Why Join A Guild?
The Guild Drill
If you've ever wandered into the Guild Chat forum you'll know how overwhelming it can be. There's line after line made up of strange symbols with obscure words as guild names, ever-changing acronyms, and emoticons that do not appear to relate to the guild theme at all. It gets worse, because every first post in each of these boards is made up of at least three sites—webbie, portal, and guild home—plus a long list of detailed activities for each guild. It's hard to choose which one to join, and whether you'll fit into any of these communities. Diving into a guild is making a leap of faith—perhaps here you will, finally, find a place to make lasting friends.
When I joined a guild I wasn't looking for anything specific. I was always into collecting avatars—I see it as a prestigious affair, a noble goal that aims for account improvement and shows how much I really care about my Neolife. I was lent a few avatar items on the Avatar Chat—on what ACers call a lending board—and was asked if I wanted to join the lender's guild. For no other reason but to have the opportunity for casual chatting, I accepted the invitation. I made my leap of faith without knowing it was what I had been looking for.
The Connection Question
Guilds can make you a little dizzy at first. There's so much to worry about—monthly games, challenges, ranks, auctions. Some even encourage you to earn points for your team, house, or however members are divided. This is a good thing, though. You always want to ensure members are engaged with the guild and have something to do. You also need to check that members are friendly and helpful to one another. Commonly, guild interactions appear to be made up by demonstrations of Neo-solidarity: lending of avatar items, gifting a desired customization item, helping out with tips for a game.
I started out dazed, too, since there was so much going on in my new guild. I had to get used to the dynamic between members, try to remember their names, understand what the leader wanted of its 'guildies' and how we could promote a sense of community and belonging amongst each other. It just so happened that my new guild was in need of a coder. I was never a professional in this area—all my HTML and CSS knowledge came from coding petpages in the early years of Neopets—but it turned out I could do decent layouts and sites. My coding skills were enough to be of help to the guild leader and, more importantly, to the guild. It earned me a spot in the coveted Council, and from there I took on further tasks. Council members are usually asked to encourage participation, remind of daily activities, update on the guild news, and so I did these things with great gusto.
From this position, I was able to reach most of my fellow members and got to know some of them. I was led to believe that these connections I was making where what conformed a community, and I now belonged to one. Yet there was always that nagging question: how deep are these friendships? How long will they last? With time, some of the members turned out to be what is known as a 'guild hopper'—they spend some time in a guild, then move on to the next one. Others became inactive. How did I know my 'friends' would be there for me in a time of need? The proper ‘guild interactions’ were there. But is this enough to feel a sense of belonging?
The Quit Twist
There’s a whole lot of uncertainty when joining a guild, because you don’t know what you’ll find inside. It was a Sunday morning and I was about to attend to my Council duties when I noticed I had received a long list of expensive items. I checked the username from which they were sent, and sure enough, it was from my guild leader. A quick Neomail and a quick response—they were quitting the guild and were sending me all of the items they'd planned to use as prizes for guild activities.
Chaos ensued as I Neomailed my fellow council members and tried to hold up everything that had ensured the guild stayed upright. There were sites to recover from the previous leader's petpages, all of which needed a coding do-over. There were new rules to set, new rank names to decide. I was entrusted with leadership that I had not sought when I joined the guild in the first place; I had even asked to be demoted from Council if someone more helpful wanted to apply. And yet here I stood, with the daunting task of keeping members engaged with the guild, coming up with activities for them, recruiting newer users, figuring out how to please all of them and how to help everyone out with their Neo-needs.
It was a time of insecurity with a profound feeling of loneliness, something I had never imagined a leader could be. With this newfound leadership came new questions - will members like this sudden change in hierarchy? Will I be able to provide them with what they want from a guild? What do 'guildies' even want? That leap of faith that I took at the start of it all suddenly felt like the wrong choice to have made.
The Support Fort
So here's the thing about having Neofriends—it might seem like the relationship you forged was based on helpful acts of account improvement, but in truth, if you did everything right as a fellow guild member, you earned yourself some fire-forged friends. As soon as my insecurity started to show and I let my vulnerability be known, Council members helped me to stand, and without a question, took on the tasks I was struggling to juggle. I began to receive Neomails from guildies that I hadn't even considered to be close to me, offering their help and their support. Everything, slowly but surely, was beginning to settle, and the connections that were doubted at the beginning finally showed their true value. What I had seen as a flimsy spiderweb of friendships turned out to be a stronghold. The foundations of our fort had been constructed by lending, gifting, Food Club suggestions and stock market tips, yes. But over that, the bricks that had been laid down represented real friendships and solid trust. The members of our guild were there for me in a time of need, and I was sure, now more than ever, that I would do the same for any of them.
The Writer's Answer
As I roamed the recruiting boards on the Guild Chat forum a few days ago (the crazy lines seem less daunting to me now), I came upon someone asking, 'Can anyone tell me why should I join a guild?' I tasked myself to recount this small story to give every reader an answer to that question.
Guilds aren't about the theme, the ranks, the games, or the prizes. Their worth goes beyond the amount of members that you got to join, or how many avatar pets you hold for lending. The true value of a guild lies beyond these superficial aspects—when you land on your feet after taking the leap, and surrounding you are the members you grew close to with time. Guilds are about creating a community and providing every new member with a sense of belonging and a promise of support. A few members will come and go, but with time, you can find those who will make your Neo-life better.
If you're looking to join a guild, ask around. Create your board, clear your inbox, and let guild members flood you with info on what they offer, how they relate, what they'll ask of you. Read their lists and check their activities. It will be hard to choose, and you'll be uncertain to join. But I promise you, you shouldn't be afraid. Once you've laid the foundations of your support fort, you'll never regret taking that leap of faith.