Welcome along to another edition of Guild Chat, my cosy wee corner of Massively Overpowered in which we can all come together to help a reader in need tackle his or her guild-related issue. As has been the case previously, I received a reader submission just after publishing the last edition that I didn’t want to shelf for nearly a month, so you’re being treated to back-to-back Guild Chat once more! The topic at hand is encouraging (read dragging) along your real-world friends into the MMOs you love and specifically into the guild in which you spend so much time. Reader Krystalin has asked me to help her come up with a strategy for engaging people who may not initially understand the appeal so that she feels less guilty about the hours she’s logging in-game and can share her virtual world with more of her local circle.
It’s an interesting topic with no easy answer: Check out Krystalin’s full submission and my musings below, then add your two cents in the comments to help her out.
I want to get my IRL gaming family and friends into MMOs and my guild, but I have no idea how. My girlfriend thinks I spend far too much time talking to my guildmates and playing MMOs in general. She and most of my friendship group play console games more than anything else and don’t seem to understand the appeal. My brothers are into PC gaming but prefer to play shooters or lane battle games. I do play console things with my friends and the usual type of Steam games with my family so I want them to play my games with me too. They don’t like the idea of MMOs and think they take way too much effort. My guild isn’t just in one MMO too so I can show them several MMOs if they give it a chance. I’m sure they’d have fun if they actually tried so please help.
Thanks for a great submission, Krystalin! I can see several barriers that could be preventing your friends and family from taking the plunge here, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the real issue might lie outside of gaming and could run a little deeper. I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but I am picking up on an undertone of discontent in your query that seems to come from the relationship dynamics that are at work more so than from the games you all decide to play. Let me deal with that thread first of all, and then we can discuss some tactics for getting the MMO averse on board with guild gaming.
I really don’t want to get too personal, but I do feel it’s relevant to bring your attention to some potential reasons for the resistance you’re seeing from both your friends and family that lie outside the sphere of what games each camp does and doesn’t like: I strongly suspect that your issue goes beyond that and that your first step should be to soul search. You mentioned that your girlfriend seems unhappy with your current gaming habits, and although getting her involved could be a solution to her discontent, I’d like you to firstly explore why she feels the way she does. I don’t need to tell you that our partners are kinda the VIPs of our social circle: Much like best friends, their opinions and actions have a way of cutting deep and we internalise them much more than we can even realise.
Without knowing more about your specific gaming habits, your girlfriend’s involvement in your schedule, and a whole host of other factors, I can’t possibly say whether you might be spending a little bit too much time in the virtual worlds you inhabit and not enough time with your real-world flock. It could be that your girlfriend isn’t particularly justified in saying you game too much, in which case I’d suggest that her comments may be fueled by some particular unease, jealousy, or insecurity that’s triggered by you enjoying the company these people she has never met so much. Mull this over and, should you find any shred of truth to my suspicions, have an honest heart-to-heart with your other half that airs her concerns — whether they’re based in the truth as you perceive it or not — and put them to bed before you try recruiting her again.
I believe that things will be much smoother with your brothers and friends as well once you’ve done this little bit of groundwork. Keeping a tally of how much time you spend gaming is always a healthy thing to do anyway, so I see no harm in checking yourself and ensuring that your time spent online isn’t excessive for your lifestyle or isolating those around you. I am also very guilty of spending far too much time with my face glued to a screen more often that I’d care to admit, so you certainly wouldn’t be the first or last busy gamer to unwittingly fall into this trap. It’s particularly pervasive in MMO culture because the products we love so much are inherently designed to incentivise sustained periods of play: Just bear in mind that other people usually notice before we do when we’re going a teensy wee bit overboard.
Now that you’ve (hopefully!) resolved any underlying issues with your relationships with your friends, family, girlfriend, and online gaming, let’s move on to some handy tips and tricks for getting your loved ones on board. My husband’s first foray into World of Warcraft was caused by a rather happy accident: I don’t like wearing a headset when I share space with people because it usually results in me unintentionally zoning them out, so often my guild voice communication can be heard by the whole room. After some time and plenty of banter, Steven started to indirectly pick up on the conversation and join in, and before he knew it he was logging on to our Ventrilo server to chat. Fostering friendship and that sort of link between your IRL crew and guildies could be a fantastic step towards involving them in your MMO of choice: My husband started to play because he already felt as though he was part of my guild anyway, which most definitely made it easier for him to make the leap and lay down the serious chunk of change required to buy in and sub up.
The financial point leads me neatly into my next piece of advice: The fact that your guild plays multiple MMOs is a great asset on your side, so choose a title with a low startup cost to hook your friends and family with for best results. The larger the financial risk involved in trying something new, the less likely we are to do it, so select a free-to-play title or a game with a solid trial system to begin with if possible. If your favourite MMO is comparatively expensive to play, you might have to bend and meet your real-life network halfway in a more budget-friendly title, but if you’re asking them to go out of their comfort zones then I think that’s only fair! If you’re really stuck on your most recent MMO crush, find out what the recommend-a-friend perks for newbies are (if applicable) or consider buying the game or a sub for those closest to you. Some MMOs allow you to use in-game currency to sub up, so look into that too.
Lastly, ensure that your MMO selection and guild appeals to the type of gamers your local circle is comprised of. Your brothers enjoy player-led strategic assaults, for instance, so introduce them to the wonderful world of MMO PvP and find a mode that best mirrors their particular brand of ass-kicking. Your console playing friends might need the help of gateway games to get them interested if they’re not into MMOs or PC gaming at all, so check out their game collections and find out if any pseudo-MMOs are in their repertoires. Help them find their niche and again bend a little to accommodate their interests and strengths for best results. Whatever MMO you choose, guide them through the new player experience as if you were hosting new guests in your own home: Don’t sit back in your usual endgame haunts with your guild buddies and leave your local pals to flounder and fend for themselves. Remember that just because you find your guildmates hilarious and the content they run amazing doesn’t mean that your family and friends will be on the same wavelength, so try to pair your real-world circle with guildies and content that will suit.
Having our own likes and dislikes is only natural and, as such, you could well find that your local circle will not enjoy MMOs and your guild no matter how hard you try. If you’ve been as accommodating as you can be, the introductions to your guildmates went well, and you pitched to their particular gaming style, then there’s really no more you can do to sway them. Some people just don’t click with the genre for one reason or another: That’s no bad thing either, and I’m sure you’ll still make time to play other games that they find more palatable so that you can all enjoy your mutual hobby together anyway.
Forcing the issue won’t make any of you happy and is certainly best avoided. I wouldn’t feel at all comfortable if my brothers made me play FPSes with them, and none of them have ever joined me in guilds for any length of time even though they play MMOs because they value different gameplay than my preferred types, but we’re happy to join each other in countless other games. Your most cherished games could be their nightmare scenario, so stay kind and considerate in your MMO pushing. Whatever you games you end up playing and whoever you play them with, enjoy!
Over to you!
Pitching the right content and community to the uninitiated is a crucial step in getting more people into MMOs and the wealth of beautiful content and meaningful human connections that come with them. How would you introduce your favourite MMOs to your family and friends? Would your friendship group gel with your online friends? Did you initiate your local gaming circle, and if you did, how did you do it? Don’t forget to leave your thoughtful advice for Krystalin in the comments.
Many thanks to Krystalin for the submission. If you have a guild-related query to put to Guild Chat, pop me an email for a chance to be featured.