United We Stand: Too Young to Takeover, Too Old to Ignore
United We Stand is an Ask A Jedi series focusing on guilds, groups, and other communities in Star Wars: The Old Republic. By examining the communities that we form, we can create a stronger game for ourselves, build relationships that will last a lifetime, and perhaps even change the world itself.
I don’t think that we can possibly hammer the point home enough: guilds are actually important and you find evidence for this in the most surprising places. Awhile ago for a class, we had to read a book by Henry Brady, Sidney Verba, and Kay Schlozman called Voice and Equality. Apparently it’s a really important book in political science, but I don’t care. I only read one chapter on their Civic Volunteerism Model and how non-political groups can teach civic participation skills. Immediately, I thought to myself, “Gee, I wonder if this happens in guilds too?”
Idea is that “the institutional affiliations of adults -on the job, in non-political organizations, and in religious institutions – provide additional opportunities for the acquisition of politically relevant resources and the enhancement of a sense of psychological engagement with politics.” If this is true, then I think that we can expect these effects from guilds too, particularly because guilds are organizations with structures, hierarchies, and governing systems. Furthermore, this is particularly important because the populations of guilds are on average younger and they encounter these “institutional affiliations” earlier.
Guilds provide members with the opportunity for both acquisition of “politically relevant resources and a psychological engagement with politics” through its day to day activities. The guild’s officers have to exercise leadership skills, both in terms of game play and in terms of organizational management. The guild leader is using all the same skills that a manager might use in an office, but instead of focusing on getting TPS reports in on time, he is focusing on making sure that there are enough members online tonight for their latest attempt to clear the Eternity Vault. Just like churches, unions, and other voluntary associations can teach civic skills through participation, so can guilds by giving members opportunities to aid in complicated coordinated action.
According to Verba, Schlozman, and Brady, invitation through a voluntary association is one of the most common ways that someone is invited to participate politically by volunteering, giving money, or voting. Guilds can also serve this function, since they operate entirely the same way. “Not only are these institutions the training ground for civic skills, but they also function as a site for political recruitment and nurture political engagement.” An awesome survey was administered by Joesph Kahne, Ellen Middaugh, and Chris Evans and they found that “simulations of civic and political activities and learning how government, political, economic, and legal systems work provide young people with knowledge and skills necessary to participate in the political system.” More fascinatingly, they found that “youth who reported organizing or managing a guild group were more civically and politically engaged in their offline lives.”
Leading and participating in guilds in online games teaches political skills like leadership and civic participation. This is a really big deal, it means that there is more to guilds then just loot and DKP, more then just a group of friends gathering online. They actually have an effect; they are actually teaching valuable lessons to those that play these games. On whom are they having the most effect on? Well, people like you and I who had our first experiences with guilds at a young age, and now we’re much older and have learned so much. Now the question is what kind of effect is this going to have on society as a whole.
Leave comments or tweet me @TwinHits with your thoughts, ideas, and stories about guilds, communities, and leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic.