Ain’t No Cure for the Summertime Blues

Posted: May 29, 2008 by Kendricke in Guilds
Tags: , , ,

I’ve been leading my guild for close to 10 years now.  Throughout that time, I’ve learned a thing or two regarding the ebbs and flows of activity levels.  One thing I’ve learned along the way is to be constantly aware of a few times of the year that will naturally result in lower activity.

The end of spring is one of those times where you’ll start to see a dramatic drop off in nightly attendance.  Oh sure, your die-hards will be on no matter what’s going on, but as May starts to wind down and June starts up, I know that I’m going to start seeing some of my more consistent members suddenly not logging in as much as they used to.  I may even lose a few members to inactivity over the next month.

Come late August or early September, I’ll start to see a resurgence in activity levels again, but till then, I’m sure I’ll start seeing some issues with group formations or even raid starts.

Though there’s certainly no real way to prevent this from occuring, there are several actions that guild officers can take to mitigate the effect this will have on your memberships.

1. Communication

Make sure to start talking with your members now to find out who will likely have less time online over the Summer.  Make sure your members know it’s ok to tell you that they’re going on a vacation in June, and it might be harder to log in when the kids are at home all Summer long (and potentially taking over the computer).  If you have college students in your guild, be aware that they may be going home for the next few months and losing access to the T3 connections they’ve gotten used to and (more importantly) the ability to log on till 3 AM every night if they want to.

Most of your members probably already know they’ll be spending less time online.  The important thing is to make it easy for your members to let you know this.  It’s much easier to keep morale higher when everyone understands up front that 1/3 or more of your membership may be cutting back on log-in time.

2. Scheduling

Now that you know who will be on less, you should be able to better plan your guild’s schedule around it.  Consider a reduced raid schedule for the next few months, or at least change around some of the days you do spend raiding (to better match the schedules of your members).

If you’re worried about reduced grouping in the ranks, start planning one or two nights a week just for groups to form up.  Try to set up these nights in advance so that members who may not normally know the best nights to log in, might have a better idea of which nights each week they have the best chance to find guildmates.

3.  Recruit

Though most guild officers should always be recruiting on some level, Summer is a good time to consider actively beefing up the ranks a bit. If you think your guild is the only one affected by low membership during the Summer months, think again.  There will be other guilds out there having the same issue, and if they’re not as robust or prepared as your guild, chances are that some of their more productive members may consider looking for a guild which fits with their activity levels a bit more.

I don’t recommend specifically looking for such guilds to snipe members from, but it’s probably a good idea to keep your metaphorical ear to the ground when forming up groups.

Besides, with the reduced activity you’re experiencing in your own guild, you might want to start considering bringing in outsiders to your groups a bit more than you already were.  This works out to give your own members more opportunities to group with guildmates (even if the entire group isn’t from the same guild) while allowing you the chance to strike up conversations with other players who may be looking for a new guild.

4.  Alts

If you really are having attendance issues during the Summer months, then it’s probably a good time to try out secondary characters, or “alts”.  Set up a couple of “Alt Nights” for your guild, where you start working on new characters together with the members who ARE still logging in each night.  The advantage of playing with alts in this way should be obvious:  since you’re all starting new characters, you don’t have to worry about critical classes – just build your new characters around the group’s needs.  Besides, it’s a good way to freshen up the game a bit for you and your guildmates.

For more serious guilds, it’s also a way to introduce more flexibility into your high end ranks or raid force.  If one of the members who takes the summer off happens to be the guild’s only defiler, maybe one of your guild’s healers decides to start up a new defiler so you have a backup available when needed.

5.  Casual Games

Sometimes, you just have to admit that your members aren’t able to log on long enough for a run through Chelsith or Unrest.  When your members ARE able to log in, they’re only able to log in for an hour at a time – and sometimes even less than that.

That’s fine.  Start up a Casual Game Night or two each week.  Switch off to other games that don’t require initial time investments or obligatory 2 hour chunks.

Look into first person shooters like Call of Duty 4 or Team Fortress 2 or even Planetside (several members of my guild spend Thursday nights as part of the Vanu Sovereignty on Markov/Emerald).  Get some of your Wii players together in Smash Brothers or Mario Kart.  Maybe look at some turn based strategy games (Civ4 can be played through email) and get a couple of those moving.

These are just a few of the options I use within my own guild to reduce the impact of the summer doldrums.  I know it’s coming, just like every other year.  The important thing is that I know that eventuality, and I’m able to plan for it accordingly.

For the other guild officers reading this, I’m curious to know how you handle your own guild’s summer inactivity.  Have any of your own ideas to add to the list?

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Comments
  1. Xeavn says:

    [quote]several members of my guild spend Thursday nights as part of the Vanu Sovereignty on Markov/Emerald[/quote]

    Now know as Gemini. I have found that spending even one night a week playing a different game is a great break from my game of choice, and a fun way to interact with guild members in a slightly different setting.

  2. Crazykinux says:

    Oh so very true.

    Having Alt corps (in EVE) for players Alt to do something different is something that we’ve found works great for the blues, summertime or any other times.

    CK

  3. Bowin says:

    Yes that real life just gets in my way!!!

    LoL (Pull hair!)

    Yes, summer is here and the family need me to spend time with them. Work gets so busy, they need me to come in on the weekends. That has been the case for me latley.

    Out of subject: Whats going on with LotWR Forum? I havent been able to log into it for a couple of days now. I ve been on business and dont have access to EQ2. Work doesnt want me to load it on there laptop (notebook)….its a crappy laptop anyways.I am hoping to be home in time for Tuesdays raid. Maybe with this overtime I ll be able to get a laptop to game on. But for now its Solitaire on the work puter. =(

  4. Sylvia says:

    We generally just bitch at each other. *grin* More scheduling (as opposed to ad hoc grouping) and lots of alt playing definitely helps, in my experience.

    I’ve linked your article on our guild message board – it’s a timely reminder not to panic (especially as we have a concentration in AoC at the moment, oooh, shiny!).

  5. Pantheros says:

    Bowin:

    http://service-update.theplanet.com/

    Something went boom.

  6. […] As I’ve mentioned previously, with the coming of summer, playtime tends to slump across the board.  In larger, more stable guilds, this is a time to weather the storm.  The more organized guilds simply accept the downturn in activity and wait for better days to arrive.  For other guilds, however, this drop off in online members can be a death knell. […]

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