With Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) coming out soon and a lot of people talking about guilds, I thought it might be prudent to discuss that topic. So what is a guild? What does a guild do for you? What kinds of guilds are there and how do you join them? Is it even worth joining a guild? These question, and more, can only be answered effectively by explaining each guild style individually. So that's exactly what I intend to do, if ever so briefly. Let's not tarry, come along and explore the topic with me!
Types of Guilds
This is probably the most common type of guild, even if the guild doesn't mean to be this kind. A social guild is a very laid back group of players that have no pressing primary focus. They'll often be friends in real life, at least the core group will be. Members of a social guild will often have alternate characters (alts) that they play on to help each other level. It is easy to fall into a social guild status by just losing membership or losing focus on the primary goals of the guild.
This is second most popular style of guild, and most guilds seem to have a dream of being this at least once in their life cycle. A raiding guild is simply one focussed on getting the best possible gear for their core raid team and defeating the raid instances. A raid is an instanced dungeon that requires more than your average number of players (a group is usually five players) with better than average gear for that term of the game. Raids are meant to test every aspect of your gameplay, from character build to teamwork. Raiding guilds are often separated into a few sub-categories; Hardcore, Progression, Casual. In this bloggers opinion, there is no such thing as a casual raiding guild. Either they're lying to make you feel at ease, or they're lying because they want to get people to raid. Regardless of motive, don't be fooled by the term "casual raiders". A "progression" guild is one that pushes the limits and has to get the next boss, or the next tier, or the next raid. It's all about the status of achieving the end-game content. Your hardcore raiders are the ones that do all the work to hit the right statistic caps and link the right abilites, they want to get to the next boss like the progressionists, but they want to do the one their on in the best way possible. These guids are often hard to get into, and they can have a few different styles of recruiting, some have more than one within the guild. A raiding guild will always have a core raid team - the set group of people that get first dibs at a run or the gear. Many have multiple teams that run at different times in different groups. These guilds are always very strict with rules, and people can often be kicked from the guild for not making a raid or being online at certain times.
A PvP guild, or Player versus Player, is a guild built solely around doing - you guessed it! - PvP. They will often make attempts to be ranked in the larger scoreboards and things of this nature. Some MMOs have more than one kind of PvP. World of Warcraft, for instance, had regular battlegrounds for casual players, rated battlegrounds for larger groups that wanted to be ranked together, and what is called Arena. In the Arena it is build around 2v2, 3v3 or 5v5 teams with not secondary objectives, they simply kill each other. Each of those types of PvP is progressively more difficult and intense. You do not have to be guilded to be in on these events, but it makes finding people to play with easier when you can talk directly to a large group of them. Much like the raiding guilds, there can be strict rules involved with times to be on, how long you can be offline for, number of matches, level of gear or character, etc. I would guess at about 40-50% of the PvP guilds could be labeled as "hardcore" like the raiders.
Role Playing guilds can sometimes be the most convoluted guild to be involved in. If you think the rules that can get you kicked out of a raid or PvP guild are tough, then the heavy RP guilds probably aren't for you. Again, this guild has some sub-genres; light, medium and heavy. An RP guild will always have a backstory, this can be anything directly involving current lore and canon or it can be an offshoot of it. More often than not, the guild will have RP events scheduled for people to attend. Some offer classes, or training, if you're not too familiar with RP in general or they way they do. RP requires two kinds of chat in the game, what is called IC (in character) and OOC (out of character). A role playing event for the guild is often required attendance without a good reason to miss it. Sometiems these things expand the story of the guild, and will usually be quests made up by a type of RP leader (Digital Dungeon Master is what I've taken to calling them). All three types have similar goals and methods, but the strictness and number of rules changes from type to type. I'll not bore you with each one individually, but instead give a synopsis of what some of these rules are like. If you speak in the wrong chat style in the wrong channel too many times you could be kicked. If you break character durring an RP event or while at the guild's claimed home location. If you miss too many RP events. If you break any rules involving backstory or description restrictions. The list goes on and on, and will largely be determined by the level of RP the guild claims to run and the type of RP it has (military, civilian, criminal, etc.).
This type of guild isn't found too often as a listed and accepted type. It's usually just lumped in with social guilds, however I feel it's worth seperating. This wikia is creating a guild, and we are a vast community with a common goal and purpose, thus that makes it a community guild. Where a social guild often has no common purpose, a community guild will be driven to a similar goal - just not one of those listed above. Common community guids are market guilds, trade guilds or crafting guilds. In the case of ours it is driven by the common goal of gathering knowledge for the wikia on the Elder Scrolls Online game. Most community guilds have the social aspects, but are serious about a particular field. Rules for membership and promotions will be vastly different depending upon the type of community that is represented. A market/trade guild might grant promotions if you bring in a lot of money by playing the auction houses. Whereas a crafting guild may promote based on production numbers with a variable for amount of money earned, or for bringing in a lot of raw resources for someone else to craft with.
The final primary type of guild I'll discuss is leveling. This guild type is focussed on bringing new character to higher levels by sharing knowledge and helping out. Often called an Alt Guild because people use them to level alternate character easily, especially those in a Raiding or PvP guild. Leveling guilds are somewhere between the realm of Social and Community, as leveling can take on many forms. Some games reward experience for PvP, where some don't. Many people that separate community from social will call a leveling guild a community guild, but that's not entirely true. Partly because there's almost never a hardened rank structure and the rules are simply show up and help when you can. If you're always the one needing help then they usually don't hold it against you. Their membership often fluctuates, as well, due to people coming and going when they have met the level they were seeking.
Methods of Recruitment
There are many methods guilds use to gain members. The more hardcore raiders will have a core group of five at the start and they'll be told to go out and create a group of five to add to the core raid team. This method worked very well for the early stages of WoW, but has lately fallen by the wayside as an aknowledged form of recruitment. There will always be the blanket recruiters, the guilds that invite anyone they come across that isn't guilded already. This method can gain you members, but it often isn't the type of members you would want in a guild.
My prefered method of recruiting is to have a real discussion with the possible new recruit. If my guild doesn't fit your playstyle, then I don't want you to join just to have a title under your name. Often I'll suggest another guild I've seen around that is more up your alley. This method will often make people respect you and want to maybe put an alt in your guild so they can keep in touch and run things with you. This method is most suggested for a social or community guild.
RP guilds will usually have you talk to them in-game, IC. These interviews are to test your RP style and see if you can catch the lore or backstory in a small conversation. Sometimes they are a simpe formality, sometimes they make or break you. This, like much else in the RP lines, is dependent on the guild you're dealing with.
There are a lot of guilds in the older games that just want numbers, so they'll take anyone looking for a guild at all. This has the same end result as blanket recruiting. You end up with members you'd never want tied to your name. Other guilds make you fill out an application on their website and sign up for membership there. Once you complete the form online they'll contact you in-game within a week or so for either an interview or a qualifying run through a dungeon or something of the sort - dependent upon the type of guid you're applying for.
Ultimately there are too many methods of recruiting out there to name them all, and each guild will have their own version of what works best for them.
Benifits of Guilding
The benifits of joining a guild will depend on the kind of guild you join, and why you want in. If you join a leveling guild to run PvP, then you probably won't get much out of it. If you join a raiding guild to get better gear, then you have potential to get exactly what you're looking for. The biggest thing to remember when looking for a guild, is that you'll only get as much out of a guild as you put into it.
I honestly have no prevailing thoughts or great words of wisom for this, other than a bit of a reminder. In Elder Scrolls Online you'll have the ability to join more than one guild on one character. This has the potential to be great and horrible at the same time. Given the rules and things above, one probably shouldn't join a hardcore PvP guild and a hardcore raiding guild. This will make it difficult to keep both guild memberships. Think carefully about what you join and how their rules are set up. Above all else, join the wikia community guild!