Friday, March 25, 2011

Clanlife: Your clan needs you

You’d be hard pressed in this modern age of online gaming to get through an evening of play without at some point running into a clan. They’re bloody everywhere and come in all manner of shapes and sizes. No matter what your preferences are when it comes to getting busy online there’ll be a clan with your name on it. We’ve got clans for the ultra serious, clans for the aged and decrepit, all girl clans, all male clans, region based clans, under 18s clans, CoD clans, Gears clans, Killzone clans. In fact, you name it and chances are it’s covered. If I were to see a forum ad tomorrow wanting members for a ‘no console clan’ for everyone without a gaming machine I honestly wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

The clan scene has grown beyond all recognition, from little acorns and all that, and the clan oak now casts it’s shadow over a huge portion of the online gaming universe. But what’s the draw of becoming a footsoldier in the ranks of one of these gaming tribes? Well, where to start. How about you want to expand your friends list with a bunch of like-minded gamers? Clans can offer that. Maybe you want a friendlier environment in which to practice your headshots than the one generally served up to you by PSN and Xbox LIVE when you join random matches? Clans can offer that too. Perhaps you have a real longing for some genuine teamwork, to be in a game where when you glance back your team-mates haven’t gone AWOL on some Rambo-esque mission of their own leaving you outnumbered, outgunned and out of luck? Yep, clans can also offer that. In fact, if you let them, a clan can completely change your gaming life; like a drug you’ll become intoxicated by it, the teamwork, the banter and the rich array of characters you’ll stumble upon will open up previously unexplored avenues of gaming to you. In some ways clan life has parallels with the real world but instead of heading down to the pub to meet your mates and share the banter and laughter over a few cold ones you set up in your favourite chair and head online to meet your gaming mates and share the banter and laughter over a few cold ones - with the added bonus of being able to shoot them if they annoy you, cyber bullets of course.

So does life in a gaming clan appeal? Maybe you’re already enjoying it’s trials and rewards and have found your home, where you now sit feet up, fire crackling and an AK47 across your lap ready to fight side by side with your clan brothers and sisters come the call to arms. If indeed you are actively seeking out a new place to call home, be patient... don’t dive headlong into the potentially shark infested waters of the first clan you come across or the first to come to you; the brochure may say 5 star accommodation but when you end up in the manger with the donkey, don’t say you weren’t warned.

To get the most out of being a clan member it’s vital that you fit the clan and the clan fit you. Some clans, particularly newly formed ones will take anyone and everyone under their wings in an initial bid to boost numbers, a tactic I myself embraced during the first few weeks after the birth of my old, now defunct, clan. It’s a tactic that can see problems arising in next to no time and for a variety of reasons. Believe me it’s not a pleasant place to find yourself. Instead, if you’re planning to pop your clan cherry and enlist, seek out the more established groups out there. Clans that hold fair play and respecting the opposition in high regard are good starting points. Most have a short trial period these days, perfect for showing them what just what an all round good egg you are and discovering that they’re the right fit for you also.

If clan is the all encompassing name that embraces these groups of online soldiers that come together to wage war on each other, then they can also be broken down into sub-categories.
We have the ‘winning is everything’ type of clan, ultra serious, ultra competitive and out for blood. Generally setting out their stall on one of the major gaming ladders sites in an attempt to conquer all and become known worldwide as a slick, precise and deadly team to face. Teamwork and communication tend to be key with these clans and new members generally have to prove they can hold their own before being considered for a place among the ranks.

Then there are the clans who live by the ‘fun comes first’ motto; usually larger in number than their elite counterparts and also considerably more inebriated - or was that just my clan. The pre-requisite for induction into their numbers is attitude. Enjoying the in-clan banter and getting involved within the forums are will stand you in good stead. But don’t be fooled, these guys are no push overs in matches, they just laugh a lot more and don’t care too much about results. Chances are you’ll also find a wider range of ages within the more casual clans. There are so many clans out there that it won’t take long to find the one that suits your style.

Thinking about starting your own attempt at world domination? Well be prepared, it’s a big job, in fact at times it’ll almost feel like mission impossible. My own experience was like a cross between running a global corporation and being in an 18-month long episode of EastEnders; there were highs and there were lows, friendships were formed, fallouts were mediated, battles were won and a whole lot more were lost but ultimately it was a thoroughly rewarding experience right up to the point when the wheels eventually fell off and we ground to a juddering halt. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the guys and girls who run successful and well established clans and if you want to be counted among their numbers then go for it. Build slowly, build respect among your peers and have fun with it, it’s hard work but it can reap great rewards. In the words of Field of Dreams, ‘if you build it, they will come'.

For me although the clan side of my gaming has taken a back seat in the last couple of years I am still a proud member of the Project Echelon clan/community, and i’ll admit I haven’t been the ideal member of late being so inactive I’m almost comatose but, if any budding new clans are looking for the perfect blueprint of how clans should run you could do a lot worse than following the Echelon way. Over the years they’ve earnt the respect of everyone they’ve encountered and promote only the good side of gaming. Fair play, being humble in victory and gracious in defeat are the order of the day, along with a barrelful of fun and laughter. In fact that shouldn’t just be the blueprint for a successful clan, that should be the blueprint for the whole of the gaming universe.

What?…….I can dream can’t I?

(Photo credit: microwavedboy, Dan Dickenson)


Fantastic article Base, and I've shared your love and pain of leadership on a number of occations! Thank you for the great Project Echelon referrral as well :)