Guild Interview: The Syndicate
Here it is, the first guild interview! And who better to start it all off with than the oldest and largest guild around, The Syndicate.

GuildMaster: Dragons
Guild Size: 500+
Alignment: Anti PK
Game(s): UO & EQ

(Quick) Being that you are the leader of the oldest and largest guild in the gaming world today, how does it affect your game play style? Do you have that holier than thou attitude? Or are you more down to earth? I know a lot of large guild leaders tend to think they are above everyone else since they have so many followers.
(Dragons) Actually this question would probably be most honestly answered by the members of my guild. Personally I believe im a very open and accessible. One of the big "rules" in the guild is that feedback from everyone is key to making the right decisions. I encourage reports to be sent in and for members to grab me anytime they need to chat. I spend more time each day talking to people, working on issues and helping people out than I do actually playing the games (far more). So yes, I think im very down to earth. I consider every member of the guild a friend of mine and the guild itself as a team of friends. I treat my friends with respect and I do my best to help my friends with whatever problems they have no matter how small. I believe that core value is internalized by all members and its part of what makes us SO strong despite our huge size.
You can sometimes hear people who have never seen the inside of our organization claim things like "the guild must suck because its so big". Some people think the larger you are the worse you are. I always chuckle when I hear that since its clear those people have never been part of a quality organization like we are. We arent a fly by night organization. We have a very large, very active private series of chatzones, a private IRC server thats heavily used, a structured heirarchy with frequent email updates and every morning I spend 2-3 hours writing a summary of the previous days guild events and whats coming up to make sure everyone is informed. Everyone knows everyone else. Everyone helps everyone else. Everyone is commited to the team. In other words, not only do we have size but its a unified TEAM that makes up that size.
My point in getting off topic here is that the core values that every member and every problem are important are part of what build the
foundation letting us be so successful. The average lifespan of a guild is 3 months. The average size is less than 20 members. You dont achieve a size of hundreds of happy team oriented members with years of existance under your belt by being stuck up, unapproachable, uncaring and non team oriented.

(Quick) What exactly do you have to be to be considered "Syndicate material"?
(Dragons) Syndicate Material is a very subjective term. The best words to describe what we look for in a recruit is: Professionalism, Maturity, Team Orientation and Game Knowledge. We do have a training program where we help people with the first 3 qualities gain the game knowledge but we do not admit anyone that does not possess those 4 qualities. Of course, over our long long history a couple people have slipped through the screening process that didnt have all those qualities (i.e. went pk or became a real jerk to people) but we remove those and move forward.
Probably our #1 judge of Syndicate Material is being referred by existing members in good standing. We do not "cold" recruit. We like to meet people first whether thats in game, in real life, in IRC chatrooms (for games not out yet) etc.. Unlike some groups that take anything with a pulse, we have very high standards and accept those we consider the best (i.e. Syndicate Material).

(Quick) If I remember correctly, your guild is 500+ strong between UO and EQ. How do keep things under control with numbers that large?
(Dragons) Well, if I said it was easy, Id be lying. There are days its real tough and days when the guild almost runs itself. The reason we are so large, yet so unified and so successful and so old, is that we have a very good core set of values. We recruit ONLY people that share those values. Our motto is "Quality not quantity" but the interesting side affect of that is that if you recruit quality and offer those people something of great value they will bring in more quality players and that gives you quantity.
The Syndicate focuses on teamwork, friendship and fun. We do ALOT of events for members of the guild. They can be as simple as group hunts to Scavenger Hunts to Quests to Lotteries to parties to training sessions. The entire guild (we prefer to call it an OGG.. Online Gaming Group) exists FOR its members. Members dont exist for the guild. The guild does not exist for size or fame or conquest. The guild does not exist for any one game either. The guild exists FOR its members. By having that attitude and focusing all of our efforts at making the games we are in MORE fun for our members, that reinforces the team focus of everyone and makes us unified.
So the simple answer is we maintain our focus on quality, teamwork, fun and on the members themselves.

(Quick) Are you planning to expand the guild into some of the new games coming out (IE: UO2, SB, AO)? If so, which games, and how do you think it will impact your current guild structure in UO and EQ?
(Dragons) Definitely. The Syndiate is NOT an Ultima Online guild. The Syndicate is NOT an Everquest guild. The Syndicate is an Online Gaming Organization that transcends gaming. It is a community of professional, mature, team oriented friendly people seeking an entity that offers them much more than the game itself offers. A common trend you will see in the very old members is that the reason they still play the games they play is not for the game but for the guild. The guild makes it fun long after the game has lost its luster.
With that said, yes, we will be moving to new games. UO2 doesnt seem to show much promise as it lacks guild support and player housing on Day 1. Horizons looks good. Shadowbane looks pretty good. Anarchy Online has potential. There are other games out there as well. We do not go to every game. But we will go to something new when the next wave of games hits.

(Quick) What does it take to be promoted in the ranks of the guild?
(Dragons) Some guilds promote based on length of time in the guild. Some guilds promote based on who is friends with who. We promote based on A) Need B) Demonstrated ability. The general idea is to pick the best person for the job. Often times that does mean an older member because they have the experience in the guild, the game and with leadership in some role. There are different leadership roles in the guild to move into.
Squad Leader, Lieutenant, Quartermaster, Event Coordinators, Training Officers etc.. Some roles are more formal than others but there are lots of ways for people to get involved.

(Quick) What are some of the future plans of the guild?
(Dragons) Well I somewhat covered this in quest #4 above. As I mentioned there we
are not a guild that is tied to a game or that exists for a game. We are an OGG (Online Gaming Group) and we exist as a community of professional, mature game players. We exist in several gaming worlds and will be expanding to new ones as old ones begin to fade and bright new ones start up. We dont expand to every world that comes out but pick them based on quality and our own needs. We will exist with in Diablo II but not as heavily as we first envisioned since they are not supporting guilds origonally. Members will likely play it as a side game and we'll have a series of private rooms where members will play it together. We are looking at all the upcoming titles like AO, Shadowbane, Horizons, Atriarch etc.. but have made no final decisions yet on where we will expand to next.

(Quick) Say somebody in the guild does something to constitute punishment. What types of punishment are executed on the person?
(Dragons) An interesting question. Punishment really is largely dependent on the
rule infraction. One of our core rules is Guild First. If you break that rule you are likely removed from the guild all togethe. And any
member who negatively departs the guild can never rejoin (although most people who leave or are removed, about 85%, do petition to rejoin later). Punishments really are tailored to the person and to the action in question. A person who repeatedly does something will obviously have a different punishment than a person who only did it once.

(Quick) What sets your guild apart from the hundreds of thousands of others? Aside from the enormous size of it, what draws the people in to your community, and what keeps them there?
(Dragons) The Syndicate is nothing like 99.999% of all other groups out there. We
exist FOR our members and my ENTIRE focus as guildmaster is to make the guild and the games we play FUN for the members. I invest hours every day doing that as do many others in the guild who help out with various aspects. Our core values of friendship and teamwork foster an atmosphere that is fun to be a part of and adds great value to a player for a game.
If your sole goal in playing a game is to power level as fast as you can, explore all the dungeons and then move on to the next game, The Syndicate isnt for you. We recruit quality players who are mature, professional and team oriented. We seek to enhance their gaming experience and in doing so they give back to the guild enhancing others gaming experience. By fostering an atmosphere of teamwork and actually caring about other members it literally feeds on itself and grows stronger all the time.
We do a large number of events in game like quests, hunts, training sessions etc.. to make the game itself more fun. In UO, for example we have built a complete town for members to use. The Syndicate is team focused, member focused and fun focused.

(Quick) Is there anything else that you would like to add?
(Dragons) I think we covered all the highlights of the guild. Im incredibly proud of this group of men and women and all they have accomplished. We have members from countries all over the world. We have both men and women who range in age from teenager to their 40's as members. We have
business professionals, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement officers, miltary personnel, students, housewives and many more that compose our team. Everyone brings a unique aspect to the guild and by leveraging all of those aspects we build an incredibly solid team and overcome all challenges. 99.999% of all guilds will fail before they reach our size or our length of existance. So im incredibly proud to be the guildmaster of The Syndicate and incredibly proud of the men and women
that make the guild great. As is commonly heard shouted across the worlds we game in "Long Live The Syndicate"

This was truly a great interview with a very nice guy. I give him much credit for the hard work he puts in every day for his guild. Anyone giving any thought to joining this guild should give it a try, you won't be unsatisfied.
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