There’s no escaping from Spring. The weather is getting warmer, trees in the park are sporting green new buds and/ or cherryblossom, the coots down on the river are making a godawful shrieking noise, and we’re counting down to the ridiculously anachronistic day when the clocks jump forwards and steal an hour. My cat is also moulting. All over everything. It’s time to get a haircut, engage in the eternal Spring dilemma of coat or cardie, and ponder all the strange seasonal green stuff that frolicks on supermarket shelves. Spring greens, indeed.
I like Spring.
From a MMO point of view it’s the time of year when we plan guild meets. This is partly because of all the students and/or parents who prefer to travel during school holidays. Partly also because we want to have meets when the weather is warm and has long evenings which favour sitting outside a pub with a beer garden and geeking out with people you’ve never actually met before in the flesh.
Where to have the meeting? And who organises?
In an EU guild, it’s very likely that you’ll have players from all across Europe. The Germans, Spanish, and French typically stick to their own language servers (although we do have a Spanish and a German player in our alliance) but even so, it would be an unusual guild that didn’t have some representation from different countries.
So picking a location is mostly down to somewhere that has decent travel connections and places to stay. We took a vote. I think the last alliance meet was in Ireland (we have a large Irish contingent), this one is in Bath. If we keep heading east I’m hoping for Amsterdam next time.
Organising is mostly down to whoever actually lives in the place, and mostly requires them to book places to eat and recommend decent pubs. I know some guilds do have very structured weekend events with team building exercises, quizzes, and other activities all pre-arranged. This is not how we do things, however, for which I am grateful.
Deciding whether to go
Every time I have been to a guild meet, I have enjoyed it. But every time I also hummed and hahed a lot before deciding whether or not to show up. It’s not really that people are unfamiliar, although it is different meeting people in real life. It’s more that I don’t much mix my online gaming with the rest of my life. Which is funny, considering that I spend a fair amount of time on it. It isn’t that my friends don’t know I play online games, just we don’t go into the details of it much.
This has advantages. If you throw a strop because of some loot mishap, you can keep all the bad feeling away from your real life, for example. It also has the disadvantage that I always feel a bit awkward discussing games in actual conversation. In writing or online, no problem. In person … maybe I’ll talk about what was on TV last night instead?
In any case, my husband is far more outgoing and signed us both up for the guild meet AND booked a hotel room before I’d even seen the thread on the guild bboard. Now I get to spend the next two months fretting about what if they all think I’m old, or fat, or untrendy, or too unsimilar to the way I am online, or too much the same to the way I am online, etc. It’s probably even more forbidding if you play cross-gender and no one knows.
Although amusingly, two of our other female tank players also signed up. We wound up the guys by saying that we’d go off into a corner to talk about girly things like defence rating and AE threat because they wouldn’t understand.
I was discussing this with my sister and saying that I wondered what we’d all end up talking about. She laughed, “WoW of course.” It is absolutely the one thing that we do all have in common. For the guild meet to really work, I’m hoping that we will find that we have other things in common also.
The best guild meet I’ve attended was held in a log cabin in Sweden, in the middle of nowhere. Granted, it was a big log cabin, and it belonged to the family of the guy who graciously offered to host us all. We had a fun few days of walking through forests, barbequeuing random stuff including crumpets that we brought from England by special request, sitting out by the lake in the summer evening to watch the sun go down, and talking about lots of geeky stuff, including online games. (This was a DaoC guild, so was a few years ago). At least one of the guys who came had never travelled abroad on his own before.
At the end of the day, when the guild is gone, the game is dead, and everyone has moved on, it is the guild meetings that you will remember. Maybe you’ll have pictures ‘See, that big beardy guy at the back? That’s Molly the blood elf paladin.”, maybe you’ll even still be in touch or playing different games with the same crowd, but the memory of that one occasion where you all hung out and got drunk together in real life … that’s where the magic is. So I’d say go if you get the chance, unless you really do hate your guild (and even then, it’s surprising how many people are total sweeties when you meet them but utter gits in game).
You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. – attributed to Charlie Jones