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Guild 101: Ethos

Discussion in 'Guilds, Circles and Warparties General' started by Mizpah, May 20, 2013.

  1. Mizpah

    Mizpah Cupcake-About-Town

    Mar 22, 2013
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    Here's the latest version of the enigma blog - an ongoing series called Guild:101, this part is on the importance of a guild ethos. What is it, why do you want one - and what does it do ? This directly cross posted from the blog, as the discussions that led to this post started here on Wildstar Central!

    As always, to look at a topic in any detail, it helps to define what you are looking at. So let's look at a definition of the word ethos to start with:

    ethos: - The characteristic spirit of a culture, era, or community as seen in its beliefs and aspirations.

    There’s some good stuff right there if we take but a moment to examine it - 'The characteristic spirit' is a great phrase. But how does a guild get characterised ? For me, it's a combination of its reputation, the regard it's currently held in by its peers (good and bad), and by the experiences that people interacting with it have - both internal and external. So if you want your guild to be recognised as being a 'certain thing', then there are collective levers you can push and pull to kick off that process. That’s great! It means that it's in your control - but that’s also the risk - you see the word 'collective' there as well ? That means it's all of you. From the newest cupcake to your longest standing (somebody get that guy a chair!) officers, everybody has a role to play. It also means that if you don't have everybody lined up and in agreement with what you are as a guild - if you don't make sure that your trialists and new recruits share your values, then the guild leadership can pontificate from the top of nearest loctite crystal all day long - it's going to be a wasted effort.
    One process to solve this conundrum - getting everyone on the same page, might look like this:
    • Define (if relevant) how you (the guild) are seen today, and define how you want to be seen - internally to start with!
    • What behaviours, shared values and player mindset will be needed to be seen this way ?
    • Identify the traits and behaviours that go against this
    • Get agreement - if you are undergoing a cultural shift, give people time to understand the changes - they might not be for everyone.
    • Describe your ethos and vision to the outside world - Is it focussed enough to appeal to people that will naturally have the type of mindset and experience ?
    • Make sure the behaviours expected in your guild are well defined in your rules and recruitment
    • Hold people accountable for their in-game behaviour. As a guild be responsible for your reputation!
    • Pro-actively engage in PR and Market Research for your guild.
    An Enigma Example:

    So whilst trying not to write a book ( as many have actually been written on the topic) - see texts on business transformation, social contracts, change management and public relations if you want to get into real details on all of these topics - lets take a quick walk through some of the basics. Here's the thought processes behind these steps, with Enigma lined up as an example.

    Define how you are seen today / Want to be Seen

    For Enigma,I can conclude that we are in a fortunate position. By the dint of effort that has been collectively put in over the years, we have been defined as:

    (Information taken from interviews, past comments and direct questions!)
    • capable
    • organised
    • raiders
    • fun
    • skillful
    • tenacious
    • fair
    • respectful
    • a team
    It;s always worth noting that you are only as known and relevant to your audience as the reputation and perception they hold of you. As an example, I posed this question on #wildstar, and received no real replies as to peoples perceptions of the guild. Something I will be keen to keep an eye on once the game is out!

    What behaviours, shared values and player mindset will be needed to be seen this way ?

    For this we need to look at the behaviours and traits that we can associate with the descriptions above. Consider this sentence - 'To be seen as X, we need / our members need to Y'.

    An example: To be seen as skillful, our members need to put effort into their characters and playstyle

    So we might have:

    skillful - our members need to put effort into their characters and playstyle
    respectful - our members need to behave well towards the entire community, not just the guild, and to continue this out of game, forums etc.
    raiders - we actually need to be seen raiding, and to be successful (and that has pre-requisites all of its own)

    amongst others!

    Identify the traits and behaviours that go against this.

    Here we get to do the opposite. What is the antithesis of the above outcomes and descriptions ?
    respectful - arrogant, elitist, rude, excludes others, abusive, harassers, griefers, scammers
    fun - dour, negative, moaning, complaining, depressing (do you really want to be in groups – or a guild – with people like this ?)
    Ok, so now we have some traits and behaviours that we need to make sure our people avoid at all costs, and that our guild structure and style actively discourages

    Get agreement - if you are undergoing a cultural shift, give people time to understand the changes - they might not be for everyone...

    If you have been around a while, and have an aggressive PvP culture in the guild, people on a Friday night might already be spending time repeatedly hijacking cargo and podding in EVE. Or taking out lower level players in WoW, again and again and again. If that IS the case, then do you want to be shooting for 'respectful' as part of how you want to be seen ? You may prefer 'aggressive' and be looking for folks to join a kill on site PvP guild. At no point here do I want to set out a 'template' for what any guild should be - just a process to help you get there.

    Whatever the guild decides - in a free-for-all guild meeting, or by edict from the officers, I do recommend that everyone gets a chance to comment, and decide if they can support the 'new view of life'. If not, then as a guild you may need to make some tough decisions or ultimately dilute your reputation and ethos.

    Describe your ethos and vision to the outside world

    After a lot of work, we came up with the following, as a public Ethos - it can be seen on our website here

    Enigma is not only a guild, but also a vibrant community of gamers, with friendships that transcend the games we play. We are idealistic, passionate and generally cranky in the mornings before we have had coffee.

    Taken as a whole we are from all walks of life and nationalities, we are tolerant and social, but we are also driven - to be the best that we can be at all times. Our guild credo is ‘Pro Bonus Dolus, Pro Palmo Ego’ - which roughly translates as ‘For the good of the guild, before the glory of self’. We expect to genuinely see this attitude in the day to day choices our members make. We are raiders and conversationalists. We are socialites and achievers. We care about our communities, our games and our reputation. We are not a democracy, but we are fair. Social & hardcore can co-exist in one package. We are a mindset. We are active. We are (at times) a little crazy. We have fun, but we know when to be serious. We are structured. We are likely to get you killed in the depths of WildStar. Repeatedly. We may make you sing the ‘Little Teapot’ song on teamspeak. We Craft, We Sing, We Raid, We Explore, We Strive, We Group, We will succeed.

    We are Enigma

    That is how we describe our Ethos - the end result will be very different for every single guild - and it should be! There is no 'best'. Everybody’s definition of what they want from a guild is slightly different - the advice here is to create a niche, create a strong identity - and then be good at it. Not only with 'walking the walk' in the game day to day, but at explaining to other people what it is so you can attract the right people who will fit your guild. The Ethos you describe here should be enticing (to the right people for you), unique and strongly reflect your core values.

    Make sure the behaviours expected in your guild are well defined in your rules and recruitment

    If Enigma allowed the negative behaviours listed previously in game, and in guild, then our ethos would simply be a hollow shell with no meaning. What point is there in saying 'we care about our community' if we buy gold, exploit, and grief other players on a routine basis ? More importantly, if just a small handful of our members do this, it would discolour our reputation and spoil things for everyone.
    Therefore as a guild, we are duty bound to make sure that our Ethos has meaning and value - and that applies to every single person. To do this we work very hard on our recruitment process. We make sure that everyone that joins shares our mindset. We make sure we explain certain things in an interview (for example every person who joins is told unequivocally that buying gold from any 3rd party (other than by official systems set up by the developers - if they exist) is an instant dismissal offence). We leave no room for doubt, misunderstanding or 'I wasn't told!'

    We also explain those key tenets on our website before people join, and cover them in detail in our guild rules.

    In short we veto the behaviours that would damage our Ethos. We encourage those that aid it. We structure our guild systems, rules and processes around the behaviours and outcomes that we want.

    Of course, the counterpoint is your guild could be very relaxed, and be known for inviting everyone! Choices Choices...

    Hold people accountable for their in-game behaviour. As a guild be responsible for your reputation!

    We have already covered this in part above.
    Depending on the Ethos and mindset you set for your guild, be prepared to enforce it if needed. One of the largest risks to a guild's reputation is a new player who either does not share or understand your values - or even more likely, has not had them properly explained. Ultimately we make sure that we also enforce these rules, and that there are consequences for anyone who damages the reputation of the guild.

    Pro-actively engage in PR and Market Research for your guild.

    This last comment is by no means the least.

    So you have had great ideas - communicated them to yourselves and those outside the guild. Now you just need to wait for your new culture and ethos to take hold, and for the world to beat a path to your door ?

    Not quite so fast!

    What have you actually achieved ? Have you just communicated an idea and left it at that ? If you can switch from having a one way conversation with your guild and your peers (telling) and into a two way conversation (listening!) you can find out if you are actually going to be successful. Is the guild ethos actually reflected in the choices people make day to day ? Do people just pay lip service to it ? Would others on your server and the community know you as you would like to be described, or would they describe you differently ?

    When you know the answers to the above, you can work out why - and make any changes if you need to, for any one of the steps above.

    Finally you need to be communicating your vision for the guild clearly, concisely and supporting it in the community - but that’s the topic of another post.

    Ultimately this process is circular - as you reiterate it again and again, making small changes where you need to, you should always be taking steps towards your goal.

    It's Back! The Blog is back up and running after a brief hiatus due to work, guild recruitment starting and website changes! We should be back on a new weekly schedule as we continue our way through guild 101. As always let us know what you think!

    Thats all for now, I would welcome comments critiques and suggestions wherever you would like to leave them!

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