First off, I'm a big boy, so I feel pretty good about being able to handle anything you all may throw at me in comments... be direct, I'm going to be. But let it be said that this is NOT intended to bad mouth a person, people, or any specific clan.
With that being said... I am officially "clan-less" today. Not that I was much of a clan member to begin with I suppose... but that's really what I am going to write about in this entry. It's been on my mind for a while and I am curious to know whether it's "me" or something else.
I've now been a member of four clans on 2O2P. One is a group that isn't really a clan, it's a self-described community (2old2RPG). Two others I've been removed from. Today I asked to be removed from the last one I was in.
I'm in what CANNOT be a unique situation for most people here. I'm nearly 40, focusing pretty hard on my career, my family, other responsibilities and hobbies and distractions. I don't game as much as I would like to. Correction - I game exactly as much as I am able to, which is sufficient. I guess you could say I'm not all bent out of shape that I had to skip Reach this weekend, or that I haven't finished the campaign, etc etc.
Assuming that most people are in a similar situation (and I think most are; that's why I joined the site almost 4 years ago), I think clans are counter-productive to socialized gaming.
Yeah - I said it - I think clans don't help social gamers at all.
Here's the cycle, from my perspective, within a clan.
You "get in" to the clan. You're usually warmly welcomed by the clan "regulars". Every clan has one. They're the folks who rarely miss clan night (maybe they don't have kids, maybe their job isn't as demanding, whatever the reason). They are the "old timers". They've run together a lot through the cycles of the "hot game" (something else that I'm going to touch on). You get my point - everyone rolls out the welcome mat.
You feel good because everyone's made you feel welcome. So you go out of your way to make it to the clan events. Sometimes this is at the expense of other shit that you need to do, but you are OK with it because you want to demonstrate to your newfound friends that they didn't make a mistake letting you "in". While you play, you try to pick up on the general vibe of the group - Rated R? Rated X? Trashtalkers? Too quiet? Whatever - you're trying them out just as much as they are trying you out. So you see if there's a fit, and when it's all said and done, yep, there's a fit.
This might go on for a while, maybe a month or two. As time goes on, the chance that you'll make clan night starts to go lower and lower. That shit you put off for 2 months is still waiting for you to handle it. Maybe a new single player game has come out that you're dying to try (Fallout!). Maybe you lose your job. Maybe you just don't feel like playing that game. Bottom line - people are still gathering (usually its the "old timers"), but its becoming progressively difficult for you to make it to a clan night. The regulars are doing just fine, because they are able to work it in better than you can.
Throw in a couple of other things. What if your office blocks access to the forums? Now you can't post. You've got a lot of things going on at home, so you're not posting at home probably, and any time you DO have is better spent gaming, not catching up on past clan posts. You make yourself available via social networking, but that suffers from the exact same problems that forum postings do. In the end, the only medium available to you to "keep in touch" isn't really available at all.
See where this is going? No? Well, what if you don't post a lot, you don't play with the clan all the time... How about the latest "hot game"? I got kicked from one clan because I didn't play Modern Warfare 2. I joined it right when the game was launched. Everyone was very nice (they still are), but I was unceremoniously removed because I didn't attend clan nights. I prefer Halo. But my personality wasn't enough to keep me in the clan. The irony is, now that Reach is out, I'm getting invites from people that are still in that clan, even though I'm not in it. I also don't buy every single game on release day. I'm a retro gamer. I have a number of older consoles that need to get love. It takes me a very long time to get through games. I was removed from another clan because I didn't pick up the latest version of a game I already had.
So I don't think I'm an asshole, at least no one ever told me I was (if I am, and I don't know it, feel free to say so in the comments). I was removed without notice because I didn't have the latest game. I was reasonably active (as much as I could be), a couple times a week at most. But this wasn't enough.
The point is that in my experience, you are penalized for not picking up the latest game, posting every day, or gaming every day.
And this is where I have to wonder if its me or you. Are my expectations out of alignment? I kind of envisioned a clan as a smaller niche group of people who you could socalize with above the noise from the general forums (this isn't a slam - its fact when you have over 5,000 members and ALL those sub categories). The interest in gaming is the introductory common ground but it was up to you to reach out and get to know people... but at your own pace.
I don't wish I could play MW2, or Reach 7 days a week. I play exactly as much as I want to. But this should not, in my opinion, be a requirement for continued clan "membership".
The worst part about it, from a social perspective, is that awkward feeling of trying to "fit in" among clan members who do make it to each and every clan "thing". They are a small, but very vocal, minority. They have to be by definition - they are the core group. Every clan has one. I feel like an ass trying to "fit in" (OK, that part is probably just me).
I love 2O2RPG because I feel like they have gotten it "right". Everyone plays different things on different platforms, and it's just a "hang out" place to talk about role playing games. Not everyone does MMOs, not everyone hasa PS3, not everyone plays Phantasy Star. But we all manage to just shoot the shit.
Anyway, I'm pretty sure after this entry I won't be seeing ANY clan invitations, and I think I'm OK with that. They are just not for me. I'd like to understand WHY they aren't for me though. Am I expecting too much? Do I give too little?
Maybe its both.
PS - if this is all over the place, its because I wrote it on my lunch hour. I'll definitely have to edit it later on... but I won't, because I'll want to play something.