Guild Chat: Tips for meeting guildmates in real life

Welcome along to Guild Chat, my column in which I join forces with commenters to help a reader in need with a guild-related concern. This edition’s submission is all about deciding to meet up with your guildmates in real life: Reader Xenos is great online friends with many of his guildmates and is considering either inviting them over to visit him or travelling out to see them. In Xenos’ case this would require international travel, Before he makes the leap, however, he is looking for our advice on whether real-world meetups are a good idea and how to approach it safely. Keep reading for my thoughts on organising guild meets and Xenos’ full submission, then don’t forget to add your thoughts in the comments.

“I’ve been gaming with the same bunch of people for a long while now and we get along super well. I have the entire summer off classes and plan to travel anyways so was wondering if I should suggest a guild meet or ask my best friends in the guild if I can come visit them. I haven’t brought it up yet so I don’t know if they’d like to meet and I also worry about how safe it is and seeming weird or suspicious by asking. Any advice?”

Taking friendships offline is scary but exciting

This is an excellent topic, Xenos, so thanks for sharing! The friendships we forge online can grow every bit as strong as those we create in person, so I totally see why you might want to meet some of those people you’ve connected with if you have a chance to do so and don’t think your guildmates would find it weird or silly at all. I had a Swedish guild member who used a summer off to go interrailing across Europe, and he stayed with Brendan Drain and me when he visited Northern Ireland as part of his tour and we showed him around while feeding him lots of unhealthy Irish food. That was a wonderfully positive experience that will always stay with us, but we never did manage to hold a large guild meet due to the awkward spread of our members and the costs associated with gathering us all up. Several members of the Massively OP crew would have similar positive meet stories to tell, and I’m a massive believer in the benefits of strong online friendships in a more and more isolated world.

Having said that, you are absolutely justified in being a little worried about conducting any guild meets that are organised as safely as you can: Not only can people pretend to be anyone they like on the internet, but you also have the much more mundane risks of people clashing in person despite gelling online and any issues or drama that occurs at the meet spilling into the online space and ruining the harmony that made you all want to meet up in the first place. There are most definitely clever approaches that can be taken when meeting up with online friends that can make the whole encounter run much more smoothly while safeguarding all parties, so I’m really pleased that you’re approaching the matter with thought and sensitivity before you begin organising anything.

Meet in public spaces, even if plans are for someone to stay with you

Your first time meeting someone (or a bunch of people in the case of large guild meets) is bound to be a nerve-racking experience for even the boldest extroverts among us, but much of the pressure can be alleviated by choosing the correct location for your meeting. Even if the plan is for a guildmate to stay at your house or for a group of you to stay together somewhere, I recommend making the initial meeting earlier in the day somewhere public and neutral. This will allow all parties to relax and talk in person before feeling stuck or obligated to see out the plans: It is far easier to have the strength of will to leave a public space if a meeting goes wrong than to get up and walk out of a hotel you’re all staying in or someone’s home, after all.

If you are ever playing the role of host (I know in your post you want to do the travelling, but it could work out easier the other way depending on your location), this has the added benefit of shielding your specific address from those online friends until you’ve actually met in person and can trust that they are who they say they are. Give a district, estate name, or similar for where you live and meet at the park around the corner for a nice walk or a coffee shop in town to grab cake before you head on home. This feels natural: If you were meeting up with a local friend, you’d probably visit a café or do some activity together before hanging out, so it fits in well with a day’s plans without insulting your guildmates by airing your reservations aloud.

Be sensitive to the likes and lifestyle choices of your online friends when organising

The first point I’m going to make might sound odd for such a jovial occasion, but I’d most definitely make the first encounter with our online friends a sober one. Unless you all do drunk raids together or something, chances are that at least some of your members won’t be big drinkers and some will perhaps not drink at all. Depending on where you meet, some members who are usually over the legal drinking age for their home country might be underage at the meet location too. There’s nothing more obnoxious than being the sober person in a sea of drunk people, which doesn’t help first meetings go to plan, and alcohol can make any minor offences or disputes seem bigger than they are. I have to admit to breaking this rule when my Swedish friend came to stay with us: Our first stop was a wonderful old bar in Belfast, but we went for the authentic Irish atmosphere and live music rather than for pints upon pints of the black stuff.

Know your audience when you’re planning your activities: Try to cover all bases and consider religion, disabilities, food intolerances, allergies, and general personalities. There’s no point in organising a meet in a location that is inaccessible to some members, makes any of the attending parties uncomfortable, or serves food that will bring about unwanted side effects. It will take more initial legwork to consider all of these factors when organising your outings, but ultimately it will allow your on-the-day focus to remain with the people you’re there to meet with instead of on complaints handling and problem shooting. Don’t forget to also consider the ages of those who you’re set to meet: I highly recommend keeping meets to adult guild members only unless teen members have adult family members who also game with them so as to avoid creating any safeguarding issues.

Over to you!

Online friendships are becoming increasingly important to people and international travel is becoming more and more affordable, so I think meeting those online friends is a fantastic use of some natural downtime in your schedule. Provided that you consider the safety and comfort of all of those who are involved, there is no reason for those online friendships to not translate into the real world space, so I do hope you go ahead with your plans. Let me know how it goes and send pictures of your antics if you do!

Have you ever attended a guild meet, and if so did it have any impact on the guild afterwards? What are your top tips for taking online friendships offline? Share your thoughts with Xenos in the comments.

Many thanks for the submission, Xenos! If you have a guild issue you’d like to see featured in Guild Chat, do let me know for consideration.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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19 Comments on "Guild Chat: Tips for meeting guildmates in real life"

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Kevin McCaughey

I am only here to surf for the disaster stories lol! :)

Polyanna
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Polyanna

If you know people in the guild well enough that all of you mutually already know, for example, real life first names, or are friends on social media that use real life identity like Facebook, then this probably is not so weird. If you only relate to each other at internet distance where you only know others’ in-game handles and personas, even if you all, for example, also use voice chat sometimes, then it may seem weird.

You all may be perfectly normal and fun people in real life, but if you haven’t established the level of trust yet that you all know general real-life details like geographic location, jobs, first names, etc., then you don’t seem to be at the point where meeting in real life would be ok for everyone. And maybe that is because everyone is happy to keep their distance, at least for now.

shazanti
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shazanti

I’m not certain I could give advice, but I can relate my experiences. Back in 2000, a guy on my EverQuest server I was slight friends with wanted to travel the country from his California home, hitting as many states as possible, and crash at servermate’s homes. Hubby & I offered him a couch, and he took it on his way through Louisiana. At the time we thought it was pretty amazing, someone just couch-hopping their way across the country- what a cheap way to visit so many places!- but looking back, wow. We really didn’t know the guy very well. It could have gone poorly. Fortunately, it most definitely did not!

So, years later, we again let a guy we gamed with (in EQ2, this time, and a guildmate) crash on our couch. This guy we knew quite a bit better, and he and a friend of his, also a guildmate of ours, were trekking our way from New Zealand! How could we say no?! And I’m so glad we didn’t. We all remain strong friends to this day, one of those Kiwis met his wife-to-be here, and they all make regular visits back and forth. Something I’d love to do myself- go crash on a Kiwi’s couch!- but the length of that plane ride is daunting.

I wish anyone who physically meets with and/or offers and/or experiences hospitality as good of an experience as I have had.

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Nordavind

Bah! Play Ingress, get used to ad-hoc meetups with random people at bars, train stations, outside their work at lunch or jumping into their car outside a pizza joint at 8 pm then moving on to drive all night to complete a UPC challenge.

(Yes, I am a adult Caucasian male (and a Nord) , I know this is easier/safer for me than others.)

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Peregrine Falcon

I’ve seen a lot of articles like this over the last few years and I don’t understand them.

If you’re an adult why would meeting other people be scary? Do you go outside ever? Do you interact with people daily? Yes? Then why would meeting with people that you already know be scary?

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Jack Pipsam

Even as a teen alone I wasn’t scared to do it as it was an open public space.

But I can see how it can be spooky for those who aren’t used to the idea or comfortable with it.
I have suffered anxiety and still do to a degree, so I can see how it’s a confronting idea.

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khadre

We did a guild meetup in Las Vegas one year. plenty of things to do with your guildies and on your own. Some went to shows while others hung out either in the casinos or elsewhere. it was a real blast. We had people come from the east and west coasts. I say it was well worth the time to get to know some of the people you have only heard over vent or read in the forums. I think it brought us closer as a guild. As we fragmented into different games or servers, I always wished we would have gathered again, possibly bringing in some newer people to become life-long friends.

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Mr Poolaty

We need a meme from what’s his name that says “you can do eett!”

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Katriana

I once had a real life meet up (a couple of them actually) with a small group of guildies who happened to live relatively nearby. Our meeting were always in public, starting at a shopping mall that was about midway between us. From there we would go to see a movie and/or go out to dinner together. Both times went very well, helped most likely by the fact that most of them had started as real life friends that wandered into online gaming together. We did have another guildie from out of state join us one time when he happened to be travelling through our area.

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imayb1

I was able to get together in-person with my best friend from in-game while on a family trip and it was a blast. We met for lunch and went on to walk the zoo.

Years later, I had an opportunity to meet with 3-4 guildies but couldn’t attend. Everyone else said they had a great time and I wish I could’ve gone. Hopefully, another chance will turn up.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

sundial came to visit me a couple years ago while novaru was living with me (we’re irl best friends) and we had a grand old time.

getting together another larger guild meet up for this summer which has honestly been a bit of a pain in the ass to get coordinated as everytime i set a date someone has a problem with it of some kind. which the latest date is now set because someone got their plane tickets already.

in our case we’ve been hanging out with each other daily for about 6 or more years now so by this point i think we know each other well enough to hang out and drink beers in person instead of online for a change for a week.

also got a free park pass as it’s canada’s 150th birthday and going to go camping and get drunk in the great outdoors.

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Fisty

The main tips are show up with a 6-pack, a little cash, a good attitude and make them introverted bitches go partying with you. That’s always worked.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

we already do this in my guild. ofc we wanna do it together irl too! XD

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William Sobek

Back when I was stationed in Okinawa, TERA released. At the time, it was the beautiful new shiny with no race/class/gender restrictions – and I met a great bunch of folks! We were all RPers so we all had a similar sort of weird and enjoyment of storytelling. Well, when I got out of the military and came back to the states, my first summer back we all met up in Dallas (They had already had several get-togethers while I was still in Japan) and it couldn’t have gone smoother. Now, to be fair, they had already done a lot of the weeding out of those who cause problems and were somewhat shady, but we all had a great time. Following a divorce (long story) I now live with one of the friends I made online and life’s pretty damn good.

Again, I had known them all for quite some time, talked on voice chat with them regularly, so on, so when it came to hanging out in person, which airline I would fly was the toughest choice.

It may start digitally, but don’t be dissuaded from meeting up with the folks you spend a lot of time with online. Never know when you’ll make a great, long-lasting friendship.

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Jack Pipsam

I have only really done one guild IRL meetup for a now since defunct WoW guild, my guild normally had a two times a year meetup thing per state (well major states) at either a shopping centre or beach/park, it was the kind thing where I think was a big hit at first, then less and less people bothered to show up over time. I was 15 at the time, but the meetup location wasn’t a bar so there was no legal issues. I mean as a teenager, public transport and a shopping centre doesn’t require an escort or safeguarding, if that was a case no teenager could ever leave the house ever to go watch a movie or go shopping. So I don’t know if that’s a major issue really, although maybe America is different in that regard, here in Australia nobody cares who are are as long as you’re white and there’s certainly no legal requirement for it (I mean age-based curfew is simply not a thing here unless maybe some odd place in the Western Australia due to crime, but other than that, not an issue).

That said, it was toss. Of the thirty who said they’d show up maybe eight did, one guy was really loud and far too energetic which I thought was embarrassing as it was a large food court where normal people were also nearby. Two of the people were already good mates so they spent the entire time talking to each-other ignoring us and the rest of us were just awkwardly sat there unsure what to say to each-other.

Worst part was for me was I wasn’t even sure who was anyone meant to be, I only ever knew them by their character names and I couldn’t really match mentally their characters to their real name so I really didn’t have a clue who they were, even after hearing their voices over TeamSpeak before.

I got bored and ended up leaving after an hour. Turned me off ever bothering with the idea again. After another year they gave up with the meetup concept in my state and then some time after the whole guild blew-up thanks to juicy drama.
Joy.

In theory the idea sounds great and I am sure for most it’s a positive experience, just my only one was unremarkable. Temper your expectations when regarding other humans.
Still I know meeting up can be fun, I have met up IRL quite a few times with Facebook groups for non-MMO related things and it’s worked out great, so I guess I just got a bad luck of the draw for my only guild related one.

PS. I believe what I call a shopping centre is referred to as “a mall” in America.

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Fisty

They’re shopping centers too.

wpDiscuz