"World of Warcraft" can be as much about socializing as it is about quests and levels. And there are parts of the game you can't complete or even access without other people with you. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to meet people in the game. You can talk to nearby characters by typing /say and whatever you'd like to say. You can also talk directly to specific players by whispering, also known as sending tells. You can send a tell to a player by typing /w, the player's name and what you wish to say. There are also public chat channels that anyone in your faction can access.
In general, you're looking for three types of allies in the game:
- A group is a temporary alliance of several players. You can invite people to form a group with you by typing /invite and their character names.
- A friend is anyone you add to your in-game friends list, which you can access by pressing o on your keyboard. You might add people to your friends list after talking with them in-game or participating in a pick-up group (PuG) with them. A PuG is a group of players who decide to work together on the spur of the moment, often so they can try to conquer an instance. You can use your friends list to see who else is online when you're trying to form a group or looking for something to do.
- A guild is an ongoing alliance of players -- if you join a guild, you're a member of that guild regardless of whether you're currently logged in to the game.
Some guilds are small groups of close, real-life friends while others operate more like businesses. You can divide guilds into three basic types:
- Raiding guilds focus on large, difficult instances accessible only to level-70 characters. Many raiding guilds have an application process that evaluates a character's experience and gear. Another common trait of raiding guilds is DKP, which is short for dragon kill points. DKP is essentially a system for measuring each member's contribution to the raid and distributing rewards based on those contributions. Guilds that use DKP typically do so to try to make loot distribution more fair and to try to prevent disputes over loot.
- Casual guilds may also have an application process. But when they do, the application is usually focused on the player's personality and goals for the game rather than the needs of the guild. Some casual guilds focus on socializing while others organize instance runs for their members.
- PvP guilds focus on player-versus-player battlegrounds and arena matches.
For a lot of players, a guild provides social interaction and a way to organize groups and events --many people spend most of their time in the game with members of their guild. For this reason, choosing a guild can be a big decision. Some argue that one type of guild is better than another, but the best guild is really one that suits your play style and goals for the game.
You can find a guild using the in-game guild recruitment channel, which you automatically join when you enter a major city, as long as you're not already in a guild. You can also read the official forums at the "World of Warcraft" Web site to learn which guilds on your server are recruiting. If you join a PuG with people you particularly enjoy playing with, you can ask whether their guild is accepting new members.
Regardless of whether you're teamed up with members of your guild or other players, most groups have the same basic structure. Next, we'll explore how groups work.