Public Speaking

I don’t consider myself funny. I don’t think of myself as a good public speaker. I was in charge of announcements for ten LAN parties. I used a megaphone and I tried to get people to pay attention. Most people thought I was annoying and disruptive.

Last weekend, on October 18th, my friend Jeremy got married and he asked me to “MC” his reception. I have to say that in the past, after being asked to help with weddings of my friends, I had sworn off ever helping again. But, this seemed very different. The wedding was small and personal. It wasn’t fancy or long. It was more of a private party with two groups of families and friends getting together for a good time. So I agreed to do it.

Conviction is the root of good public speaking. An idea that you hold strongly, and truly believe, is going to demand to be spoken to a group of people who are listening to you. I spent a week coming up with things to say. There was some fretting and worrying about saying something that ruins someone’s wedding. But, like much of my past experience, I decided to “just wing it”. I am often a very strongly convicted individual and all I did was say things I thought were true to myself, and needed to be said to the people there. I think everyone who spoke at the reception did the exact same thing I did.

Listener said I could do this professionally. But, the irony is that I don’t think I could. Two strangers getting married with their friends and families around them … I would have nothing to say except luke-warm, mediocre glurge (a perfectly cromulent word, by the way).

In the end, I had a great time and I enjoyed doing something to help out Jeremy and Annie. It was fun. Lots of people thanked me for doing a good job, but it was all my pleasure. Congratulations to the new couple and I hope they enjoy each other in the good times and the bad.


It takes inspiration to be the person organizing stuff. Getting a bowling team together, planning raids, hosting a LAN party, or coaching a softball team. All these kinds of things take inspiration, vision, work, and participants.

For me, I look back at my time as a guild leader as the most soul crushing experience of my life. All my vision and inspiration were totally stomped into the ground by wave after wave of guild members. A large part of that entire experience for me was not that my vision was flawed (which it might have been). But that when I proposed it to people, no one really cared. I was greeted with an initial wave of indifference that slowly turned into a steady trickle of ambivalence and malaise.

I had the vision. I had the inspiration. I put in the work. But, I am not sure I had the willing participants. At least, not enough of them. I think I had several willing helpers who embraced the vision, but none had their own vision or inspiration. Hindsight is 20/20, and I probably should not have moved forward with an existing guild, with an existing player base. A new guild would have been a better idea. It would have avoided the constant turmoil of people trying to stay with their friends, but who didn’t give a damn about the “idea” of the guild.

Live and learn.

Guild 2.2

Avoid the trappings of an in-game structure all together.

In this concept, you avoid the fixed barriers of a guild. Friendships are no longer defined or destroyed by inclusion in an arbitrary game mechanic. A “lite” version of this idea is the alliance. While people might have to join a guild to join the alliance, they can join (or create) a guild they like, with people they like, and join an alliance that provides an over-arching unity to meet a larger goal. Yet, this doesn’t solve all the issues with management. You have to join a guild, and that guild will need to be managed and controlled. Most alliances still have rules for participation and to manage shared resources, such as the alliance chat channel.

The Leftover’s concept is a good implementation of the “No-Guild Guild” idea. There is no “guild”, only charters. Charters are for accomplishing goals. The charters function as limited guilds. They have defined goals, there is no in-game manifestation of being a member, and no expectation of being included permanently. As a matter of fact, the charters are obviously not going to last as long as the people will play the game. Charters are designed to tackle specific content in the game of WoW and when the person running the charter is done, the charter might just go away. No harm, no foul. The one thing this idea really delivers to the table is the broaching of expectations. No one joins the charter with the expectation of getting lots of guild services. And no one running the charter expects people to behave like they are members of a guild. And, if you don’t want to be in a guild at all, a charter is still viable for you to join or run.

Obviously, someone is still running the charter and doing the work of putting together a raid in WoW, but this is a lot less work than setting up web services, managing guild membership and interpersonal problems. In the end, a charter leader would most likely be doing this same exact work in a guild, and be called a raid leader. But now they have a wider pool of participants to choose from and people have a wider pool of raid leaders to follow. No one is limited to the pool of players in their guild alone. At first glance, you might think this is opening up this aspect of the game to more people might lower quality of participants. But, since the charter leader and the participant are free to do as they please, they can exclude problem players from who they have to interact with. Charter leaders can opt to not invite people they think are problems and participants can not join groups run by people they don’t like. They are not playing out of a pool of their guild, and thus forced to decide between their friends and their game play expectations.

Guild 2.1

One of the first ground rules I can see coming out of this is that idea that a guild and the member have a social contract. There are expectations on the members to put time into the guild, and an expectation that the guild will (in turn) provide certain things that the member expects. Those member expectations are above and beyond following the rules or playing the game well. Showing up is not “giving back to the guild”. If all you have time for is to “show up”, then I seriously question why anyone should carry you by running events, hosting a website, managing a VOIP server, etc. I certainly had the reverse thrown in my face many times as a guild leader. People telling me that they are sick of carrying everyone else in the raiding group since they are showing up on time, doing their best, while others are not. If your guild required nothing more than people to show up and play their best, you wouldn’t really need a guild, would you? People can play their best on their own.

This concept for a guild would not be “new” per se. But it would be a formalization of how guilds have worked in the past. It’s also a more formal view on what a guild actually is. Instead of being a club, it’s an arrangement and everyone knows it and appreciates it. Many serious gamers really do join and run guilds like this. It’s not written down, but it’s a social contract guild. Do X and Y, and you’ll get A and B in return. This is also why those high end raiding guilds fall apart when progress is not happening. Suddenly the guild isn’t delivering A and B despite a member giving X and Y. The guild is in breech and the contract is null and void. It’s possible that the guild is not to blame and it’s just a string of bad luck, but that’s just a horrible contract. No guild can guarantee progress, and if the members believe it can, they are the ones buying a bad bill of goods.

But, this idea might work for more deliverable services. Such as a guild agreeing to host so many events a week. Or making sure people have VOIP services, calendaring, and people to manage the bank and keep the jerks out of the guild. Those are feasible things a guild could deliver in exchange for members who promise to help run some of those events, contribute to the bank, etc.

Guild 2.0

You want a group of people to play a game with. Let’s just assume that’s the case. Hypothetically.

How do you get people to do things that they don’t want to do? How do you get people to see the game for what it is, and learn to be good at it? How do you get people to lead other people and put some of their own personal time into a system?
I’m operating under some basic ground rules that you have to agree with before you can come up with something new.
  1. People need other people to achieve a goal in the game. If not, then there’s no reason for a system. If you don’t need other people, just play by yourself.
  2. An intelligent leader is required to make progress in the game. Random grouping and zergs might work sometimes, but if you value your time, being coordinated and working together means more consistent results.
  3. Your game allows for variances in how people want to play it. In other words, it’s not a severely limited scope of game play. People might be gear motivated, or socially motivated, or one of many other self-driven motivations.
  4. Most people want to partake in group activities, but few will have the desire, motivation, or time to lead a group.
  5. The majority of people in the game, and most likely your guild, will have expectations of the guild, but will not want the guild to have expectations of them as a member.
So, given these crazy ground rules, how could it be done? And would it be too much work?