Guild Management = Brand Management


    The following first appeared on my travel blog, Marginal Boundaries. It appears in slightly edited format here for the Pantheon audience at the website. You can view the video here.

    I've spoken on this before to some degree in My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer: Lifestyle Preparation, but there's more to it than just life skills (which I also talked about in Player Character Versus Non-Player Character). It's also about teamwork and learning how to work within a group for the benefit of all...and more difficultly, being the leader of a complex team of individuals who all have their own unique goals within the overall whole. 


    Leading a guild is in every way, shape and form exactly like running a business in real life. As the leader of the guild, you are the CEO. But like any good company, you can't run the show on your own: you need a team of qualified people who can help you keep the train on the tracks and working like a well-oiled machine. This is where your officers come into play: they help with the public relations, the scheduling, the clerical duties, the financials, the sub-management, and they keep the guild leader from going insane trying to do everything on his own.


    Running a guild is a full-time job. Back when I was running The Bloodguard Mercenaries in EverQuest II and then Haven in Vanguard Beta into live, I easily put in 60-80 hours a week...apart from running my (at the time) construction company in Colorado. Work hard, play hard...and in both worlds I was the team leader, running 5-25 man crews in the real world, and then coming home and doing the same thing in-game with 30-35 players.


    Even before that as an officer throughout EverQuest I would still put in 30-40 hours a week helping to run the show and play the game with my friends. The work load was a lot different, but the dynamic was overall the same: achieve greater results as a team.


    These days, it's myself, my wife and my buddy/personal assistant, Devlin. We are a small group (brand), a long way from a guild (business), and consequently the dynamics are a lot different than what I've done in the past. But the core principles that I took away from eight years of leading guilds and seven years of being an officer directly attributed to the success I've achieved with this particular project.


    And I can say for a solid fact that I never would have made it this far if it wouldn't have been for my team and the knowledge that I've taken from my earlier companies and guild management experience. If I was trying to do this myself I'd be working 15-20 hours a day. And I was, actually, before I brought in Devlin in June of 2013. Since then, I've been able to have more breathing room to work on passion projects...such as these blog posts and the videos I'm doing to help the Kickstarter campaign for Pantheon - Rise of the Fallen.


    Armada concept art


    Which leads me to one of the major aspects of team-based gameplay that I enjoy: the challenges that can be overcome by working as part of a team. One man is simply that, but when you take the combined strengths of thirty different people and apply them together in a focused burst of energy towards a single objective...that's where the magic happens.


    And that's why I'm so passionate about seeing Pantheon get made. I yearn for a return to the days when first place prizes meant something. When they could only be obtained by the people who put in the time, worked with others, and achieve goals as a group. By those who socialized and built friendships and spent the time to learn how to work within a cohesive unit...the Spartans of the video game world swathing through their objectives like a scythe through wheat.


    One of the most important parts of being a good guild leader is knowing the strengths of your team members, and how to slot them accordingly into the guild structure. Your raid leader might not be the best public relations person because he (or she) is an aggressive, get-things-done type of player who doesn't necessarily come off as the social butterfly that you need your PR rep to be. Your guild banker is someone who loves fiddling with numbers, and your recruitment officer loves to interview people and get to know them, and can judge character. Your crafting officer loves everything about that side of the game. So on and so forth.


    Even the "regular" members who aren't officers are still integral members of the team. They vote, they show up, they participate, they craft, they harvest, they earn DKP (if you use that system), they joke and chat on Vent or Skype or in-game, and they fill a necessary role. In chess, even a pawn can take down the Queen or King...and the same can be said of the average, ordinary Joe or Jill who makes up the bulk of your guild ranks: they are still vitally important to the overall success of your guild.


    Pantheon concept art


    The same goes for business management. You have to know who is good at what and how to appropriately designate those people to tasks that play to their strengths. For example, I suck at drawing and I'm not into graphic when I went looking for an assistant for Marginal Boundaries, I found someone who rocks the graphic design.


    And while I speak conversational Spanish (and have even been doing presentations such as my keynote speech on social media for businesses on January 28th), when it comes to writing it I'm not nearly as proficient as I could be (only speaking for 2+ years now), so I have Cristina edit my public content. And for our upcoming Life on the Road - The Business of Travel Blogging book I outsourced to a professional translator to make sure that it was done right, rather than trying to hack it on my own.


    Also important is learning how to work within a team. Sometimes that means putting aside personal differences and accepting that everyone has a valid opinion, and that opinions alone are not enough of a reason to be incompatible. It's like life-long friends who have vastly different opinions on religion, politics or taste in movies. Sure they have different points of views, but so what? That's human nature. Professionalism, the difference between those who work well within a team and those who cannot, is when you can work together with others, regardless of their different opinions, and still find that cohesive nature to produce end results that are mutually beneficial.


    You also have to learn how to delegate. The leader can't be the one shouldering all the tasks and the day-to-day management of a guild, and the same goes for a business. You'll drive yourself crazy if you can't learn how to designate the appropriate tasks to the appropriate professionals. While the overall direction of the guild/business is yours because it was your passion and your vision that started it in the first place, you still have to have a team to back your plays.


    Looking at what Visionary Realms is doing with Pantheon is the perfect example. Brad is a brilliant creative producer/world builder. So is Salim. Those two are the "head" visionaries. But they also have an art team. And a tech team. And a PR guy (Ben). And beyond. Because everyone is a professional at what they do, and not everyone can do the other person's job. It's a guild...and right now they are "leveling up" through the Kickstarter campaign so they can get to the end-game content: actually building the final game that we will be playing in a few years.


    Pantheon poster



    Earlier in 2013 I had the opportunity to speak to a group of high school students about the possibilities that exist outside of the normal "go to college and get a degree" option. I never finished high school. I never went to college. And here I am at 34...traveling the world for a living and writing about it. How did I get here? Through learning teamwork and coworking and that a cord is as strong as the number of strings that make its overall width.


    I'm not saying that you should quit school and go play games and nothing else. But I do think that team-based, challenging MMORPGs that require people to work together to achieve goals, that require people to strategize, to critically think to overcome challenges, to learn how to work within a team dynamic when maybe not all of the personalities fit together perfectly but everyone is adult enough to shrug their shoulders and live/let live (everyone has a right to their opinion)...these are things which are far more important than reading a text book on business management for a pointless (IMO) MBA degree.


    Real world experience, guild management...these are equally effective teachers of the real-world skills. Above and beyond that, guild leadership is also about being the driving forcebehind the team. You are the one who gets up and keeps moving on when others would fall to the wayside. You are the one who burns the midnight oil, who goes 500% when everyone else only goes 100%. You are the first to show up, the last to leave, the leader by example.


    You'll make mistakes along the way. Everyone does. But your goal should be to strive for perfection, to hate your mistakes with a passion that burns you so deeply you do everything in your power to never repeat them. Use them as the anvil that your soul is forged upon, and hone your skills through creative thinking, continual progress, and a desire to succeed even when everyone else around you is questioning that success.


    Be the passion behind your business. The same applies for guilds. If you are passionate about it, if you live it, breathe it, embody it...that passion will show through and it will inspire others to follow in your footsteps. From there, it's simply about continually moving forward and using the entire strengths of your team members to achieve greater heights than you ever could alone.


    Even Jason had his Argonauts.


    Pantheon Kickstarter

1 comment
  • eolith likes this
  • eolith
    eolith I have noticed a definite similarity in skill-sets when managing/leading a group of people in real-life and doing so with an online guild. In many respects it is much harder, simply because you don't have that face to face communication, and must rely on...  more
    February 18, 2014