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Legend of the Syndicate

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the guild-is-life-guild-is-death dept.

Role Playing (Games) 138

In the world of Massively Multiplayer Online Games, guilds live and die like generations of fruit flies. In the time it takes you to read this review, another group of friends will probably have decided to go their separate ways. Due to what is commonly referred to as 'drama', and the nature of the currently most popular online game, the modern MMOG guild tends to be a short-lived affair. A book published about a single guild, then, has to be discussing a singular organization. And indeed, The Syndicate has lasted for over a decade. Well known in both Ultima Online and EverQuest, and going strong into the days of World of Warcraft, they've had numerous public successes and some notorious failures. Their tale is a strange, and utterly personal view of the history of Massive games. It's also highly self-aggrandizing and probably contentious, but that's to be expected. Legend of the Syndicate is a publication worth reading by anyone interested in the history of the Massive genre, or the future of social networks online.To hear Sean Stalzer tell it, The Syndicate is the noblest, most amazing online community ever formed. Guildleader of the organization, founder, and head of the guild's social network via a 'benevolent dictatorship', Stalzer is also the author of this title. The book primarily consists of written descriptions of the guild's history interspersed with fictionalized accounts of in-game events. On the page, guild actions become larger than life; at over 500 members, the guild itself seems the same way.

At first blush, it's hard not to see the whole thing as a little silly. Massive games are an incredibly important part of the future of gaming. Outside of guilds who compete in pro gaming events, though, I think most gamers see guilds as a convenient way to make friends and play the game. Organizations to be taken seriously, for sure, but not something you really consider being a part of your life ten years from now.

The Syndicate, just the same, is a very different outfit. What Stalzer has set up, and what the book is 'selling', is a group hundreds strong that operates under the slogan "In Friendship We Conquer." Over the years the organization has trademarked its name and logo, has beta tested over a dozen Massively Multiplayer games, and consults with a game guide publisher. The Syndicate now seems as much a business arrangement, or fraternal organization, as a gaming guild. They have a yearly conference that regularly draws more than hundred people, with game company representatives attending to brief them on in-development titles.

As a history of the guild, it actually works very well as a reflection of the Massively Multiplayer genre. The group moves with the trials and tribulations of Ultima Online, through to EverQuest, and then on to World of Warcraft, as I imagine many other individual players and guilds have done. By examining and discussing the guild's successes as an organization, Seltzer does a surprisingly insightful job of highlighting their good points. Though they've been decried as elitist and single-minded, The Syndicate can honestly make many claims to success.

What marrs the good story (the fictional one) and the inspiring tale (of real-life camaraderie) is the propagandist tone of the work. It is to be expected that Seltzer would feel pride at what he's put together, but likely as a result of this being a first published offering the book sometimes reads a lot like a recruiting pamphlet. Another 'first effort' sign is the lack of polish in phrasing and (unfortunately), spelling. The list of games that they've tested is riddled with errors. Further runs of the book, one would hope, will correct these fundamental errors.

Ultimately the audience for this book is somewhat narrow; folks interested in the history of the Massive genre will find this interesting, and avid players of EverQuest or UO have probably at least heard of the guild. Certainly, for members of The Syndicate, they now have something guaranteed to wig out their family members. "There's a book about your little club?" Outside of novelty value, I'm not sure there's a lot of other people who might find this text enlightening. For those few, though, a peak behind the curtain at The Syndicate will be fascinating. Propaganda aside, you have to hand it to a group that's kept it together for over a decade. The chance to see how that worked out is a unique one, and well worth taking.

If you're in any way interested in the book, Gamasutra has a full chapter of the book available online. The offered text, Chapter One in the book, takes a look at the guild's formation.


You can purchase Legend of the Syndicate from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Nothing for you to see here. Please move along. (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652401)

I guess they didn't last too long, after all.

Sex, drugs and on-line relationships (1)

ringfinger (629332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652887)

Guilds are a fascinating part of this genre of game. They provide a foundation for friendship and teamwork that provides a big part of the fun for many of those involved. I was on WoW and played in (and founded) guilds. At their best, the provide a set of shared values that helps the members find relationships they may otherwise not have.
One of the big issues that no one talks about is how guilds provide places for people to hook up for on-line flirting, relationships and keyboard sex. I remember two people in a guild I was in accidently typed a message into the guild chat instead of between themselves and it became obvious what they were doing. Another time on 'vent' -- a voice chat -- one guild member started going on and on about how he was buying and selling pot.

Re:Sex, drugs and on-line relationships (4, Funny)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653205)

I remember two people in a guild I was in accidently typed a message into the guild chat instead of between themselves and it became obvious what they were doing.

And that was the day I stopped three-boxing. Sorry about that!

Is it just me (0, Flamebait)

Asmodai (13932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652487)

or does reading about this kind of subject seem a total waste of time?

I mean, respect for the people who can put up with the repetitious nature of most MMORPGs (I didn't last longer than 2-3 months in WoW or similar games), but to read about a guild and what they have done seems like punishment I would not want to inflict upon anyone, no matter how much they like this genre.

The reviewer must be a brave man indeed...

Re:Is it just me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652583)

If you ever played UO, you would pine for the glory days of Pre-Trammel and lots** of people would love to write a book or story of thier adventures, cyb0ring, or in-game achievements of those days.

**This is 250k, not 5 million.

Re:Is it just me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653095)

It's not just you. For the life of me I can't figure how a book like this ever got published.

Besides, everything I've heard about these kinds of games, which I've admittedly never played, makes them seem like a complete time sink. So now, the hardcore gamer can take a much-needed break from playing his MMOG, by reading about other players of MMOGs. WTF?

I think the parent was unfairly modded as flamebait.

Does anyone know what guilds are mentioned? (0, Troll)

antifood (898331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652521)

Does anyone know what guilds are mentioned? I was in a guild called the fuckheads, I remember these guys in UO. It would be interesting to see how factual this "book" is. It sounds about right for this guy to be writing a book about himself.

This meme isn't yet relevant (1)

macz (797860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652579)

That people self organize and play games together is interesting, but it hasn't happened on a grand scale yet. When political candidates are wooing votes with their stances on virtual property or virtual crime, then MMORPGs will be seen for what they are... vast playgrounds full of like minded people who are relatively inexpensive to reach en masse. I dread that day. I get enough spam in trade chat now from gold farmers.

Hrm (0, Troll)

Chayak (925733) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652589)

*Yawn* People would care about this why?

Re:Hrm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653677)

When I read the title, I thought they were bringing back the old PC game Syndicate and making it a Massively Multiplayer game. That would have been awesome as I loved that game and the satisfaction of self detonating the bomb in your chest and taking out a city block with innocent bystanders :)

Nope, but instead we get an article on a book written by some weirdo that is full of himself for accomplishing....ummm....what?

Re:Hrm (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654325)

You obviously didn't read that first chapter online. He, and this rookie player with no where near the same talent, stood alone vs a whole 'nother guild!

I've never heard of them (1)

rbanzai (596355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652609)

I've played all three of those games and never heard of this guild.

Re:I've never heard of them (5, Informative)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652759)

rbanzai wrote:

I've played all three of those games and never heard of this guild.
I was a member of a very top end guild in EverQuest (still #1 today); up until I quit about a year and a half ago. There was a small handful of guilds that were in serious running for the "top 5"; with many expansion races being decided by a matter of minutes for the first 3 finishers.

I've heard of the Syndicate, but they were always in that "tier 2" level of guilds. The kind of guild that the top guilds usually recruited from. They were good, but they didn't usually finish expansions before the release of the next one, and that left them behind in the second wave of finishers.

~Rebecca

Re:I've never heard of them (2, Interesting)

lgw (121541) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654429)

Some guilds care about in-game achievement. Some guilds care about social success. A guild that survives across multiple games and many years is interesting from a social networks point of view for just that reason.

I'm part of a guild that is, as far as I can determine, the oldest MMO guild still active, and is interesting as a social network for other reasons: we have families with members of three generations in the guild, for example. Occasionally we do something impressive in one of the games that the guild has a branch on, but really, another day another dragon: how many people care about such things? It's just a game, after all.

When the social fabric of the guild leads to a successful(!) real-world marriage, that's an accomplishment that matters. If the Syndicate did anything worth writing a book about, it would have to be something outside the game.

Re:I've never heard of them (1)

sohare (1032056) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654843)

Sure, if finishing expansions is your main criterion for classifying guilds.

You'll see this too in MUDs, which I am more familiar with. You have some people who've usually been playing for 3-5 years that have awesome equipment, are the highest level, have amassed a fortune, yet anyone who's been around for a bit longer pays them no heed. They'll probably be gone in a short while anyway. What they are primarily lacking, in a MUD, is character development. Most of the real "legends" are not high level and don't necessarily have all the awesome gear.

Re:I've never heard of them (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655933)

"I've heard of the Syndicate, but they were always in that "tier 2" level of guilds."

Soooo...you are one of those elitist bastards....bastardettes....that 99% of the people in MMORPG's love to hate and not so secretly envy? Or maybe you just play one on Slashdot?

Not sure being in a top end guild in a game that has been dieing ever since WoW and EQ II came is exactly something to gloat about. EQ I deserved to die for no other reason than absence of instances and the absolute horror of people fighting over camps. If you are gonna fixate on being a "top end guild" you probably want to be playing in the big pond as horrible as WoW is, or maybe EvE, a small very elitist pond.

Re:I've never heard of them (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653657)

I've played all three of those games and never heard of this guild.

If my memory serves me correct, LLTS or the Syndicate was an Atlantic shard which I played on a lot back in 1997 to 2000.

I wasn't a member, but I PK'd a few of them and vice versa during some major guild wars. Of course seeing they just about let anyone join their guild and were the biggest guild on Atlantic and it was hard not to miss them.

Of course with a guild that big, it their structure was kind of diluted and we even had a few guild members infiltrate their ranks for some castle raids. I could be thinking of another guild and I didn't play that much with the guild politics other than my guild buddies messaging me on ICQ that they were going on a "Orange PK" raid on Vesper.

Heck... I don't even remember the guild I was in (Technically my name or Malinox was used, but was played by some one else under another account whom I gave and then I rejoined as another player as Mr. Unhappy Man)

Still I remember them... I heard they all went to EQ while a few of us played Siege Perilous, but beyond that...

If you didn't play on Atlantic, then I can understand why you haven't heard of them.

More Syndicate hype (5, Insightful)

stinkbomb (238228) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652697)

The Syndicate has been trying for years to make itself out to be some kind of mythic uber-guild, largely by spinning tales about how big of an influence they've had on the MMO genre. To hear them talk, you'd think it would be impossible to create an MMO these days without letting them test it early on.

Like most close-knit online communities, there's a tendency to see your community as far more important and influential than it actually is (see: bloggers). This is just another example of a group with a charismatic leader believing its own hype.

Re:More Syndicate hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652911)

Exactly.

I mean, cmon, it's a videogame...

Re:More Syndicate hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652931)

To hear them talk, you'd think it would be impossible to create an MMO these days without letting them test it early on.

Well, maybe not a successful one...

What I was really hoping to find out was what games they helped test and what games they've played beyond the Big Three.

Any Eve or Guild Wars thrown in there? It'd be nice to know what besides the three really famous MMORPGs they've been involved in. I suppose I could just check their website [llts.org] but I'm lazy...

Re:More Syndicate hype (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653001)

I don't know how well your analogy works there, since I can't think of any MMO guilds that actually matter. But with bloggers there are a few who actually are influential. It's just that all the rest of them seem to think that because they blog they're also influential, which they're not. But they also have a lot of people (cable news and what not) telling them that they're influential and important. I'm pretty sure these guys in these guilds are just being told to clean their room and get a job (mostly by their mom).

Re:More Syndicate hype (1)

Hays (409837) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653021)

I played EQ and I play WoW and I've never heard of them either. I've also been in the same guild for 7 years, and the guild has existed for more than a decade. So do I need to write a book now?

Re:More Syndicate hype (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653357)

Yea. my guild has been around in EQ alone since June of 1999. 8 years.

Never heard of syndicate. Cool they are published tho.

Re:More Syndicate hype (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653217)

Like most close-knit online communities, there's a tendency to see your community as far more important and influential than it actually is (see: bloggers). This is just another example of a group with a charismatic leader believing its own hype.

Kinda like that one fat chick who hangs out with the hot chicks, and, therefore, over-estimates her own hotness....

Re:More Syndicate hype (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653343)

It's more like a whole group of fat chicks who only hang out with each other, and due to their lack of perspective and self-imposed isolation, think they're a lot hotter than they actually are.

(The difference from your example being that there are no 'hot chicks' here; it's all trivialities.)

Re:More Syndicate hype (2, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653379)

I must admit sir, you have improved upon my "fat chick" analogy and/or logic set....

Re:More Syndicate hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653437)

Oblig Holy Grail Misquote:

"This new fat chick science amazes me. Explain again how you may employ a sheep's bladder in the prevention of earthquakes?"

Re:More Syndicate hype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19656607)

I think you've just described America.

How do you... (2, Funny)

sxltrex (198448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653771)

How do you kill that which has no life?

Sean will do anything to make a buck. (4, Informative)

ShrapnelFace (1001368) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652717)

Sean needs a psychiatrist- and that is the end of it.

Who in the hell would buy a book written by the founder of an online club? And lets face it, its a club- like the 4H Club.

This is about profit and money for himself, and over the years, you can see a Sean emerge from ultra-paranoid and stealth identity, to a person who has taken extra steps to thrust himself into the public eye.

My own experiences in this guild as an adult member of 3+ years says this:

The size of this is grossly exaggerated- their registry of members never changes

The roster also is full of duplicated members- so if you are a member and playing 5 games, you have five alias, and thus those 5 names count as "membership"

There is an "elite" group within the organization that simply dont pay for their resources, thanks in part to the fair number of members that are minors who are willing to pay "dues" so that the elite group can be paid.

The list goes on- but so freakin what.

Re:Sean will do anything to make a buck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652781)

Wow, all that and nobody wants to read the book? From that description of the guy alone, I'd be happier to read his book than some lame book about some "president" guy who just leeches off of tax money from the fair number of "minors" who are willing to pay "dues" to the government and has some vastly overinflated ego.

Not much different from FPS games, then... (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652721)

Seriously - Clans have often formed and vanished before they'd even played their first match. Some have lasted as long as a specific MOD have, while others have spanned many a game, and continue to this day (though not as many as there once were, IIRC).

Just like MMPORG's, some groups were casual (they did it more as a social event than anything competitive or rather, 'striving to be the best'). Others have members that perhaps loathe each other, but at the same time they're such good players, they stick together for the success rate.

Drama and BS aside (which happens quite often), once in awhile you simply fall into a pile of friends you meet at a server and everyone just clicks. It doesn't matter what game it is, you simply hang out and enjoy the hell out of each other as much as you enjoy the game. (I'll happily spare the planet a long boring tale of how many an odd night was spent while the ex was at work, and I was playing on an old Quake2 Weapons Factory server. Suffice it to say that many of the players on that old TCA-owned box had come to recognize each other as friends. It was also kinda funny to have someone in spec reading poetry over chat, while we were killing each other repeatedly. Crap - too late. Sorry 'bout that).

IMHO, nothing really changed from the days when everyone was an LPB and everyone played something that didn't require much thought beyond (maybe) what the other team might be doing to steal your flag.

/P

oops: LPB != HPB. (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652747)

Sorry... meant "High-Pinged Bastard" up there.

/P

Re:Not much different from FPS games, then... (1)

forgotten_my_nick (802929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654935)

Some guilds make their mark. I haven't heard of Syndicate.

I hadn't heard of m0o either when I joined eve, however that clan is instrumental in across the board structural changes to how Eve is played purely by how they played the game.

Re:Not much different from FPS games, then... (1)

X3J11 (791922) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655835)

Damn you to hell Penguinisto! Make me go all soft and reminiscy... I miss Weapons Factory, and find it a rare thing to see someone else who played.

Re:Not much different from FPS games, then... (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656397)

If it makes you feel better, we both have something in common with Trent Reznor - Q2 Weapons Factory used to be his favorite MOD as well:

http://www.gamingjunky.com/article/2007/4/19/nin-- -q1-to-year-zero/ [gamingjunky.com] http://www.9inchnails.com/articles/pretty-quake-ma chine.php [9inchnails.com]

Leadership is key (3, Insightful)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652739)

I've been an officer in a high-profile GW guild in the past, and currently lead my own guild. The former was the first-ever GW guild, and is still doing very well. Mine as well. Yet, in the time I've played the game, I have seen MANY guilds fall apart, even those that seemed like they'd go on forever. And every single time, it has come down to a question of leadership. "Drama" is always waiting to happen, and good guild leaders (and officer groups) will either prevent it before it does, or handle it swiftly and decisively *if* it does. Those that don't will eventually lose their guild.

Why? The answer is simple -- people really only care about *playing the game,* and of course they see drama as a hindrance in that regard. Once they see that they spend less time playing the game and more time worrying about "what will happen to the guild," they want out.

The guilds that survive for extended periods of time are laid-back ones that put the goal of just playing the game first, and make it a point to ignore or avoid all of the surrounding personal issues that come up.

Re:Leadership is key (1)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653003)

That has been my experience in GW as well. My guild is really small (~6), but since we're all friends in RL, we're more interested in playing the game rather than becoming some 'uber-guild'. We've been around since Prophecies, and we'll probably be in GW2 (assuming the guild system gets ported over).

Re:Leadership is key (1)

The-Ixian (168184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653161)

Or perhaps there is a critical mass after which point it doesn't matter how much drama there is since there are so many people in the guild that you would just be shooting yourself in the foot by leaving for a potentially smaller guild.
 
The word "Massive" in the context of MMOG is a finite number which is usually two thousand or so on a single server cluster.
 
This means that if your guild is a good fraction of that population then you will be able to prosper due to the fact that you can easily organize, execute (pun intended) and even control (by camping) all of the high level content in the game, thereby giving your members a clear advantage over those who have to try to pool their resources.
 
That said, I have to say that having been in big guilds and small guilds, I tend to enjoy the small guild the best, even if that means I can't have the best loot. I have been running with a group of about 5 guys for almost 2 years and I am happier playing the same old game now than I was when I started.

Re:Leadership is key (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655201)

That "finite number" of 2000 you mentioned might apply to some MMOs, but it most certainly doesn't to Guild Wars. In that game, the servers are: North America, Europe, China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan. So, unless your guild is like 200,000 people (max guild size is 100 btw), you won't be able to control the high-level content much, hehe.

Actually given the number of active accounts in WoW, I doubt 2000 is the number one's looking for there, either. It's probaby a couple of orders of magnitude larger.

Re:Leadership is key (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655579)

Or perhaps there is a critical mass after which point it doesn't matter how much drama there is since there are so many people in the guild that you would just be shooting yourself in the foot by leaving for a potentially smaller guild.

No, that's when a guild fractures. With enough people, there are large chunks that are never able to group or raid (and hence bond) with the core group. Those people - the second or third raiding groups - can easily break away to form their own core. Alternatively, the core raiding group breaks away to lose the dead weight.

On Tunare in EQ it happened often. Krieger, the mutli-game dominant alliance thingy, had its EQ guild on our server. At one point the core of the guild broke off to form Vae Inimicus, and Krieger was never viable for end-game raiding again. (I think the guild was kicked out of the multi-game system.) Later, after growing again, the core of Vae left to form another guild (whose name I can't recall).

Incidentally, I've been in my guild since 2001 through EQ and WoW, through several raid alliances and absorptions of other smaller guilds. There are I think only six of us left right now that were in the guild in EQ, and we've never had a server first for anything, but it works well.

Re:Leadership is key (3, Insightful)

bcharr2 (1046322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653691)

The ironic thing when it comes to many MMO guilds and "leadership" is that the individuals often viewed as great leaders in MMOs are the same individuals who would probably be viewed as completely lacking leadership qualities in real life.

This is because in MMOs, the main criteria for "leadership" is often simply the sum of hours one is willing to commit to pursuing goals in a video game, with other leadership qualities becoming secondary considerations. Oftentimes the sheer willingness to dedicate inhumane hours in pursuit of virtual accomplishments is viewed by other players as a player having the "drive" or "determination" to overcome every obstacle, including the "obstacle" of real life responsibilities to family and career.

So what you usually see is a progression of 16 to 25 year olds in leadership positions, while the older gamers who fulfill actual leadership positions in real life find themselves sitting on the sidelines for the sin of being too "casual".

Admittedly the sum of my knowledge on the Syndicate is from a college classmate who was a member. He was busy slaying dragons while the rest of us were attending boring classes and doing other mundane tasks (such as graduating). So based on that I would hazard a guess that what you have is an individual who put real life responsibilities on hold to continue their string of virtual "accomplishments", and has now written a book to justify their all consuming life focus on video games.

Believe it or not, some kids actually grow up, raise a family (by raise I mean mentor and spend quality time with), start a career, invent the longer-lasting light bulb, and somewhere along the way actually benefit someone other than just themselves.

Then there are those who lock themselves in computer rooms every evening of the year for hours on end, sleepwalking through the rest of their life until they can get back to the business of killing virtual monsters in a virtual game for virtual rewards.... and consider themselves Julius-freaking-Caesar because of this.

Re:Leadership is key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654351)

Not exactly.

While the mom's basement guys are definitely a large factor contributing to the success of a 'major' guild, simply for the resources they bring to the game for the people that don't have quite as much time, that alone is not enough to successfully lead a major guild. The kids with tons of time aren't the leaders.

Leading a major guild requires a good number of the same skills as does a 'real world' leadership position. Handling drama, for example, is pretty much exactly the same as dealing with the guy whose work isn't up to par. Good interpersonal skills are required for defusing disputes that occur regularly between the disparate personalities that will exist in any group of people larger than 1, and a 40 man guild is certainly larger than 1.

Management of resources (loot) is required. Poor resource allocation will result in members being disgruntled. Disgruntled players leads to either drama or guild turnover, both of which are detrimental to the guild's progress.

While I'll certainly agree that I wish I hadn't spent a ton of time on these things over the past decade, to state that there weren't 'real world' management skills available to be learned only implies that you were never involved in a major guild.

Re:Leadership is key (1)

bcharr2 (1046322) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655297)

Let's see, the ability to keep 20 individuals on task, showing up on time for their raid (let's call it a shift), replacing lost raiders (let's call it hiring new workers), handling interpersonal issues, and metering out limited resources (let's call it raises) between workers. Sounds like your guild leadership is qualified to be the assistant manager at their local fast food joint. Of course, that assistant manager is being paid for their work and is probably working fewer hours than your typical guild leader.

Listen, the business world doesn't care how much potential you may possess, they want to know what you have accomplished with what you have, and the judgment you exercised when balancing the priorities you wished to accomplish. It's why colleges don't just look at GPA, but also extra curricular activities.

In the case of MMO's, investing 1000's of hours of your most limited resource (your time) into a video game while ignoring family, friends, & career/school in the process demonstrates a serious lack of judgment and good decision making ability. This is completely different from the individual who plays the game as a normal hobby.

I am not saying this represents all guild leadership. There are many smaller guilds that probably require much smaller time commitments, and probably a very few large guilds that leave the larger guild decisions in the hands of more casual players who perhaps have a more balanced approach to life, but I suspect those are rare.

All in all, however, I am simply not buying the concept that leaders of large MMO guilds have somehow accomplished something significant. At best they are Don Quixote jousting windmills and calling them dragons, at worse they really are talented enough to direct a company of thousands, and thus spending their life locked into a video game is nothing short of tragic.

Re:Leadership is key (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655463)

Your next-to-last paragraph, describing leaders that take a very casual approach to the game, is totally on-the-dot as far as many I know :-) (myself included). The others you describe -- these are the leaders that see their guilds come and go in at best a year. The long-timers, the ones that make good friends that stay together from game-to-game, these are actually the older folks, often married and with children of their own, who take a VERY casual and mature approach to gaming, these are the ones who have guilds last for many years. I know a number of GW guilds that started off as Diablo 2 guilds, and plan on sticking together through GW2 and onwards, all things permitting. Their leaders, and even "officers," are not overly active in-game by any means. They simply make good decisions.

Interestingly, such guilds are usually quite large. At least two that I know very well have between 400 and 1000 members (forced in GW to span an entire "Alliance" as opposed to a single guild), and are led by women in their 40s+ (if not older?) who are simply wise enough to command respect, and are assisted in their duties by what may be dozens of capable "officers" who divide these duties amongst themselves. As a result, no-one needs to be "obsessed" with the game or overly active. You will find that the guilds with members that really do "piss away" their lives in these games -- these guilds don't last very long. At the very least, those members don't last long in the "good" (read: long-lasting) guilds, as I have seen a few come-and-go in the guilds I've known.

Re:Leadership is key (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19656499)

> Let's see, the ability to keep 20 individuals on task

On task? Jesus, it's a GAME. Guilds are sucking all the fun out of it.

Re:Leadership is key (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655517)

I have to agree with much of what you said. I'm not far enough in my career yet to know whether my "leadership" skills in an MMO are transferrable to a large extent (when I become an IT manager perhaps, we'll see), but having to manage 45+ people, even online, does give one insight into how such a group of people interacts and how to resolve differences between them.

Re:Leadership is key (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655329)

Those leaders are the ones that lose their guilds real fast if they have to actually provide some real leadership, though. They're the ones that lead the hundreds of guilds that come and go on a whim.

I for one, and the successful guild leaders I've known, are very far from playing the game much. I log onto Guild Wars for at most 1 hr per evening, mostly to check up on people, say hi to everyone, and possibly help someone out on a quick quest or participate in a player-vs-player battle. Most of my work as leader entails participating in forum discussions, organizing guild meetings to see what direction to take things, get to know new members and get them to interact with the older ones as much as possible so that player experience can be shared, etc. In many ways it is an administrative role, but also one where I need to set the example of how to approach the game. I don't want players to get obsessed and then eventually burn out on the MMO through overplaying. Stressing moderation, and things like work/school first, is what keeps folks playing and enjoying it when they have free time for it. The "being always on" criterion you mentioned, although insightful and true to a degree, is handled differently in my case (and in the case of most others I know). That is, there is a rank in MMOs called something like "officer," which is simply like a "moderator" on a forum (as opposed to the equivalent of leader, the "admin") in terms of authority. Picking responsible ones, and just enough so that at any given time of moderate-to-heavy guild activity, there is at least one online to keep the peace and help novices with things, and generally provide guideance -- that fulfills the role that otherwise an obsessed and perpetually active leader would need to fill.

This Is Spinal Tap (5, Insightful)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652777)

Spinal Tap was a movie making fun of bands who take themselves waaay too seriously. It's funny. We laughed at it.

So, let me get this straight: this is a serious book -- autobiographical no less -- about a bunch of adults who take themselves seriously as game players?

This is like irony folding time....

Re:This Is Spinal Tap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653025)

We all know real WoW addicts don't have time to read anyway.

Re:This Is Spinal Tap (3, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653203)

But this guild goes to ELEVEN!!

Re:This Is Spinal Tap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19655611)

Of course! Why waste hundreds of hours alone when you can waste time as a loving, mutually-protecting group of schmucks? Besides, they're geeks.. they're not exactly going to write stories about getting laid now are they. This is probably erotic material for the average MMORPG crowd.

   

Laughing (1)

Organic Brain Damage (863655) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652873)

at you or with you? Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference in the Irony Folding Zone.

it begins... (2, Funny)

drukawski (1083675) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652899)

Apparently uncontent with endlessly spamming trade chat with "Now Recruiting" messages, Syndicate is now resorting to spamming the shelves of your local Barnes and Noble. gg, syndicate... gg

Re:it begins... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654301)

I play on the same server as The Syndicate in WoW and I have never seen recruiting spam from them ...

Stalzer or Seltzer??? (1)

Raistlin77 (754120) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652909)

Good job Zonk. Way to go botching the guys name throughout the entire last half of your review.

Retitled (1)

pygmy_jesus (1071948) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652913)

"How to be a Loser and Waste Ten Years of Your Life"

Re:Retitled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654909)

...or, "How I developed chronic Hypertension and Diabetes at age 30"

Vanity publishing strikes again. (2, Informative)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652943)

Seriously, just do a quick Googling for Avari Press. Gaze upon the bare-bones website, and the less-than-professional cover shot of another one of (and quite possibly only other one of) their books. Marvel at their head office in the middle of nowhere, where you can personally mail your manuscript to them, no literary agent required!

If this had been published by an outfit like Baen (or, Jesus, like Prima for that matter), it might have been worthy of comment or review. The fact that these jokers can't even be arsed to do proofreading and spell-checking speaks volumes of their professionalism.

Groups of Friends Last Longer (5, Insightful)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652957)

I got on the online gaming bandwagon during WarCraft 2 on Kali and since then, I have played with the same group of friends, in some capacity or another, under the same clan/team/guild name, ever since. We transcended WarCraft 2 and remained in contact as good friends ever since. It had nothing to do with loyalty to the name or game, just the people you are playing with. Not everyone played every game with the group and the group did not expand into every game. People do their own thing if they want, but they are not cast out or not longer considered part of the group. We are friends first, teammates, clan mates, guild mates, second. Hell, in the early days of WoW we all played under one tag, but eventually one group went another way and had a rival guild in the same server. Sure there were some heated moments, but sure enough, nobody was cast out and we played the next game together.

I do not believe in a group having a legacy for influencing this or doing that. At the end of the day, the only thing that counts are the friendships your forged and ended up valuing more than a great record, an epic item, or prestigious rank/title. I would boost the accomplishments of my group of friends to be far and above more impressive than any accomplishments an 'entity' has achieved.

Re:Groups of Friends Last Longer (2, Funny)

Esteban (54212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653321)

You had a clan/team/guild with the same members and name on more than one MMORPG? This might be your lucky day: I hear there's a publisher interested in stories like yours.

Re:Groups of Friends Last Longer (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655303)

Hey, just chiming in when I hear war 2 and kali in the same sentence (reg #10024!!). I've found I have similar experiences to yours, less so in a clan but more so with the friendships over games.

I still game with guys I met on kali playing war 2 back then. Usually when a new game comes out that has some passing interest we all ping each other back and forth over icq or something and get together gaming.

Not to put this group down but it's not really anything special. Most of the "old school" gamers as we are now called formed tight friendships with one another way back when the gaming population was a lot smaller, and have sence kept up gaming with one another over the years. Some people decided to put a name to their "clan" and invite others in, and some people like me just decided to jump in with a couple friends and play the game at the same time all the time.

If you look at most long standing game guilds, they are populated by maybe 5 to 10 "officers" who are either friends irl or have some tight bonding that keeps the face of the guild running. From here is where everybody else flocks into it and becomes a part of it, but those core 10 guys will always be there keeping the name alive.

Anyway, hey from war 2 kali land, good times back then :)

Re:Groups of Friends Last Longer (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655527)

It was, it was! Our group is actually much like you described. The core group travels from game to game, picking up people in that game if it ever comes to that point. In wow, of course, we had a majority of people that were not part of the core group. Occasionally, we will adopt a 'random' from a game into the fold, but in all honestly, it is pretty rare. I would say we add one or two people from a game we played for over a year. It is a sort of a big deal to get invited honestly. Not because we are elitists or anything, but because anyone new is going to be around for a long time as one of us. It is like inviting a new member to your e-family or something :)

Long Live The Syndicate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652987)

Never been part of it, but I remember them from "back in the day" (from the Beta of Ultima Online ~1997 and the early years), it was a pretty huge guild.

The title says it all.... (1)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653013)

...nice to see that their publishers shortened the original title of the book from Legend of the Syndicate: How to Reach the Age of 35 Without Ever Having Seen a Naked Woman (offline).

I doubt it. (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653017)

Another 'first effort' sign is the lack of polish in phrasing and (unfortunately), spelling. ... Further runs of the book, one would hope, will correct these fundamental errors.
Probably not. Zonk's been posting stuff for a couple years now and still hasn't figured it out.

A guild made it on Slashdot??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653089)

LOL WOW, a guild was actually mentioned on Slashdot. And I have heard of the Syndicate before. I've seen other guilds that have been around for a long time besides this one (On UO) e.g. G-V (Guardians of ValHalla).

The strangest of all was a guild on the Great Lakes shard run by a little girl, called "Guild of Airheads". They're outrageously funny...and dumb. I wanna get back in their guild again with a char with a different name and kill them all (again) :-)

Re:A guild made it on Slashdot??? (3, Funny)

TyroneShoe (912878) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653195)

The big problem with UO was that everyone who was the "bomb diggity" on their own shard thought they were the king of the entire universe. I was in The Black Company on Great Lakes (at one point, the largest membership in all of UO), and people like The Syndicate would do a server transfer over to our shard. It would usually go like this: 1) "0mgzz d00d, pr3pare to be pwned!" 2) "what do you mean you've never heard of The Syndicate?" 3) "Omg, you guys all hack and cheat, that's the only possible explanation why we suck" 4) "This shard sucks, I'm going to go check out Napa"

Re:A guild made it on Slashdot??? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655005)

Funny thing is, I have heard of TBC but not of The Syndicate.

I wonder if older guilds like this realize that theres a HUGE number of us who have been MMOing since the Majormud learn-to-type-or-die-pvp days. We arent special, we're gaming dorks =)

Re:A guild made it on Slashdot??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654593)

LMAO. Yeah, I think a group of reds from Pacific called FL (Fallen Losers... i mean Lords) also came over to Great Lakes once...Their mission was to cause havoc. They ended up dissipating shortly after though.

I know BC pretty well...I ran into them in felucca and they kicked my ass lol. They raided the trammies doing champ spawns.

Wow, when you were saying all that "OMGzzzz like omg" stuff, you sounded like the girls from Guild of Airheads that I so very much like to target for being so annoying lol....their leader especially! They're a bunch of weak tamers who don't know how to defend themselves so I can take out about 5-6 of them at one time with my 110 warrior without a problem. I've done this right at the Britain bank before. One brave girl decided to try to fight back but I knocked her off her unicorn in no time lol she would have been better off fleeing.

Goonswarm (1)

Stone Rhino (532581) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653179)

The largest and most influential guild I've ever heard of would have to be Goonswarm / Goonfleet, the Eve Online alliance of players from the Something Awful forums. They have over 2000 characters, and even with alt accounts there are over a thousand members. They've taken on some of the most powerful forces in the game, even the developers themselves, and had a drastic influence on the course of the universe. But they're still not godlike, they're subject to drama, and they're unified at least in part by the meta-guild of Something Awful. People from Something Awful have also taken on pretty much every online game, including Second Life and City of Heroes, and the griefing of anshe chung was a pretty big story. If you want an influential guild, you have to look bigger.

Re:Goonswarm (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655837)

"The largest and most influential guild I've ever heard of would have to be Goonswarm / Goonfleet"

Let me guess....you're a member Goonswarm/Goonsfleet.....right?

So did you hurt your arm patting yourself on the back like that?

"online game, including Second Life"

I don't think Second Life really counts as a "game". It is an interesting experiment in virtual worlds...err wait its not really even interesting .... its an experiment in virtual worlds. The few hours I spent in it felt a lot more like "no life" rather than "second life" though I suppose if you stick with it and meet interesting people any virtual world can have redeeming value. Simple problem is its extremely hard to make virtual worlds rich and compelling and to make interesting things for people to do and Second Life mostly isn't and hasn't.

So? (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653269)

Many college fraternities have lasted since the early 19th century. Would you read a book by some fraternity president talking about how kick-ass his frat is?

Re:So? (2, Insightful)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654587)

That reminds me of the book award I got my senior year of high school. I got The Harvard Book. Yes, as the name might imply, it's just a book of essays by famous people saying how great Harvard is. The student that got the Yale book award got the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and I got a doorstop. If they're really that good, why do they need a book that just talks about how good they are.

Re:So? (1)

writermike (57327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656437)

Many college fraternities have lasted since the early 19th century. Would you read a book by some fraternity president talking about how kick-ass his frat is?
Welllll, you have a point, but you might have read such a book if fraternities, as a concept, were relatively new and not yet known to the general public.

Anyone else catch this moronic contradiction? (1)

Slimtreeshadow (1009225) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653295)

From the beginning of this review:

Legend of the Syndicate is a publication worth reading by anyone interested in the history of the Massive genre, or the future of social networks online.
From the end of this review:

Outside of novelty value, I'm not sure there's a lot of other people who might find this text enlightening
Thanks buttnugget. You actually made me waste 3 minutes with that opening "future of social networks" line. waste.

O rly? (1)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653369)

"There's a book about your little club?"
Nobody gives a shit.

Wrong guild? (1)

Liquidrage (640463) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653435)

I'd figure this would have been something better from FoH or Afterlife.
Or even something about the old Mercs guild when this here interweb was still young to most of the public.

Though I guess in the case of FoH this book was already written via their public forums.

Still, I wouldn't consider the Syndicate to be *the Guild of Guilds* or anything so I find it somewhat odd that this was done, and that it made Slashdot.

Who's going to read this? (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653525)

A 300 page book for a target audience of people who "forget" to eat, sleep and/or see to their bodily functions.

-Maybe- if they put it in game, as a quest, with a 1337 epic as a reward. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Syndicate game. (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653555)

Man, I thought this was about the old Syndicate [wikipedia.org] computer games. Great game. :(

Re:Syndicate game. (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655207)

I did too, was starting to get excited about a new version.

Re:Syndicate game. (2, Informative)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655707)

There is an open source project [sf.net] to remake for newer platforms.

Wow . . . (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653637)

Literary tea-bagging. Who'da thunk?

Not as well known as they like to dream (1)

Jack Sombra (948340) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653709)

"Well known in both Ultima Online "
Off their own shard ("server" for non UO players) virtually no one has ever heard of them.

Played UO for 9 years and only reason i have even heard of them is because i modded for a while one of larger UO forums there and even then had to think a bit until i remembered them

It's a common thing in UO, guild thinks it is UBER and MASSIVE because on their shard a guild of 20 plus people is large when it is situated in the middle of an active server population that is only measured in the hundreds (as all UO shards are), even more so in a game where there is little need to guild up

As to reading their book, no thank you been in quite a few guilds, even led a few and living the pointless and childish drama was bad enough i definatly don't want to read about someone elses

Re:Not as well known as they like to dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19655369)

I only knew them from a little known EQ shard known as Tarew Marr. They were known to zerg most of the boss encounters, and could not usually get enough people fast enough to seriously compete against other guilds. Most weren't exactly friendly either.

Re:Not as well known as they like to dream (1)

phildo420 (827619) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656305)

I took pride in starting up a pretty massive "family" raiding guild in EQ (Semper Simul), but never thought about it as anything but large for the server it was on (Lanys) The guild lived on for years after I left, great group of people, but still...I never heard of Syndicate, and after having been in other competitive guilds, I would never consider one worth writing a book about.. Minium for life! -- Of course, no one here will likely know who that is either, being a smaller elite guild in the early WoW days on a single server... but maybe I could write a book and make some cash, who knows.

Perhaps not very interesting.. (1)

Etherized (1038092) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653867)

Ultimately the audience for this book is somewhat narrow; folks interested in the history of the Massive genre will find this interesting, and avid players of EverQuest or UO have probably at least heard of the guild. Certainly, for members of The Syndicate, they now have something guaranteed to wig out their family members. "There's a book about your little club?" Outside of novelty value, I'm not sure there's a lot of other people who might find this text enlightening.

Ah, but don't forget librarians [slashdot.org] interested in talking to "digital natives"!

hmm (1)

biscon (942763) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653907)

powergamers are such weird little self important creatures.

I mean forging new friendships is great, but please, all you are achieving is changing numbers in a database somewhere.
I'd never read a book about it...

I heard about this early on from a guild member. (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653923)

And then on Stratics. And I still can't muster up the energy to care. They're a group of man-children who tout about like they're the greatest, and now their egos will be large enough to cover the sun. And a year from now, their sales will be at GuildRosterSize + 4

LLTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654061)

I remember them from UO. Were dicks who tried to save their bad rep by giving away free items once or twice a year. They had a castle on their own island. Old enough to have a four letter guild tag.

Re:LLTS (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655877)

Although now they brought back the four letter guild abbreviations. WEED, W33D, W3ED and all its variants were taken the first day.

Club lasts for ten years, so what? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654121)

People belong to their local chess/football/cricket/crafts/etc clubs for much longer than this. So what's new or special about this?

Being a group of people who share a common interest but are separated by distance and communicate via distance-media tools, umm well that's been going on for some time too.

Sorry, struggling to see the novelty in this..

Re:Club lasts for ten years, so what? (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656677)

I don't think it's worthy of a book either, but chess/football/cricket/crafts haven't changed much in the last few, well, multitude of decades. Is Ultima Online even still around?

Spelling (1)

Greg Lindahl (37568) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654155)

It is only fitting that you misspelled "peek" in your review, soon after complaining about spelling issues in the book.

Hmmmm....what to do....what to do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654521)

Read a book about playing a game.....OR.... actually play the game?!?!?

Decisions, decisions.

I for one.. (2, Funny)

Rogue974 (657982) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654599)

I just read thier phamplet and..

I for one would like to welcome our new Self important Goglike MMO Guild Overlords.

Read the phamplet and you too will know of thier greatness and overall power in the gaming community! ;)

I heard of them in DAOC, assuming it is the same group. They were a nice size and they were "evaluating" the games worthiness for thier guild. If they like it, the server would be filled with Syndicate members who would then rule the server. After that 30 minutes diatribe from them, I said, "so then he answer would be, you don't know which direction Camelot is then, thanks, " and I walked away.

Stalzer, master of wasting time (1)

jetface (1082019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654965)

I think a more important aspect of this book to focus on is the colossal waste of time involved. Not only has the guy been wasting probably years worth of time playing online games but has now wasted who knows how much time putting together a book about it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy wasting time as much as the next guy but I think this Stalzer guy has taken it to a whole new level. I hope its at least written in 1337 speak and full of emoticons.

So impressive! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19655309)

They're tied with 7 other guilds as the 12th most progressed guild on their (PvE) WoW server, despite the fact that they're supposed to be (according to them) a guild focused on "End Game Raiding."

Wow. Gruul down. Legendary.

I played EQ on Tarew Marr... (1)

Evro (18923) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655623)

... and wasn't even in the top 20 guilds, unless you go by sheer size of the guild. They epitomized the newbie zerg and were totally a stepping stone guild. Their guild leader was always pretty full of himself, but this is a new dimension of lameness.

Don't believe the hype (1)

Lisster (1120573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656691)

I was in the syndicate in EQ for a short while, i had some interaction with dragons. He's one of the most insane, psycotic and weird people i have ever met online. And that's saying a lot since i post on realfek.com The only thing LLTS has going for them is that they spam invite any idiot who applies, and pretend it's an accomplisment they have over 500 members It really isn't. All their high and mighty talk and stats on their website are made up and in Everquest at least their guild was the running joke of the server (Tarew Marr now drinal). They never amounted to anything in there. They had such a high turnover rate that while i was in TS (about 3-4 months) they had at least 50 people go in and out of the guild. they are a sad reminder that if you yell loud and long enough, people will start believing your nonsense....
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