Hyperspace Beacon: The case for mature-themed guilds in the SWTOR community

    
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I am a huge advocate for guilds that can remain friendly to the under 18 crowd. One of my favorite Star Wars: The Old Republic guilds, Unholy Alliance, is open to everyone. They have rules in place that make the guild friendly and fun for both adults and those under 18. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend any MMO for those under 13 that wasn’t specifically made for children unless they are accompanied by a trusted individual over 13. If you’re a guild leader, I believe it’s in your best interest to keep your guild friendly to those under 18. It gives you a greater opportunity to grow the guild, and teenagers are some of the best advocates for the game.

On the other hand, many guilds are 18+ and with good reason. Some have even gone so far as to say they don’t want members under 21. Granted, the guilds I’m talking about are usually roleplay guilds. In fact, SWTOR has the most 18+ guilds per capita over any other game from my perception. It’s tough to find a roleplay guild in on Star Forge that accepts players under 18. Although I don’t believe that every guild should be this way, I can understand some of the reasons why, and not all of them have to do with erotic roleplay — although that’s in there. What are the mature-themed guilds that you will find in SWTOR? And do they have to be mature-themed? Let’s answer that below.

The edgelord guild

With the wide variety of personalities floating around SWTOR, you’re going to find some players who just like to be edgy. They like to say the most absurd things just to get a negative reaction from people. If you spend any time in general chat in SWTOR, you’ll find these guys making characters named xxhilterxx or something equally ridiculous. They will look for like-minded people to join them in their guilds. However, these edgelord guilds usually do not last long because those who are in charge eventually offend most of the people in the guild as well as the community.

That said, edgelords can create a stable guild sometimes, even if they end up being a bit of a revolving door. But how long the guild lasts is usually in direct relationship to how much time the guild spends in public areas. I have one on my mind right now that I will not name, but those who hang out on the Star Forge fleet know exactly who I’m talking about. The leader likes to project the image of being super powerful and displays his followers around him as he sits in one of the corner chairs.

The guild I’m talking about is an 18+ guild but could easily be made into a guild that accepts everyone with a couple of thematic changes. Perhaps I’m in the minority, but I believe that these kinds of guilds make fleet interesting. I like seeing a group of people surrounding one person, like some kind of stereotypical crime lord. If the theme were toned down a bit, maybe enforce a rule that mature scenes are handled off-screen, and the leader gives missions to the underlings that are related to learning about the game world, then it could be a wonderful starter roleplay guild.

The horror guild

Some roleplay guilds, usually Sith-themed guilds can be gory. Sith like their violence, right? When guild creators look over the environment they wish to create with their guild, some love the violence of the Sith Empire. I don’t really blame them; horror-themes can be fun and scary. I have participated in a few events that have been so tense and shocking that I was literally on the edge of my seat at my desk without even realizing it.

Outside of the persona of their character, most horror guild leaders are funny people and enjoy a good joke as much as they like graphic violence. It’s a strange juxtaposition, but I believe that’s one of the things that make these guilds great.

It’s been a while since I’ve personally seen a horror-themed guild in SWTOR, but clearly, there is no good way to make the horror guild into one that is acceptable for those under 18 unless you really dull the themes. I mean, I don’t want to have to be the one to explain to some kid’s parents why he can’t sleep at night.

The soap opera guild

Let me explain the soap opera guild so that people don’t believe that they are inherently bad. I’ve been a part of soap opera guilds that are have been very interesting because they not only deal with the character interactions within the guild itself but with the social-political atmosphere of the world. The Sith Empire, because of the strong structure set up by the old Star Wars canon, has some of the deepest themes that can be generated by a guild of this type.

On the surface, one could say that soap opera guilds could easily be made to accept those under 18. And I would agree with you, if not for one thing: the comfort of players over 18. Besides the legal ramifications of getting involved in a scene with sexual themes, the whole idea that the player on the other side of the avatar that is supposed to be in love with your character is “a kid” rightfully creeps most adults out.

I have not seen this subverted in SWTOR, but my daughter is old enough to be involved in roleplay, especially since she’s honing her writing skills. She has been involved in soap opera guilds with people who are about her age. Besides the writing skills of the players in these groups being very similar, there are also rules in place for sexual themes and other mature subject matters.

Variety is the spice of life, so different kinds of guilds make like more interesting. If you’re starting a guild, consider carefully why you want to put an age limit on the guild. If you “just don’t want to deal with those darn kids,” then made you should remember that life is more like high school than anything else, and you should invite based on the merit of the player, not his or her age.

But of course, I’d like to know your thoughts in comments below.

Every other week, Larry Everett jumps into his T-16 back home, rides through the hypergates of BioWare‘s Star Wars: The Old Republic, and posts his adventures in the Hyperspace Beacon. Drop him a holocom on Twitter @Shaddoe or send him a transmission at larry@massivelyop.com. Now strap yourself in, kid — we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

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mosselyn
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mosselyn

My guild has a 25+ policy. It has nothing to do with “protecting the youth” or RP. Most of the guild is 30+. It’s all about drama reduction.

I was in an all ages guild for several years, and the difference between the two is night and day. I have nothing against guilds with no or broader age policies, but I much prefer socializing with other adults who have jobs, families, and real life responsibilities.

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kelvar

The guild I ran for 7 years or so had a no teens policy primarily because I didn’t want drama and I didn’t want people to have to edit themselves.

The policy worked really well until the eventual drama explosion that ended us… ah well, it carried us that far.

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Woetoo

The opposite is hard to maintain too. A truly PG-13 guild.

I started my life in a large guild that transferred from Everquest to WoW. The guild maintained a PG-13 stance before 9pm local time.
The thinking was that whilst the vast majority of players were over 18 (most 25+, some 50+), some were parents too. This was at the time of 25man raiding and stable guilds. There were regularly more than 50 players online at peak times. They played at home, sometimes with their kids watching over their shoulder what mommy/daddy was doing tonight. Sometimes just in the same room, with the kids able to hear the speakers. Sometimes their kids were online too, even raiding occasionally.
With all that in mind, everyone was expected to assume kids could see/hear anything except whispers and private group channels (mainly class channels) and act accordingly.

Fast forward 8 or so years and I’m GM of a SWTOR guild. It’s a small guild and recruitment is funnelled through a website with a formal recruitment process. The guild recruitment form explicitly lays out that we’re operating those same rules that formed the core of my older/larger guild.

However, despite continual attempts to grow the guild, limited by our our approach to recruitment, the guild remained small – with players being aged 25+ and without children. In that environment, it’s really difficult to maintain at “look, we want the guild to remain a PG-13 stance because whilst it’s not an issue NOW, we want people to build the social muscle memory of behaving a certain way when online”. Especially when the counter argument is “we’re all adults and no kids are listening”.

Most people were fine. But we had the occasional people who pushed the boundary or came out with a stream of expletives at 9:01pm on Ventrillo. I always felt they were just missing the point.

In hindsight, I was too inflexible. Always thinking of where I hoped the guild would be in 6 months, rather than mindful of the current situation. Too reliant on an “well, it was front and centre on the recruitment page – all we’re trying to be is consistent”.

If anything, I would regard a “mature guild” approach much easier to be an officer of. There’s a whole level of freedom when most officer actions can be summarised as “FFS. You’re an adult… behave like one”. Plus I would recognise that times have changed and so has the MMO player demographics.

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Greaterdivinity

Not gonna lie, and this totally isn’t your fault Larry, but I miss when Hyperspace Beacon articles were actually about the game itself and BioWare as a developer.

Not knocking these pieces by any means, I’m not the audience as a non-RP dude and that’s totally fine, but it feels like the frequency of Hyperspace Beacon pieces dealing with non-game matters vs. those dealing with game matters has skewed hard towards the non-game over the past year…which is more a reflection of what’s going on (or not going on) with SWTOR than anything else : /

Keith, bro, what’s going on over there? >.>

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starbuck1771

How is this not a game matter? As someone that has 360 characters account wide I can tell you this is a game issue but not just for SWTOR but all MMOs.

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Cosmic Cleric

As someone that has 360 characters account wide

Jeebus Cristo on a pogostick! Put down the keyboard, and step away from the computer! :p

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

How on earth did you play through the storyline that many times. I can see two play through per class, but 30 times each?! You must be exaggerating.

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Knox Harrington

I don’t do well in guilds that police chat. I work hard for a living. When I come home and want to relax with a few beers and get my game on, I don’t need a bunch of random strangers who are probably a third of my age telling me what I can and can’t say. I’ve got my wife for that…. (he says as he checks over his shoulder to make sure she isn’t looming)

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starbuck1771

I knew you were the naked guy the bowl of jello :P

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nomadmorlock9

Most of the guilds I have been involved with (including those my wife and I have run) over the last 10 years have had an 18 or over policy.

This has had more to do with wanting to play with those of of the same maturity. My gaming community is generally made up of players between 25 and 50 years of age. We’ve had this discussion and I think it’s fair to say that everyone wants the freedom to be themselves and not have to police their language or subject matter discussed or joked about in voice chat or Discord. Many would feel uncomfortable if they thought they were being a bad influence of younger players.

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starbuck1771

Trust me you don’t have to worry about corrupting the youth as they are already corrupted by the school system, their parent’s, and their peers. Hell even as a kid in the 70’s I was dropping F bombs at the age of 5.

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Zora

Gosh I wouldn’t know about horror guilds but experience taught me the teenagers tend to be way more into horror things than adults, the goriest the better. Unless we are talking about severely distasteful stuff, but again lot of kids seems to have a thick skin for that.

I was squeamish even at thirteen though so I might be biased, but even at a strictly catholic school lot of the other girls there were pretty into horror stuff and we’re talking a looong time ago. Today I expect it to be even worse… :P

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starbuck1771

You are biased I am 46 and love gory stuff. I even remember watching the old exploitation horror flicks in the 1970’s and 80’s as a kid. The Hammer horror flicks, last house on the left, I spit on your grave, Friday the 13th, Halloween, and many more and I loved those movies. They remade most of them and even the remakes are good. Who didn’t like the Exorcist? :P

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Too much gore and I just shut down. It ceases to be real at that point.

I remember 28 Days of Night was like that, I just went numb and didn’t care about the story, the characters, anything.

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starbuck1771

Trust me once you have seen it IRL the movies are nothing. By the time I was 16 I had been personally stabbed and shot at, has seen a person who had hung them-self, another who blew their own head off with a shotgun, and was with an uncle who found a body in a dumpster. So those movies don’t phase me.

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starbuck1771

I am generally PG-13 in-game but have no issue pushing the limits. For instance just to be a tool because of all the Liberal hate for Trump in LOTRO I actually made a Minstrel named Trumpster. It infuriated some players seeing the name so they whined and SSG made me change it because Liberals in the game found it offensive. Go figure mission was a success. The funny part is I am always a nice guy in games I play but I hate people who are hateful A-holes. However my name was not as offensive as a Kin named The Minstrel Cramps. :P

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Armsbend

Minstrel Cramps is clever though. By your own admission you went out trolling (without a clever name) and got your wish. shrug (Trumpster wouldnt have raised an eyebrow for me).

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starbuck1771

Yes however this was during the primaries and it proved my point that Liberals are bigots even though they claim to like diversity. I voted for Trump because he was the lesser of two evils. I don’t regret it.

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Armsbend

I don’t really care who you voted for. This entire liberal versus conservative narrative is about as anti-american as you can get. Politicians and corporations are pitting half-wits against each other for their gain. See that. You are not a half-wit. Understand that the desire is to get the peasants to hate each other so the powerful can bleed the country dry and not watch the magicians hands.

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dude dudedude

Why do you seem to think an 18plus guild have to be RP? Most 18plus guilds are just adults who would rather socially hang out with other adults. Just like they do in real life.

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starbuck1771

I guess I have been hanging out with the wrong 18+ guilds/Kins/Clans all these years. A 18+ guild means something different then a mature members only guild in the real world.

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camelotcrusade

Sounds fine to me. For well-rounded characters in RP it can become hard to ignore that adult characters are, in fact, adults, especially as months and years go by. You can only talk about battles and politics for so long.