Council Chambers: Whose Guild Is It?
Council Chambers is all about the ins and outs of guild leadership in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Each week, we’ll look at running and managing a guild through good times, bad times and everything in between.
This week’s topic comes from a question that a coworker was talking to me about with respect to his guild. He’s been a long-time member of “That Other MMO,” and after twice being in raiding guilds that suffered from chaotic or badly handled leadership changes, he finally decided to start his own guild about a year and a half ago.
All was well for a while, the guild was happy and making good progress, things were stable and quiet, but as time wore on and TOR drew ever closer, he found himself losing interest in his previous love. So, like many of us, he made the decision to pull up his stakes and move to TOR full-time. Except, in his case pulling up stakes turned out to be quite literal – he announced his decision to disband the guild he’d founded in That Other Game when he left.
Now, for him this seemed the logical choice. Twice prior to founding his own guild, he’d been in other guilds that had been great under one leader, but foundered or failed under the new leadership. However, his decision to disband has caused huge amounts of chaos and turbulence for his current officers and guildmates, in what otherwise was a very stable, successful guild. He came to me asking for advice because he truly doesn’t understand why the other members are upset. Yet to the members, they can’t make sense of his decision whatsoever – and in fact, most of them find it very selfish.
This brings up a very complex question in guild leadership – who ultimately owns a guild? It might seem easy enough at the outset to say that it’s the founder’s, or the guild leader’s, but like any corporation that lives to see its original founder and CEO move on – is it really theirs and theirs alone? Or at some point, do the employees – the people who worked so hard to help that guild (or company) be successful, investing their time and energy to support the overall mission, also own a stake in it?
In That Other Game, members contribute a lot to a guild’s success or advancement, so while I understand my friend’s point, I can also easily see why the members are upset. After all, they too have spent a year and a half helping to build a name for the guild, contributing to its successes and accomplishments, and for the last year or so adding to the guild experience and leveling. To see all of that taken away without a vote or say can be really tough, and I understand why the members feel like they have just as much ownership – if not even more stake – than the leader parting ways.
So who does own a guild? I’m not sure that there is a clear or easy answer. There are a lot of issues to consider – for instance, there is the strength and stability of the name, or the brand, of the guild. For the leader, they’ve often tied a lot of their name, reputation, and stake in the guild – and in my friend’s case, he intends to recycle both the character name and guild name in the new TOR effort, so he wants a clean slate.
However, a guild is also far more than one individual’s efforts alone – especially for a raiding guild, one cannot raid on their own. It’s clearly a team and group effort, one that would utterly fail without the hard work and dedication of 7, 9, 15, or 24 other members participating and working as a team. In that case, they do deserve just as much of a say in the future of the organization, especially if the bulk of players and members do intend to continue working on their previous effort.
In this case, I recommended a bit of an “outside the box” solution – passing off leadership to the officer he felt could best lead the guild in his absence, but springing for a guild name change before doing so in order to free the name and brand of his guild. In other cases, it would require more traditional discussions and potentially votes or meetings to determine what the future of a guild is among its most active and loyal members.
While I understand my coworker’s point of view, I think for my part, guilds are social organizations that rely heavily upon an active core of members, and therefore are also “owned” in part by those members as much as the founder would. Consider them stockholders, if you will – they may not have had the idea or directly lead the organization, but they actively support and fund the effort and without them, the entire organization would struggle. So if pressed, I think I would have to say a guild belongs as much to its contributing members as it does to its leader – but as they say, Your Mileage May Vary depending on the circumstances.
What do you think? Who “owns” a guild, in cases of dispute or disbanding? All the members? Contributing or core members? The leader only? It’s a complex question without a clear answer, and one many of us find ourselves considering as we raise our sights to the stars above and our new gaming futures. I thought it worth analyzing here because, even though it won’t necessarily impact SWTOR guilds (yet), as the game is still quite new – it does seem to be coming up as a potential source of conflict in a few guilds out there.
Got a question for Council Chambers? Drop a line to Lady Republic at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment here, and you may see your guild questions answered in a future column!