I can't recall what the name was in Dark Ages of Camelot, but it became pretty clear it was a commercial operation ahead of Realm V Realm battles - it was quicker and cheaper to buy and sell within the guild, so not much point in community outside of the environment, it just may it slightly faster to level up and be more useful in the battles ahead.
I have been in the same gaming clan for about 10 years. We started as a Sniper Unreal Tournament 2004 clan, and then added a few other games like Call of Duty and Warsow. As time passed, membership ebbed and flowed and gaming preferences changed. We are now reevaluating and deciding what kind of clan we want to be going forward. We always recruited players based on how much we liked playing together and how interested the person was in joining us. They were required to come onto TeamSpeak and talk to us. We never allowed anyone into the clan based on gaming stats alone. Consequently most of us get along very well (there are always disagreements, but not drama) and enjoy one another's company doing other online activities too. Sometimes we just come onto TeamSpeak to talk to one another when we are not gaming or keep in touch over Skype.
We are definitely a community that extends beyond the game. We are not currently competing in competition ladders, but when we were there were more structured planning and strategy meetings. Now it is a lot of sharing server modding secrets and "can you come test this?".
I would be inclined to say that the community could extend beyond the game and not be limited to activity within the game.
I have been mostly in roleplaying guilds, so my experience is that it has been another layer to enjoy together - besides just enjoying playing the game as in enjoying the game from the game mechanics point of view.
Roleplaying I see as interactive storytelling, enjoying stories together.. the guilds often have background stories, and have plotlines and stories going on that players can join.
So in that sense I do see guilds being sort of "hobby groups", that people with similar interests can gather around, make a social community around that, and then enjoy that particular hobby together with friends. The hobby could be enjoying high level PvE raids, or doing PvP content together .. or roleplaying.. or focus on any other kind of interests that MMORPG's could provide... I'm not sure if there could have been crafting focused guilds in MMORPG's, but I wouldn't be surprised if that would be the case.
But... I think what make a guild a guild .. not just a community, is that people can have a structure as they wish.. some are very relaxed family kind of guilds that are more friendships, some are very structured with lots of rules... And what is most important is that the people joining the particular guild do enjoy just the kind of structure and governance (or lack of it) and enjoy being together with similar minded people.
But also ... I think if we go back to medieval guilds, they were trade guilds, that comprised often of masters, apprentices and novices, that also taught the skills of certain trade like blacksmithing from generation to generation, via this master-apprentice system ... "Always pass on what you have learned", to quote the wrinkly small green creature, Master Yoda.
So it does become down to tradition, teaching the newcomers the ideas of the tradition... so even at times when the old leaders have stepped down or their time has ended, the new people can rise up to be the new masters, and lead the guild on.
My original DAOC guild was still alive .. I think around 2007 or 2008, 7 years or so after the game launch and after most of the original people and original leaders having left the game and moved on already. But the tradition and teaching new leaders the ideology and tradition had kept the guild living .. even though with new people I do assume also the tradition slowly did change to fit the views of the new members.
But still, I do think this is the core idea of the guilds, otherwise they would be just hobbyist communities .. but this transfer of ideas, skills, tradition, and knowledge, is what can make a guild live and prosper for years, and you can trust to leave the guild into new hands, when it's your time to step down.
And this kind of knowledge transfer, well, for us interested in education, it is of course the core of education. :)
Game-based learning enthusiast, virtual learning environments creator, and an avid MMORPG player
I played in Tel'aran'rhiod which was a guild in everquest, though they don't seem to be around now. The syndicate was a big guild in everquest too and so much easier to report on. The guild charter seems very strict and limiting but having played with some of those guys (don't know their names but probably still involved) the attitude was really quite free. There was and likely still is a problem with people who don't play nicely. Guilds like syndicate have a good reputation and one can be sure of a share of the treasure if playing with them, or if they had spare mana they would send a buff your way. Being an explorer i often met them on a raid but was just kinda watching or helping a little on the side. Without a guild it is impossible to go to some places as it is just too dangerous to be there by yourself. Syndicates charter guarentees the important thing in online gaming, a mutually respectable fair game. This is a valueable product and the size and pervasity of syndicate demonstrates this. The guild structure 'a beneficial dictatorship' works well in the online world, and the tiers of power cascade down in a logical structure and that is why they are still around. Not just around but able to offer services to game developers and buying power to their members.