Eterna Gaming™ spent some time recently chatting with Sean "Dragons" Stalzer, Guild Leader, CEO and Author for The Syndicate (one of the oldest gaming communities and the longest running guild in the world, according to The Guinness World Record!)—and we learned a lot about how this unique community/guild came together, what kind of activities they enjoy, and what they're looking for in new members!

Tell us about your guild and its history. How long has it been active? Any reason for selecting the guild name?
The Syndicate was founded in 1996 and holds the Guinness World Record ( for the longest, continuously operating, online gaming guild.  Our website, has a good deal of our history in there and 150+ articles written about us that can fill in alot of the gaps.  We also have two books that are published (Legend of The Syndicate and Beyond The Syndicate) available on and Amazon.  Those cover the first 15 years of history and share what we feel is one successful way to build a large, stable, long term community.

A brief synopsis is that we were founded in an era where a 'guild' meant something different than it does today.  Where gamers had entirely different expectations. In some ways the visions were larger since no one knew what gaming could/would deliver and in other ways they were naive and simple.  We helped in the earliest phases of Ultima Online and have since moved through nearly every major game that has come out.  We have had huge presences in Everquest, World of Warcraft, Shadowbane, Star Wars: The Old Republic and now in Shroud of the Avatar.  But you will have found us in everything from DAOC to Guild Wars to Asherons Call to Aion to just about anything.  There is a fairly complete list on the website.

We are a very large guild with 1200+ members.  That said, we have almost no turn over.  We lose maybe 1-2 people per year who are unhappy with the guild and choose to go elsewhere.  That is because of the way in which we recruit members.  We only take people similar to ourselves that we know very well and are friends with.  Once members, we offer a huge number of benefits from our annual conferences to unique testing opportunities not available to the general gaming public to hardware testing opportunities to for-pay strategy guide writing and much more.  So while its very tough to get in (over 4,000 apps per year come in and only the referrals of close friends get admitted), the benefits and the community that is drama free and friend focused keep that retention so high.

Is there a philosophy you follow as a guild? If you’re recruiting, what do you look for in guild members?
We have a couple core philosophies:  Guild First is the external facing one (i.e. every action a member takes must reflect positively and professionally on the guild and you can never side against the guild and remain a member).  Internally its Friend First.  We never back-stab each other.  We don't sell things to each other.  We don't exclude people.  We use a very inclusive loot system. 

We recruit for games that we have a huge presence in.  We do not add members to games where we have a smaller presence.  We do have several applications live on our website but the #1 requirement is having a referral.  And referrals are only given to people we know well.  So the advice to anyone wishing to join is: Get to know us.  We are not the right guild for everyone so learning more about us will help a prospective member make the right choice and build that friendship which can lead to a referral.

What has been the most difficult experience with the guild? Most rewarding?
There are two books that cover this question in great detail.  Everquest was the most difficult.  In those early years the idea of making an entire server of guilds fight over a few bosses, that spawned once a week, and that were the only source of gear to progress further was just a horrible idea.  That made for a difficult time because everyone was learning the concept of raiding and the concept of large group activities (which most of us take for granted today) while being in an environment where you may not see a boss for weeks or months depending if it spawned when you happened to be online with enough people and if you happened to get there sooner than someone else.

The most rewarding aspect of the guild is our annual conventions known as SyndCon.  We bring together 200+ members for 5 days and they are insanely fun.  It takes the virtual friendships and makes them real.  You get to interact with developers and hardware manufacturers.  You get to raise money for charity.  You do a bunch of really fun events.  But in the end, you build a very powerful personal, shared experience that makes the gaming side of things much more rewarding.

The Syndicate is known for helping others learn games fully, being active in a lot of MMORPGs and even FPS. Any other activities you enjoy?
The Syndicate is active in quite a few genres.  There is a big MOBA component with games like SMITE being very popular.  There is a big RTS component with games like Grey Goo taking center stage right now.  As you mentioned FPS and MMOs are also popular.  Survival games like DAYZ and Ark and Rust are all very popular.  Mobile gaming is big.  Internally, we invest alot of time working with game developers across those genres to develop the next generation of games.  Those relationships and that ability to come together as a team of 5 or 500 to help someone out is something the team enjoys a great deal.

What role do you aim to play in the gaming community? What plans do you have in the future?
As I mentioned above, first and foremost its "Guild First" but that philosophy should not be confused with a lack of caring about the community.  A vibrant gaming community benefits all of us.  We invest heavily in the community doing everything from working with young guilds on how to build a long lasting entity; to running events in game to help players (for example our Craftsman Day events that we started in Ultima Online and that have been copied by many guilds across many games since then) to strategy guide writing.  We 2nd book was a chance for us to publish a model that we felt can build a successful community and we intend to expand upon those tools in our third book as well.

Anything you’d like to say to your guild/community members? To the public?
I talk to my community members every single morning :)  So to them I would simply say: Long Live The Syndicate!

To the gaming public at large:  The Syndicate is very old and as such has a very long and very detailed, rich history.  If you are interested in learning more about us, please check out LLTS.ORG.  If you are looking for one model, that worked well for us, to build a stable community then check out our book Beyond The Legend.  You can get an ebook version over on (or a print version if you prefer). 

Eterna Gaming would like to thank Sean "Dragons" Stalzer for spending some time with us—and all of The Syndicate for helping to make the Gaming World an exciting experience for everyone!

For more information on The Syndicate, be sure to go to: