The Guild Sphere: The First Responders

Today I had the chance to talk to David, a 10 year veteran of the Fire Department and currently working as a career Firefighter/Medic in Northern VA. David is the founder of  “The First Responders”, a gaming community dedicated to Public Service and Military gamers meaning Firefighters, EMTs, Police and Military. They are a casual raiding guild on SWTOR, WoW and competitive on XBox with many accomplishments to their credit. They have won many tournaments and do very well in MMOs. They are currently on Iron Citadel, PvP East on the Republic. Check it out below.

Where did your guilds name come from?
As a guild that caters to members of the Public Safety (Fire, Rescue and Police) and Military Service we needed a name that could fit any of these different areas. The First Responders was chosen as the best name that could represent everyone because it is at the core of what we all do. We are the first to respond in a moment of crisis whether it be your house is on fire, your child is sick, someone is breaking into your vehicle or our rights need defending.

Can you give me a quick 2-3 sentance description of your guild?
We are a guild that specifically caters to members of our Armed Forces and Public Safety communities. We offer them a place to call home that understands and respects the pressures they face at work while offering them a gaming experience that alot of other guilds can’t offer due to our erratic work schedules. We mantain a casual, yet competitive environment on Xbox, World of Warcraft and now Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Our Mission Statement

Integrity, Courage, Respect and Honor,
These values give us our strength, our resolve,
They are our unbreakable bonds,
They will give us the finality of victory.

How did your guild come about?
We began as an Xbox team in January 2004. The most popular game out at the time was Rainbow Six 3 and cruising the Ubisoft forums I was able to find a handful of people that had similiar ideas as I did. Those guys went on to become the founding members of our community. We had a rough time at first due to the erratic nature of our schedules, so we began allowing family and friends into the community. That slowly progressed until we started allowing other people that were outside our demographic provided that they displayed the same characteristics that we valued. Our community is still comprised mainly of Public Safety and Military gamers but we do value our civilian community members as parts of our group. Our Xbox team quickly established themselves winning several championships in GRAW (Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter), we had an advantage that many teams didn’t. We had Army Rangers that taught us to bound and move us a group, they planned strategies based on what they would do in real life, Police SWAT Officers showed us how to properly clear rooms, etc. We earned a reputation for being a good respectable team and started picking up a few sponsors. One of our sponsors wanted to work with a more diverse group of gamers and asked us to start playing on PC, unwilling to make a transition from using a controller to using a mouse/keyboard for FPS we agreed to start a WoW guild. Our WoW guild plays Horde on Lightning’s Blade (US) and was setup with it’s own infrastructure. After several years of good times and hard work our guild started becoming known. Always clearing content when it was relevent, but doing it on a very casual raiding schedule. We still mantain this branch of our team to this day. We have had an eye on SWTOR since 2009 and have been closely monitoring it’s progress, growing more excited with every update from Bioware. We were able to pull members from our Xbox and WoW communities to give us a good base but we also understand that in order to find lasting success we need to build this community from within the game.

What kind of play style do you focus on? (PvE, PvP, RP)
Our focus is on end game 16 man Operations. We have chosen to play on a PvP server however because we do enjoy dabbling in PvP and we love the challenge that it presents. We enjoy being kept on our toes and the unpredicatability as your questing. We feel that it makes us work together since we have to look out for one another and grow as a guild.

What is your guild set up? How do you run your guild?
We are a Republic Guild on a PvP server (Iron Citadel, US). We run a pretty loose environment, especially since we are so thorough during our application process. The type of atmosphere you can expect to find here is what you might encounter in a military barracks or a firehouse. Alot of joking around and ball busting but when it’s time to be serious everyone has their game faces on whether it’s raid time or we’re defending the Republic in PvP.

How serious do you play and/or run the guild?
I play a little more seriously than most. I don’t approach the level of commitment when I was playing on Xbox and we had sponsors, but I dedicate a fairly healthy amount of time into this. I would estimate I play around 20 hours a week right now, but due to my work schedule it can vary. I might get a nice chunk of time off where I go pretty heavy and then due to work requirements I might have a week where I don’t play much. This is why it’s important to have an organized crew of Officers that can manage things and be self sufficient. In addition, I’m married with a 5 year old daughter and they always have to come first though my wife will sometimes question that statement due to how much time I play, lol.

Do you have ranks or a certain hierarchy in your guild?
We keep it fairly simple since we don’t feel the need to have an overly complicated structure. We have one overall leader of TFR that manages the community as a whole and the overall direction. Each branch of the community has one person that oversees and runs it based on the specific needs of that community (Guild Master and Xbox Captain). These GM’s have Officers that they select based on what they feel there needs are (Raid Leader, Bank Officer, Recruitment Officer, etc.). Every Officer is picked very carefully, being an Officer is a very serious responsibility and not a status symbol or perk. All Officer positions are working positions with specific, tangible roles/goals. There are no General Officers as all Officers are expected to handle the general tasks that occur day to day. Officers are essentially serving the needs of the members and must put the membership needs ahead of there own. Below an Officer is our Members, those people in good standing in our community. Under the Members are our Recruits, those people that are new to the Guild that are serving a 30 day trial period before they become members. I am currently operating as our SWTOR GM, Rahsta is our WoW GM and FR Boondock is our Xbox Captain.

Why did you choose the Republic 
I won’t lie, I had to convince alot of people in our community to do it instead of Empire. I personally wanted to experience a story where I was the hero and with Obi-Wan Kenobi being my favorite character through the movies I wanted that story. After our guys got a taste of the Republic side they are hooked though. I’m sure a few guys will run some alts and I will create an alt guild further down the road, but we are really enjoying the story of being on the Republic. Let’s face it, we’re underdogs now, the Jedi Temple has been leveled, despite a treaty the Empire are showing signs of war and our side has our collective backs against the wall. I’ll take the underdog story/role anyday, I think playing Empire (especially on a PvP server) is too easy right now.

Why do you run a guild?
I didn’t get high speed internet until Christmas 2003 despite being a fairly serious gamer growing up, I always craved that online play and I had always heard about clans/teams and wanted that experience. I always had an idea of how I thought a team should be operated built up in my head for years and once my girlfriend (now my wife) gave me that Christmas gift I hit the ground running. I’ve dealt with alot of frustrations over the years, but this is the only team I’ve ever been on and I plan on keeping it that way. I also get a tremendous amount of satisfaction in the role I am in right now. Coming from a WoW environemt where I was a Raid Leader Officer I loved the feeling I got whenever we downed a tough boss for the first time and knowing I was instrumental in that process. Being a Guildmaster is no different, being able to shape a major part of our community and effect decisions that affect alot of people is something I take seriously and love. This community is full of some of the best kinds of people anyone will ever hope to meet and they deserve the absolute best I can offer them. These guys make me look good and make my job alot easier than most of my counterparts in other guilds.

How do you approach Raid Planning?
Due to the unusual hours that most of our community has we need to be very organized and flexible when it comes to raid planning. We seldom have the exact same group that attends our raids and since we raid casually (2 nights a week, 8-11 server time on Thursday and Saturday) it means when it comes to raid time I expect our Core Raiders to come in well versed on all the fights and ready to execute the game plan. They must be on time and ready to go with all buffs and consumables. For those three hours we aren’t casual, we are a highly motivated and organized group of raiders coming in with Military precision to wreck the place. By mantaining these standards it allows me to be flexible with the groups and fill in holes as needed when people have to work that 24 hour shift.

Are you always open for new recruits or do you want to keep a certain guild size?
We are always open to recruitment and will never turn down anyone that can meet our standards. We don’t judge based on gear or how “leet” your “deeps” is. We judge based on attitude and willingness to fit in with the community. We can help someone with bad gear, we can help someone that needs to improve at the game (working on there rotations, positioning, etc), we can never help someone with a bad attitude and don’t suffer anyone with a me first attitude. As we grow we will promote more Officers to accomadate the needs of the guild and open up new raid groups. Size isn’t an issue for us, but the speed at which we take new recruits into our ranks is something we try and manage as carefully as possible. We aren’t a zerg guild and taking too many people too fast risks compromising the atmoshphere of our community.

Age Requirement?
We state 18+ as our age requirement. We understand that maturity is something that isn’t held by adults alone but in our experience it has proven to be beneficial. Despte what they think, a non adults time simply isn’t there own. They can be grounded, have computer priveledges taken away, etc and this can put a serious disadvantage to 15 other people when it comes to raid time. If one of our members wants to bring there teenage son/daughter into our ranks we are generally very welcoming to that.

Guild size?
Over 120 for the entire community, our SWTOR guild accounts for approximately 30 members currently and we are bringing more people in every week.

What makes your guild stand out from everyone else? What makes your guild unique?
Others might make this claim, but simply put we are one of the longest tenured and most successful communities for the demographic we represent in gaming today. We are a multi game, multi platform team with members from all over the world. We offer our members a place to play and be highly competitive or simply social. We have won championships on many competition sites on Xbox , have had representatives at WCG, dealt with multiple sponsors and have dominated the Turtle Beach CoD tournaments at PAX East. Our WoW guild has remained on the cutting edge of end game content (non heroic) for 5 years. Despite these accomplishments I am most proud of how these guys conduct themselves both in game and out. They understand that they aren’t just representing there guild, but there professions.

How do you spend your time until release? Do you know each other in real life or do you spend a lot of time on forums?
We try and do alot of things together. We go to PAX East in Boston as a community every year to hang out and geek out for an entire weekend. Many of us know each other in real life and hold barbeques for the areas where there are several of us, go catch movies, etc. We have an awesome website and forums that many of us populate and chat on. We try and foster a sense of family here and encourage people to socialize with each other outside of the game, we want our guys to feel like they are making friendships and not just regarding each other as simply a guildmate. Our members are people to us, not just cogs in a machine.

What other games are you currently playing as a guild?
Modern Warfare 3 on Xbox is obviously pretty huge right now and I already mentioned World of Warcraft. Several of us have been playing League of Legends for quite some time and might be the next game we try to officially branch out into. We definitely have our eye on the upcoming Ghost Recon and then of course there’s Skyrim which has it’s hooks into most of us.

If somebody is interested now how and where can they apply for membership?
If anyone is interested in applying to join our ranks or simply wants to learn more about us then visit our website at www.TheFirstResponders.com, from there you’ll find a brief application to join our guild. Fill out the application and you should receive a response from one of our Officers within 1 day. At that point we’ll ask you to choose a time that yopu can set aside 15 minutes to speak with one of us in vent so we can get a sense of your personality and give you expectations. After that if everything goes well you’ll receive an invite to our group and begin your 30 day recruit period. It seems like alot, but every member has gone through it and we try and keep our standards pretty high, with attitude being the thing we value more than any other.

One last question, if there was one thing you could ask the Dev’s to include, what would it be?
I was tempted to ask for a Guild Starship or chat bubbles, maybe an in game calender. Right now though we’d be ecstatic to never see a que time again…

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