’t ask)!
The additional friends list was probably as bare bones as a “guild” could be. You couldn’t chat with any of the players in some open channel only available to other clanmates. There was no “grouping up” in the same way as you can do it in WoW. It was just a means of keeping tabs on people.
However, that limited friends list fostered a pretty good community. Other players in random games would recognize clan names and clans gave off a certain reputation of skill and attitude. It really felt like a community.
Now, thinking back to WoW, I recall my first guild very fondly. It was family-oriented and we were certainly casual, but I was proud to be a member of it. Logging in and being able to chat with people you were familiar with was nice. Going out to farm linen cloth from Scarlet Monastery NPCs wasn’t as boring because you’d be chatting with people. As time went on, you really got to know them. You became friends. When you needed to vent about something or had a problem you needed help with, you knew you could speak freely in guild chat and get some sympathetic replies or help.
I’ve been playing WoW since The Burning Crusade and I’ve been in a grand total of three guilds. The two times I’ve needed to switch guilds have been because people moved on from WoW and there was simply a lack of membership. Even then, for those players that remained active, or even when those players who took a break came back, I’ve kept in touch. My guild experience has truly been the fostering of friendships. Just recently a member of the first guild I was in became active again and we caught up on what we’ve been up to the last year or so.
My main is a Warlock, and I was able to experience the Dreadsteed quest line in all of its glory. I had guild members running me through Scholomance and farming Dark Iron ore. When it was time for me to trek across Arathi Highlands for my succubus quest line, my guildies had my back as raptors aggro’d left and right due to my low level. I’ve always had a very helpful relationship with my guild. As a tailor/enchanter, I would get mailed cloth from people as they leveled and I would give out free enchants when anyone needed them.
All they really do is subdivide the community into a bunch of exclusive groups that only interact with outsiders when they have to and regard them as little more than nuisances.
I guess my experiences with guilds are a lot different than others’. None of my guilds have ever been at the forefront of progression, but we do what we can. We’ve certainly never regarded outsiders as little more than nuisances. In fact, my present guild has a pretty good relationship with one of the more progressive guilds on the server. When we can’t fill a raid slot, there’s usually someone there who can help out. And when their guild can’t fill a second raid team, they happily ask one of our members to go along.
As to whether it would improve the experience of raid or dungeon finders, I’d have to say no. Like Robin said, the anonymity of those functions would still be there and the temptation to be a jerk would be ever-present. I disagree with Robin that people would PUG more in trade though. I think the draw of the Dungeon Finder is that it’s so simple. You don’t need to wait in a city and spam until a group fills. You can simply queue up and go about your business or go AFK and listen for the telltale tone of a group being found. If people could queue for Sha, I think they would.
Personally, without the familial function of a guild, I don’t think I’d still be playing. I loathe signing onto alts that are guildless and isolated. In fact, I made it a point to level a character in secret without being in a guild and without leveling, just because I thought I needed to have a private toon. I ended up disliking it. The social aspect of the game is half of the reason I enjoy it so much.
It saddens me that people have had such bad experiences with guilds, but I think WoW would suffer tremendously if they were removed.