Getting to know the Sinister Swarm
By: Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley | : 2498 : 14
As Gaiscioch has grown and traveled through various games, there has always been one that either was an ally or a foe in the games we played. We've been running side by side with Sinister Swarm through Dark Age of Camelot, Warhammer Online, RIFT, Guild Wars 2 and Elder Scrolls Online. Over the years we have become allies on the battlefield and have found a camaraderie among our two clans. I felt it would be great to share the story of this legendary gaming community that is filled with competitive, yet compassionate and caring people.
Thank you so much for joining us today to talk about Sinister Swarm [SIN]. Before we get started can you tell us a little about yourself and your role with SIN?
Asur: Hi, I’m Asur. Joining me is Fate - our GW2 chapter leader. April 29th marks my 5 year anniversary with Sinister Swarm. I was drawn here because of the emphasis on community, respect, and honor. I like to think my role in the community has always been identifying and spotlighting the strengths and accomplishments of others in our community and doing my best to make everyone feel like the integral part of the team that they are. In a more official capacity I have taken on the role of Warlord in our GW2 chapter. I plan, promote, and lead our WvW events. Historically we were known for our 'Stinger/Reaper' squads, or what is commonly referred to as 'Havoc Squads'. This is usually what we run when working with GSCH in WvW. I have however dabbled in leading zergs occasionally to varying degrees of success. I've had great teachers and teammates in running WvW. Most notable of all has been the fantastic support of my fellow swarmers. Community-wide I help out with administrative duties, which include running WvW and welcoming new members into our community and supporting them in their adventure with us. Helping one another to succeed in and out of game and fostering an all inclusive environment is a vision that Venom (the founder and director of our community) had almost 18 years ago. It's a role that everyone in the Swarm is called to take on.
Let's go back to the beginning. How did SIN get started and what was your original goal behind the clan?
Fate: Back in 1999, Venom and a few friends were looking for a particular type of community - and when they were unable to find what they were looking for, they began what would later become known as the Sinister Swarm!! In the beginning, we were called the Slayer Clan, and we were playing Team Fortress Classic. It's still a great game, and every year on our birthday, we go back to our roots and have a Team Fortress Classic night - it's very nostalgic and always a blast~! Venom is a true visionary - the very same policies and rules he came up with back then, still serve us well today - we've stayed true to our core values & ideals and it has now become our legacy! Our credo is "Honor above all else!" and truly, I believe that is what has kept us strong over the years, while so many other guilds have folded.
At what point did you realize that it was growing beyond your original vision?
Fate: I think the turning point was when we started having multiple games going at one time - once we made that leap and we had multiple chapters, we became more than just a guild for a game - we became a multi-gaming Community! The word "guild" really isn't big enough to describe what we are.
What challenges do you find with running multiple active chapters in multiple games?
Fate: The biggest challenge I think we find with running multiple active chapters is keeping a balance - we don't want to spread ourselves too thin, but we also don't want to miss an opportunity to offer an awesome game for our membership to get involved with and enjoy. Fortunately, whenever we've had interest in a new game, leaders have always stepped forward and volunteered their time and talents to launch a new chapter and through recruiting, planning and organizing, we end up bringing in more people to the community - many of whom stick around and play multiple games with us over the years. Also, we have to keep in mind that "one of the Swarm is all of the Swarm" which means making sure that going from one chapter to another is a seamless experience - the same rules and atmosphere carry over from one game to the next - so, although we may be many chapters, we are truly all pages in the same book! Finally, I think the remaining challenge is to keep a sense of unity, so that no chapter becomes an island unto itself. We use our voice server for just about everything, and that really helps to keep us all connected. We also achieve that unity by holding Community-wide events throughout the year, giving everyone a chance to all be in the same channel in Discord at the same time and get to meet people from other chapters. For instance we have clinics for recruiting and orientations on the first Sunday of every month. We have a big birthday bash every August, and a Season Finale in December. In addition, we have live meet-ups in various places throughout the year, where we get together and enjoy each others' company in real life! It's all about staying in touch - communication really is the key!
What is your take on the latest wave of games creating extremely low guild size limits under 100 people? Do you find this to be a problem for your community?
Fate: You know, we always seem to find a work around when things like that happen - I guess it's the old adage: "Where there's a will, there's a way!" For instance - when there's a guild cap in a game that isn't sufficient to meet our needs, we simply create multiple guilds in game and call them "SIN1," SIN2" etc. It's still one guild as far as we're concerned, we just have it broken down into sections to accommodate the larger member base.
What things does SIN look for when choosing to open a chapter in a game?
Fate: That's a very good question, and we actually have a protocol in place that we follow. Basically, we're always looking to expand our horizons and start new chapters! However, as with any decision here at the Swarm, it's not taken lightly. We always take careful consideration to ensure the betterment of our Community is always served! First, we must have community leadership approval and ensure that the game meets with the Sinister Swarm theme. As our name implies, we generally gravitate to the darker themed games and/or side of games. For example, an official Super Mario Kart chapter would not be appropriate, nor would we choose to be the light elves from happy land in the next MMO - we are not the Sunshine Swarm, we are the Sinister Swarm! Next, we make sure that we have at least one full-time officer ready & willing to take on the responsibility of leadership for the chapter, and make sure we have not only sufficient senior membership interest, but also sufficient interest in the general population of our Community. Once those criteria are met, then we begin the exciting process of building a chapter.
Which is your most active chapter at the moment?
Fate: We have several active chapters at the moment! Currently, we have active chapters for GW2, BDO, FF14, WoW and our newest chapter, RO! Some games have more staying power than others - and as long as we have members interested in a game, we do our best to provide an opportunity for them to play their game of choice with the Swarm! Certain games have more of an ebb and flow in participation - most of the player base will go check out the new shiny games that come along, but they always return to check out the new content when it's introduced. They may remain active until they've completed the content that was included in the most recent expansion, then bounce around for a while. So we are actually very flexible with the way we categorize our chapters, which allows us to expend more resources towards a chapter when participation is high, and ease back into more of a laid-back atmosphere when it's lower. It's always a thrill to see a chapter that has pretty much gone dormant, experience renewed growth - which brings in more new friends who end up becoming an integral part of our Community.
Do you find SIN to be focused more on PvE or PvP or is it pretty evenly split between the two?
Asur: We do it all. PvP is where we got our start, and we've topped the boards in games like DAOC, Warhammer, TERA and others. But we know that aspect of the game isn't for everyone. We also know there are fantastic people who were made for this community and vice versa who LIVE in PvE content, dungeons, and raids. I can't help but agree with others in our community who have said "we have some of the most dedicated and level headed raiders around." We run events daily in GW2 and other chapters. Events like WvW, Guild Missions, our popular server-wide Jumping Puzzle Porting Party, that we host on Sunday evenings starting in Lion's Arch at 6PM Pacific - COME JOIN US! And of course beyond the game, as Fate mentioned, we also have Community-wide events like Karaoke right in Discord and even live meet-ups for things like ComicCon, movies, and concerts. The list goes on. We've got something for everyone.
Let's talk Guild Wars 2 for a moment. SIN is one of the few remaining original guilds on Sanctum of Rall. What originally drew you to the Sanctum of Rall server?
Asur: That's a great question! We look at a lot of factors when choosing a server, including the atmosphere and overall theme of the server (some are geared for RPing, for instance, while others are more into WvW.) Originally, we tried various servers in BETA and we had it narrowed down to a few: Another server was at the top of the list at one point, but back at Launch, we had over 400 members and we couldn't fit that many on that server because it was too full. We tried to find one that was mid to high population, so we could have some epic battles in WvW and plenty of competition, but one that still allowed for growth opportunities and improvements in all facets of the game.
Through the years the SOR server has taken a beating, yet you continue to stand by the server. This says a lot about Sinister Swarms’ character. SIN has had every opportunity and every excuse to leave, yet they still stand by the server and support it with a handful of other guilds. What is your reasoning behind staying on Sanctum of Rall?
Asur: Yeah, the SOR server has been on quite the roller coaster ride. I think the best answer I can give is simply consistency. We've been consistent and steadfast in our 'mission statement' as a community. We've been consistent with our beliefs and practices, and I like to think we had the same reasoning behind staying on SoR. It has become home for better or worse. Some weeks are amazing out in WvW and there are others that are challenging with whomever the server reset pits us against and how many guilds have transferred to and from. We wanted a constant for our swarmers. Something they could rely on. This is where we are and where we will be as long as we can help it. And I don't think our work is done here yet anyways. Every server has stand out players and guilds, shining beacons if you will in what could be a very noisy, chaotic, and sometimes lonely place. Our aim is to be one of those shining beacons. A bright spot in the darkness. And doesn't it cost money to transfer? I've never had to transfer. My family has always been here.
Life on Sanctum of Rall has transitioned from being a powerhouse tier 1 server to being a mercenary server that changes allies every couple months. What's your take on the Mercenary life? Have you found it to be better or worse than being stuck in a tier until you win or lose?
Asur: It hasn't really affected me. I think most servers experience that ebb and flow situation where they go from having their moment as king of the mountain to being at the bottom of the hill - or at least falling somewhere in between. I live in Buffalo NY. I'm a Bills and Sabres fan. Trust me, I know all about going from 'the good old days' to being at the bottom of the barrel. So in my eyes, not consistently being a tier 1 server doesn't bother me. We'll have our moment again. When running our WvW events I've tried not to put so much attention on where SoR stands in the rankings, or what other server we're allied with. I think Anet has done a great job with making a game that rewards people for playing the game as intended and helping people out and working together so there really is no need to manipulate the system as many guilds try to do by server hopping week to week or month to month to affect who is top tier. And we're not about that anyways. We really just try our best to contribute as much as we can, in the best way we know how and to have fun in the process. Win or lose, by the end of the battle we want our enemies to know they've been stung. It's always a blast when we can run with you in WvW, no matter if we're on tag with you guys or running Havoc behind the scenes. I want you guys to be able to say "the other server may have a zerg but we have The Swarm!". It is a perspective that Fate has really put a lot of emphasis on when it comes to our presence in game and community as a whole. Numbers aren't everything. It's the caliber of people you have on your team. Winning is important for sure, but we're definitely not going to trade in our values as a community just to get that win. Regardless of what the server decides to do, or who to ally with, we won't let that dictate how we present ourselves on the playing field.
What do you look for in each and every member that comes to join SIN?
Fate: Thank you, Asur!!
Founded back in 1999, it's no secret that we're still going strong after more than 17 years - and there's a reason for that! SIN is a niche community - We're not a great fit for everyone (mostly due to our age policy of 18 & up and our family-friendly language policy) and that's ok - we're not looking just for numbers. We're more into QUALITY than QUANTITY. We're looking for like-minded folks who are searching for what we have to offer, players who seek a Community experience built on HONOR and RESPECT, where PEOPLE come before PIXELS and no one is ever made to feel like they are just another name on a roster. Where winning really means something.
Yes, even though we ARE a gaming community and we are "in it to win it," it's more about the relationships - the real friendships we form here that carry over from game to game and year to year! Not only friendships with those within our Community, but with allies in other communities like Gaiscioch, as well! This is one of those rare places where you can look back on some of the epic times we've had with fellow members & allies in DAOC, Aion, SWTOR and many, many other awesome games, unlike those so-called "hardcore" guilds that have fallen by the wayside over the years. Because when you're a guild that's just about a game, once interest in that game wanes, people tend to go their own separate ways and it all falls apart. With Sinister Swarm, you just move on to the next new, shiny game with people you've come to enjoy gaming with - people who are now like FAMILY. No one is ever left behind here - no matter their experience, class or level - because we feel that by helping each BEE become the best they can be, we strengthen the hive as a whole.
How can someone learn more about Sinister Swarm?
Fate: Unlike some guilds, we don't simply toss invites out in game to anyone who asks for them - sure, we'd get a lot more numbers that way, but we want folks to check out our website and ask questions first, to make sure they know what they are becoming part of, and make sure that we're a good fit for them. Nothing thrills me more than to bring a potential recruit into Discord for a meet & greet, and have them tell me "Wow! This is just what I've been looking for!! I had almost given up hope - I didn't even realize there was a place like this out there!"
That's when I know that we've done our job - because in reality, every interaction we have with the gaming community is recruiting - we're leaving an impression whether it's good or bad - and even if someone isn't ready to join today, what we do & say leaves a lasting imprint. Maya Angelou once said "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them FEEL." We want to be known as the community that is helpful - that builds people up instead of tearing them down - that coordinates & works well with allied guilds - that succeeds by treating everyone with respect - even when going up against enemies on the battleground! We have a saying "We put the WAR in SWARM" and we will do everything we can to win - as long as winning is done with Honor and Respect! Because really, isn't that what winning is all about?? Hacking, botting, kill stealing - those are things that take the honor - and the satisfaction - out of winning. So people who do those things probably wouldn't find us to be a good fit. Winning should - and does - mean something, to us.
If you'd like to find out more about the Sinister Swarm, please go to www.SinisterSwarm.com and check out our website!! We're currently in the process of upgrading to a new format, but you'll still get a sense of who we are and what we stand for! Our policies and 10 Laws are the same today as they were back in 1999 - they've worked for us all this time, and they still work for us today! People who find us a good fit simply tell us they are "common sense" and they don't have any problems with them - that's just how they live everyday!
And if you have any questions, WE LOVE to share our Community with others and we'd be happy to spend some one-on-one time answering any questions you might have!
Please feel free to Email us or send us a note in game! Here are some good contacts you can reach out to any time - ask for our Discord info if you'd like to guest on our server to get a first-hand glimpse of the Sinister Swarm!
- Venom, Sinister Swarm Founder and Community Director: Venom@Sinister.com
- Fate, GW2 Chapter Leader & Community Chapter Manager: Fate@SinisterSwarm.com or GW2 Acct: DarkFate.9168 in game
- Arlessa, GW2 Asst. Chapter Leader and acting HR Manager: Arlessa@SinisterSwarm.com or GW2 Acct: Arlessa.2017 in game
- Asur, GW2 PvP and WvW Leader: Asur@SinisterSwarm.com or GW2 Acct: Asur.3259 in game
- Despione, GW2 Assets Manager: Despione@SinisterSwarm.com or GW2 Acct: Despione.1603 in game
Also - if you are interested in other chapters we have that are currently ongoing, here are some other contacts for you:
- Ant, RO Chapter Leader: Ant@SinisterSwarm.com
- Kaliaa, BDO Chapter Leader: Kaliaa@SinisterSwarm.com
- Stillanis FF14 Chapter Leader: Stillanis@SinisterSwarm.com
Thank you, Foghladha, for the honor and privilege of allowing me to share my love of the Sinister Swarm Gaming Community and GW2 with your readers! And thank you, Asur, for coordinating this exciting interview with our friends at Gaiscioch!
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About the Author
Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley
Benjamin founded the Gaiscioch Social Gaming Community in 2001 and has since been the founder & activities director for this well known community. His role has gone beyond just running the Gaming Community and now includes running the Athletics Program in Portland, Oregon, as well as acting as the Managing Editor of the Gaiscioch Magazine, and is the Lead Producer on the Gaiscioch Livestream Productions. Additionally he networks with game developers to form relationships between Gaiscioch and development studios.
His experience in publishing dates back to helping his Grandparents who operated a printing press for over 40 years. In high school and college Benjamin excelled in journalism and played an active part in the school newspaper. Benjamin currently works full time as the director of technology for a franchise trade publication & education company.