The Central Outpost
Online Gaming Clans
by "Glamdering"
July 23, 2006

The world of online gaming – a confusing, entertaining, and difficult puzzle to understand, a world that changes from game to game and whose dynamics are different from anything else we encounter in life. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of online gaming is the OGC or Online Gaming Clan. While OGC’s vary from game to game, several things remain constant. The main dynamics, the reasons behind an OGC, what it takes to form and lead an OGC, how to seek membership in an OGC, are the core aspects of OGC’s.

The first step is to understand what an OGC is. Online Gaming Clans, also referred to as guilds, are in essence gaming clubs. Just as you see Poker Clubs, Model Train Clubs, Community Service Clubs and the likes in the real world, OGC’s are the clubs of online gaming, places where like-minded individuals can come together and satisfy a common need. Those common needs differ from person to person and will play a major role in how you select an OGC. Some Clans are formed in the name of power, becoming the best of the best and getting the best of the best. These are the "l337" or "über" clans. They are typically based on skill and devotion to the game. There are also clans based upon nationality. These being predominantly all Spanish, Australian, American, German, etc. Due to the massive diversity online, these Clans bring together people who seek commonality of mind. Then there are social clans. Clans that exist as hardly more than a chat room, having little physical activity but extensive conversational activity often via forums. These offer a name and a sense of membership with little or no demands placed on the member. Then you have community clans. These are Clans that come together to fight for a common interest/goal. Often these revolve around quality of the person over power or spreading positive/negative gaming ethics. Of course, not all clans fall into these categories and most share a mixture of aspects of each, making your choice all that much harder. However, do not despair because in diversity lies strength. Due to the diversity of clans, it's a safe bet that you can find a snug fit in one if you take the time to look.

Now that you know what a clan is, what should one know while selecting an OGC? The OGC you choose should act to supplement and strengthen your gaming experience. In many cases, a Clan keeps a game entertaining long after the excitement of the game itself has died away. For that reason it should not be hastily chosen. Remember there is an OGC out there for almost everyone. Don't feel that you have to join every Clan that comes your way. Do your research. Good questions to ask yourself are: Is the Clan stable? Does the clan stand for what I want to stand for? Do the Clan's members get along well with me? Is the Clan's mission that of my own? Do I share a common interest with the Clan?

Don't join a clan spur of the moment, and don't be afraid to pursue a Clan once you decide it's the one you want. Some Clans are very exclusive. Talk with the Clan's members and leader. Always remember that questions are often your best friend. Don't be afraid to ask, it will often increase the Clan leader's respect for you. All Clans have different membership requirements. Make sure you know the Clan's laws, and rules before applying. Research the application procedure as well. Most Clans have websites. These can often tell you a large amount about the Clan, from activity to history, even the Clan's health. If the Clan does not have a website, be extra careful and very thorough in your research. Remember above all else, take initiative!

Some general background on OGC’s: Hundreds of OGC’s are born and die every day. In fact it has been my experience that most OGC’s do not survive more than 3 months. However, do not be discouraged. With proper leadership, devoted members, a proper cause, and sufficient interest, Clans can survive years. Further, due to the nature of online gaming, many OGC’s have a fairly high rate of turnover. Don't let this disturb you. As with all organizations, OGC’s have ups and downs and are in constant flux. It's how the OGC’s members react to that flux that decides the health of the Clan. Also, many OGC’s are branching into multiple games, offering you membership opportunities with the same group of people in several games. If you join an OGC with multiple branches, don't be afraid to explore the other games played and other OGC branches even if you don't initially have interest.

If you can't find an OGC that suits you, form your own! Founding an OGC can be incredibly rewarding. However, before you decide to found an OGC, you need to appreciate everything involved in creating a successful OGC. The first and foremost is devotion of time and energy. A successful clan is very demanding on both a person's time and their emotional energy. As a Clan leader, you will be acting as recruiter, negotiator, organizer, and sheriff. Don't be surprised if you are required to spend a good 30% of your free gaming time on Clan-related issues. Perhaps the largest reason that so many Clans fail is that most people do not realize what is required. Should you decide to form a Clan make sure to set up a website. It does not have to be anything grand, some simple free forums and a basic page. This will act to bring the Clan together and it will evolve over time. Further, remember that you will be bringing together people from many nations, ages, and backgrounds. Make sure to keep this in consideration at all times, and never forget to have fun and open yourself up to the wonderful learning experiences and rewards Clan leadership has to offer.

Perhaps you are already a member in an OGC. If so, there are a few important things to keep in mind at all times. First and foremost is that OGC’s exist on the internet; for that reason, many of the non-verbal signals given in real life are absent. Misunderstandings are much more common. Do your best to keep in mind the feelings of your fellows clanmates at all times and be willing to forgive accidents; they will happen. Another incredibly important aspect of OGC membership is activity. As a member of the Clan, you truly need to be active. This is not limited simply to participation in events. It requires communication with fellow members, activity on the forums, giving your constructive input, and offering your services when you can. If you don't get involved, it is easy to feel ignored. As with any large assemblage of people, the quiet guy in the corner is easily overlooked. Many Clans have an enormous amount to offer; make sure you are taking advantage of those offers and don't miss out. This will drastically increase your OGC enjoyment. Finally and most importantly, people feel a need to explore and try other guilds from time to time. This can be very healthy for the person, however, be cautious. Far too often, members leave a Clan seeking fresh air only to discover how truly wonderful their Clan was… nothing aggravates Clan leaders more than members who repeatedly need fresh air and this quite possibly may cost you your position in the Clan.

No matter what type of Clan you join one thing will remain constant. The experiences you take away from it will be much more than a few positive gaming experiences. It is common for OGC membership to grant insights into other cultures, offer a place to explore aspects of yourself in a non-judgmental environment, grant a sense of community, offer fresh perspectives, and generally gain a wonderful experience. Some OGC inspired relationships even branch into real life and form long lasting friendships.