From the researcher desk: How do we define 'elite' raiding guilds?
What is an elite raiding guild?
If you've ever spoken to me about my research, you know that I’ve been speaking with raiders from all sorts of backgrounds and rankings. This is helping me document the most complete picture of what we are doing in the raiding community and how we like to pursue our love of raiding. In addition to casual, social, hard core, and high-level raiding guilds, I’ve also had a chance to speak to quite a few of what I call the ‘elite raiding guilds’ about their experiences.
So what makes an ‘elite raiding guild’ elite? Well this brings me to some interesting ideas about what and how we describe guilds in raiding. For example, a guild might be called social or casual while another could be called hard core or elite. These descriptive terms are often based on two factors: level of success and raiding schedule. One might also add in skill level, but that’s somewhat problematic as I’m finding variation in skill at different levels. But in the case of what we often refer to as elite raiding guilds, I’d say they generally fall within the top 50 or 100 of the world rankings (though these numbers seem arbitrary and are even contested by those who fall in the top rankings). But more than that I’d say that the designation of elite could relate to the pace of progression. If a raiding guild has successfully cleared all of the latest tier or heroic raiding content and has been comfortably farming the content for a significant period of time (like the past few months), I’d say that puts them in the area of elite, moreso than hard core. Another criteria for an elite raiding guild would be competitiveness. On some level these guilds are looking for top rankings in the world or their region. They gear up for this strategically and are often found on the public test realm (PTR) before new content comes out to give themselves an added advantage once the content goes live. If we look at the current pace of progression, for example, and consider the two least killed bosses–heroic Al’Akir and Ascendant Council–we’re only in the hundreds as far as guilds who have cleared all of the content. And I’d say that the number of those who are actually comfortably farming raid content is even smaller.
I think I’d be hard pressed to find someone who’d argue with me about the fact that guilds like Paragon, Method, Adept, Ensidia, vodka, and For the Horde are clear examples of elite raiding guilds. I think I could even safely say that every guild that cleared the content within, say, 2.5-3 months of release are elite raiding guilds. But does it have to stop there? Is it about the activities of these guilds? Their skill? Their mind set? Is it a title of distinction that we (or Blizzard’s achievements) bestow on the select few? I recall back in November/December when I did the raider personality test with Paragon that when I asked the raiders responding to identify what type of guild they were in, some members of known elite raiding guilds (Paragon, in particular) were a bit concerned about being able to verify if the raiders who reported they were in elite guilds were in fact in those guilds. Why do we need to verify it? Is there a kind of status or identity that we have associated with the term ‘elite’ that needs protecting or preserving for the deserving few?
And what about the elite raider him or herself? Do they only exist in elite raiding guilds? Haven’t we all got raiders in our guilds–even at the most casual levels–that just seem to significantly exceed the skill and mindset level of the rest of the team? Those guys who just seem to get the fights without even having to think about them very much or who never ever seem to make mistakes? I can say that from speaking with and observing raiders in casual/social guilds and even more so in the hard core or high-level guilds we definitely have ‘elite’ raiders in those guilds too. They just seem to have an innate ability to raid well. Their decision to remain with a lower ranked guild may have more to do with the social side of raiding than the performance side. They want to play with their friends or don’t want to let their raiding guild down.
So what makes an elite raider elite? Or an elite raiding guild elite? I’m not exactly sure but they are definitely questions that are on my mind! And you can imagine that this leads to a whole other level of questions about what it means to call a guild social? Casual? Focused? Hard core? High-level? Hybrid? We may never have a perfect definition, at least not one that will ever satisfy all raiders out there.
Now to give you something else to think about, head over to my research blog to see my latest raid-themed musical medley! :) http://www.raidingresearch.co.uk/?p=851 I am taking challenges, so suggest an artist or music style that I can turn into a raid-themed musical medley!