Posted August 17th, 2009 by Ethec
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This week we'll have some exclusive content from the Syndicate World Conference 2009 in Austin, Texas, but some of the most valuable insights I uncovered during my time there dealt moreso with guild leadership. Thoughts on how a guild can stay together for 12+ years and why the majority of guilds fall apart in 12 days in today's Loading... Syndicate World Conference 2009.
For those of you just joining us, I spent all weekend with The Syndicate guide at their 8th world conference in Austin, Texas. They're a great bunch of people, and Austin, despite never getting below 92 degrees, was a nifty countercultural setting for the conference. SyndiCon continues to grow too, in prominence if not in total size (since the event is only open to The Syndicate's guild members. Richard Garriott, John Smedley, and Curt Schilling made an appearance at this years event among others, and all had some surprising things to say. You'll see some of that as my content rolls out this week before Blizzcon, but some will have to stay behind closed doors for now.
The Syndicate still numbers only in the six hundreds despite receiving over a thousand applications a week, a problem exacerbated by their repeated appearances in Second Skin - the MMORPG documentary set to make its DVD debut later this week. I interviewed Sean "Dragons" Stalzer on how the guild keeps it fun despite a growing emphasis on the business side of the guild - they just opened their own print guides studio in partnership with Prima and have something of a consulting service going with several developers - but I was treated to seeing some of the diplomacy in action as Sean and the guild leadership dealt with a hotbutton issue that arose during the con.
Sean encouraged everyone to speak their mind, noting that the longer it stays behind closed doors, the longer it festers, the harder it'll be to deal with. It wasn't done for show or for my benefit either - I wandered in in mid-argument. It was fascinating to watch it unfold though - while Sean is fond of noting that The Syndicate is not a democracy, it was clear that no one was afraid to speak up. Sean's wasn't always taking the devil's advocate position, but presented counter-points and supporting data as necessary, and ultimately kept things in perspective by saying that if the hotbutton issue didn't work itself out to their satisfaction, it wouldn't change who they are or what they're doing. It makes me wonder if Sean's second book won't be a Guild Leadership for dummies style book that would greatly benefit some of the guilds I've been in and (to be completely honest) that I've led.
What's been your longest experience with a guild? What made it work for so long? Or conversely, what was your shortest, unhappiest experience with a guild, and why did it fall apart? Feel free to stop by the Loading... forum or email me with your thoughts.