A short history of guilds, and some opinionated statements about online gaming clans!

Typical moment within a guild

Just The Facts

  1. The origin of terms such as 'apprentice' and 'craftsman'. Originally used as a way to mark lifetime progression within a certain field.
  2. A guild was a group, similar to a secret society, where people of the same trade or craft could organize for protection of their interests and to share trade secrets.
  3. A guild can also refer to collectives of sweaty foul-mouthed teenagers in online gaming groups which, ironically, have no real craft or trade.

Brief history of guilds

Guilds began in medieval times as a way for groups of craftsmen such as brickmasons, textile workers, carpenters, glassworkers, etc to congregate and discuss their respective trades. They were often started by master craftsmen* who would often require a tribute (or 'fee') to join, wherein they could learn trade secrets and avoid being run out of town for doing their craft outside of a guild.

As this idea progressed, guilds became incorporated societies of merchants in each town or city holding exclusive rights of doing business there. At times they would even become the governing body of a town, such as London where a former guildhall is now the London city hall. So think of the original idea as a combination of workers' unions and organized crime syndicates.

That was then, this is now!

Though there are still guilds today in Europe, and even the Screen Actors Guild & Writers Guild of America, guilds are more commonly associated with the aforementioned collectives of online gamers. And unlike guilds of old, it is all about rivalry & competition. Where in the old days it was competing over territory & oppression of free practictioners that led to their eventual downfall to capitalism.

Another notable difference is in the naming of guilds (also called 'clans', by the racist gamers). Where traditionally a guild would just be a combination of said craft followed by 'guild', gaming guilds are apparently named in a similar fashion as racing horses.,

For instance: 'I have candy in my van', 'The evil midnight bombers who bomb at midnight', 'Naga gave me harpies', 'SheSaidSheWasLvlEighteen', 'You dirty horde', 'Forty Year Old Virgins' etc. The list goes on and on..

Yet another notable difference is that, in being part of a 'traditional' guild you were like a member of a secret society. Part of a group, or crowd. You had people you could really relate with. With gaming guilds, though many of you will argue, it is the opposite. It serves more to perpetuate the loneliness of sitting in front of a computer monitor staring at a glowing screen, typing obscenities to people you've never met & perhaps making an 'online friend' out of other people whom you'll probably never meet in person. Welcome to the matrix beta version, WoW players!

WoW player?

"Dude.. Whoa..I just found a flask of pure mojo"