It’s been over 7 years since I posted this piece on gaming clans and the conversation is STILL going over at my personal website, Yomar.me (a.k.a. Y3B) – clearly, we gamers are on the same wavelength. Being in a gaming clan is fun and rewarding. It makes games more immersive or at least replayable.. But it can also be a lot of work so there’s good reason some people stay solo.
This is a conversation I’d love for us to have here at Geeky Antics, where it is a lot more relevant. Think about all the stuff we as geeks do – podcasts, videos, indie games, gaming clans, or whatever tickles your fancy – how many times do flakey people and drama queens create more work for you? The eSports scene is booming. More and more gamers dream of being sponsored, championship winners, or at least winning some free stuff.
The reality is that maybe 1% of all “hardcore” competitive gamers are sponsored AND can make a living off it. The cost for that may be losing your love for games. Is it really worth it? Well, it depends how competitive you are.
For me, being in a gaming clan is more about the social experience, collaborating on stuff beyond games, and getting more out of our video games. Thing is, do your fellow clan members feel the same way? If not, do they know just how much work goes into pro gaming?
The tournaments with the biggest prizes are highly-selective. You’re lucky if they take in 16 players from any given region. Of course, there are always local tournaments at hobby shops. Those can be great fun and provide supplemental income.. Or maybe just street cred. The point is that, no matter how good you are, you always have to consider there is someone with more free time and commitment than you.
Are you willing to pay the price to be a top-tier pro gamer?
League Of Legends and Starcraft 2 may be the most competitive games out there today. There are so many people playing and qualifying for the big tournaments is daunting. Well, maybe SC2 doesn’t have quite the gameplay hours of LoL but the gap in skill between good players and awesome players is quite significant. They measure that gap mainly in APM (Actions Per Minute) and, well, if you suck at multitasking and buckle under pressure, playing SC2 professionally could burn you out quickly.
I like the way Dreamhack handles tournaments. They recently held a Hearthstone tournament with $10,000 in prizes. This tournament was open to the first 128 registrants but, in other tournaments, there is usually a small buy-in. This is fair considering there are prizes at every level. What’s nice about it is that you can very well be the unknown, low-ranked player who pulls some upsets. That makes for a great narrative.
The barrier to entry is certainly low here. Now, you could argue it takes $200-300 to build a top-tier competitive deck in Hearthstone but you can reduce that cost by running a Hunter deck or playing more. Also, compare that to Magic: The Gathering where you’re spending at least $500-700. Just sayin.
Dreamhack is one of the biggest players in the pro gaming circuit. These guys are based out of Sweden yet they are known throughout the world. You may not play Starcraft 2, DotA 2, LoL, WoW, or even Hearthstone.. but chances are you’ve heard of Dreamhack.
Just look at the scene in the photo above. Dreamhack really puts on a show. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this experience? Dreamhack events double as massive LAN parties too. By most standards, this is the biggest digital festival out there.
That’s great but how does this relate to gaming clans?
Well, I wanted to pain a picture about how competitive pro gaming really is. Some people throw on a tag and think they magically become pro gamers. There is a lot to it. To me, there are not many gaming clans out there because loyalties lean towards the personal gains rather than the fellowship. Most clans are what I would call competitive or scenario squads.
To be fair, it’s easier to manage smaller groups when competition is the main focus. You need a personality fit above all because you can’t train that. Skills can be improved but chemistry you usually either have or you don’t.
In any successful organization, there is unity under a single-minded purpose. This is critical. You can’t mix together casual gamers with uber-competitive ones. If that situation develops, split the clan into sub-groups or divisions to keep things civil. I mean, some gamers think that we all focus on one game for months or years at a time. That’s just not realistic but those are the expectations at times.
LOTR (Lord Of The Rings, for the unitiatied) is a great example of the power of having a single purpose or goal. This is the vision that binds us within a thriving organization. In LOTR, lots of things happened but, ultimately, it was all about destroying the darn ring. They succeeded because they had laser focus.
The frustration for people in gaming clans usually takes two forms:
- You guys expect too much from me – I don’t have that sort of desire or time/money to commit!
- You guys are not serious enough – I’m tired of losing!
Often in coaching/mastermind sessions with clients and collaborators, I’ll talk about the importance of managing expectations. It’s easy to join a clan but working together as a cohesive unit is a whole different matter. As we hinted earlier, some people avoid clans all together because they feel they’re all about work and drama. It doesn’t have to be that way.
When we recruit people for NoF, we simply look for folks that are active and friendly. If everyone gets along and we have fun together, what else really matters, amirite? We’re not looking to be the next Team Solo Mid, Team Liquid, Gambit, or whatever.. We just want to have fun and meet new people. It’s great that we can travel just about anywhere, online and offline, and meet local Nips for some debauchery, good conversation, and gaming fun. Of course, if we detect someone is purely about winning and being “pro”, we kindly let go because we know the cost for that would sacrifice who we are at heart.. And gaming would become a chore. Eff that!
How about sore losers? Are they worth recruiting if they are skilled enough?
Well, you can’t play League Of Legends without running into trolls (see the featured image). Sore losers LOVE to blame their teammates and fail to see they become part of the fail sauce due to their poor sportsmanship. Avoid these types of players. They are a plague to gaming clans and squads, especially once you stop winning most of your match-ups. People will leave and, eventually, they will too so there’s no point catering to them unless they are truly willing to conform and compromise for the sake of the team.
We can go on and on about what makes a sustainable gaming clan thrive, not just survive. Here are some of the things we discussed in the linked article and the comments thereof:
- Leaders inspire, managers merely bark orders.
- The servant-teacher is a type of leader that remains humble, learning as much from others as he teaches others.
- The best leaders listen more than than they speak.
- Squads and clans function for different purposes, though they share similarities.
- Finding a gaming squad/clan is much like job hunting: all parties should make sure it is a right fit.
Go ahead and read the full article over at Y3B. I’d love to see what you all think. After reading the article, let’s bring the conversation back over to the Geeky Antics community. Here are a few questions to ponder:
- What is the biggest stumbling block for gaming clans or squads?
- Does recruiting women add to the stability or instability?
- What is the average shelf life for gaming groups of any kind?
- Is there a sweet spot for the max size of a clan?
Leave us a VM at (206) 415-4987 and drop some comments in the spiffy area below. This is a great discussion and I love hearing the stories everyone is experiencing in gaming spaces all over the place.
Don’t be shy.. Gather around the fire (hey, at least I did not say hearth) and join the conversation.