Running a Gaming Clan: Leadership Lessons from a Newb

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“Hey, look at all those nifty acronyms people have attached to their handles and screen names. That’s really cool – I want one too!” That is exactly what I think runs through the heads of many people that join or create a clan..  At least on the console, where the concept is still kinda fuzzy to most. People want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than them. It’s just human nature.

With the next-gen (or is it current gen?) gaming consoles tapping into an online gaming market that has existed for many, many years on the PC front, gaming squads are arguably more popular than ever. For most, it’s just about hanging out with some people or being part of the most kick-ass team and getting some big wins under the belt. Whatever way you chop it up, people are in these squads for selfish reasons, matters of the ego. Perhaps they want attentions, good stats, or want to make a living out of professional gaming. Motives vary all the time.

The nasty trend is this: you see many faceless gaming squads that come and go every day. People leave solid squads where they may be appreciated and truly needed, just to make their own squad and get the ego rush of being able to boss people around. It is on that end that many clans fail: there is too much ego and the clashing becomes inevitable. Note that I use clan and squad separately. It’s all a matter of your principles: clans have ideals that go beyond just competing or owning in any single game. They are binded by friendship, building up a rich legacy and history, and always establishing a principle-based leadership. Many gaming squads lack real principles: it’s all about getting the best stats, dominating other “clans”, and perhaps employing the latest exploits to keep your competitive advantage significant.To me, a clan, whether new or old, big or small, multi-game or single-game is only as good as it’s leadership and it’s sense of purpose (or unifying vision). Again, this nasty ego thing comes up. People mistakingly assume that leadership is all about making people fear you and blindly follow anything you demand. The truth of leadership is that it is probably a more about listening than it is talking. It is true that some people need to be micro-managed, motivated, and even commanded but, in most cases, people respond better to positive reinforcement and mutual exchange than they do drill-sarge-style screaming.

By many standards, I can be considered a newb simply because I don’t taking gaming very seriously. I have fun with it and I try to make sure my guys do too. My clan, Nipples of Fate (NoF, pronounced “Nawph” or “En Oh Eff”), is meant to be a clan that doesn’t take itself seriously in the sense that we know to have fun and still compete, stay organized, and keep the order. Sure, we get our fair share of eager beavers and know-it-alls but, with time and wisdom, systems and processes become a lot more turn-key and intuitive so things operate smoothly. I wouldn’t say I am the best leader but I’ve learned the worst things to do as a gaming clan leader and some things that seem like “common sense” are really not regarded as such.

I’d like to share some quick tips on what a clan leader should and should not do if he cares about the longevity and happiness of his clan. First and foremost, do not start a squad for the wrong reasons. This means that you should not make a squad just cause you want to feel important, be cool, or try to steal players from other clans. Such squads fail in the long run simply because they never really mesh. You have to have goals if you are making a squad. Goals set the pace and tone for your squad and give you a direction to go in.

You need to manage your expectations and those of your clanmates as well. This is huge. If you only plan to get a bunch of people that like hanging out together, matching personalities should be a major focus and skills should definitely be secondary. If you want to do that but also remain competitive, you have to make sure your guys know the unique culture you are building up so no one questions the guy that pretty much sucks but likes to hang around and is probably very active regardless of competitive efforts. Most importantly, if you are trying to form a pro team, you have to be ready to make sacrifices and probably lose some friends, if you are not careful at least.

The trend now is for any major clan to have multiple tiers and squads. I believe this is only a good thing for a leader to do if they can truly identify other leaders in their squad. Many people want to lead but what they really know how to do is manage/boss, which is completely different. The responsibility of being a leader is much greater than what 90% of people that start clans are ready for.

Here’s another big tip for clan leaders: do not be fooled into thinking that just creating a tag, having a web site, and being on ladders (GameBattles.net or what-have-you) means you have a real clan or even a squad. Keeping members engaged is all about creating a solid foundation where communication is a major focus. You need to have a clear chain-of-command so that there are not too many chiefs and not enough Indians. You also have to groom your top, most active guys to become leaders. Hopefully, they really internalize what the squad is about but, be ready, most people that join a squad will inevitably leave because of simple reasons: boredom, they don’t know what they want, or their ego is not being stroked enough.

I mentioned positive reinforcement and I will ellaborate on this because it leads to some other important tips. As a leader, patience is not an option. You’ll run into different types of people so clashes are inevitable. Once again, managing expectations becomes a huge strategy as you make sure that everyone knows what are the optional traits to possess and what values are considered core in the squad. Establishing these core values will only happen if you build good relationships. Make yourself approachable by never scolding someone for sharing friendly advice and constructive criticism. Practicing an open door policy is key, especially if you designate key liasons and provide them with multiple means for reaching you, in case you are not “online.” Positive reinforcement is not just about giving people patting people on the back when they do well, it is about making people feel like an integral part of the group and helping them identify their strongpoints. When you focus on the good things people do, you can get them in a comfort zone where they can naturally start to eliminate their bad habits.

On the matter of patience, a clan leader needs to be ready to get bombarded, disappointed by performance, annoyed with inactivity, and even ridiculed at times. Every clan has black sheep and bad moments so you have to not only be ready for this but expect at any turn. I feel that the worst thing that people do as clan leaders is scream at their guys when they messed up, rather than pointing out what they did well and how they can use that to their advantage next time. I don’t know many people that like to be screamed at and belittled yet this is the style of leadership you’ll often see, sadly. It’s boot camp all over again.. Where’s the fun in that?

Leadership is a tricky thing. Leaders get criticized regardless. It’s a love-hate thing most of the time. Some will adore you, some will deplore you, and some will whore you out. Being a leader is actually hardly ever glorious and that’s the truth. You need to have a giving attitude and realize that your efforts will not always be reciprocated. This is the price to be paid. I reiterate this: reasonable expectations are critical for yourself and your guys. Everyone needs to be ready to pay the price because a clan is like a squad: it’s not going anywhere without something to fuel it. w3rd.

All metaphors and fluff aside, I can’t stress enough how tough it really is to run a clan. My kudos go out to any team leaders that have squads running for over a year; hell, these days, 3 months is a huge milestone. Let’s not even talk about keeping a vital core. Like I said, leadership is huge in a clan but it’s not about those that have been designated as leaders or given titles, it’s about the collective effort and how many people take ownership, pride, and dedication into everything they do. That stuff about the chain being only as strong as it’s weakest link is very true.

Leadership is a topic I am very passionate about and I can go on about it forever but the point is that you can never be a perfect leader. It’s an ongoing process. Every day I find myself taking notes from other fellow leaders and re-evaluating my methods. Everyone is bound to lose their cool at some point but there are no true failures until one completely gives up. In the end, if you want to lead a gaming clan you have to make a few simple decisions: do you want to have fun or do you want to compete seriously? Can you do both? Sure but that leads to this important question: are you willing to pay the price? It’s one thing to say you want to do something or have dreams but you need a plan or it was all just talk.

Indeed, gaming has turned into serious business (hence the growing number of professional, sponsored teams, and people that think they’re THAT good) so, if you do not want all the headache, join an existing squad. A clan should only be established once there is a strong core and if there is a unique enough culture and spirit. When joining a gaming squad, make sure that you are the kind of person they are looking for and that you like what that clan is about: their culture, their goals, their history, their outlook, etc. Even the most casual of gamers should be wary not to make a poor decision and just put on a tag. A tag does not make you a clan member. w3rd. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. =oO

2008 UPDATE: There’s a concept some call “magnetic sponsoring” that I think is very relevant to clan leadership. Recruiters become leaders and example-setters in their own regards. It’s important for those people to become the things they want to see in their prospect. In that manner, you can attract the right people. This also applies to people that want to be scouted by the right clans. I’ve seen some of the biggest, most successful clans out there take a gamble on people based almost completely on personality. Why? Skills can be developed but an asshat is quite hard to turn around!

76 thoughts on “Running a Gaming Clan: Leadership Lessons from a Newb

  1. Glad I could help!

    I’ve had a core group of people in my clan for over a decade now and I’m happy with the results. In the end, it all depends on what you want to accomplish. My group is as much a social and special interest group as it is a gaming clan. I think connecting beyond a single video game helps keep a clan thriving.

    The nice part is that we can easily prepare for a game that is going to come out by tapping into our already-existing network and drawing upon our collective experiences. It’s crucial to have fun. Too many clans take themselves too seriously and then they stop having fun. I’d hate for my gaming or anyone else’s to become a chore.

    That’s how I see it.. Ideally, a successful clan will unite like-minded people. Sure, you can have a clan based just on winning and getting only the most skilled people together but I guarantee it won’t last that long, no matter how big the name becomes.. The individual ego becomes too big after a while, sadly…

    • Thanks, this helps a lot, and I agree with everything you said here. I found your article to, put everything in perspective and my clan is going through a transition right now. I would really like for you to, check out our YouTube channel at: h3ktikt3kn1kclan. Personally wanted to, thank you and a lot of my brothers and sisters of our gaming community are taking notice. Search on YouTube H3KT1K Reflects on Article Leadership Lessons from a Newb by Yogizilla Clan NoF and there’s five parts. God Bless and happy holidays. Email me anyone who views our channel, or sites at iguffimain@gmail.com, or message me on Xbox Live Gamer-tag H3K L3G10N.

      I do have one final question for anyone who posted on this blog, or the creator of the blog. How does one be able to, manage a Clan/ Gaming Community in multiple games? We’ve made several attempts and still play but, can’t seem to make Call of Duty Modern Warfares and Black Ops work. It’s really unfortunate as, H3KT1K started a squad on Rainbow and then became successful Gaming Community over the past 5 + years. Please review the YouTube and comment. Special thanks to, Yogizilla for getting us one step closer to our goal: feared, loved, hated and respected in all games we play.

      Want to know more about H3KT1K T3KN1K Gaming Community?

      Contact information:

      YouTube channel: h3kt1kt3kn1kclan
      Brian Timothy- Guff Guffey’s Facebook: iguffimain@gmail.com
      Facbook H3KT1K T3KN1K Community: HektikBrotherhood (linked to Brian Timothy-Guff Guffey’s page)
      Facebook H3KT1k T3KN1K Main Page: hektik.teknikgaming

      • You’re quite welcome! I am glad this old article is still making an impact. I hope to return to the roots of Y3B and focusing more on the gaming business and content for hardcore gamers. For now, I still enjoy bouncing around random tangents.

        Keep in touch and see you on XBox LIVE. I must catch up on my XBL goodness soon. Mass Effect 3 has been particularly good with all the free multiplayer updates. Also getting back into Battlefield 3 now that I finally broke down and got Premium.

        BTW, check out our sister site at http://DuelPassOnline.com or http://duelpassonline.wordpress.com – not sure if I will be renewing the domain right now but that’s where I focus more on gaming, anime, and other uber geeky stuff. =o)

  2. I am interested to know whether you think that its better to be a small group of super-elite players or a larger group with a more balanced sprinkling of average all the way to that pinnacle of excellence.

    Also, just as somebody who would have written a very similar article if I was in your place as far as communication and listening skills being of more importance than “I am your almighty leader,” what do you consider a good way of managing inter-clan disputes between (Just as an example) two well liked, highly skilled, and perhaps high-ranking clan members?

  3. VERY good questions – these are things that certainly affect all clanners!

    Like I have said, the major issue in running a clan is finding that delicate balance between appeasing the individual egos and putting the collective good first (and keeping that collective good/goal in focus). It’s much harder to manage a larger clan and some of the best players do not like big clans, simply because it means they have to compete for playing time and/or power. I like a large clan because it makes everyone work hard to earn their rights.

    That being said, it’s important to establish a vital core to the clan before expanding. It’s also important to make sure you nourish the right culture before bringing others into the fold. If any of your core guys project the wrong goals and principles, there starts to be tension. Cliques form and that is never pretty.

    I personally go for a personality fit rather than people that look good on paper. Stats can be baked many different ways and hardly reflect the full potential and value of a clan member. What you want are people that believe in your vision for the clan and have the right overall chemistry, both on and off the battlefield.

    Intra-clan disputes are inevitable but I’ve learned a few simple things. If anyone gives you an ultimatum or puts themselves before the clan’s overall good, let them go. That interruptive behavior is never any good. Chances are that person will help you do some house cleaning by taking some of the black sheep away from you.

    I know this sounds crude but people change. If they get a crappy attitude and try to make you do things by using strong-arm tactics, that is obviously a selfish person. Those are the people you kick. I usually don’t kick people. I just put them in a position where they can leave, thinking that they got the last word but, in reality, doing me a huge favor.

    Naturally, not all intra-clan issues are so easy to resolve. I wouldn’t worry about rank or skill. It’s more about who has internalized the clan’s principles and who really puts forward the most effort. The folks that plug in and interact the most are the keepers. Like I said, skills can be forged with good training but chemistry, willingness, sportsmanship, teamwork… Those are all things that are hard things to instill in people once bad habits are formed.

    In regards to inter-clan issues, I try to keep trash talk between clans friendly and fun. Losing gracefully is part of the formula for learning from your mistakes. Sore losers usually externalize losses or blame others. It’s hard to grow as a team when such bad sportsmanship takes place.

    Overall, I think the clans that survive the longest are the ones that have a core group of members that truly respect each other and the clan’s ideals. I can’t stress that enough. When you get people excited about what your clan is about, the fire starts to burn! =oD

  4. Excellent points !
    I started a clan with just 2 people 10 years ago. We have almost a dozen that have been togther for most of that time now. Still the original people too! We dabbled in leagues for TFC and all, found it was not what the majority of us wanted and stopped it. Too much effort for not enough fun. So identity for us is friendship, online comraderie and killing time ( and kids on line ).. :).
    We get the biggest joy factor from hangin in TS and getting together to go pubbing or try new maps in our own server.
    I think it’s important to have community as well. By that I mean close relationships with other clans. We have a few whose servers we will visit regualrly. We are welcomed, talked to, switch up our teams with and sometimes just bash it out clan to clan. All in all a great time with the right clan. Problem is, most clans are ego centric and want to talk smack or put everyone down all the time. While there are times and places for this once in a while, doing it every minute of every game is a no no and turn off for mature people.
    The hard part for us is attracting the right people that will add to and enhance our small community. We only add a few members a year it seems and some of them are at that age where things are changing quickly with school and jobs, so they may end up going MIA for weeks or months at a time. Trying to find gaming buddies that are around on a regular basis, that have the right attitude for our group, is really tight! At the same time, we do not want to open the flood gates just admit anyone and everyone. I have seen first hand where that leads.
    Thanks for the insights, I think you have hit many of the issues on the head.

  5. Right on!

    It’s really hard to weed out the good folks from the bad folks but most gamers out there do seem to be attracted to overly-competitive ego-centric clans. I find that those folks weed themselves out even if they make it into your clan. Once you have a strong core and your principles are set in stone, not even the biggest troublemakers can shake your foundation.

    I’ve seen people come and go while we continue to build a strong core. While our success may not be much by mainstream standards, I feel great knowing that we out-live most clans today and remember to have fun, above all. Like you said, competition tends to get boring and it brings out the worst in people.

    It’s funny because clan battles can be such a drain. The smack talking, the slow pace, the work that goes into it.. It’s good for those that feel the need to achieve something so fleeting but, once those individual games die off, what do you have to show for it?

    As you have found, focusing on friendship and chemistry is key. Some would not consider our groups “clans” but I think such an approach is what makes a clan a clan. Anything short of focusing on brotherhood and longevity is just the formation of a mere squad. People just seem to forget that games are there to have FUN. If you lose sight of that, it feels like everything else is such a waste.

    Then again, we live in a world where almost every other person thinks they can make a living out of gaming.. That’s easier said than done. To me, the trade-off is not worth it.;o)

  6. Heya,

    Well, I’ve personally been leading a gaming clan for a year now (give or take). I have to admit only finding this article during a bored google search, but ended up reading it regardless.

    Impressive piece of writing. Being a clan leader, I recognized a lotta thingies here. I remember when I first started my clan,

    “The responsibility of being a leader is much greater than what 90% of people that start clans are ready for.”

    Anyway, as said, superbly written. Two points I do think are of importance that are not (or not clearly enough in my oppinion) written are these though:

    -Diplomacy/eloquence
    My clan’s in a (relatively! I’m still talking hundreds of players here mind you). small game. Being a reasonably experienced player myself, I’ve seen several clans come and go. In my experience, one of the most important things is diplomacy & all-round eloquence. The latter for the simple reason that a good speaker (who, as silly as it sounds, uses correct capital letters, etc) is respected more than one who does not sufficiently master the language his clan is based (most commonly English, but you see Hungarian, Polish, and whatever-else-you-can-think-of clans too). Diplomacy because I’ve seen tons of clans die of inactivity because of the community’s general oppinion of them (which is determined by simple a handful of big clans in my experience). Take the Moo clan (I’ve censored out the name for the sake of it). They used to have about 15 active members, but were allied to the Rawr (100-ish members), the Quack (60-ish members) and the Woof (60-ish members) clans. While they were, they flourished, and became very well-known. However one day, their (that is, the 15 members Moo clan) leader got into a conflict with the 100 members Rawr clan. They later also got into a conflict with the 60 members Woof clan. They broke their remaining alliance out of fear this would happen again…And have had about 3 active members eversince.
    My point is, diplomacy is extremely important. Do it well and your clan’s name will be known, and you will gain members. Make a mistake, and your clan loses interest at an alarmingly fast rate. As much as I (and no doubt also others) dislike it…politics have become entangled with gaming.

    -Secondly, a good recruitment system.
    The reason I’m saying this is that, trust me, you’d rather have your clan grow slowly, than growing quickly yet recruiting, as you put it, asshats. I personally have a system where…

    -Normal clanmember tags are .:SR|Rank:.
    The rank being simply position in the hierarchy of the clan.

    -If you want to join the clan, you first for a period of 1-3 weeks have to put on the tags of .App. or .Applicant. yourname.

    -The council (meaning, the ruling body of the clan. The core, if you will) votes on the applicant, members bring forth any concerns, I check the server logs to make sure he/she doesn’t break the rules when nobody is around, etc. If there are no (or few) concerns, the member’s in.

    In any case, well done, loved how you also stated the Skill versus attitude issue.

    -Caelum

    • Very nice response, Caelum!

      Diplomacy and a good system overall is huge. There just needs to be structure and a clear path for everyone, from start to finish, and people need to feel involved and have a sense of accomplishment and progress. This encompasses recruitment, of course, but I’ve learned after 10+ years running with NoF that no amount of prepartion or screening can ensure that you get quality people. You just have to drive activity from event to event and make sure there is as little idle time as possible. Put people in positions to succeed, spread the power properly, and make the organization grow as organically as possible. If you get momentum going, it’s hard to make it stop and growth of the good kind will surely follow.

      Diplomacy, let’s get back to that.. It’s important to network, have some good PR, and forge some alliances. No single system or clan is perfect so a little peer support and establishing a support sideline outside your own organization goes a long way. This is true in business too. I try to set some good guidelines for conduct and inter-clan interaction but people don’t always follow rules completely. All you can do is mold and set forth a system but people have to plug in to make it work.

      Truth be told, a lot of people project false intentions and plans. Most folks these days just want fame or stepping stones to some impossible aim or perhaps “pro gaming” status. For me, finding those that have a genuine “one for all” attitude are the real keepers. We have a council that is clan-wide plus smaller councils and task forces that represent us on different gaming and project fronts. It works out well, especially when we set up some inter-division meetings and support each other’s initiatives. We also have an applicant/recruit tag. In my clan, people have waited as long as a year to get in so, yeah, we have been known to be quite selective but it’s on a per-game/function basis. Some divisions have more of a need for process while others just need fresh blood to keep things from getting stagnant. It’s a delicate balancing act. 8)

  7. I don’t know if anyone will even see this but I recently found this guide and it has helped me understand alot when trying to start something like this.

    If anyone here is already a successful clan leader and going to tournaments and stuff could you email me so we can talk because I wouldn’t mind having someone to talk to with experience for advice.

    • Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner, Icegoten. I’m glad you found the guide useful! I have plans to do a series of leadership and management-focused blog entries (just need to budget my time better, I suppose). I’d say your first step starts with setting clear goals for yourself. How do you define success? What do you bring to the table? What guarantees or promises can you make and deliver on? Those are the things a leader, in any capacity, should consider.

      It’s critical to manage expectations effectively. Leading a gaming clan is much like managing a business. You need to hire people that believe in your products and/or services. It’s tempting to just fill a roster to get things going but it’s much more productive to only bring in right-fit candidates. Recruiting is the toughest part. People always seem to misrepresent themselves or use opportunities as stepping stones, yet they rarely are forthright with such intentions. It becomes your job to make sure there is enough synergy/chemistry and potential to bring certain individuals in. One person can either be a boon or a bane to your operation, especially when your organization is still in it’s infancy.

      I feel that being passionate about what you do is the most important thing you can ever do. An unwaivering belief and excitement for what you do becomes contagious. People want to know that those in decision-making positions care about their individual success but, more importantly, they want to see that the leaders are credible and legit. Integrity speaks volumes. It takes time to build up a reputation but I find that most people are excited about ground-level opportunities so long as they get the feeling they’re becoming a part of a legacy, not just a passing fad. I mean, everyone loves being able to say “I was there when it all started”.

      Once you build up momentum, keep it going by driving your organization from event-to-event and providing various channels of active communication. There is no doubt that this is an age in which communication takes place on various fronts. Tools like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, e-mail, forums, and StumbleUpon are only the beginning! People don’t want to miss a beat and, if you create a system that is alive-and-kicking, people will plug in!

      Good luck and game on! =oD

  8. I was in a Starcraft clan for 2 years. clan Alp. the strongest and longest clan on the east coast. over the months i climbed my way up and saw it all. i bare witness that these are the realest words i have read about clan leadership on the internet. if i had the means i would buy ur game, just to join ur clan, just to learn more from you.

    • You must be excited about Starcraft 2, Random Guy! Quite honestly, I’m scared because I think Warcraft III will lose a lot of it’s fan base. WC3 is definitely one of my go-to games, with DotA being one of my favorite past-times, along with the countless Tower Defense and miscellaneous custom maps out there.

      Anywho, admittedly, I’ve stepped down from active leadership in my clan. I’ve appointed some real stand-up guys, including a buddy of mine that goes by the name sLm. I am blessed in that we have a solid core that has gone strong for many years and we’re still attracting new talent and growing steadily. I like where we’re at now. We’re not booming at an astonishing rate, which makes growth much more manageable and keeps interaction more intimate/personal.

      If you want to check us out, we have a humble little IRC channel on irc.funnet.org called #nof. My guys there are rather protective because they take great pride in our clan’s history so just introduce yourself, say you found us on Yogizilla’s blog, and you’ll be good to go. You’re welcome to join us on Warcraft III and a little free game called Spark (http://www.spark-hq.net). I’d classify us as a social gaming clan. We LOVE retro-style games and online gaming of many flavors (including console and web-based games). Some of us have been sucked into the MMORPG world so we’ve erected various NoF stations throughout the gameverse. Personally, I used to love City of Heroes and Anarchy Online, but those games can be waaaaay too time-consuming.

      Right now, we’re pretty much in “chill-out mode” but we’re always looking to bring in people that are more focused on having fun than becoming obsessed with “pro gaming”. That being said, once we all sort out stuff in our offline lives, I think we’ll be looking to make a comeback in the competitive gaming sector. Oh, and fantasy football is about to start up again, which is always fun. We may even pool together and do another prize grab bag. Good times, I tell ya!

      • BTW, I keep getting fantastic comments and e-mail messages about this series of articles so I expect we will keep the conversations going over at our new home at http://geekyantics.net – please join us for HorsePLAY! LIVE as well. The time is available on the Geeky Antics site under the GANG Schedule tab/page. Our archives are available on iTunes, Stitcher, AllGames.com, Zune, etc. Come join us. I’d love to get to know you all better.

        Also, feel free to leave us VMs at (206) 415-4987. I am thinking we need to have an episode of HorsePLAY! LIVE dedicated to gaming clans. I know my co-host, ObioneX2, has a very different approach as he is more about the regimented, no-fooling-around style that most pro clans embrace. Nothing wrong with that but, for me, I just want cool peeps to game with and the rest is icing on the cake. =o]

        http://twitch.tv/obionex2

        http://twitch.tv/yogizilla

        http://allgames.com/podcasts/horseplay

  9. Thanks for the continued feedback on this post. It’s one of the oldest on my blog yet it’s still generating quite a bit of buzz. I thought I should share one of the games that has always inspired me with regards to clan leadership…

    http://spark.hq-net

    …And I also invite you to check out PBI, current CTA (Certified Tournament Administration) Head Admin, and his wisdom regarding positive reinforcement. Now, don’t get me wrong, we all poke fun at our friends, boys will be boys and all that good rubbish, but I think one of the worst things clans do is allow their members to use each other as scapegoats…

    http://www.spark-hq.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=102&t=9161

    Any successful organization should instill a sense of ownership and accountability in each member (rather than a sense of entitlement, which is a plague for gaming communities these days). People should appreciate the history, principles, goals, and vision of their organization; in turn, that should make members PROUD! Sadly, every gaming community with a strong competitive aspect leans towards players with a strong sense of personal pride that usurps all else. This is especially so when you have stats that revolve around individual stand-out performance rather than teamwork.

    In any case, Spark is a rare game that embraces the spirit of old-school and “golden age” gaming: simple, fun games with high replay value. Don’t judge it by it’s cover: we have a diverse community and the simplicity ends with learning to play the game. It’s all about the experience and the community instead of all the fluff we see in a lot of games today.

    Spark is a game with a rich history based on ARC, formerly owned by Sierra (one of the mega publishers out there with a knack for destroying great franchises these days). Like ARC, Spark takes minutes to learn and years to master. The spirit of this game has been going for 10+ years and the core community remains – that should tell you something!

    Now, don’t let that intimidate you. With new game modes and maps, there is something for everyone. I believe every true gamer that gives this game a real shot will love it. Everyone has a chance to shine and carve out a piece of the ongoing story of Spark. We welcome you – come join us for the party! =oD

    • Glad we could help! It’s always the simple little things that can boggle our minds. I find that mastering the mundane makes everything in life so much easier.. Then you can enjoy the more complex pursuits out there. 8)

  10. I am glad to say that i found much enjoyment with reading this article. It seemed to talk about a lot of major points that my mind constantly goes through. Currently I am 4th in command in my clan. However, my clan is currently going down the toilet, as we are at war with 3-4 other clans and our leader is MIA. Although I am very fond of the clan I am in I feel that it might be necessary to create a new clan and get out of dodge.

    Does your posting mean that I should wait until I get several decent mature players to go with my plan before creating a clan. If so, should those people be from my current clan. I realize that you will probably say whoever has a good personality and someone who will contribute to the clan but I am worried that when our leader does come around they might desert. Additionally how would I find mature people that are not in my current clan? I was never really fond of people constantly asking “do you want to join my clan?”. It always seemed like they were too desperate and didn’t care who they recruited (including the annoying 10 year old that has 1 kill and 37 deaths).

    I am capable of creating a server for recruitment and running advertisements on it (although I realize some people dislike advertisements). I know how to create a website, but have never put any effort into making it look nice (reason being I never needed a website).

    As an additional note I am always active in discussion and would encourage members to take part in the social aspect of our clan. I also do not believe I would create a horrible dictatorial clan. The only way i currently see myself failing as a clan leader is that I am not that charismatic. Although I do carefully plan out situations and think about their outcomes, just getting people to join might be a problem.

    Any suggestions?

    • Sorry for the delay in responding.. Don’t know how it slipped by me!

      You touched upon a lot of key issues.. So much so that I feel I should revisit this topic as it’s own series. Thanks for the inspiration!

      Here’s the skinny: building off an existing clan will work in the short term but you have to see where loyalties lie. Try to gauge everyone’s interest, priorities, and goals. That’s key. People tend to leave en-masse because they see clan hoppers as a bad sign. It’s preemptive and silly but that’s what happens most of the time.

      If your chief leader is not around, maybe he/she has pressing life matters to tend to. It’s something to consider. Having multiple leaders and balancing power is imperative. To rely on a single person in a clan of any size creates unnecessary burdens and unrealistic expectations.

      That said, if there are more deep-rooted issues or ongoing problems that have never never been addressed, it may very well be time to move on. It’s important to work things out and see things through to the end, even if that end is bitter. You don’t want the existing resentment and drama to bleed over to a new clan.

      Did your clan leader leave you with enough power and tools to keep things running? That’s really important right there. It’s one thing to feel abandoned but it’s a whole other matter when everything stagnates because you can’t take ownership of processes, even if people would like to step up.

      Clans get desperate to recruit sometimes. I think it’s part of every clan’s evolution. In an ideal world, you could have a small group of dedicated members that will stay with you for a lifetime but people leave, even when they have no really complaints and/or really like the leadership, organization, activity, and/or perks of the clan. That is why you always have to plan ahead to avoid firefighting and always lagging behind on core issues. Again, you don’t want a clan to become a chore so spread duties out evenly and allow for some redundancy so no one feels like it is a job. The exception here may be pro gaming clans where the focus is more on skill and profitability rather than friendship and longevity. They’re not mutually exclusive models but it is hard to master that balance.

      The subject of recruiting kids is a tricky one. Technically speaking, anyone under the age of 13 or even 18 shouldn’t be on most of the games out there, especially XBox LIVE, which mostly caters to older crowds. That said, if activity is a major focus, which it should be, your younger gamers will always keep things moving along, but they tend to be more fickle. If you luck out, you get a kid with an old soul, someone that values principle-driven leadership, structure, and discipline. I rather have a young recruit that can grow with the clan and be more malleable than to make the mistake of focusing on skill and getting older players with egos too large to work with.

      The ideal therein is to balance persistent activity with proven skills (not just game skills either). As you mentioned, some lack charisma or other soft skills, which is why you establish effective hierarchy or at least an inner circle of coordinators, officers, and leaders. You want to have your clan positioned to grow organicly and move along with minimal busy work.

      One thing I keyed in on in my “Newb Clan Leadership” article is that you can train skills but personality is essentially static/fixed for most. When recruiting, you want to make sure your most active members, above all, have good chemistry or else things will crumble quickly. Personality conflicts are almost completely unavoidable so interruptive behavior should be expected and prepared for.

      In short, starting a clan is very rewarding but it is also a lot of work. You have to nurse it like a baby, especially in the infant “formulation phase”. It’s easy to see spikes in activity and participation levels, especially out the gate, but establishing consistency and deliberate direction.. That’s tough.

      I say put a plan together and get it on paper. What satisfies you in a clan? Can you bring that change about with reasonable change? Who feels the same way? Who is willing to help? All too often, I encounter that people want change but they don’t want to be a part of the solution.. That sounds like work and, in the gaming world, people just want to play.

      My final gem: try to position duties, tasks, and projects in a manner that drive home how they will enhance the gaming and overall clan experience. Clannies are more likely to get on-board with ideas when they see the benefit and immediate gains to them; otherwise, they’ll just cheer you on or just not care at all.

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  12. I really find your posts useful. I am currently trying to get my clan started, but I am not rushing it. There are going to be 3 leaders for the clan with equal power, one is myself and another is a good friend of mine who I have known in person for about a few years. We plan to start a clan for Battlefield 3.
    Anyway I have really learned from past experiences, I was in 2 other clans from the same leader both times. I was recruited in the clan that was in a AVP which doesn’t have many people and can be hard to recruit. After I was trained I meet the 3 leaders. They were set up in divisions, 1 for each species, I was a Predator. Things were going well at first, suprisingly I became the second in command for the predator division after about 1 week. I was the second best person in the division yes, but I thought it would be harder to climb the ladder.
    Pretty soon after I joined they kicked out the Marine leader for loyalty reasons and that division fell apart. Then my division leader told me to delete the alien leader off of my friend’s list. so basically the clan was falling apart. I also realized that my division leader was kind of crazy too. :/ So my leader took some people and went his own way and the alien second in command took control from the alien leader and the alien leader left and took most of the clan with him, because he is one of the best players in that game so they think of him like a god.
    So I was left there by myself thinking what the hell just happened. Then a month later the alien leader recruited me to the the new predator leader.
    That only lasted a few months because he left to help a friend of his, and when he left most of the clan went with him or tried to start their own clan. About a month later the clan I sort of inherited died because the other 2 leaders were playing different games, while I was the one trying to keep things afloat. Once I saw things were hopeless I just gave up and the clan died. I am leaving out a lot of details and am sorry if this is a lot to process.
    I did notice though that the alien leader likes to start clans but not maintain them as much. I would like your opinion on what went wrong and to see if I am missing anything that I can learn from and keep my future clan afloat. :)

    • Thanks for sharing!

      You may have noticed I am a tad detailed myself so I quite enjoyed your lengthy response. Now let’s tackle a few considerations here…

      What went wrong?

      That’s a tricky question. I see a few issues that I’ve encountered plenty of times in NoF and other clans. One thing you mentioned was how you observed the leader going into maintenance/management mode. This is to be expected as clans grow and schedules/priorities change, especially if only one game is what binds your clan.

      You also mentioned that you had a rockstar clan leader who left and took a good chunk of the clan with him. This is why I usually avoid stats junkies and leaderboard stars. You can’t have a lot of ego in a clan, especially if you’re a smaller or more social-focused group.

      I am only speculating here but it seems like a lot of the clan members formed cliques and the segregation hurt your clan. It would seem that most of your clannies did not buy into the vision and collective goals of the clan, if there even were any. It’s hard to speculate given the information you did get to provide.

      I giggled at the crazy leader comment cause I know what you mean. Before I brough NoF over to XBox LIVE, I joined a clan with possibly the worst leadership and structure possible. The guy tried to order everyone around and didn’t know how to balance power so things moved along with or without him. His ego was bigger than his ability and his skill. It was bad news all around.

      With that example in mind, I’ve had plenty of time to learn what I’ve done wrong and right as a leader. The biggest mistake you can make in a clan is try to be a one-man show. Even the best leader needs to have an exit strategy or at least a sustainable long-term plan; after all, it’s unrealistic to expect the same core members to play 2-6 hours a day. I’ve put myself in that awkward position of the go-to guy so establishing a chain of command is key, as I’ve said in my gaming clan articles.

      Before I go off on my usual tangent, tell me: how big was your clan at it’s peak? What was the average turn-around? What was the recruiting process, member orientation inclusive? What activities did you guys do in between battles? How tightly-knit was everyone? Were there any major personality clashes and internal conflicts?

      Consider these questions carefully and you may reach the root of the problem. NoF is by no means perfect but we’ve had great fun over the years and continue to expand steadily. Clan hoppers are inevitable and people often leave in groups but it seems there wasn’t enough leadership and participation to forge bonds and make everyone feel like an integral part of the clan. When you leave out those vital ingredients, your clan is bound to just coast along and no one feels the urgency to really get involved.

      The lesson here: most people join clans but only a select few actually become part of clans. Hope you catch my drift! Herein your answers reside.

      Look forward to chatting more!

      • I also wanted to add this: don’t base recruiting solely on skill, if at all. Video game skills and tactics can be taught but you can’t mold a personality fit or force chemistry. With so many arbitrary squads snatching up otherwise good gaming clan prospects, the free agent pool can be shallow. This can make it tempting to skip out in certain requirements but try not to.

        There will always be times when interest in a particular group or division will diminish. That’s why I say you can’t stake your existence or success solely on one video game. I know you said you’re making a Battlefield 3 game but keep in mind that the Battlefield games have often been the toughest to recruit on, especially on the console. Look at establishing a strong core to lead the clan, regardless of titles.

        Not to sound preachy but the success of a clan falls upon the leadership but everyone can be a leader and propel things into the right direction. Everyone has to believe in what the clan is about and participate to keep momentum going. If activity and communication fizzle out, interest dies down and the clan itself is sure to follow.

        Gaming clan leadership is a tough job but it is rewarding and well worth it. Good luck and check in with us here on Y3B often! =oD

      • Hey thanks for your opinion. To answer your questions, the clan I was in had about maybe 30-35 members at its peak, but I don’t know for sure since I was only in charge of my division. The average turn-around was pretty low, I would say that 1 in 10 people that got accepted left after about a month; then again I am only guessing.
        The alien general did most of the recruiting for all of the divisions, since we all though of him as the real leader if you know what I mean. Don’t get me wrong I think I was a leader better than most, but everyone looked up to him, even myself. Ha Ha
        Anyway once the alien leader sent the predators to me I trained them myself along with a couple of other predators. The evaluation would be a 1 on 1 battle with only blades. I would usually fight them last since I was the best Predator in my division. When my predators would test the recruits I would see how well they are skilled and if they had a temper or not. I would them accept the people who were decent enough and had good personalities and trained them further.
        The aliens leader wanted to add more and more people and get only stronger, where as I thought in the back of my head we should only take on as many as we can manage.
        Some of the clan members where closer than others. I did notice that the alien leader’s ego had gotten a lot bigger since I first met him several months ago, he even admitted this.
        When the alien leader left, he left because his friend needed help starting a clan, so that is what he did. I still think that he could have managed his position in the clan and still help out his friend and then once his friend was established we would have and ally. This didn’t happen though. One thing that did bother me is that after the clan died, about a couple months maybe more, the alien leader told me that he left his friends clan and plans to start the old clan up again with the same name. :/
        When this happen I was thinking REALLY!!!. I told him that I would think about is even though I wasn’t. He started the clan and now there are 5 divisions. To me I think that is too many, even three was tough enough, but like I said earlier he thinks that the more people there are the stronger your are.
        So there you have it. most of the details that I can remember, don’t get me wrong, the alien leader is a fun guy to be around, I just don’t agree with his leading tactics. So now every time I here that he is in a new clan all I can say to myself is that I am not surprised.

        I hope you liked these details. :)

      • That’s a shame. Seems like the clan had quite a bit going for it. It just stinks when leaders have their own agendas and spread a clan thin. It seems like all the segregation and lack of communication stifled your clan’s growth. A little compromise would have gone a long way!

        While it’s nice to have a big clan to keep activity going, you certainly don’t want to to make things hard to manage. The foundation needs to cast in stone before such massive expansion takes place. See that? One inflated ego ruined it for the rest!

        With interest in AVP on steady decline, why would someone even attempt to start a new clan?? What’s insulting here is that, on top of it all, he restarted your old clan? Talk about a slap to the face!

        People seem to forget that the name of a clan is tied to a spirit, a certain inexplicable something, the essence of it all. You can’t just restart a clan and take an old name. That’s theft, if you ask me! You dishonor the name by not abiding by the rules that were established upon inception.

        Well, the good news is that Battlefield 3 will be out soon and you can start off fresh. If you play on XBox LIVE, I will join ya! Just add Yogizilla. 8)

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  15. That great to know, though the clan process is… slow, but I have 4 members right now. We are still in the preparation stage, once we have the main officers we will start recruiting soldiers.
    I also want your opinion on how my planned structure will be. Ok first of all there are going to be 3 leaders with equal power, that way if we disagree on something there won’t be a tie. Under the 3 Elders( the name of the top rank or generals essentially) there will be 4 people of different ranks as our council. the council will take place in voting on any situation. The council will also help the clan run smoothly( I hope :])
    So the highest ranking council member will be our Colonel in a sense. The second highest ranking council member will be 1 rank below the highest. The third will train the officers of the squads and second in commands. The Fourth will train the regular soldiers.
    Since I plan not to have 3 divisions like in my previous clan it will be 1, that way the leaders and can keep tabs on things better. Since Battlefield breaks people up into squads during games that is how our clan will be. We plan to have no more than 40 players in the clan, since we want it to be manageable. I’m not saying we will go straight for that but we will take it 1 step at a time.
    Anyway, in a squad of 4 there will be a squad leader, then the squad leader can choose his second-in-command out of his 3 squad-mates. The reason why we are doing this is so that the future clan-mates will have an understanding that they are not only responsible for their squad-mates but also to the clan.
    Also I know it will be hard to recruit people in BF3, but will enough patience I think things will be ok. Quite a few of my friends play Bad Co 2 and are going to get BF3, but I won’t recruit most of them because they don’t always listen. They are great friends, but I think they would make lousy clan-mates
    The clan I want to build up is a social clan but we will still be competitive. The reason I am making a clan is to have fun with other people, but still win games.

    Another thing, How many people do you consider a small, medium and large size clan.

    • I think you have given this great thought and it shows. GREAT way to start a clan. You’re doing all the right thing:

      * Starting small and establishing a core of like-minded reliable people.
      * Growing the clan organically and assuring each group of recruits has an immediate POC (Point of Contact).
      * Setting up squads for competitive and training purposes without losing site of the collective whole.
      * Setting up seconds to head things up when core leaders are busy/unavailable.

      With this structure, you can go as big as you want. Just make sure you set up a hub where the entire clan can interact. Forums are always a good choice. If people use e-mail, Yahoo Groups is a good way to set up polls and mailing lists without the trouble and costs of a web site. Plus you can tie it into Facebook since now Facebook supports external e-mail, if you reserve an FN address.

      Small, medium, or large depends on where you focus. If it’s one game, 40 is pushing it unless it’s an MMO. Then again, this will allow you to have reserves for each squad and rotate line-ups, so no single player is strained; after all, life happens!

      When you start off small, it’s easy to get spoiled by having everyone tightly-knit and very involved. Always prepare for the usual loss of interest and decline in activity; that is, don’t expect the same few people to keep on being super active. Backups will need backups the more you expand.

      That’s what I mean with organic growth with regards to gaming clans: you want to have enough flexibility to reappoint the right people for the right roles at the right time. BTW, I agree that not all your friends make good clanmates. if you want to stay competitive and active, a certain minimal level of activity is to be expected from every member.. Or at least everyone should communicate actively. I have tons of friends in NoF that are slackers but they paid their dues by doing years of hard service so I suppose that’s the exception.

      You’re right on the money about being able to be a social clan and still be competitive. It’s a delicate balance to maintain but well worth it!

      To address your question about clan size: your clan is too big if, given the current activity level, there isn’t always a clan elder or leader available when “lower-ranking” clannies are on. Your core members are the proverbial face of your clan so you want to encourage them to proactively reach out to your fellows so you never have clan members just hanging in limbo, off in other games or just ignored/overlooked.

    • BTW, I am a big fan of the council idea. I use that myself, though in a slightly different way. The trick in managing a clan as it grows is to keep a system of checks and balances in place while making sure you’re not top-heavy. To that end, you’ll want to make sure day-to-day clan activities move along almost automatically. You want your elders to focus on more pressing matters, not babysitting, especially once your gaming clan booms. Of course, it’s always nice to have the core leadership on the frontlines of the battlefield too! 8)

  16. Thanks for the input, yeah 40 is probably too big, but it is nice to imagine :)
    Maybe a max of 30 would be good, but then again I won’t know until I get the clan rolling.
    Oh and I was thinking for a website that my future clan-mates and I could talk, do you think that using Enjin would be a good idea, or can you suggest a better free website?

    • Like I said, 40 could work if you establish the proper balance of power. You can’t stay small forever but being big can be overwhelming too. It’s all about how strong your core is.

      When it comes to web sites, I hear Enjin is good. Look into Hub-Pages or Squidoo if you don’t need very extensive web site features. There are also web sites that provide private forums for growing clans so there’s always a good place to start.

      You may find my recent article on push/pull communication and marketing tools useful. A web site is good but it assumes clan members will always visit the site. These days, Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail are more useful because it takes the content to where people already are. Considering that you can access these things on XBox LIVE, leveraging these tools in some way is important.

      Another route to consider is using a blog like I do. People can search popular topics, find you, and then you have prospects to recruit or at least forge alliances with. Blogs are easy to maintain and focus on creating valuable content and conversations. With the right plugins, you can add all the functionality you really need. It’s something to consider.

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  18. Great post Yogi. Once again you’re taking some topics that are difficult to put into words and are doing it really well. There are some really fundamentally sound ideas here that for those of you who are brand new at starting a clan really need to pay attention to:
    1) You need to have a plan or system of recruiting new members, and your recruiting plan should NOT be focused on skills. Skills can be learned, but attitudes and ethics are usually very firmly in place and unchangeable in players.
    2) If you want to develop a group of friends who play together and have fun for many months or years even you need to have a firm foundation that defines what good conduct between members means and remove those who ignore it post haste, and you also need to focus on fun events and not so much on hard-core competition. The extremely competitive teams are full of ultra-egoists, or primmadonnas, who contain the potential to blow apart your efforts.
    3) You need to identify those rare 1%-ers who totally get your vision and support your plan, are active, plugged-in, and are a positive force and get them into a position of leadership. You will eventually learn to identify these people very early in their development and the opposite is true, you will quickly identify the ass-hats that need to be kicked.

    The Game Preacher

    http://gamepreacher.com

    • TGP, we need to talk, brotha. Got some exciting stuff cooking and I’d love to catch up with you. This blog will always be one of my outposts in the vast world of social media.. But we’re building something bigger and better over at http://GeekyAntics.net – we need geeks like YOU! Tweet me @Yogizilla and let’s do some masterminding together soon. 8)

  19. I agree with you, Running a clan is not easy. I know, im doing a solo job, 2 Servers, paying every month, running a forum, i made all the graphics. I play on servers. I give mental support. I do everything, i pay all my cash i earn in-game to help them with what they call needs. Yet sometimes i feel as if some of them are in the clan not for fair gaming, but for the benefits. I have created ranks, subclans. It is not easy. My clan is K@N, we live in a game called Multi Theft Auto, or known as MTA:SA, It is a GTA SA mod, THE BEST. Please email me at csmit195@zoho.com, i need people who can help me with the management, i have a friend as a leader. All he has helped with is the ranks. I did not create this clan based on me, i have created it as a training clan, to help those who start off, then to help them with there skills. We succeed. We have loyal members, like raiden. I will never forget the time we met. killallnoobs.forumotion.com

    • I can relate!

      Don’t do it to yourself. Looking for help is definitely a good start. Even if you are self-sufficient and multi-facted, taking on too much will only burn you out.

      This game sounds interesting. I have a GTA:SA disc somewhere.. And I think our guys would be interested in trying something different. We had a ball with GTA:IV, until the novely wore off. Having a thriving community goes a long way.

      I’ll check out your site and have my guys do the same. I’m in productivity mode myself so trying to avoid distractions.. And video games can get addicting!

    • Not sure what you’re asking. Do you mean if you have to pay to start a web site?

      Usually, yes.

      I recommend using WordPress to start a simple clan web site. It’s a robust publishing platform that can grow with your clan. Once you get the gaming clan to pitch in more via donations, fund raisers, residual income, or whatever, you can upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress option.

      What that involves is buying at least domain and obtaining web hosting. What you do from there is up to you. Hope that helps! 8)

  20. Awesome article dude, sir Yogi! Anywho, on with a rocking question.

    I am a gamer with a speech disability. I find it hard to recruit persons into my clan, as from time to time some people can’t understand what I try say. Whenever I try to say one thing I say it in an unorganized fashion in such a way that it can be hard to understand. I also don’t have any tone whatsoever in my voice. So its hard for me to sound charismatic. Luckily though, most of the people already in my clan are SUPER, freakishly, nice.

    I find that when I go about recruiting people, even though I do have a speech disability, I often find potential recruits who excel in their respectful nature. They don’t harass others, and when harassed they just mute the harasser. On some occasions when there is a flame war going about in a public lobby, they actually cool everyone down more than the north pole.

    I often recruit these people with much success.
    I’m pretty proud of my clan thus far.

    Now here is were I have a problem.
    Once they get into my clan, whenever I train people in terms of what they their job is in accordance with their rank, or if I give them a job to do, because my instructions are hard to understand from time to time, people get confused with what their job/goal actually is. I guess you could say its communicational chaos on my part. I take the blame full brunt, if I know my instructions weren’t clear. Because of this, I find it hard to keep members in my clan, as a lot of people leave quickly, do to my disorganized speech. Thus why I only have five clan members, while the other ten left do to a lack of organization.

    I mean we all have fun and everything, but I feel as if I’m letting my clan down. So would you have any tips for running a clan when the clan leader can’t talk very well, do to a disability?

    • Thanks for sharing your story and being so real about it!

      It seems your clan as casual but structured like my own.. So I’d recommend using new media to get your message across and systemize a bit. It’ll help you get consistent results and engage more people at once (so long as they plug in).

      Your strengths are what you need to focus on. You communicate very well in the written word from what I can see. Take that to a blog, Twitter, Google+, etc. Go where your clan is first because promoting new social platforms can be a tough sell sometimes.

      I was actually going to write a piece on WordPress as a social networking system for gaming clans. There’s lots of potential there due to the robust nature of WordPress. Once you get the blog up, you can re-purpose existing content and get your most active clan members involved. Attach forums to build a community and give everyone a voice.

      WordPress supports contact forms, polls, and more so it’s a very flexible tool to use for just about any organization or business entity. I think you’ll have fun with it and enjoy the rewards. It’ll take time but it WILL be well worth it!

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  22. Hello, I’m xSgtTdogx (that’s actually my Xbox Live gamertag), and I’m also the Darkest Hour clan leader. You know, I came to this page because one the best of my 15 members (including myself) sent the clan’s e-mail address an e-mail suggesting that I read this article. Not because I’m a bad leader, but because I’m new at leading a clan. I found several points made in this article that I agree with, and many of them are the values that my clan was formed by. Whoever wrote this, finally someone gets it. I’m going to talk a little bit about my clan. My clan is a non-competitive clan that features its own Xbox Live Silver account that I originally used its friends list to keep track of members, but now I use it for that and to communicate with other members, display information, and I also have all people that want to join contact that profile. Sounds a lot like other clans, right? Wrong. I started my clan because every single clan I had ever been in either bullied me, based my rank off of skill, or played favorites with their “buddies” that joined after me and gave them a leadership rank right away. Other reasons are because I’m not your typical MLG pro, and some clans take winning so seriously that it take all the fun out of it. Not to mention some were so overpopulated that nobody knew eachother. I formed Darkest Hour not for selfish reasons, but for all the people out there that are bullied, treated unfairly, and aren’t having fun in most clan experiences. My clan is a sanctuary for those people, because I have ZERO tolerance for bullying, no age restrictions, a simple and FAIR ranking system, core values geared towards not caring wether we win or lose, but rather having fun, and a limit of 100 members so people will actually have a chance to get to know eachother. If anyone out there has any thoughts or opinions about this, you can share them with me by sending them to:
    DARKEST_HOUR_CLAN@LIVE.com
    Feedback is always appreciated in the Darkest Hour!

    • Hi Sgt. Dog!

      I really dig the vision you have for your clan so I’m glad you found my blog. This series has been very special to me and I will definitely expand upon our thoughts here over at the N-o-F social gaming clan blog/eZine.
      Like you said, there is a sort of snobbery and elitism floating around in the online gaming world but it’s not just there. The negative attitude stems from how we treat each other in business, friendships, and everyday life as a whole. This is why I’m a big advocate of establishing smaller groups within a large organization and aligning people by a single, unifying vision/mission, if not common values and principles.

      I love that you use a silver account on XBox LIVE as a roster. KiNgDeeMNoF does that with NoF Roster, which I have access to as the clan founder. Like you, I also agree that rank should be based on activity, character, and effort.. After all, you need to make sure things get done. Friendship matters there too but you don’t want those working hard to feel unappreciated.. That’s where cliques and hard feelings arise.

      Anyway, I can go on for a while here but I hope you return.. We’ll definitely looking to connect with like-minded gamers and geeks via XBox LIVE, Facebook, etc. I am Yogizilla on most social networks.

      Thanks for sharing the awesome insight here. It’s great to find others that “get it”, yes? Let’s connect and keep the conversation going! =oD

      • Thanks! I always appreciate feedback! I’ll let you know a little secret. The name Darkest Hour stems from one of my all time favorite metal bands. The band’s name? Darkest Hour! I didn’t want to be a complete rip off, so the clan’s silver account is named Darkest Hour FL. The “FL” stands for “Fatal Liberation.” All together, Darkest Hour’s Fatal Liberation! I also have a thing called “Side Teams.” Side Teams are are ways for the clan to collaborate and do game specific activities together. One example is “Forge Team” on Halo: Reach. They build maps variants together using the forge. I gave the clan an apocalyptic gothic theme. The ranks are all named accordingly:
        Leader of the Chosen: a leadership rank that more than one can achieve, allowing for a chain of command. I am still trying to find good candidates for this role.
        Hero of Legend: a commanding rank that continues the chain of command. Although they have less responsibilities then the leaders, they are trained to assume the chain of command when some leaders are not present, and even know what to do if all leaders are MIA.
        Savior of the Fallen: another commanding rank that does NOT assume any part in the chain of command. Instead, they are in charge of keeping the Side Teams (mentioned above) organized.
        Reclaimer of Light: an officer rank that is charged with managing the other officers. They are the ones making sure the officers below them are doing their jobs.
        Bringer of Hope: these officers are the the ones that issue out promotions! These are the guys that you want to please.
        Vanquisher of Evil: these officers’ jobs are to keep the peace within the clan. They are also the mighty hammer of justice. They first try to calm everyone down in a conflict, but if bad turns to worse, they are trained to issue punishments. If worse turns to even worse, they talk to me, and I make the choice to demote them to the punishment rank (explained later). If they do not comply, I give them the boot.
        Guardian of the Holy: the highest of regular ranks. Their job is to set up the clan events.
        Protecter

  23. Sorry I hit the publish button by accident!
    Anyways…
    Protecter of Faith: this rank has no responsibilities.
    Warrior of the Noble: this rank has no responsibilities.
    Soldier of the People: this rank has no responsibilities.
    Newcomer of Destiny: this is the recruit rank, they are being watched to make sure they are a good fit.
    And finally…
    Traitor of Liberation: the punishment rank.
    Thank you for reading and feedback is always nice!

    • I dig it!

      We used to do that big in the days and I miss it, honestly.. That sort of stuff makes a clan or guild really stand out. Once in a while, we’ll all “smurf” and create handles/avatars that fit a specific theme. I find that allows us to enjoy our favorite games and each other’s company without having to deal with the trolls so much. Haha

      The idea of liberation is wonderful, especially in this context. Sometimes people get enslaved by video games and forget the little things, like just having fun, yanno?

      We’ll definitely have to connect on XBox LIVE. We’re looking to get more into Dead Island and Gears 3. Battlefield 3, Rage, and MW3 are also on our radar!

  24. Hey.

    I am thinking about starting a clan, and would like some advice.
    My idea is pretty simple: have no leader – everyone understands the core values of the clan, and keeps an eye out for those that dont. Because of this, the clan shouldnt fall apart.

    Also, everyone votes on everything – because of that, people will want to stay active because they want to make a difference.

    I also incoporated your idea of having a ‘trial’ period for newcomers, where they get evaluated after a week or so, and existing members decide whether or not the newcomer meets the core values of the clan ( ie everything you mentioned above – being too serious, being to egotistical, etc. )

    So, do you think that all this will work? I havent started the clan, and i may never will, but i am curious – do you think that this type of clan with no hierarchy will work out? Be as critical as you need to be, the more criticizm i recieve the better, especially because it really seems like you know what you are talking about.

    By the way, it isnt quite that simple, there is slightly more to it, but that is the important stuff.

    Thanks for your time.

    • I think your gaming clan model is very sound but remember that even in a democracy, there will be those that feel less urgency or importance. Whether you formally appoint leaders and officers or not, a core will form naturally.

      That said, I’d recommend having some sort of board of council established as the clan grows. Members in any organization like to have a feeling of progression. It’s more about being acknowledged, if not rewarded. You can keep ranks and titles simple.

      Gaming clans are easier to manage when they’re small and everyone has a hand in screening members. This ensures that there are no personality conflicts. Thing is, once your clan grows through a growth spurt, you’re bound to get some misfits.

      The beauty of this type of gaming clan model is that the bad apples will get sorted out naturally. Those that do not embrace your core values will hastily leave and complain, ostracizing themselves. There will be challenges with any systems you implement so it all starts with developing a foundation with a strong core connected by friendship, loyalty, and other core values.

      It’s definitely worth pursuing this type of project. Even when we’re not gaming together, it’s nice doing voice chat and catching up with my crazy extended family. 8)

      • Thank you for your input…. It makes complete sense.
        My new idea is this – after about 2 months or so of being dedicated to the clan, the members that have stayed with it are rewarded by being able to play in clan battles ( i.e. Games against other clans. ) my idea is that even if someone is awful at a game when they start, they will get much better after oracticing and playing with people that are good for 2 months.
        That leaves with the dedicated ones that play in clan battles, and those that don’t. All i can hope is that the people that can play in the clan battles dont look down upon those that dont… I hope that they have absorbed the sense of tranquility and happiness that i will try to imstill upon them…
        The reason that i came up with this is because many of the people in the game that i play that are good players, ie the people in clans, are total jerks. Here and there their are people that are nice… But that is a rare occurance. It seems like these people would really appreciate a clan that isnt geared towards building up their own self confidence by repeatingly telling themsleves that they are the best, and in the process, putting everyone else around them down. I hate that kind of attitude, and want to surround myself with people that are kind and polite.
        I just want to know your thoughts on this, anything at all. I also would like to apologize for my spelling and bad editing/ organisation – i am writing this on an ipod, wich is sortof difficult. Thanks for your time.

      • We’ve had a similar experience in my social gaming clan, NoF. We play everything from web-based games to PC games to consoles and handheld systems. Every platform has a slightly different feel but you’re right: the “good” players tend to be elitist jerks.

        I agree with personality fit, simply because skills can come with time but attitude is mostly permanent. It’s much easier to shape gameplay behaviors. Personality hiccups not so much.

        Perhaps time doesn’t have to be the gauntlet here. Perhaps you can have members complete certain tasks to “level up”. Two months in the average life of a game can be a long time and you have to consider those wishing to get involved in competition ASAP.

        The key thing, regardless of what you do, is to set proper expectations. Make sure your vision is clear so that you attract right-fit members.

        On the consoles, it’s tough to recruit because there are not really any chat lobbies. Twitter can help here, as can Facebook. With these platforms being supported more and more by gaming consoles, you have tools to make communication and integration more seamless.

        What I’ve found is that setting up internal clan matches is good for practice. You can do friendly skirmishes and maybe even set up a formal clan-only ladder and leaderboard. There’s plenty of stuff to do but make sure you switch up teams often so that no one feels teams are “stacked”.. You also don’t want people to feel like they’re always the last ones to be picked, either. ;o)

  25. I like what you had to say. I have been running clan for about 2 years now and I have run about 2-3 clans in my time being on Xbox 360 platform. The issues and experience I have with gamers always have to do with following the simple rules, complaining and whining and what games to support.

    The problem I am having is that we support MW3, BF3, R6V2 and soon Ghost Recon. I find that when it comes to MW3 that is what anyone wants to play and the others members feel who don’t like the game think we are turning into a COD Clan which we are not…I hate the game!

    So, I feel like just pulling the game altogether and focus on the games and membership that just want to play BF3 and R6V2.

    I am ok with losing a few members who are COD Fanboys, but I am just tired of the complaining and whinning. What do you recommend? Keep it MW3 or remove it?

    I am also thinking about closing the clan down and starting fresh because many members are just not following the rules and I just like to start over, but the work is too much at times. So, I was thinking maybe to suspend the clan and just cheer pick the good members, change up the supported games and reopen a few months. I know the problem comes down to not recruiting the right people and the right games, but I know it keep be running like this either?

    Anyways and ideas thoughts would be great. Thanks

    • Tough call.

      I begrudgingly bought MW3 to be where most of my clan would be and see what all the hype was about.. It’s a decent game but, like you, I’d rather play Battlefield 3 or Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (BTW, Rainbow Six: Patriots comes out next year and it looks AMAZING.. I just hope they bring back some of the stuff that made Rainbow Six: Shutdown so much fun).

      If your clan members want to compete in MW3 and it’s honestly not something that interests the majority and/or clan officers, dump it.. But you have to figure out who you core members are and work with them.

      It seems to me your clan is rather large so, in that case, you can compartmentalize rather than scrapping everything.. Starting from scratch can be rough. Keep in mind you’ll almost always have some oddballs but the wrong-fit members tend to weed themselves out so no worries! ;o)

    • Hey Stan!

      Right now, we keep in touch via IRC and our Yahoo mailing list. We also post announcements on n-o-f.com and use forums here and there.

      We’ve been doing lots of XBox LIVE. On the PC side, Warcraft 3, Starcraft 2, and Magicka are my faves. On the web, I’d love to play some casual games on Yahoo or maybe one of the Risk variants more.

      Are you on Steam? Let’s start by getting you subscribed to our mailing list. It’s not a heavy traffic thing so no worries…

      N-o-f-subscribe(at)yahoo(punto)com

      Game on! =oD

  26. Pingback: Mixed Epiphanies: @Yogizilla @marcandangel @ginidietrich @tom_peters @marcus_baker #blogsoup « The unofficial blog of Stan Faryna

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  28. One of the leaders in my clan (TORC, The Official Rage Clan) found this post and referenced it to the rest of us. Just let me be clear, I did not make this clan, I am only a leader in it. Well, I must say almost everything you’ve stated, good and bad, describes our clan and its history. We’ve been around nearly 2 years (an accomplishment by your standards) and are stronger than ever with a solid leadership and member population, a great website, amazing sponsors, etc. Also, I’m going to start by saying I am interested in keeping in contact with you and maybe forming a relationship between your clan and ours. We already have two “ally” clans, one of which is in the process of merging into TORC, adding many more members to our count.. I believe we can benefit quite a bit from being in contact with your clan and vice versa. Now, let me tell you about our clan:

    We were established primarily by 3 men who gamed together for a while and decided to create a gaming community together. This was in early 2011, and TORC as they called it quickly took hold. I joined in late 2011 after seeing an ad they had put up on the CoD forums. By that time, they already had a leadership of about 10 people and a member population of around 100. Very impressive, I must say. At that time, though, maybe a month or two later when I became a graphic designer for the clan, I wanted to implement a few changes that would help the clan develop and grow. My ideas, added to those of the other leaders, I believe, not necessarily created a better clan, but primed it for a complete reform of leadership and operation made by another member who came early this year (2012). Since then, it’s been all uphill. More and more ideas and reforms were made to organize the clan and give it the ability to expand. Now, we are nearing 2 years, have a well organized, extremely active website using enjin, we have several sponsors including Evil Controllers, Kontrol Freek, Gaming Jerseys, Squid Grip, and Scuf Gaming, we have a YT, FB, and Twitter account, and well over 300 gamers have come through the clan (we are now at around 65 due to many cuts over time). TORC is becoming a huge success even after only 2 years of existence. We even just recently expanded from CoD for Xbox to PS3 and Halo. I will admit there was one major slip where a very high ranking leader didn’t like how we were operating (before reforms) and left, taking a chunk of members with him and creating his own clan. I’m not sure what happened to them but I don’t think they’re doing that great (awful leadership system, creation based on loathsome for another clan). Honestly, though, I’m glad they left, because if they didn’t there would have been bigger problems.

    Well, currently, our leadership is as you described one should be. It is based on respect for one another and constant communication. Everyone’s opinions are regarded equally important and treated as such. You also mentioned major clans nowadays using “multiple tiers and squads”. Our system uses military ranking as of this month and it is working out wonderfully. Officers are in charge of squads for 3 games for 2 consoles. Then, separate Warrant Officers like myself are in charge of sponsorships, graphics, videos, social media, etc. Additionally, you claimed that leaders will inevitably get grief from other members at times, and we do. In fact, I have my moments. But with our ways of working together and “positive reinforcement”, it always works out in the end as can be seen in the success of your clan, NoF. Overall, TORC has been using these ideas for some time and it has proven to be a huge success. Let others who may read this realize how great these ideas are and implement them in their own gaming communities.

    One last thing, back to what I said before, I would like to form a connection between NoF and TORC. We can greatly benefit from you, and we’d love to have another “ally” clan such as yourselves to game with and share ideas. If you are interested, you can go to our website: http://www.torc.enjin.com and choose one of the options under the Contact menu. Tell them who you are, about me and this proposition on your post, and that you are interested. Or you can contact me directly at briv.torc@gmail.com. Just so you know, I will send you a follow up message if I do not get a reply for some time. Thank you for your time and your ideas.

    – Briv, Chief Warrant Officer of TORC

    • Yes, let’s definitely set up some stuff on the PC and XBox fronts. We are not TOO big on PS3 and with the uber-expensive PS4 here this Fall/Holiday season, even less so. I am Yogizilla pretty much everywhere: Steam, XBL, Raptr, Twitter, etc. Check out http://duelpassonline.wordpress.com too.

      I need to update my blogs more. It’s been quite busy for us! =oD

    • Briv, if you’re still interested in collaborating, we have a much better ecosystem set up now at http://geekyantics.net .. Our network has been built upon the same principles as NoF so I think this can be a great opportunity to do things like game nights, livestreams, Google hangouts, podcasts, and more together. Come check us out! =oD

  29. Hi,
    This is kind of off topic but I need some guidance from an established blog.
    Is it very hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very technical but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinking about creating my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thanks

    • Setting up a blog is easy. The tricky part is being consistent with it.. I need to work on that but this blog still ranks high for many gaming related searches as well as searches targeting anime, geeky stuff, and anything seksy of the sort.

      This is probably a spam comment.. But I am replying anyway! ;oP

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  33. It can also depend on the type of clan. I spent several years developing and refining my clan. Many have asked me how I do it, and my answer is; depends on the industry. My clan: ANTF, is actually different then most clans. ANTF is an Xbox clan that provides services and support, and professional advice to other clans. We treat it like a company, we charge nothing, and we even developed our own clan operating system and GTA dispatching software. We even developed a clan university to keep members and covered clan’s members educated on trends, how to run a clan, how to advertise, and so on. Its all about diversification. ANTF literary operates worldwide, and is even accessible by mobile app. Keeping it fresh and interesting is also important. ANTF changes its policies, based on trends, not tradition. Many clans try to hold onto principles that are not sustainable, or set goals that are not achievable. Finally, I would say having a solid IT system in place in case of disaster, and having a good set of rules is important. For example, in ANTF; we have a constitution-like rule set with courts and all, and a corporate board of directors. This business/government mix allows for fair treatment of everyone and prevents figureheads from breaking the rules to get what they want. We are also the only clan that actually offers retirement and post clan benefits and services so they can always be with us. This mode of thinking has led ANTF to receive numerous awards, and certifications, from many clan rating agencies and groups. ANTF also is a scoring agent (just fyi). The other mistake people is make is the amount of people. Contrary to popular belief, the bigger the clan (in terms of members), the more unstable it is (as observed from industry experience since being a clan service provider). ANTF manages to run all of that, maintain an IT network, and deal with covered clans on a daily basis with about 20 or less people (who all actually have real lives). Point is, do what you love, give it a try, and have fun; never lose sight of you founded the clan for, and remember; clans don’t die; people make them die. Ignore the critics and strive to be the best clan you can be; and people will flock to you! Pure and Simple.

    • Well-said ANTFUSA (I see what you did there)!

      I think there is a key distinction to be made here, however. A gaming clan can take on two forms: the traditional competitive clan with the end goal of being a top-tier pro clan OR a social gaming clan where competition is secondary to having fun. NoF is the latter and that is how we’ve managed to be massive. Of course, the trade-off is that we’d never be a sponsored team though we have done small tournaments and taken home prizes just fine.

      It’s very possible to have an umbrella clan or organization which feeds smaller units. I believe the primary function of a gaming clan is to provide structure where it may otherwise lack. It’s a place to call home and people to do the things you love with, in it’s purest form.

      I definitely agree that the bigger the clan, the more unstable it is.. But that’s only when your focus is on competition. Inevitably your best players will get angry if they feel there is deadweight and that is when things start to go awry. To deal with this, a lot of clans create sub-groups and divisions to keep things more manageable. It’s much easier to align personality types and goals when you keep the head count low so I definitely agree there.

      ANTF seems very legit. NoF does similar things but from a more social perspective. I think the pro segment is covered quite well but not everyone aspires to be uber competitive. I’d say there is such a thing as casual competitive gamers and that does not necessarily make you any less “hardcore”. This approach simply means you keep fun at the forefront.

      In the end, do what you love and have fun. YES! Don’t forget what you founded the clan for. AGREED. More importantly, make sure the vision and mission is evident in all you do so clan members do not feel bait-and-switched.

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  35. Reblogged this on Geeky Antics Network Global (GANG) and commented:

    Wow.. It’s been over 7 years since I posted this piece on gaming clans and the conversation is STILL going. Clearly, we gamers are on the same wavelength. Being in a gaming clan is fun but there’s good reason some people stay solo.. STAY TUNED – we’ll delve deeper!

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