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9:10am on Monday, 19th June, 2017:



Players in MMOs can form groups called guilds. The actual name may vary depending on the MMO — they're called cabals in The Secret World, for example — but guild is the general term. They're a way for players to form groups that they're still members of when they log off and log back in again.

We didn't used to have guilds in the early days, because there were too few players. Some text MUDs did have them, but the concept was regarded as just another differentiator, in the same way that idiosyncratic healing strategues or the presence of currency were. We didn't even have friends lists: the games were so small that you knew everyone anyway.

Today, guilds serve to partition the player base into smaller communities. Sometimes, these communities are the same size as entire MUDs from 30 years ago, but there are no sub-guilds (Eve Online has super-groups). Guilds help with tasks such as running instances or raids, or crafting, or obtaining collective perks, or PvPing. However, they hinder with immersion-breaking, with drama, with elitism and with the level of general toxicity. Rare is the MMO that allows you to be a member of more than one of them.

Hmm. Maybe if we dropped guilds but kept friends lists, MMOs would be friendlier places?

There are people who play MMOs because of guilds, but are there people who don't play MMOs because of them?

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Copyright © 2017 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).