Feb 10, 2012

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United We Stand: Stand Back, We’re Learning

Dear Parents, don’t worry. Your kids are going to be alright even if they are spending a ton of time playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s not antisocial, it’s not useless, and it’s not a waste of time. It’s learning, and according to James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, they are doing a better job than our schools are. “They operate withthat is, they build into their designs and encouragegood principles of learning, principles that are better than those in many of our skill-and-drill, back-to-basics, test-them-until-they-drop schools.” (Gee, 205)

Check out that handsome book cover.

And he is absolutely right. In this book, he highlights thirty-six learning principles identified by learning and literacy studies and talks about how they are used in modern game design. An excellent example that he uses is the pattern teaching strategy that first person shooters use. They teach you have to move, how to shoot, and how to not die then they throw enemies at you. When fighting, you develop strategies and learn tactics that are effective against your enemies. Then, as the game progresses to more difficult enemies, the game forces you to use everything you have learned in new and different ways. Then, as the final boss nears, the game tears these strategies’ away from you and makes you look for solutions outside of the box, drawing on all the experiences you have had throughout the game.

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Feb 8, 2012

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Council Chambers: Take Me To Your Leader

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.  

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Council Chambers. We took January a bit “off” in terms of our primary purpose of guild leadership and advice, to spend some time focusing on new or prospective guild leaders and officers and cover some basics about how to start a guild and look for people to help you with that project. This week, it’s back to our core mission of working with guild leaders, officers, or members to help solve their guild challenges and dilemmas.

Chief of Staff

Since we ended our last entry talking about officers, I’ve decided to pick up again with an inquiry that concerns guild officers – and in particular, officer burnout. Overworked writes,

I’m having a blast playing SWTOR, but after just two weeks, I’m getting a little something like burn out due to my guild. This guild has been a labor of love for me, and was truly driven during the pre-game to create something special that would attract tons of members and be a really successful guild to last for years to come.

Even though I’m not the GM, I was the one in the forums trying to create energy for the guild, get members involved in creating the guidelines, decide how the guild would work and interact with the rest of the community. Now, the game has launched, and on top of all the work that goes into setting up the guild, I’ve discovered that no one was doing anything to recruit – so I’ve taken up that job as well, spamming in general to help grow our membership. I feel like I’m running the whole guild by myself, and even though it’s small right now, I feel like there’s a ton of work to be done if we want it to succeed.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill here, or is there something I can do to encourage the others to step up? How do you cure officer apathy?

Officer apathy, officer burnout, officer inactivity – while these may all happens for different reasons, the end result is often the same. There’s still a ton of work that needs doing for the guild – recruitment, forums maintenance, scheduling, roster maintenance, member management, plus any other activities that the guild runs – but for whatever reason, there are fewer hands on deck working on it. This often results in those remaining officers shouldering more and more of the work to keep the guild afloat – and the frequent result of that is even more officer burnout, as those officers become overwhelmed and can no longer keep up.

So, what’s an overworked officer to do?

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Feb 6, 2012

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Blue Milk & Cereal: How Long Have You Been With Your Guild?

No day would be complete without the breakfast of Jedi: Blue Milk & Cereal.  Every morning, the team at Ask A Jedi will get Force-induced thoughts coursing through your head with delicious issues from around the galaxy! Join in the discussion below to make your voice heard!

Guilds are a big part of what can make MMORPG’s enjoyable. In fact it’s this structure that lets you dodge some of the less glamorous parts of group play – terrible pickup groups, searching for hours on end for a group to play with or that inevitable ninja looter. If you’re playing Star Wars: The Old Republic – or any MMO – and you’re not in a guild, you’re doing yourself a disservice and likely missing out on a big chunk of the fun that the game has to offer.

Over the weekend, Massively posted a piece on The Syndicate. The Syndicate is perhaps one of the most storied long-running guilds on the MMO scene, dating back to pre-Ultima Online. That means they’ve been together for 16 years! They’ve even written not just one, but two books about themselves and the guild. Personally, I prefer the latter one – The Syndicate: Beyond The Legend – which was released just last year.

Personally, I’ve been with my current guild 7 years. I joined them in World of Warcraft just as they were on the verge of clearing Molten Core for the first time and haven’t looked back. We’ve traveled from game to game together, and even though we didn’t stick with all of the games, it’s a nice way to kick off the possibilities of a new world.

So I’m curious… how long have you been with your current guild? Did you just join them for TOR, or have you played with them for years elsewhere? Let us know!

How long have you been with your current guild?

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Feb 1, 2012

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United We Stand: Feels Like Purpose

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.

Quick Note: 5/5 Karagga’s Palace downed! Special shout out to the creator and moderators of www.dreshdaecnatina.com.

I think that one of the most common complaints about MMO’s is that at a certain point they just feel like you are playing a job. One of my roommates, Walters, said this a lot towards the end of his raid leading career in World of Warcraft. I don’t blame him at all, this feeling is common among guild leaders, officers, and raid leaders. We like to refer to it as ‘burnout’, but I think that it is more than that. I think that the fact that our games can take on this flavor is a great statement both about Star Wars: The Old Republic and about the effects they can have on us and our society.

What about MMO’s feels like a job? Management, responsibility, having to tell people they can’t do whatever they want because their gear isn’t up to par, etc. The list goes on. Getting sixteen people online at the same time at the same place with a shared purpose isn’t easy, and it takes quite a bit of skill to do well. All the /tells, officer chat, forum moderation, and drama means less time spent running Koan Under Siege for that Columi headpiece (I’m not bitter) or PvPing to get that Battlemaster title isn’t necessarily fun. In fact, I would probably not get much resistance if I said that’s not nearly as fun as Huttball.

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Jan 31, 2012

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Council Chambers: Good Officers, Apply Within

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.  

To wrap up our Guild Formation series, I wanted to spend a little more time talking about officers – in particular, what to look for when hiring or promoting them.  (You’ll notice this nicely dovetails into the next couple entries about guild advice!  So stay tuned.) For the majority of TOR guilds, you’re just getting started in this new game – for some of you, your guild was established through the Guild HQ before the game launched, for others your guild was ported over from another game, and for some of you, your guild may be a brand new one formed since launch.

Regardless of how you got your start though – good officers really can make or break a guild.  You want officers that are responsible, fair, active, and reliable.  To make it even more tricky, being an officer isn’t even a paid position! Even so, having reliable officers that you can count on to manage the roster, deal with issues when you are offline or not around, and who can support you and the workload that goes with running a guild is a tremendously vital asset for any guild leader.

Let us begin by looking into the qualities that seem to make a good officer.  This can be tough – some are easy to measure (time online, for instance), and others can be harder (how does one measure maturity?)  Ultimately, it’s going to be a combination of observation, current officer consensus (for guilds that already exist and have officers), and a bit of sixth sense or gut hunch thrown into the mix.  Below is an initial list of qualities I usually request from prospective officer candidates.

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