In my time playing WoW, I've been in a lot of guilds. I've played in guilds that were fighting for the realm-first heroic progression spot and others that were content at realm 15th. I've been a part of the Reddit guild families, which are so large that they need a chat mod to link the multiple guilds for all their members. I've also been in guilds like my current one that have a grand total of 15 people as members.
The World of Warcraft guild experience is as wide and varied as the players who play this game. I'm an unabashed guild-hopper who wants very specific things from a guild and is willing to leave if they don't happen. Other players are loyalists, who find one guild and form lasting bonds that keep them playing with the same group of friends for their entire WoW experience.
Is WoW social media?
Cynwise at Cynwise's Battlefield Manual wrote a post last month about the fact that World of Warcraft is a form of social media. There's no denying that fact: The entire MMORPG genre is based on the idea that you are playing a game with other human beings, not just facing off against the computer as in the genre's predecessors. In fact, I'd go even further and suggest that in many ways, WoW has potential to be an ideal form of social media.
As a good example, Facebook is what immediately comes to mind when we think of social media. However, Facebook is boring. You can only write so many status updates a day, and connecting with your old friends from high school doesn't actually take up much of your time.
Social media alone isn't sustainable, so Facebook added fun into the formula. It added games and apps like FarmVille to keep you interested in being on Facebook. Newer social media like Foursquare and Fitocracy tried to improve on this idea, providing you points for checking in or working out and allowing you to compete with your friends. Social media evolved into gaming in order to sustain interest.
What functions do guilds serve now?
As Cynwise talks about in his post, the restrictive nature of guilds runs totally counter to Blizzard's intent of opening up World of Warcraft as social media. In essence, guilds are Google+'s circles or the rarely used group function on Facebook. They're a way for people with similar goals and interests to get together and socialize. We commonly see this in raiding, leveling, or PVP-focused guilds, but we also see the GLBTQ-oriented
For a very short period of time pre-Cataclysm, a few friends from the shaman forum community and I rolled on Frostwolf (US) and made the guild
The social guilds of tomorrow
This is the sort of socializing that WoW needs to be supporting and making easier for players to do. In essence, I have two guilds right now: the official guild I belong to and raid in
Brace yourselves for what could be some of most exciting updates to the game recently with patch 4.3. Review the official patch notes, and then dig into what's ahead: new item storage options, cross-realm raiding, cosmetic armor skinning and your chance to battle the mighty Deathwing -- from astride his back!