Recently, I had the opportunity to meet up with Sean Stalzer (guild master and President & CEO of the MMO gaming organization The Syndicate). For those of you who may be unaware, The Syndicate is one of the largest continuous gaming guilds in existence. They have been prominent in both “Fantasy Freaks, and Gaming Geeks” by Ethan Gilsdorf as well as the movie “Second Skin”. Not content to just be part of other creator’s media Sean is also the author of “The Legend of the Syndicate: A History of Online Gaming's Premier Guild”.
Background and History (abridged, um make that very abridged)
Sean’s gaming bio is similar to many of his generation, one that I am proud to a member of, starting off with many single player games back on the Commodore 64 and a 300 baud modem. Many of the younger readers may need to look that one up on the web. For us older gamers, there are both fond and horrific memories of these first generation home machines. The first Bard’s Tale was one game that Sean remembers in particular. Then with the advent of home based internet providers, AOL specifically, the MMO world slowly began to emerge. Games like “The Realm” began to lay the ground work for their successors. It wasn’t until 1997, when Ultima Online was released that the MMO world would really stepped into its own. It was here that that The Syndicate began to take shape. According Sean, Ultima Online was one of the first games that required a guild mentality. There was just no way that a single player was going to be able to successfully prevail over all of the game’s obstacles. Whether it was AI mobs that the game threw at you, an end game boss or that random pesky Player Killer. In addition to foes that required defeating, there were a number of resources that would be required for advancement. There was too much for a single player to manage themselves, hence the creation of The Syndicate.
The next big leap for The Syndicate came not surprisingly with the 1999 release of “Everquest”. This would be where some of the rules that still dictate The Syndicate were fleshed out. MMOs were becoming a mainstay in gaming, and stable guild systems would contribute success within these games.
As with the rest of the gaming community, World of Warcraft had its significant impact on The Syndicate. The release of this game through today lead to the largest recruitment The Syndicate has experienced. Already having years of guild experience under their belts made dealing with recruits a less overwhelming task.
There is no denying that belonging to successful guild certainly makes games a much friendlier game to play. As such, what makes a guild successful? Guild hopping can be sport unto itself. Fortunately, Sean shared some of insight that all guild leaders out there can really benefit from.
“Step back from defeating the content. Take the time to build relations.” There is a drive for gamers to succeed. Unfortunately there is no success if a guild can’t manage to stay together. It’s far better to defeat the game’s content at a later point, rather than not at all. “Gaming is a social experience. Players will stay in a game much longer if their friends are still playing” With more dedicated players, guilds have a more solid chance of besting the game’s content.
What’s next for The Syndicate?
Some of the next games that The Syndicate looks forward to tackling are: Sony’s “Everquest Next”, 38 Studios’ “Copernicus”, and BioWare’s “Star Wars: The Old Republic”.
I had to ask Sean what his guild thought of “The Guild”. “There is about a 50/50 split of guild members who enjoy the show and who feel it is bit “stereotypical” In fact we are trying to have some of the cast members attend one of our conferences”
Finally I had to know, for my own sake. Was The Syndicate’s WoW presence Horde or Alliance. I was grateful the answer was Horde; it would have been uncomfortable to have thrown down then and there.
The Syndicate is a solid, positive example of what the gaming world is capable of. For every negative aspect that gamers are attributed with, and let’s face it folks there are a number of stereotypes that exist, The Syndicate has done a fine job of countering some of these. In addition to just being an online gaming guild, The Syndicate also takes part in conventions, LAN parties, conferences, and charity events. For more information on The Syndicate check out their website at www.llts.org