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Onlife #38
In which Miguel talks to Dragons. Ya rly.
By Miguel Lopez | Feb. 22, 2006

We've all been there before: you've been playing a certain game for several years, and you've either blown through all the content, or aren't interested in pursuing Publisher X's idea of an end-game. Yes, in the ideal world, it would be the actual game experience itself that keeps you coming back, but in reality, this tends to not be the case. We've all found ourselves here: a time and place in which the zeroes, ones, and pixels just aren't giving you the same level as gratification as they used to. When this happens, all that's left is the people.

The guilds that we find ourselves falling in with do a great deal to enhance a game's experience, as well as prolong its longevity. Personally, I haven't been a hardcore guild player until recently, instead having aligned myself with smaller groups, more often than not connected to each other in real life. It's a more organic and personal environment, and while you may not have as many opportunities to see all the cool endgame stuff with such a guild, in contrast, it requires much less of a commitment on your part.

On the other end of the spectrum are guilds of such enormous magnitude that their influence starts to extend outside of the virtual worlds they inhabit. You may have heard of The Syndicate. If you haven't, it's one of the player organizations responsible for providing the template for what guilds resemble to this day. The Syndicate, run by a player named "Dragons," celebrated its 10 year anniversary this month. First operating in Ultima Online, the guild has maintained a presence in most of the big name games of the past 10 years. Today, it operates exclusively in WoW and UO, with a roster of over 550 players, annual real-life guild conventions, and even a corporate sponsorship.

UO: The Syndicate's original stomping grounds.

In order to achieve a better understanding of what it's like to run an organization of that magnitude, I spoke with Dragons, whom, despite all his responsibilities as guild master of a group this large -- not to mention the amount of time it takes to actually play these games -- maintains a full time job. Think about that next time you're thinking about flaking on a guild raid because you have work the next morning.

"Running The Syndicate is tantamount to a second job. I spend six or so hours a day on 'paperwork' to keep the guild moving ever forward. My personal time, besides in-game things like leading events and raids, is invested in answering 200-250 member emails a day... answering posts, resolving issues, helping members, planning events, interfacing with developers, and things of that nature," Dragons said. "It is a pretty big effort to lead a team of 550+ members." It sure sounds like it. It would seem that his role as GM provides him with enough work for it to justify it being a full-time job, though that isn't the case. "I do have a job that pays the bills and a couple of kids (although there has been a rumor for years that I'm really a 12 year old girl), so the guild is something I do on top of all that," he told me.

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