Hollow Earth

The Guilds Part 2: The Guild of Greeters


The Greeters have suffered similarly to the Maintainers in that their membership and activity has dwindled. The key difference here is that the Greeters appear to not recognize this as a problem. Ja’de, the GoG’s current leader, herself told me the GoG was trying to decide whether this was an issue. It’s an issue. That they were “debating” something as plainly obvious as this struck me as like debating whether fire hurts. In some ways, the Greeters are what the Maintainers will become without Marcus’ recruitment drive.

Another important difference is history. The GoG is old, in existence since 2003. Unlike all the other Guilds, the Greeters existed long before Cyan re-introduced the Guilds (though the Writer-like Age-creators existed in the form of H’uru before the Guilds were announced as well). This contributes to the Greeters’ unique mix of issues. Another difference is organization. More than any other Guild, the Greeters are a private club. You cannot just become a Greeter, they have evaluations, etc. which (they claim) have served them well.

But here lies the problem. The clubhouse population is growing sparse. I recently popped into Uru and there were no Greeters. The hood was empty (or occasionally had a new player or two, never Greeters) and there were no greeters in the city. This is due in no small part to the Guild’s recruitment policy. It’s nice that some random person can’t come in and claim to be a Greeter and then harass another player, but this also stops new people in general from feeling like they can contribute. The rules and processes initially meant to maintain a professional staff have led to the Guild being a closed group living off a dwindling membership. This closed-ness extends to opinions about Uru, with few Greeters publicly disagreeing the the Guild views on Cyan, Uru, and the Guild practices themselves. There is no dissent in the Greeters, at least none the public can see.

The other issue is that the Guild members that do exist seem more pre-occupied with other franchises. Like with the Maintainers, it’s nice to have people advertising Uru in other games, but in this case (and, I would argue, the Maintainers’) it serves as a distraction. When a Greeter has some spare time, they choose between Uru (which is often empty) and another franchise. They are already predisposed to choose another game because those games have more people, but the choice is made even simpler when the Greeters claim they have a foothold in that game (World of Greeters).

The source of these problems, I would argue, is the Greeter’s official sanction by Cyan. Ignoring the favoritism charges, being made official comes with restrictions that hamper the Guild’s development. Being official keeps the Guild from accepting people out of liability concerns. Moreover, these liability concerns can be used to exclude those who disagree with the Guild. The Greeters would benefit from relieving itself from Cyan’s sanction because they would be able to relax their rules. Of course, the question is: would they?

This gets to another source of problems: the Guild’s leadership itself. As I mentioned at the start of this piece, Ja’de once said that the GoG wasn’t sure if a low membership was a problem. Since there have been no recruitment drives that I have seen, I have to believe that this faulty idea persists. If the Guild is not led by strong individuals who can recognize problems, then the Guild is doomed. If the present leadership is too proud to ask for help or too closed-minded to accept new ideas, then either the present leadership should be replaced or a new Guild should be formed- one dedicated to helping explorers in an open manner rather than trying to run a private treehouse help service.

This idea has its roots in the equally preposterous idea that Uru is destined to be small. Many use that view as a crutch to keep the community small, or to explain away critiques of the game. That, because we are non-violent we must be an unpopular or “niche” game. This is a lie. Uru and MYST in general are small because we have allowed them to become small. With the success of Portal and other primarily non-violent puzzle-oriented games, this idea that non-violent games are shunned is laid bare as false. Why shouldn’t Uru be successful and widespread? We’re the most difficult-to-kill community out there not because of how small or strange we are, but because of how dynamic and creative we are. The “hackers” who made UU possible, who developed the plugin for Blender, did not believe that Uru must be small. They believed that Uru was a powerful idea that needed its users to succeed. So why do we insist on thinking so cynically that Uru is too out of the mainstream to warrant a large following? Why do we limit ourselves based on the notions of violent vs. non-violent games? It doesn’t do Uru, MYST, non-violent video games, and video games in general any good if we insist on defining “mainstream” or “popular” as “violent.” Certainly violent video games are portrayed as more popular because they appeal to the most basic desire, but that’s a discussion for another day.

To bring this back to the Greeters, there’s no reason why the Guild should not be large and open. There is no reason besides misplaced paranoia of troublemakers and misguided pride in Cyan sanction that registration to be a Greeter should not be more open. There will be troublemakers in every organization and every group. This applies in the world outside Uru and inside. People should be warned that Greeters may be just as troublemaking as others, but that they are less likely to be so because they are recruited to help new people. In other words: there will be troublemakers, stop trying to figure out how to eliminate them and focus on how to keep them from reaching their goals.

Finally, this cannot be stressed enough: the GoG should be more open. Nobody wins when the fan help service is placed behind these sorts of barriers. The fans will feel the extra scrutiny means they deserve a better experience than the one they’re having. The volunteers feel they’re either being accepted into a needlessly proud organization or being forced to jump through hoops to serve the game they love. What if people were allowed to register to be a greeter simply by picking up the shirt, but were “promoted” based on reviews from the people they helped? A greeter does their job and politely asks that the person they helped if they would consider contacting person X or going to site Y to tell the Guild how their experience went. Then the Guild would get at least some information on how effective both the greeter and the Guild itself is in helping people. The key in this is to actually take the advice. Don’t just blow off my critique because it’s not showering you with praise. Take criticism, even “destructive criticism,” and ask yourself how the Guild or the individual greeter could make the experience better. You may not fix the problem the way the reviewer wants it fixed, but you’ll resolve the issue.

 

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Filed under: The Guilds, , , , , ,

31 Responses

  1. B'ni Rabbit says:

    I particulary agree with the ‘other franchise’ bit. Whilst I can perfectly understand this in the post-Gametap and pre-MOULa world, now we have had the Cavern back for a year, there is still this tendancy to be more concerned with the ‘other franchise’ than the actual Cavern, especially at a time when the Cavern is running on empty and no one seems bothered with it. This is not limited to GoG, I have to say.

    The other point I would make is I can’t remember the last time I actually met an active greeter in the Cavern. For the most part, the GoG Bevin is always empty.

  2. Leonardo says:

    I must say I agree on everything this time Whil.
    Maybe except for the last paragraph (hey it seems the last paragraph is always object of my posts here XD), because I think that the Greeters don’t need a new way of accepting members. Their existing method of promoting people to full-Greeters worked well. It’s just that it is turned off right now.

    For the rest I agree.
    Right now I found myself hoping that the GoG will feel replaced by the possible success of the “I Want I Guild of New Players” project that has been launched in these days. Maybe feeling threatened by another group that will do very similar things will force/spur/encourage them to finally move. I only hope that that move will not be a war against the new group but a solid relationship with them.

  3. A Greeter says:

    I agree 99%. I am okay with the membership process. Ja’de needs to. She is killing the Guild. Time for elections.

  4. Sensei Super Ultra Mega Commander Jedi Samurai ElPresidente Officer The Undertaker GuildMaster Grand Poobah Emperoress/Emperor Shogun Divine Saint Pharaoh Comrade Overlord Tomala of the guiding light says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. However in the end any changes lie within the actual group. Since Prologue, UU, MOUL and now MOULA the GOG has always done their own thing, which is expected since it is their group. The only question now is if the GOG is more open to suggestion than it used to be.

    With new things taking place in the cavern, perhaps now would be a good time to start looking into either getting the old guard back, hiring fresh blood or a hybrid of both. If they don’t I could see a whole other group take over basically what they already do. After all it wouldn’t be that hard. There are experienced members from other groups that are always willing to lend a hand.

  5. T_S_Kimball says:

    Since I’ve had the most experience with GoG (more than even GoW), I decided to bring up the Worlds of Greeters site and see what’s going on.

    I’m not seeing much actually, just Guild Wars (which have been around for awhile) and some references to an upcoming MMO. Nalates brought up an SL presence of course, but I know that most of the membership had their closest ties with There (which was closed).

    This is the first I’ve heard of a resurgence though; No one else in the MystBlogs syndication has mentioned it. I’m very curious about this (and if its just discussion on MO forum or elsewhere, like UO or OpenUru).

  6. Carina Lynn says:

    Shows how little you know about the origins of the Greeters. Blowing smoke as usual Whilyam. Some of us, okay a lot of us, are getting really tired of your yapping half truths and BS from the pedestal you have put yourself on.

    This was posted by Tijara on MOUL forums a long while ago. Read up boy.

    “Just to clarify for those that don’t know or remember this far back.

    The Guild of Greeters was the idea of Cyan & Ubisoft.
    The GoG Creed and Code of Conduct were written by Ubisoft’s Uru Community Manager Randomos, who also wrote the original application form.
    We simply followed their direction and vision.
    Up until the end of LIVE weekly meetings were held with the GoG Management team and Randomos, to discuss progress and direction.
    We were simply the tools with which we helped them achieve their plan.
    We were completely answerable to them in the beginning and we are more than happy to return to that status quo.”

    And the linky – read the very last post on this page. http://mystonline.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=5204&highlight=#5204

    Get your facts straight before shooting your mouth off, m’kay???

    • Whilyam says:

      Since nothing you have posted impacts what I wrote in my post (I mentioned the GoG’s official status as a problem, but I never said anything to the contrary of what you posted) I’m not sure where to go with this. From my discussions with former and current Greeters, it is clear to me to that it is you who do not have your facts straight. Furthermore, your style of demonizing the opposition is indicative of the types of tactics used by those who have no rational basis to their argument.

      Have a *great* day.

  7. A Greeter says:

    Excellent post Carina Lynn! Thanks for correcting what Whilyam didn’t say.

  8. Leonardo says:

    Carina what you posted is not related to the subject of the article…
    Nobody is questioning GoG’s history…we all know how the GoG was born, the article deals with the present time, where there is no more Randomos and Cyan to guide the community and clearly the GoG no longer covers its purpose, since there are no more greeters in the Cavern except for two, maybe.

  9. Sensei Super Ultra Mega Commander Jedi Samurai ElPresidente Officer The Undertaker GuildMaster Grand Poobah Emperoress/Emperor Shogun Divine Saint Pharaoh Comrade Overlord Tomala of the guiding light says:

    Clever threadjack attempt.

  10. Ken Telinome says:

    I agree with most of what you wrote, but not all of it.

    In one of your other guild posts, you stressed the importance of not viewing an organization as monolithic, yet that is what you did here. Just because there is no discussion or debate about the topics you mentioned out in public does not mean that they are not happening. They are. There have been plenty of calls to open up the guild membership again from Greeters for many of the same reasons you list here. We are not as ubiquitously blind as you imply.

    I also disagree that the application process needs to change. The process works well when it is running–until recently, however, the power switch was merely turned to “off”.

    The rest I tend to agree with. The beginnings of the guild have had a looming influence over how it conducts itself. There is a fear of what might happen if suddenly anyone could become a Greeter and say whatever they want. Whether or not that is justified is largely up to personal opinion. And in the absence of a large playerbase, there seems to many Greeters that there is little to do.

    It’s a downward spiral that is hard to pull out of. With less people coming to the hood, there is less incentive to show up, which gives less incentive for others to show up, which… on and on. But we have to pull out of it somehow.

    • Whilyam says:

      Ken: Yes, it should be noted that the Guild is not monolithic. With that said, there are plenty of internal pressures to maintain uniformity. These pressures all come from a leadership which seems more interested in keeping the Guild dead rather than growing it.

      The argument I’ve seen is that new Greeters are not needed because old greeters can handle the few people who come into public areas. The problem is that this leads to that downward spiral. I also doubt it’s true. New people come into the game all the time, this community needs more people who will pop in when they want to and provide assistance.

      That ability to help new people has been lost by the Greeters. In my time in Uru I have yet to see any Greeters. Obviously this was not a scientific endeavor and I’m sure some Greeters do show up, but the problem is that we don’t have enough people who feel “casual” enough to pop into the hoods or the city, etc. and solicit help. Greeters should not be anchored in their hood or fixed within certain times.

      But the larger problem is that someone has flipped that application process “switch” and they are unwilling to turn it “on” again no matter how many times they are told the game they claim to support needs it.

  11. Sensei Super Ultra Mega Commander Jedi Samurai ElPresidente Officer The Undertaker GuildMaster Grand Poobah Emperoress/Emperor Shogun Divine Saint Pharaoh Comrade Overlord Tomala of the guiding light says:

    http://mystonline.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=24291&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=

    A thread started by a greeter must be ended by a greeter. lol

    • Ken Telinome says:

      Yeah, it’s unfortunate that he’s also a Greeter in this situation. I’ve heard of his reputation when it comes to moderating, and no one involved in the conversation among the Greeters was happy at all with the closing of that thread. But you can’t talk sense into him.

    • D'nial says:

      For crap’s sake. I really thought that RAWA or somebody had set him straight about the thread-closing thing. So he thinks that discussion would be best suited for “another forum”? Remind me again why the MOUL forum even exists.

      I’m gonna run away and start my own Uru.

      • Ken Telinome says:

        I thought so too. But there’s absolutely nothing you can say to him to make him behave. If anything, I think he has MORE support from Cyan now.

  12. A Greeter says:

    Any support or credibility he had from his fellow Greeters (with the exception of the leadership) is now gone.

  13. Sensei Super Ultra Mega Commander Jedi Samurai ElPresidente Officer The Undertaker GuildMaster Grand Poobah Emperoress/Emperor Shogun Divine Saint Pharaoh Comrade Overlord Tomala of the guiding light says:

    For crap’s sake. I really thought that RAWA or somebody had set him straight about the thread-closing thing.

    Anyone with half a brain could tell you that Veralun Verylooney would keep doing this over and over again. He’s doing what others including myself predicted all along. He’d lay low for awhile and then continue doing what he does best.

    But who knows? Cyan must see something in him that we mortals never could.

  14. Leonardo says:

    nice :)…but in that link some posts are missing

  15. Sensei Super Ultra Mega Commander Jedi Samurai ElPresidente Officer The Undertaker GuildMaster Grand Poobah Emperoress/Emperor Shogun Divine Saint Pharaoh Comrade Overlord Tomala of the guiding light says:

    http://forums.guildofgreeters.com/index.php?showtopic=15459&st=0&#entry238325

    Discussion over at GOG.

    • Ken Telinome says:

      Eh, I don’t think that will do any good, nor is a good way to go about it–GMs don’t take kindly to hostile posts, and I won’t be surprised if it is closed soon.

  16. Sensei Super Ultra Mega Commander Jedi Samurai ElPresidente Officer The Undertaker GuildMaster Grand Poobah Emperoress/Emperor Shogun Divine Saint Pharaoh Comrade Overlord Tomala of the guiding light says:

    It’s still open over there.

    • Bill Maier (oldmanjob) says:

      I meant to say it will be closed just like the discussion in the secret handshake Greeter only thread. lol

  17. Sensei Super Ultra Mega Commander Jedi Samurai ElPresidente Officer The Undertaker GuildMaster Grand Poobah Emperoress/Emperor Shogun Divine Saint Pharaoh Comrade Overlord Tomala of the guiding light says:

    Wow… It’s still there. O_o

  18. Bill Maier (oldmanjob) says:

    The useless discussion goes on and on in the GoG secret hand shake thread lol.

  19. Sensei Super Ultra Mega Commander Jedi Samurai ElPresidente Officer The Undertaker GuildMaster Grand Poobah Emperoress/Emperor Shogun Divine Saint Pharaoh Comrade Overlord Tomala of the guiding light says:

    http://forums.guildofgreeters.com/index.php?showtopic=15471&pid=238443&st=0&#entry238443

    Wow…

  20. oldmanjob says:

    Finally got a new Greeter Myer. Took forever for his interview, but a step forward Lol

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