My guild, the Imperial Guardsmen, is an exceptionally small guild by most people’s standards.
It always has been no matter how much effort we’ve thrown into recruiting. On average, we’ve tended to have between 40 and 50 members at any given point in our lifetime since I took over as GM, and while we try as hard as we can, we simply can’t manage catch up to other guilds. Of course, this sometimes creates issues. Oftentimes, we get stuck with several people who have really good ideas for things to do, but we just don’t have the human resources to make it work. If things are implemented regardless, they go unappreciated, or fall flat due to lack of interest.
For example, we recently purchased a Ventrilo server for the guild to use, and thus far a total of five different people have used it. Four of them are officers. Another example would be our guild website, which is updated pretty frequently and provides news, forums and a messaging system for our guildies. At the time of writing, we have a total of seven people signed up to the site, and approximately three of them use it regularly. Similarly, we set up a guild Facebook page for anyone who preferred to communicate through that medium, and inevitably it has just four members and has essentially fallen into disuse. The final example I’ll mention is the guild bank; after investing (officers’) gold into buying tabs for it, it is used a couple of times a month and that, again, is mainly by the officers. Hardly the healthy trading situation we had hoped to create.
The problem also exists with raiding and instancing. We can’t advertise and say we raid, because we rarely do, meaning we get very few people joining (seems as though everyone is looking for a raiding guild). However, without current members willing to put the effort in so that we can at least run half a raid, we can’t actually try and do things to improve the situation. Swings and roundabouts.
Now like I say, this problem has always existed, and in a way it has helped shape the guild’s nature. We have a relatively low turnover rate, losing and gaining just a few members in a time period where a larger guild could see many more new recruits, so instead we have turned our focus away from endgame content, and instead towards the members themselves.
While we can’t say we will ever finish a raid as a guild, what we can do is foster a social atmosphere we can be proud of. We have a fairly low level restriction on joining (40+), and indeed many older members have good memories of weekend guild instances – no, not to Karazhan or Naxxramas, but instead to LBRS, Zul’Farrak and even BRD in order to help our members through the levels on their way up to the cap.
We’ve grown used to the idea that members are liable to leave once they realise there’s a whole other world out there, outside the bubble you form while leveling, and we accept this. So we give them the best atmosphere possible while they level. We run our alts through instances with them, or we boost them. We give advice and help, and guide them to new sources of information. Once or twice, we have, as a guild, comforted someone emotionally who was upset or having a hard time. We saw someone through the birth of their first baby. We chat about everything from flying fire-breathing sheep rams (BAAAA-UUUURN) to the Theory of Relativity. Several of our ex-members have gone on to join the server’s top raiding guilds, and in many ways we consider ourselves like a school, preparing talented people for what comes next.
We also take screenshots, and I make videos – we’ve built, and are building, a history, founded on creating that atmosphere, supported by a solid group of officers, most of whom have been with us almost since the very beginning. When we disbanded briefly last year, the commemoratory video contained the names of every single recorded member ever to pass through the guild by that time. You can see it at the top of the page, and our other videos are on the same Youtube account.
In all probability, nobody is ever going to make more use of our facilities than they are now, but what we can do is make sure those facilities are available. If someone wants that blue item out of the bank to use for ten levels to help them level, then sure, why not, it’s there after all. If people need to communicate, we provide every means we can think of, all of them readily accessible. Later this year, in celebration of the guild’s third birthday, we’re going to be holding our first ever real life meet-up for our members. We don’t expect many people to come along – possibly nobody but the officers – but we’re doing it anyway. We’re giving people that chance, which is there for them to take.
At the end of the day, we provide a place where people can log in, relax and just have a good time while they play. I have never felt at home anywhere more than with the Guardsmen, and the sentiment is shared by many others, including many who have left. I don’t know another guild who does family atmosphere as well as we do and for that, I love my guild and its members, and I wouldn’t have our situation any other way.