Social Obligation / Guilds

To avoid letting down your friends, you are obligated to play when you don't want to.

Many massively multiplayer online (MMO) games allow people to band together into groups, sometimes called teams, guilds, clans or factions. Often, much of the game is inaccessible until you have joined a guild, making it somewhat mandatory to play as part of a team. For many games of this type, solo-play is not an option.

If you have joined a guild, or if you have linked your friends into the game via a social pyramid scheme, you may start to feel social pressure to play the game more than you would have otherwise. If your team is depending on you to pull your weight in the game, you will play out of sense of obligation rather than a sense of enjoyment. The game becomes a chore and it becomes difficult to stop playing because you would be disappointing your friends.

This is often combined with the Playing by Appointment dark pattern. For example, the team may have a raid or other event scheduled for 10:00am. Because players don't want to let their team down, they may rearrange their schedule or play the game when they should be at work or doing something else important. A player on vacation may be desperate to find a WiFi connection so they can login and support their team.

Sometimes social obligation can be combined with the Pay to Win dark pattern. If your team is highly competitive and other team members are spending money to purchase the best items, there is a strong social pressure for you to also spend money to acquire the same items. You don't want to be seen as a slacker who isn't pulling their own weight. It isn't unheard of for the top guilds in some games to have a requirement of spending a certain amount per month on the game.

The feeling of obligation to someone else is a very strong motivator to play the game and can cause a lot of stress for the player.


Star Trek Fleet Command Star Trek Fleet Command
"They are called alliances but every alliance will have an elite group of hardcore players and the mundanes which are just there to occupy space."

Gems of War - Match 3 RPG Gems of War - Match 3 RPG
"They do a nicer job of this than other games, but guild events are timed and if you were to choose not to play, you would hurt the guild's chances of rewards."

World of Tanks Blitz MMO World of Tanks Blitz MMO
"Yes, my team needs me to unlock traits. And in most clans you are kicked after not playing for some time."

Walking Dead: Road to Survival Walking Dead: Road to Survival
"War mechanic makes you have to play all weekend to fill queues so your friends can play. And compete to win."

Hay Day Hay Day
"If you play in a guild you must keep playing to keep up with everyone else"

Spy Ninja Network - Chad & Vy Spy Ninja Network - Chad & Vy
"The youtube channel that tells children to download this game, does so under the guise that it will help them defeat a group of evil hackers that want to destroy youtube; when in reality said group is fictional and the show is fictional, but the children do not know this and play the app to try and help them"

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
"Friends are encouraged to give services to each other, such as helping each other get into Shovelstrike Quarry or sharing rare bugs with each other's gardens."

Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes Star Wars™: Galaxy of Heroes
"The guild system strongly encourages people to keep playing. I don't want to let down my guildmates. I have wake up early to do raids so that the guild can succeed."