Join or Die

Join or Die
The Syndicate

Sean Stalzer | 13 Sep 2005 12:03
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Guilds are a staple of the Massively Multiplayer gaming world. Guilds fill a number of important roles in the gaming world, but by and large they are short lived. Several hundred guilds rise and fall on a daily basis throughout the various MMOG universes, and the average lifespan of a guild is less than six months.

Nearly every guild will voluntarily close its doors or implode and cease to exist before reaching the two-year point. Less than a tenth of a percent of all guilds reach the five-year point. That is why a guild that has thrived for nearly 10 years, with more than 550 members (the vast majority of whom have been members for more than a year, and some up to nine years) is a noteworthy anomaly in a sea of guild names floating around the MMOG universe.

The Syndicate is such a guild. In fact, it is the only juggernaut-sized guild that has lasted that long in the history of MMOGs. The Syndicate has spanned numerous gaming worlds in its history including Ultima Online, Everquest, World of Warcraft and brief times in numerous worlds helping to beta test future games. Among the reasons for The Syndicate's long-term success as a guild are its underlying philosophies, its recruiting practices and its structure.

Philosophy
Every guild needs an underlying purpose and an underlying philosophy about how it will approach gaming, other guilds and its own members. The Syndicate has several core values that compose our philosophy.

We are a friend-focused guild. While we do have great relations with many other players and guilds, first and foremost we are about our own members and we view every member as a valued friend and teammate.

Second, we require all members to have a "Guild First" attitude. By that, we mean that it is never acceptable for a member to make a decision that places the guild second or causes harm to the guild. Every member is an ambassador of the guild in his words and deeds, and we require that those reflect positively upon all of us. We are, after all, a team of friends, and you wouldn't do something to make your friend look bad or stab them in the back, would you?

Third, we are not a power-gamer guild, yet we do participate aggressively in end-game content. Simply put, we enjoy mastering a game but we don't view it as a race against someone else to be first. We don't measure our personal self worth against another guild. We don't brag if we do something earlier or better or more efficiently than anyone else.

Games come and go, and in the long run, pixels are meaningless. Our guild is all about the long-term view and our focus is on building friendships and having fun together. By keeping that focus, and by valuing each member as a friend and important member of the team, we avoid infighting. We don't have implosions. We don't have mass exoduses of members. And we grow a stable environment where every member trusts every other member.

Recruiting Practices
Whether explicitly defined or not, every guild has a recruiting policy. In some cases, a guild forms simply to be a communications tool for real-life friends. Other times, it can be a chop shop that needs warm bodies to serve the goals of the few in power. Many times a guild's purpose fits somewhere in between those two extremes. The Syndicate is a very large guild. That huge size very frequently leads to the misperception that we have a very open recruiting policy and recruit large numbers of people. In fact, just the opposite is true. Although we receive more than 4,000 applications to join the guild each year, we chose only a few of those applicants to whom to extend an offer.

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