Wrath of the Lich King marked a turning point for WoW guild life. In a raiding environment based on smaller groups, Wrath allows players to gobble up endgame content in much more intimate groups. Many guilds have grown smaller, and many friendships have grown tighter. Many gamers who've been around the block with MMOs a time or two care a little less now about being in it to win it (with a rotating cast of a thousand relatively anonymous guildmates) and a little more about kicking back for some good times with their buddies.
Meet the members of Vivid (Frostwolf-H, US) – literally. Meeting in real life is the glue that has cemented the friendships in this energetic young guild. Vivid has gathered four times over half as many years, from a "small kegger at Chico State" to a recent New Year's house party with more than 20 guildmates cozying up at a cabin in North Lake Tahoe.
We visited with some of Vivid's real-life friends to find out why their meetups have become integral to their guild life.
Jenajamonsin, Blood Elf Paladin
Nobs, Troll Priest
Disturbing, Undead Priest
Khal, Tauren Shaman
15 Minutes of Fame: How long has Vivid been around, guys? What got you started?
Khal: The guild has evolved into its current form through a series of guild events. The first was a camping trip at a time when none of us were active WoW players (AQ40 ruined everything). By the end of a five-day camping trip, we decided to roll new Horde characters on Demon Soul, a brand new PvP server. Population issues drove us to away. I had played on Frostwolf since release and suggested everyone transfer over. Slowly, we did, and Softcore was formed. The current group is comprised mostly of everyone's former guildies' making new characters here with us. In the last six months, we have had dozens of people either transfer existing characters over or simply start from scratch to play with us on Frostwolf.
How far into guild-dom was Vivid when you held your first meetup?
Khal: The guild was formed during a camping trip comprised of former WoW players. Not one of us was active at the time, and most all of us were spread out over different servers, both Horde and Alliance.
And you've had real-life meetups, what, four times now?
JenaJamonsin: As a guild -- or more importantly, as a group of friends -- ever since the first big meetup in 2007, we try to get together at least twice a year to hang out and party with each other. Our first meetup in 2007, we had about 30 people there, and about 15-18 of them were from Vivid. Then the next meetup was in January '08, at our buddies' cabin in Tahoe. There, we had people come from Southern California to come visit. At this get-together, we had about 20 people.
The next major event was for (a member's) college graduation. This is when our meetings stepped up in the total miles traveled. We had quite a few people fly from SoCal, Washington and Utah. This event is probably what got the barrel rolling in terms of people getting out of their shell and coming to these meetings.
Then there was a few of us who went to Blizzcon '08. At this get-together, we had the SoCal crew, and five to seven of us from NorCal, and we had someone fly in from Utah to hang out as well.
Then lastly was our most recent trip to Tahoe for New Year's Eve. For this trip, we had people fly from SoCal, Utah, Oregon, North Carolina and Colorado. We had 22 people attend.
Disturbing: At most of them, we've mostly just hung out with each other. It sounds so lackluster on paper, but it's just incredible to be able to get in a big room with a bunch of friends you very rarely get to see and just hang out and have a good time. It's such a different experience from just hanging out in Vent.
So what's the scoop on the recent New Year's event? Dish!
Disturbing: We rented a cabin up in North Lake Tahoe for five days. We had about 22 people stuffed in there. We watched movies, played Guitar Hero, played card games, ate amazing food, played lots of ping pong, played lots of pool, and just had a good time being with each other in general.
Nobs: I guess it would be considered your average house party anyone in the 21-25 age group would do.
House party, huh? What's the average age of your guild members?
JenaJamonsin: As a guild, the age ranges from 18 to 33. I would say the average age is about 23 to 24.
Khal: We are all about 22 to 23 and have friends around the same age. There are a few old fogies as well as a few youngsters, but most of our humor is based around having grown up as teenagers in the '90s.
Do you see any difference in guild activity after a RL meetup?
JenaJamonsin: We definitely see a change in attitudes whenever we get back from a meetup. People are more excited to log on WoW and Vent to chat and hang out and discuss the activities of the most recent trip. The get-togethers bring us closer together, and even people who didn't attend seem to be more motivated to log on and hang out. The trips boost morale and bring our guild closer together.
Nobs: Overall, I think it helps with loot a lot, because it's different when you lose an in-game item to someone who you have partied with in real life. We rarely have loot issues, and I think this is a major reason for it.
Tell us about meeting people who might be more than a little different than you were expecting based on your online contact.
JenaJamonsin: I would say my biggest surprise would be when I first met our GM. I had played with him in other guilds previously, and he had always been outspoken, talkative, funny and bossy. When I first met him at the Sacramento airport, he was a shy, quiet, reserved person who didn't come close to portraying his online personality. However, he has changed quite a bit and become closer to the person that he is in WoW.
Nobs: The first time I met one of our other Priests, about a year and a half ago, he and I had squabbled over loot in game. As soon as I walked in the cabin, he handed me a drink and gave me a hug. Now we are pretty close and supportive of each other.
And the inevitable conclusion: When and where's the next event?
JenaJamonsin: We are looking at a few possibilities right now all revolving around springtime. We have thrown around the idea of getting a beach house in SoCal and hanging out there for four to five days, renting a few houseboats on Lake Shasta or doing a Guild Gone Wild on Lake Havasu.
Visit Vivid (online, not in real life – not yet, anyway) at SoftCoreGaming.com.