Guildies Unplugged – The Meetup
You log in and are greeted by warm welcomes from guild chat. Those pixelated names controlled by their human (and some not so human) counterparts are your online friends. A new wave of social media is truly the guild experience in MMOs. But just like any friends, sometimes you just need to meet up and do something. Get out of the game and into reality with your virtual teammates.
Meeting up with guildies offline for the first time especially if you only know them from online can be an exciting but also a daunting experience. It can be quite the nerve racking experience. One definitely needs to plan it all out ahead. But why plan it out? Well it can be a memorable experience, here you are playing a game where you never meet the players behind them, then finally after playing with someone for several years you meet them face to face in an organization of activity. Putting a real life human face and a handshake to a character in game helps build stronger bonds amongst the guild as well. The ultimate benefit of this is to have less drama and tighter bonds in the guild as a result of meeting your teammates face to face.
The best thing to do when organizing this is to invite everyone in guild, not everyone will make it, but make the offer to everyone. The last thing you want to do with an activity such as this to exclude people from it. When you do this will be largely dependent on your guild, I would highly recommend not during major holidays, try to find a single location that everyone can get to. Now the big piece of this where? Ideally treat this as if you would like going on a date that your parents set you up on, you don’t know this person, you never have seen them before. So someplace public, convention, restaurants, etc. This promotes safety just in case someone who got sat on last week’s raid doesn’t learn where you live.
Now that you have the who, what, when and where. You now need to prepare. Directions should be clear and concise, don’t trust Google maps, not everything is as up to date, same with GPS. Obviously both are useful tools but provide proper directions first and foremost. Make sure to let people know most ideal places to stay (i.e. hotels) in the area, along with what restaurants are nearby. Lastly the coordinator should have given out their phone number in case folks get lost or need information.
So you now took care of food, lodging, directions, contact info. Now make sure you have some activities planned. Conventions (i.e. Gaming Cons, Comic Cons, LAN Parties, concerts and/or festivals) make this even easier as the conventions provide their own activities. If not, you will need to plan some events, don’t expect people to entertain themselves. Arcades, pool halls, are also good places to meet up as it helps to put people in a similar gaming environment without you hoping that everyone just has things to talk about. Keep in mind the age of your attendees, as bars and potentially pool halls may not be age appropriate.
Potentially you can even create in-game activities that will generate real world prizes or “loot” for the meetup. Do a scavenger hunt, a pve or pvp challenge. Provide guild shirts, authenticators, game-related prizes, etc.
For me, my first official guild meetup will occur in middle of July. One of my officers runs MassiveLan, and has invited the guild to attend. I will be meeting up with several of my officers, including a few raiding members as well that I have only interacted with outside the game on facebook, xbox live or twitter. I am very excited to meet some of the people who have been with the guild for what seems like a lifetime.