Finding My Tribe – Gaming Guilds

A gaming guild is a group of individuals who get together to play a game. My gaming guild is like my family. We play together, laugh together, and share in each other’s lives.

The guild I am a part of, Alea Iacta Est, is actually more than a guild. It’s an online community that grew out of a World of Warcraft guild. It started as a fan guild for The Instance Podcast and it now spans multiple online role playing games and game networks. If an online game exists, odds are there is an AIE guild active in it. I am only one of several thousand people who call themselves a member of Alea Iacta Est, but whenever I get to meet up with fellow guildies, it feels like I am meeting long-lost relatives. We know that we have at least one thing in common, if not more.

I’ve been able to meet other AIE guild members through several different events. Not only is AIE a large community, but we are very active as well. I’ve gone to several local meetups, not just where I currently live but also during my brief stint in the Bay Area. There’s a convention called Nerdtacular I’ve attended for the last three years that celebrates the Frogpants podcast network community, which The Instance Podcast is part of. So while it is not only AIE guildies that attend, they make up a large part. This year we took our four-month old, and so we had a little different experience than previous years.

costume contest
Copyright Jennifer Pruitt

We maybe didn’t get to see as many panels as we would have liked but we still had a good time, and I was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only person there with baby in tow. We even entered the Costume Parade, which was like a costume contest, but in this case, everyone who entered was a winner and received a nifty medal.

However, the AIE event that really gets to its core, celebrating and meeting up with other gamers, is the AIE guild hall at BlizzCon. BlizzCon is a video game convention put on by Blizzard Entertainment to promote their products. While that narrow of a focus means the attendance is much smaller than some conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con or WonderCon, there are still about 26,000 people who attend. Tickets are limited and usually sell out within minutes of going on sale.

The AIE guild hall is always held in a conference room in the Anaheim Hilton located right next to the convention center. It is open to all guild members, family, and friends regardless of whether or not you have a badge to get into BlizzCon itself. It’s a place where you can relax from the pandemonium of the convention, have a conversation with some guildmates, watch the livestream of the happenings of BlizzCon, or listen to a live recording of a podcast.

As a new mother, I was nervous about taking my baby to a large, not very child-friendly convention. BlizzCon has a “no children under five” policy. So even though he would be spending the time mostly in our hotel room or in the AIE guild hall, I still imagined being judged by others while walking down the hotel hallways. “She brought a baby here? Why would she do that?” And while I may have gotten a few looks, most of the comments I heard were more approving, along the lines of, “Get him started young.”

Inside the guild hall were several people, all of whom I had already met, who wanted to hold my baby. Because of several dear friends in the guild hall, I was actually able to go into the convention center with my husband for several hours at a time to walk around and demo a few games, which was actually the first time that both my husband and I were away from our baby for a significant amount of time. I got to try Overwatch, which is still in closed beta, so it was my first time playing it. I also tried Heroes of the Storm for the first team. While I do play World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo, Overwatch and Heroes are not the type of games I usually play, so it was a new experience. I had fun, even though I wasn’t very good at them.

In addition to meeting up with several people I already knew, I was able to meet a few new people as well. While not as shy as I used to be, I still don’t have the easiest time meeting new people. It helped to know that I was in a safe environment and that I had something in common with everyone there. Even the people I talked to who didn’t have a BlizzCon badge still had opinions about the news that had been released or talked about what news they wanted to see.

However, not all guilds are created equal. Before I joined AIE, I was a member of several guilds that just weren’t a right fit for me. Some things to consider when trying to find the guild right for you:

  • Is the guild helpful? When you ask a question, do you receive a thoughtful answer or jokes at your expense? Do people group up together to fight particularly difficult enemies? Do members celebrate your victories, or are they every man for themselves?
  • Are the members respectful and courteous? Is the guild chat full of offensive words or is everyone generally nice to each other?
  • Is the guild family friendly? The answer to this doesn’t necessarily need to be Yes. Maybe you prefer for your gaming time to be a kid-free zone. Alternatively, you might have a teenager who wants to play World of Warcraft and you want to play together.
  • What is the guild size? I like being in a large guild, because no matter what time of day, someone is usually online to talk to or play with, but maybe you prefer a smaller guild where you know everyone by name.
  • What is the guild focus? AIE is more focused on community, but it has a sister guild called Convert to Raid that focused on end game PVE content. Make sure the guild focus aligns with what you want from a guild.

When I first started playing online games, I viewed guilds with trepidation but I’ve since learned they enhance the game experience. I’ve met a few dear friends because of the fact that I opened myself up to playing with a guild. They are my tribe, and I love them.