As I mentioned in a previous post, my LoTRO guild (kinship) was falling apart. We all came to LoTRO from the same guild in WoW. Some of the people, I've known for over a year now. One of our members returned to WoW, another wrote in to tell us she wasn't going to be around hardly at all. This left myself and another person in the guild as "regulars." The other person is also going through school and won't be on that much. So essentially, it was just me. After much thought, I decided to leave the guild I was in and join a more populated one. I spoke with the remaining member and they were ok with my decision and we still have each other on our friends lists so it's not like we're breaking all ties.
The whole episode got me to thinking about why we join guilds (kinships, supergroups, whatever ... they're all "guilds" to me even though the names are sometimes different). Zoso had an interesting series of posts on his blog about kinships and associations in video games. The game theory parts were actually quite interesting, especially the part about the iterative prisoner's dilemma. Over a possibly infinite course of successive runs of an activity where selfish behaviors will gain temporary advantages, cooperative behaviors were much more beneficial over the long-term. Guilds can then function as repositories of memory: people guilded a long time will, in theory, be those that work with each other for mutual support in a cooperative fashion rather than individuals only out for themselves. Hence the reason why PUGs are usually terrible and guild runs of an instance are much more enjoyable from an effort-v-reward point-of-view.
While the game theory certainly describes the material interests one may have in a guild and perhaps the motivations for many players in joining one, it doesn't quite hit the mark for me. I do enjoy the "security" in running an instance with guildmates. However, I also enjoy the sense of togetherness being in a guild holds. Even when I'm soloing, I enjoy chatting with guild mates about, well, just about anything. Sports, women, games, tv, why brand x sucks and brand y is great. I find it enjoyable when I can talk to people I know (even just on-line) about problems in my life or theirs. I like people that make me laugh and those that laugh at my jokes, even though most of my jokes are a) stupid or b) stolen from Seinfeld or The Simpsons. It's nice to have a group with whom I can just chill without the petty oneupsmanship nonsense that occurs with too many gamers where the anonymous nature of the Internet ensures they won't be getting the punch in the mouth they deserve. It's kind of like a "safe zone" where you can relax because you're among friends even if you're not doing something with them right at the moment.
So I was very sorry to see my guild go away. I have since joined a new guild and am still in the getting-to-know-you stages. They seem like ok peeps to me and I think I'll like it there. But I still miss my old friends too.