Tobold's Blog
Monday, October 19, 2009
Finding a mature guild

Reader Ostirean wrote me because he has a problem finding a suitable mature guild in World of Warcraft. He says:
"For me, an ideal guild is a place with anything between 15 and 30 regular members. I'm not very prejudiced age-wise, but as a middle-aged man I have become more and more uncomfortable sharing a guild with children young enough to be my own. Call me conservative, but there it is. So I'd like to see most of the members occupying the 25+ age bracket. And perhaps most importantly: the guild would be based around the idea that the members were playing the game for enjoyment, not out of duty. Raids can be massively fun, but they would be run under the "organised chaos" principle: set a raid time and see who turns up. If more than 10 or 25 people are online and ready to raid then it's first come, first served. If you can't go to a raid one night, it's not the end of the world, basically.

Anyway, the guilds I have been in or started have all been one of two types: One is big with lots of kids and childish adults, organised and with little room for flexibility. The other is more or less of the type I have described above, but with one huge shortcoming: size. It seems impossible to grow a casual guild like this to a size of above 8-9 regulars. That means no raiding without pugs (which is fraught with problems), which is of course a huge drawback.

Your readership, at least most of those that take time to comment on your posts, appear to be of the of the grown-up flexibility-seeking type. Are they in guilds they like, or do they know how to find them? Should there be a place on the internet where one could match up, like a guild dating service? Given a good enough group of people, I think many people would happily pay for server transfers of even many toons. Perhaps there is a service like that."
The only principal problem I see with his request is that his math is off. To have a reasonable chance that 10 to 25 people for raiding are online, even if raiding isn't mandatory, you'll need far more than 15 to 30 regular members.

Apart from that, Ostirean correctly identified a principal problem of WoW guild recruiting: Very often guilds recruit characters ("Guild looking for new members, need 2 healers and a tank, no huntards please"), and not people ("Guild looking for mature and loyal people willing to raid two nights a week").

And age definitely is a problem. While of course there are exceptions, generally speaking older players, with a job, family, and plenty of other responsabilities, will take playing a game and going raiding somewhat less seriously than teenagers and young adults. People of the same age group also tend to have more in common, more to talk about in guild chat. If you consider a guild to be more than an organization to get raids done, choosing your guild mates to be socially compatible makes perfect sense.

Unfortunately World of Warcraft is missing a lot of useful tools which would make a casual guild of mature people playing for fun, not achievement, more practical. Not only is it hard to find people in the first place, but once you found them, it isn't always easy to play together. Casual players are more likely to want to play on alts, and with the lack of a mentor/sidekick system, and now 80 levels in the game, finding enough people in the same level range in a small to medium-sized guild is nearly impossible. You basically need 5 friends reserving 1 character each to play together to get regular low-level groups going, not a guild.

Anyway, Ostirean was asking whether anyone of you knew of a "guild dating service" or some place similar where a player could find a mature guild compatible with his play style. Can you help the man out?
The Older Gamers is a cross-server and cross-game guild of older players and others with restricted schedules.
Thanks for posting this. Ostirean is the same person as Oscar (and with that verbosity, you shouldn't be surprised :)).

As for my math... I suppose it comes down to what you define as "regular". If a regular is one that logs in for a couple of hours more or less every night (like I think you together with a large number of us middle-aged armchair adventurers really do) then I think 15 is a good number to get 10-person runs going a couple of nights a week.

But no matter, the point you make is well taken. But even in spite of the problems you identify it just seems amazing to me that it should be impossible to find 30 or even 50 people of a like mind on a server with a population counting in the thousands.

I have tried off and on to search for people (not players!) in general or trade chat, but I have a feeling that the ones I'm trying to reach out to are the ones that left /1 and /2 long ago...

Let's make a Friends of Tobold guild, shall we? :P
> "The only principal problem I see with his request is that his math is off."

Actually that's not the only problem - having enough people is important of course but these people need to be dedicated raiders as well.

The problem with (us) older people with families+jobs is that these tend to get in the way of dedicated raiding. For example for me I can have stretches of work pressure where I need to work from home in the evening which means I can't really raid on many days. I know many others have a similar problem (business trips, etc.).

I think that's why you can't find many successful raiding guilds made up only of +30 people. You can have a mix of younger and older people though.

That said, there is no shortage of more mature guilds who specifically look for link-minded people. Just read trade chat for an hour or two at primetime...

BTW you're dead wrong (in my experience) Tobold about the "very" part in "very often guilds recruit characters... and not people". Hard-core guilds look for characters, but the *majority* of guilds are casual and look for people and not specific characters.

Ostirean can post on the on the server specific forum for the server/s of his choice, stating his parameters (type of guild, availability, preferred guild type, etc.) or he can Google for "wow guild recruitment" - I saw, and I'm sure there are others.
I would suggest going to It's multigame guild and quite well organized.
In both Guild Wars and LOTRO I have been lucky enough to find great mature causal guilds that allow me to play the way I want without placing excessive demands on my lifestyle. While I was playing World of Warcraft I did find a mature, friendly, casual guild but somehow the whole progression ethos of the game worked against us and the more committed players drifted away to join progression guilds so the guild eventually fizzled out.

You are right Tobold, a successful casual guild absolutely needs a large membership with a mix of casual and more hard core players both to increase the chances of getting groups and also to share around the burden of organisation.

I think that the game design and game ethos are also important. Guild wars has a very low level cap so casual and hard core players can play together as equals. In Lotro the emphasis on "lore" and the epic book quests give causal and hard core points of common interest. I don't know if WoW has any equivalent - it certainly didn't while I was playing.
My practical suggestion is this, which worked very well for me about a year and a half. Don't start a guild, start a custom chat-channel. Invite everyone you meet along the way who fits your criteria to join it.

This way, no-one has to leave their current guild and you largely (though not entirely) avoid guild politics. You can also build up a portfolio of like-minded people that will include everything from very casual players to people in elite raiding guilds.

You can get an awful lot done with a pool of players like this, and with a lot less drama than a guild. Of course, you won't have Guild Tags/Achievements/Housing/Bank Vaults. But you will have camaraderie and flexibility.

After the channel I was in broke up, mostly due to people moving to various different MMOs, I never really got back into full-scale guilds. There were two main reasons. One was guild politics, which gave us all the worst problems of real-life socialising, only without most of the means of resolving them. The other was the inevitable intrusion on my time. Of the two factors, it was the latter that I found intractable.

Generally I play MMOs after work from the early evening until I go to bed. I play for a good chunk of the weekends too. Mrs Bhagpuss follows the same pattern and we sometimes play together and sometimes not. Being unguilded means I can do what I want, when I want. I can log on and spend six hours organising my bank vaults, or go gathering for the whole evening, or play six alts for an hour each. I don't have to explain my choices or justify them or come up with polite excuses why I don't want to go to X dungeon or Y raid.

On the other hand if I want to do anything that takes more than two people I am limited to PUGs of various kinds. And I did used to enjoy grouping with a regular crew.

I haven't resolved this yet and can't see how I'm going to. It's a classic swings-and-roundabouts problem, where the gains from one choice are almost exactly counterweighted by the disadvantages. Same issues as socialisng in real-life, really.
My guild is a mix of casual/hardcore gamers. Some of them are in a raid community which is different from a guild. From what I understand you have to meet certain minimum criteria (be exalted with x number of factions, have certain enchants, etc) and the 'Class Captain' decides whether or not you can qualify for a trial, and then I guess its up to you.

I have found that a lot of them are roughly similar age, if not a little older than me; I am guessing in the 35-45 age bracket, and a lot of fun to spend time with in-game.

And I am not tied down to farming for the guild - a practice which, if I was forced to do, would result in a /gquit.
Bhagpuss, I think the custom chat channel idea is great. However, in WoW at least there is one very basic shortcoming: I can't get the chat channel to "stick", so I have to type "/5" (or whatever number it is) every time I want to use it. Perhaps that's just something I have gotten wrong? Also, I haven't found an interface element that shows me who is in a given chat channel at any given time. Is that also something I just missed?

But I'm very uplifted by the replies here. I was under the impression that mine was a common problem. It seems I've just been unlucky (and Solidstate, I did google and I did post on the official forums, many times. It didn't work out well).
I don't quite understand the idea that adults who have restricted time for raiding and such because of family and job duties would prefer not to have scheduled raids. For me it's just the opposite! I need to plan my playing very carefully, just because of my limitations. I would hate to log on, not knowing if I'll be able to get a raid spot or not, since it's a "frist come first serve" princip. I would have to waste endless of time just waiting. That kind of raiding fits much better for people with less restrictions on their gaming time. To me my raiding is just the same as any other kind of activity - I need to plan it carefully, long time in advance, not to interfere with the interests of my family.
As Hirvox says The Older Gamers is a good resource.

The WoW boards now have separate Alliance and Horde guild recruitment forums. Cross-post your request to one or both of those and you will get response from people who can help.

You also might want to look at the Guild Management forums. Some people clearly have excellent set-ups.

Elitist Jerks and MMO Champions also have recruitment boards.

Good luck!
I don't quite understand the idea that adults who have restricted time for raiding and such because of family and job duties would prefer not to have scheduled raids. For me it's just the opposite!
If you have a job with regular shifts and no young children, sure. But if your kid trips and hurts his/her knee, you need to be able to log off then and there. Or if your boss calls and says that you're needed to handle the rush hour traffic because one of your coworkers just called in sick. Carefully planning and thus being "productive" in your free time is all well and good and it's something that I've recommended in the past, but sometimes even that is a luxury that you cannot afford.
Sounds like a description of the guild I'm in :)

We actually have about 100 'characters' in guild to make up the 15 or so online on a typical evening, to make 10 for a raid fortnightly perhaps, or more likely 5 for a heroic several times per week.

Of the core people that are likely to attend raids etc. most are mature e.g. couples that play together.

We get quite a few people with a similar mindset to Oscar joining, who check the guild list on the realm forums and then visit each website in turn to see which is most like the mindset they're after
I was a member for years in a large, adult guild in WoW. I enjoyed the camaraderie but, ultimately, I found it frustrating and it didn't satisfy my in-game needs.

The biggest problem is that lack of a schedule or commitment from members led to a big wasting of my time. I can't count the number of times I showed up to a raid and then spent 30 trying to scrounge up the necessary people to do the run with any chance at success. And then we finally get going and someone leaves and we have no backup. Much of the time was spent doing the very unfun activity of waiting around and begging people to join us.

Having a lot more people than necessary isn't really a good solution either. You end up with a lot of people who show up and don't get to play and hurt feelings. No one likes to feel rejected. People will (justifiably) scream for more formal scheduling. Most adult's time is too valuable to block off a big chunk without a reasonable chance they will get what they want out of it.

And WoW raiding content is designed to be difficult. Unless you are satisfied running outdated content that you massively outgear (which is boring), you need the precise mix of people with some gaming skill to succeed. This doesn't lend itself to a free for all.

I'm now in a raiding guild. Unfortunately, I have to deal with some children (they're actually adults but you wouldn't know it from their behavior). On the other hand, I know when I schedule an evening of my time it will be spent doing exactly what I want. We start on time, we have the people we need and we challenge ourselves in the game.

The organized chaos would work for other types of activities that require less structure like PvP. But group PvE is inflexible in it's requirements. My hope is for a new generation of MMO's where they solve the group scaling problem and can provide well tuned, challenging content for groups of different sizes and compositions.
The 10 man progression path was a great boon to our small, mature guild. Most all of us are OTA (over traditional age).

The problem we had in tBC was retention. We were basically limited to Kara. In fact, that caused me to leave them for a time to pursue end game in tBC.

In Wrath I have rejoined them. We have cleared all the raids in the game in Normal 10 man mode and even a boss or two in Heroic.

The way I found this guild was just on the WoW recruitment forums. They stated what they were looking for, mature people who liked to raid. It's been a great group.
I'd suggest trying the World of Warcraft interest group on the Linkedin professional networking site (yes, there is one, and yes, it has thousands of members)

By definition, most of these people are 18+ and, from keeping abreast of the forums, they seem a bunch of reasonablely well adjusted mature people in work who just happen to have an interest in WoW.

There's frequently a few recruiting posts up. Worth a look, but most of them are for US guilds.
It does seem to me this problem is very specific to WoW, which is the only game I can think of of with hard and exact team size limits. Every other game is more 'well it says max 32, but we usually manage it with 24, one more will be no problem', or 'we are outnumbered 3-1, damn sure we need your help'.

Kind of ironic how WoW, the game by far the most popular with casual players, places the most artificial obstacles in the way of casual play.
I run a guild focused on older players as well as older content in a family/very casual atmosphere and I promote it as such. Before anyone gets an invite I speak with them personally (as much as I can) and let them know this is NOT a raid-centric guild. People will come and go of course but we seem to have been doing OK (in the past & now).

I run a guild called "The Old School (Alliance Azshara) and while we've had our share of ups and downs our mantra remains casual and having fun. To each his own on what they want out of the game but raiding hardcore is just that..hardcore. I've no time or inclination let alone the ego to think I have the time to raid 5 days week @ 5 hr increments.

nice post.
"...generally speaking older players, with a job, family, and plenty of other responsibilities, will take playing a game and going raiding somewhat less seriously than teenagers..."

Actually I find the opposite. I have 2-3 hours per night to have fun. I take the trouble to get all my real life responsibilities done before coming online. The last thing I want to do is wait around for an hour while some kid (who spent the last 5 hours since he got home from school dueling outside Orgrimmar) gets repaired, finds some potions, visits the bank etc.

The young adults, who have time *and* focus, they've got me beat.
I would suggest posting in the Guild Relations forums, there is a great community there and they have their fingers on all kinds of info like that. Make sure you read the stickies first!

P.S: Dont post" DK LF guild". Ask very specifically about sites you can use to help find what you want, and state what you've already tried. They're great people, but they don't like wasting time when the answer is right on the front page ;).

-This is the US GR forums, that i read-

Bhagpuss, I think the custom chat channel idea is great. However, in WoW at least there is one very basic shortcoming: I can't get the chat channel to "stick", so I have to type "/5" (or whatever number it is) every time I want to use it. Perhaps that's just something I have gotten wrong? Also, I haven't found an interface element that shows me who is in a given chat channel at any given time. Is that also something I just missed?

I believe there are some very simple mods out there that can make other channels sticky. I use a custom chat channel myself for my friends (because trying to recruit good people away from their guilds is quite difficult) and I always use some kind of mod with that functionality. It's been a while since I've played, so I can't think of any right now, sorry =/

As for seeing a list of who's in a channel, the built-in voice chat should list it out for you (you don't have to use the voice chat at all, just open the window) -- or you can use the /chatwho command to print it to the chat window.
I run a mature casual (ie: non-hardcore) raiding guild. I can tell you from experience that the 'set a raid time and see who turns up' approach does not work. I believe all our members are 25+ (most being 30+) and even with the shared goals in mind, the only way we have found to make things move is by setting firm dates for events.

I believe this comes from the fact that more mature people tend to have life stuff happening, so we all need to allocate time for a large event like 2-3 hours of raiding.

Even within a mature casual guild, everyone has very different goals and thus we have different levels of commitment to certain events.

Our recruitment policy has become a personal interview (no web forms) to talk to the person and gauge their goals and ability to fit in, and a good guide of 'don't be a dickhead'. If you are not a child (mainly because of the kind of conversations we have in guild) and you meet the other criteria we will generally have people in. For the most part this works, but we do occasionally get some bad people that come in and leave again because of mis-communicated expectations.
Great post and comments one and all. To me another issue is one of communication. I addressed it in my own blog post this morning. I need to plan but I don't have a static schedule. So I need an out of game message of some form (phone, text, email, etc.) asking, "Hey, can you heal Onyxia tonight at 8pm server?" that I can respond to accordingly. Even then, I'd be hesitant to respond positively if the content were the lock out variety unless I knew the people and their play abilities fairly well. This last point is where the mature guild comes in. For me, that's working itself out through a large (170ish account) guild of adult only players.
I would also recommend checking out TOG (The Older Gamers). I'm a member & have been in several guilds of theirs across different MMOs. Each time I've decided to try out a new MMO I've ended up joining the TOG guild for that MMO as they are mature & laid back & understand the pressures of real life on a mature gamer.

I had left WoW before joining TOG for other MMOs so can't comment on their WoW guilds, but assume they would be similar to the other TOG MMO guilds.
I addressed it in my own blog post this morning. I need to plan but I don't have a static schedule. So I need an out of game message of some form (phone, text, email, etc.) asking, "Hey, can you heal Onyxia tonight at 8pm server?" that I can respond to accordingly.
Back when I was still playing WoW we were using Raidar, which supports notifications via email, RSS or iCal (works with iCal, Google Calendar, Outlook etc). Basically, your raid leader posts a raid with the desired time, place and raid balance. People can then reply whether they can make it and recieve an automatic reply when the raid leader decides which people to select for the raid.
I couldn't agree more. I am a 28-year old MMO player. And although I too occasionally indulge in my fair share of juvenile behavior, I would very much prefer a guild with mature players that have organized lives, a better-developed sense of mutual responsibility and an innate need for cohesive structure.

Unfortunately for me, aside from one guild in World of Warcraft, this has been an unfulfilled fantasy.
I used to have a huge casual guild where many 30+ players gathered up. But when we tried to start raiding in TBC the whole thing started to decline and eventually the guild died. Raiding was much harder in those times and somehow the spirit of raiding, loot distribution and wipes killed the very heart of the casual guild we had.

However Ive learned a lot from my mistakes there and created another casual guild on another server 2 years ago which has been up and running ever since. We dont raid but I love that we managed to gather 10-15 players who are 30+ (or some 50+)and we stick together. Sometimes we do a heroic or group quests and there was a time when we did 10-men raids but then (predictibly) the tank and healer quit to join some hardcore raiding guilds and our 10-men progress stopped. I dont have problem with that either and allowed them to leave their alts in our guild which they wanted to. I think raiding can make a bit of epic-wh*re out of regular adult guys like us and that attitude can kill casual guilds that are organized around fun and older folks hanging around. Thats why Im not forcing the raiding and instance running thing. Theres so many more things in wow you can do especially if you have only 1-3 hours a day to play.

Sometimes theres vivid chat on the guild channel but sometimes nobody talks for hours because everyone is concerned with their own business. We are a bunch of solo players basically gathered in a guild.

I know its not for everyone but after 5 years of playing wow Im happy with this guild and I feel that I managed to organize the guild around me (and my wife) which gives us the background we wanted to have in an mmo. This was my aim and I love the way it works now. Of course theres some guild activity from time to time, like a whole day of heroic crawling last Saturday when some of us happened to have a free day to wow. But the real point of the guild is to have likeminded folks around us and provide a relaxed environment for all of us to play casually.

I dont know if Im allowed to post a link to our site here. If not you can find us if you look up my name in the armory ;)
Anyhow its: (feel free to remove it Tobold)

Have a nice day :)

I'm with the others that say that a schedule is vital. We have the guild he is describing, except for the scheduling issue. We have raiders, and we have signups.

No one is required to attend a raid. We do though, expect people to indicate if they are or are not available. We schedule things in those two golden hours between putting the kids to bed and having to do it yourself if you intend to stay employed (8-10 central) a couple of nights a week, and Sunday night.

Sure, it's a little inconvenient, and we understand when someone has a kid emergency, but when you have nine other people waiting on you, you should do a little to be courteous. There is little worse than making time to get things done and get on at the scheduled time, and find out that there isn't a raid... again. If we have too many unavailable, we can let people know, and they can do something else with that time.

So yes, standing commitments are bad, but no commitment is just as bad.
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