11/04/2020

Virtual Guild Meet-up

Over the years I've met a fair number of people in real life that I first met online - I guess nowadays that isn't so strange anymore, but fifteen years ago the notion of me meeting "strange internet people" was definitely still something that made my family very uncomfortable!

Having been in my current guild for about eight years, I've met a few of my guildies in real life as well; and some other guildies that I haven't met in person have at least met each other - but a bigger guild meet-up never really seemed realistic, considering how spread out we are across Europe. You may well be intrigued by the idea of meeting some of your guildies face-to-face, but are you curious enough to pay for a plane ticket just for that? Probably not!

Watching many big real world events get cancelled or move to the virtual space in the current climate gave me food for thought though: why not have a virtual guild meet-up? Yes, in a way we're already doing this every night by playing together, but I was thinking of something different, using webcams and just saying hi to the people behind the avatars. I proposed the idea to the other officers, we did a little test with Google Meet (most of us already knew what the others looked like anyway), and the idea was given the green light. And thus, we organised Twin Suns Squadron's first ever virtual guild meet-up last night.

I was ridiculously hyped in advance as I always love being able to put a face to a name, and we ended up with about twenty people joining (though some couldn't stay for very long), which I considered a very good turn-out. Several had cobbled together elaborate setups involving more than one computer, or a PC and a phone, in order to be able to both play and show us their faces at the same time, which I thought was oddly sweet. Also, while most of the attendees were what I'd like to call "the usual suspects", as in people who attend other guild events all the time, a few more quiet players that aren't usually around much worked up the courage to show up as well, which felt quite gratifying.

I had pencilled in about half an hour for getting things sorted / saying hello to everyone, which worked out quite well as people trickled in slowly and there were some technical challenges. For example we hadn't realised that Google Meet would mute people by default once the meeting exceeded a certain size, so people kept coming in auto-muted without noticing, and there was always some confusion until they realised what was happening and found the button to un-mute themselves.

Another "issue" was that some people displayed their real names instead of their nicknames, which combined with the auto-muting led to some confusion about who was who - I had counted on being able to recognise people's voices from TeamSpeak at least! So we had chats like: "Hey, um... Ian? You're on mute so we can't hear you... also, who are you? Lol..." Then he found his un-mute button, said one word and I immediately went: "Oh, it's Ten!"

Once things had settled down somewhat, we decided to do a social ops run as usual on a Friday night, but with the video call open instead of everyone sitting on TeamSpeak like we normally would. We did the Dxun operation on 16-man story mode, and especially initially I was struggling a bit to keep my eyes on the health bars as I kept looking over at the webcams instead! It was fun to see people react to things visually as well, from smiles to facepalms (though several guildies seemed to have what I called "resting ops face", which resulted in them giving everyone very blank stares a lot of the time). At one point one of my co-healers started plucking away at his guitar while one of the officers was trying to give instructions. It was all very silly.

There was a bit of tension towards the end of the op as we had several wipes on Huntmaster (that guy is always a bastard), one of the healers had several DCs and so on, but even that was interesting in a way. For example someone commented that Mr Commando didn't look nearly as angry as he sounded when he was telling people off for standing in bad stuff. I do always tell people not to worry too much about his yelling and that his bark is a lot worse than his bite, but I guess it really helped for them to see for themselves!

Anyway, we did end up clearing the operation in good time (after a couple of people had consumed several "wiping beers" on screen) and it felt like the conclusion of a very successful evening. Several people have already told me that they'd like to have another night like that, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

3 comments :

  1. This looks like a lot of fun - I can well imagine how much silly was around but aren't those the best times? :)

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  2. That's a cool idea, actually. I've had a lot more positive experiences than average ones when meeting people I met online, but that were mostly not people from games communities, which is kinda interesting.

    Visiting my quake clan (was that really 20 years ago?) ~100km away was fun, but playing on EU servers
    I've never seen anyone I met playing WoW, very spread out. Some of my Dutch guildies (also 8-10 years ago) did some meetups, but it was easier for them, of course. I guess it really helps if your guild doesn't implode in drama after just 2-3 years. :P

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, we have a lot of Dutchies as well, they were who I was thinking of when I said "other guildies that I haven't met in person have at least met each other". They never have very far to go!

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