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United Defense is more than just a guild--it is a collection of friends. Whereas most guilds focus on the video game over the members, United Defense emphasizes the human beings over the video game. We recognize that the game itself is rather straightforward and mundane; the real challenges and rewards lie in the social dimensions of the experience. At its most fundamental level, UD’s purpose is to help make WoW both fun and meaningful on a human level for its members.

1) History
United Defense is the oldest Alliance raiding guild on Daggerspine. We have weathered many challenges, including two periods of dormancy. Formed three weeks after the game was released, the guild has a good deal of history and tradition behind it. Over the past four years, UD has developed a very unique philosophy and culture; the goal of the remainder of this document is to describe that identity and the people behind it.

2) Raiding
As mentioned above, United Defense is a raiding guild. However, we differ from most other raiding guilds in one important respect: we view raiding achievement not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end. The true end, we recognize, is enjoying the experience as a whole in the company of friends. Perhaps an example will illustrate this best. We often have themed raiding nights where we play music over Vent throughout the raid—for example, "80’s Night." We understand that this risks causing a wipe here or there because a raid leader command can’t be heard over Kenny Loggins’ sterling voice, but we find this minor decrease in efficiency to be more than justified by how much fun the experience as a whole becomes for us. Clearly, the UD raid environment is somewhat unique—we avoid taking ourselves too seriously at all costs. That said, it’s also important to understand that we’re an intelligent group of people who are committed to constantly improving our skills as players and to excelling as a guild. We view PvE achievement as an important avenue towards enjoying the game.

3) Loot
We take a similarly unconventional approach to loot. UD places very little emphasis on loot—it is largely something that just happens in the background. So long as the guild is making solid progress through high-end content, there will always be plenty of loot to go around. While we recognize that it’s enjoyable to develop one’s own character by upgrading one’s gear, the average UD member is happy to see gear go to his friends. We’ve had to turn many people away from the guild in the past because they have been unable to accept this frame of mind. We understand that UD isn’t the guild for everyone, and we’re comfortable with that reality.

4) Maturity
United Defense places a very high value on individual maturity—not necessarily maturity in age, but maturity in personality. We value people who can handle the inevitable setbacks one encounters in WoW with grace. We value people who can put the game into perspective and shrug off raid wipes without becoming too frustrated. We value people who are calm and patient, but at the same time are driven by an enthusiasm for the guild and the game. We value people who honor their commitments to the guild, for example, by following through when they sign up to attend a particular event. And particularly, we value people who are able to resolve conflicts in a mature manner with minimal drama. UD prides itself on being a low-drama guild, and we work very hard to avoid recruiting drama-hungry personalities. Accordingly, we treat one another with respect as the adults that we all are.

5) Light-Heartedness
While we value maturity on one hand, we place a similarly high value on light-heartedness. Viewed in one light, UD could be described as a collection of zany, eccentric goofballs whose behavior often reflects the true nut-jobs we all are at heart. Most of us are just as content spending our time diving off rooftops into the pond at Sun Rock Retreat while wearing outrageous costumes and engaging in comical emote battles with lowbie Horde players as we are with churning through high-end raid content. Tomfoolery and shenanigans abound: our conduct is often silly at best, off-color and puerile at worst. How do we reconcile this screwball ethos on one hand with our strong value of maturity on the other? The two are by no means mutually exclusive. There exists an important distinction between occasional immature behavior and a fundamental lack of individual maturity. While we often relax and express our goofier sides, each and every one of us possesses a strong underlying maturity. We understand that there are times for bathroom humor, and that there are times when we must conduct ourselves with dignity as adults. On the whole, United Defense members walk this line with grace.

6) Positive Attitude
The guild culture of United Defense is an overwhelmingly positive one: we value individuals who approach the game with enthusiasm and an upbeat frame of mind. For many of us, the game is an escape from troubles and challenges of the outside world, and we look to UD as countervailing force to those heavier elements in our lives. Levity is of paramount importance to us; chronic negativity has no place in United Defense. Nobody wants to log in to hear someone rambling on about how he dislikes this aspect of the game and hates some other aspect. Individuals prone to poor attitudes and incessant complaining will quickly discover that UD is not a suitable environment for them. There will always be setbacks and frustrations within the game; what is important is how we as individuals react to those challenges. We value individuals who possess the ability to put the game into perspective, move beyond these inevitable setbacks, and proceed with optimism. UD raid wipes are not followed by anger and profanity, but by a focusing of attention upon improvement for our next attempt; this serves to give the raid environment a certain air of professionalism. Our positive guild atmosphere is something we’ve worked very deliberately to cultivate over time and will continue to maintain going forward.

7) Camaraderie
If you spend any time watching UD guild chat, one of the first things you’ll notice is that we’re not a group of people trying to show one-another how much more knowledgeable/experienced/skilled we are than the next person. One must only look to the WoW forums to see what looks like a wanton free-for-all of people trying to assert their own superiority by putting the next guy down. This is not UD. We are a team: we practice, learn, and grow together as a team. When the team is struggling, we don’t give up and abandon our teammates—we stand together and face our challenges as a unified group. When one team member makes a mistake that causes the raid to wipe, we don’t blame, shame, and insult him; the occasional good-natured rib-kicking aside, we make him aware of the issue in as supportive a manner as possible, and work with him to correct the problem. United Defense is not a status-focused guild, nor is it a suitable environment for over-inflated egos or prima-donnas of any sort. We lack a decadent internal ranking system—we’ve tried to keep it as simple and un-stratified as possible. Above all, we respect one another as people, regardless of degree of proficiency at this particular video game.

8) Friends Helping Friends
As a collection of friends, UD members often rally to assist one another. Whether it’s completing a group quest outside in the world or earning a holiday achievement inside a dungeon, help can often be found within the guild. United Defense also strives to live up to its name whenever possible: when one of our members is being maliciously harassed by Horde, we will often rally a party to come to her aid.

9) No Guilt
At the same time, United Defense has a strong policy of “no guilt”—that is, we don’t want people to feel an oppressive obligation to do things they don’t want to do. When we log in, we want to choose how we spend our time freely; we don’t want to be constantly bombarded with demands that we spend our time doing things we don’t enjoy. The key here is in identifying common interests. Suppose someone wants to run a low-level instance on her alt. The solution is to find other people in guild who would enjoy running that same instance on their low-level alts, not to pressure level 80s to spend their time doing something they’re not very excited about. Suppose someone wants help completing a certain seasonal quest for an achievement. Chances are good that there are other guild members who are interested in completing the same quest; the key is identifying who those members are in advance and setting up a time when they are all available. We also value self-sufficiency: if one can’t form a 5-man group in guild, the looking-for-group channel and friends lists provide other means to the same end. In short, UD values people who can accomplish their goals by finding other people with similar goals—not by nagging people to do things they don’t enjoy. We find that this makes the game much more satisfying for everyone involved.

10) Honor
As members of United Defense, we strive to uphold the same moral values through our in-game conduct that we live by in our day-to-day lives. We understand that there is a very real person behind every avatar we encounter, and we strive to treat him or her as such. We recognize that the only difference between a Horde and an Alliance player is the different button each chose to push at his first character selection screen. Many of us have played horde characters on Daggerspine, and from that experience we know the people on the other side are comparable in all respects to the people on this side. UD encourages world PvP. We endeavor to live up to our name. In doing so, we conduct ourselves honorably: we don’t gank or grief our adversaries. Killing low-level, afk, grossly outnumbered, or low-health Horde outside of battlegrounds requires no skill, presents no challenge, and is downright shameful. UD members look for fair fights and for situations where we can help other Alliance who are being griefed. We don’t have any specific rules in this area—we trust our members to appraise each situation individually and to use their own judgment to determine what’s right. Our code of conduct can be summarized as follows:

Engage in fair fights. It’s ok to kill assholes. Don’t be an asshole.

Please excuse the strong language here, but it’s the most direct way of wording our values on the matter. We at United Defense believe that the mark of the truly honorable, skilled, and powerful PvP-er is the ability to choose when to exercise that power. It is important to keep in mind that, so long as one’s avatar has the United Defense tag over his head, he represents all of us in everything he does in-game. World PvP can be a great deal of fun for all parties involved if approached with the right mindset.

11) Respect
United Defense offers a supportive atmosphere in which members are respectful of one-another. Being respectful can mean any number of different things in different situations. Being respectful can mean answering a new player’s earnest question in trade chat when others are making fun of it. It can mean giving a guild member the benefit of the doubt when a misunderstanding arises. It often means being patient with someone who is less skilled and knowledgeable about the game as he learns. It means working hard to master ones class so that one can be an effective member of the team. It means showing up to raids on time and prepared, then giving one’s full attention and best effort. It means following through on one’s commitments to others. Our atmosphere of respect contrasts greatly with many other guilds, and it’s something we value greatly.

Another specific area where respect comes into play is that of language. UD comprises a wide diversity of members from all sorts of backgrounds. Frequent and unnecessary profanity and off-color discussion can make some of us uncomfortable to varying degrees. For example, some of our members have young children who are often within earshot of Vent. We’re a family-friendly guild. The key here is moderation. Guild chat, raid chat, and Vent certainly need not be G-rated. We’re all adults, and we need to be able to be ourselves--for many of us that means a certain amount of off-beat humor. At the same time, exploding in profanity every time the raid wipes is not well-received. Knowing when certain language and subject matters are appropriate and when they aren’t is important. As one gets to know one’s fellow guild-mates, it becomes clear what types of conversation are appropriate in what settings. We trust our members to use their judgment to make the right decisions.

12) Sustainability

United Defense strives to be sustainable in all that we do. We keep our recruitment rate at a subdued level so that the guild does not grow too quickly and drift apart. We do not merge with or absorb other guilds. We do not mass-recruit. We work to raid often enough that we get our fill, but not so often that we wear ourselves out. Many guilds have requirements that their members play at least a certain number of hours per week, or that their members attend so many guild events per month. UD has no such requirements. We recognize that our members have lives, and we want WoW to be a healthy element in those lives—not a burdensome commitment. Accordingly, we support those members who only have the time to play occasionally and those members who undergo periods of intense participation interspersed with periods when they are unable to play at all. We also support our members who play for several hours per day, every day of the week, and strive to make UD an enjoyable organization for them as well. We work very hard to keep UD compatible with a healthy lifestyle outside of the game. United Defense is not just another here-today gone-tomorrow raiding guild--we’re in it for the long haul.

UD is so much more than a tabard, a guild bank, and a website. United Defense is a family. Above all, we emphasize human beings over the video game. Many of us have invested a great deal over the past four and a half years in building our organization up, and we take great pride in what we’ve created. This document only begins to describe our guild. Only through first-hand experience can one truly come to know and appreciate United Defense and how much it means to us, its members.

-Hieronymous, Guild Leader of United Defense

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