You can do a Google search on the relationship between Texting and Talking and the impact its having on the next generation of young ones being able to communicate effectively with each other. You could, but you probably won’t (I didn’t). It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the way we communicate with each other has changed. No longer do we call someone to make plans, but rather send brief impersonal text messages to accomplish the same task. Its faster, more efficient, and its this very behavior that’s impacting how our games are being made.
I wrote about the guild topic in the past, though mostly in regards to Guild Wars 2. Guild Wars 2 accomplished an interesting “evolution” to the notion of guilds; it allowed you to swap membership instantly between guilds. This is different than the past games in the MMO genre because membership was never lost from those guilds, merely placed on hiatus while you played with your current group of best friends.
Similar to the rise of Twitter, the challenge of including a conversations worth of text into a limited length string; the challenge of maintaining and running a ‘guild’ has become equally difficult. As my generation grew up in an era of voice-comm-less gaming, the ability to carry a conversation with each other coupled with the difficulty of gaming, created a memory that is hard to replicate in modern gaming. You’ll hopefully see it by the end of this article, but the problem isn’t us (or it’s entirely us…).
The Newbie Blogging Initiative
Before I truly dive into the larger point I’ll try to make, I think its worth noting that quite a few interesting articles popped up in the blogging initiative this week.
The commentary in the Talk Back NBI event has been largely negative as a whole, which I found completely surprising and utterly enjoyable. Yea, I enjoyed reading that guilds have caused more problems then they’ve solved (why? do read on…). I actually believe that if it weren’t for content that REQUIRED cooperation, some games wouldn’t be able to support the mere presence of guilds. Our culture has shifted too much in recent years. Call me a cynic.
Take Harbringer and Sheep, they both recently suffered at the hands of a guild. Why were they even in it to begin with? While they cited the idea of a “family organization”, their real intent seems to have been centered around raiding and doing battle with people to back them up. Would they have felt any desire to join an organization if the game didn’t really need any meaningful contact with other players? Some of you might wonder why it is I’m questioning this principle of playing with others in a genre called “Massively Multiplayer”. Well, let me tell you this; theres a big difference socially between a game like Counter-Strike and a game like EverQuest (Hint: game devs aren’t chosing game systems that support the later).
My Theory on Social Implications of Guilds
So theirs two things that have conspired against the storied history of the guild organization. The first is the social decline of the ability to effectively communicate. I’ve seen many guilds who rely upon forums for communication. Well what happens? People take to writing out long drawn out drama posts or citing specific non-evidenced occurrences to place blame and burn someone out of an organization. We call this drama, because it typically plays out like one (refer to my previously linked fellow bloggers for a few real examples of Drama).
You can call it whatever you want, but effectively its the inability of guild leadership to work out problems or the inability of its members to communicate with each other. Either of these can cause institutional problems within a guild. Modern “tweeting” and the trend towards saying less with less words hasn’t helped this problem.
Now all of this rambling isn’t to place the blame squarely on the younger generation; despite scientific sociological evidence indicating they WILL have a problem communicating due to their increased reliance on texting as a means of ”talking’. Their are plenty of older folks who still have social issues; we gamers aren’t known for our ability to blend-in during social events ;p Yet again, games are more frequently populated by the young… not the old.
The second major impact has been a decline in game difficulty. I am not saying that gaming’s overall effective difficulty has declined, merely that the difficulty has shifted and become mitigated from;
I give you EverQuest as evidence of an older game that relied upon group content for just about everything you did with it. There were few if any activities that one could complete by yourself. Almost all content had to be done in a party or as a guild. As a result community is cited as one of EverQuest’s strongest legacies (coincidentally so was player-reputation). I mentioned earlier the difference between Counter-Strike and EverQuest; why did I do that? Well, the trend has seemingly been for developers to support more Counter-Strike-like interactions then EverQuest-like ones.
I’ll give you a few examples;
The problem with these “innovations” is they are designed to keep the younger generation of player, the “newbie” engaged. Newbies have no social skills, they are typically younger players. Have you ever heard anyone bragging about the Call of Duty communities? Theirs a reason why you have not. These younger players have no social skills with which to form communities, let alone maintain them.
In the end the current state of guilds is bad. Yet its not the fault of guild leaders or even its membership. Its the state of the MMO’s that have come out that really lies at fault. The trend of games to an increasing amount of solo-play content (read as; storyline aka. SWToR) has reduced our necesary need to interact with other players down to a comical minimum. Sure the “Massively” still exists in form only; that is to say that games are populated by massive populations of players. The function, however, has been lost over the last two decades. Gaming companies exist to make a profit and they have frequently turned to the young and social inept crowd to fuel their profits.
You are probably left wondering what exactly this means for guilds. Their doesn’t really seem to be many opportunities for guilds to thrive in anymore. You’d be right to be dissapointed. I remain a member of a social organization (guild) that despite not playing any games actively right now, has survived since 1996. Yet, the guild is comprised of mostly older gaming veterans who came from a gaming era where guilds mattered. Its future is grim, as its older veterans have failed to find younger members who WANT to be a part of an organization that plays together.
Maybe Guilds are just a relic of an earlier era. Maybe its time we buried them for good.
#guilds #newbiebloggersinitiative #guildwars2