Sword & Shield Gaming, Inception.
From The Beginning
I’ve been a gamer all my life, starting with the Atari 2600 and move up to the Xbox 360. Through all the changes in technology one fact has remained constant: gaming with friends is always better. The evolution of the Internet, and Xbox LIVE for that matter, has made connecting to your friends all across the globe painless. No longer did you have to be in proximity to your friends to play with them. They can even be in a different country, and now it’s even easier to find other like-minded gamers to befriend. This is the cornerstone of the GGN and the clans within; gaming with like-minded people to play fair and have fun.
In the early, wintery, months of 2008 I found my way to TTL, by pure accident. I was not looking for a clan. In fact my perception of “clans” at that time was one that they were all; super hard-core, MLG, corps-humping, smack-talking, d-bags. Boy was I wrong. I am an avid user of Google Reader (https://www.google.com/reader/shared/jayman16), and one of the cool things gReader does is suggest other sites you maybe interested in reading. Well one of my recommendation was www.blog.tiedtheleader.com and the rest, as they say, is history.
I quickly signed up at Tied The Leader and started my profile thread entitled, ‘Finally found the home I’ve been looking for‘. It was quickly followed by reply after reply of people welcoming me to the community followed by Friend Requests. Being a huge Stephen King fan I immediately felt at home in MidWorld (The name of TTL’s forums) surrounded by all the familiar names of The Dark Tower, Kings’ self-proclaimed Magnum Opus.
After about a month or two I was granted access to the Embassy as a TTL Ally. Right about about that time a group of current TTL Allies, that had grown very close with each other decided to branch off from TTL and form a sister clan. We now know that band of Allies as Buddy System Gaming, BSG for short. That is when I really saw the power of TTL; they weren’t “just” a clan, they were a community that was fostering the ‘Good Game’ and it even had the power to make others start their own community. Simply amazing.
But I stuck it out at TTL, just about 2 years had passed and I was making friends and having a blast. Before TTL I was ready to quit online gaming. Between the modders, cheaters, quitters, griefers, and hackers I had had enough. Playing with TTLers was an eye opening experience, teammates played as a team, call-outs were made, everyone had mics, everyone fights; no one quits, the only post-game chatter was the now familiar ‘Good Game’ mantra. But I’ll admit I looked around at some other clans. I looked at Outcast Reborn (OcR), O7AH (Halo backwards), and Buddy System Gaming; my former Allies turned clan. During those two years I wasn’t just making friends with TTLers, BSGers, and OcRers. A new class of TTL Allies had joined my ranks and I was enjoying the ‘Good Game’ with all of them. So much if fact we had a name for ourselves, Allies FTW. So for that second year my gaming almost exclusively consisted of gaming with the Allies FTW crew. So in the fall of 2009 I got a crazy idea in my head (like BSG before me) to create my own community with my Allies FTW crew.
So I sent a message out to the Allies FTW crew, telling them that I wanted us to start our own clan and branch off from TTL. Unfortunately, I was too late. About 40% of the people I send messages to had literally just joined a clan or started their own in the last week! I missed most of them by 7 days… But all was not lost, I had five very positive responses from members of Allies FTW that they wished to join me on my journey to start something new. So we brainstormed and had several meeting before I came up with the name Sword & Shield Gaming, which everyone seemed to like right away so we stuck with it.
The initial members that started SSG with me were: SSG TomaZero, Whachamacalzmit, VoltRabbit, EvilDoctorWill (Duff Rawk City), and OdinRunebearer. Together we developed the founding principles that is still guiding SSG to this day. Most of which we humbly borrowed from the good folks at Tied The Leader. Everything from clan hierarchy, which forums to use, role based assignments for members (Divisions), and even a theme to go with our clan: King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Our forums are dubbed Camelot and our members are Knights, we use the Round Table as our Knight-only forum name so that all our member know they have an equal voice in the clan whether they are staff or not.
Good Game Network
As I’ve told you SSG is essentially a sister-clan of TTL, we were cultivated by them and then expanded on our own. Well there are also quiet a few clans that share the same compassion and ‘Good Game’ mantra that TTL helped pioneer. Collectively we call this group of clans the Good Game Network. The GGN as we call it (http://goodgamenetwork.tiedtheleader.com/) is collectively, the best-of-the-best of online gaming. This is not quantitative or skill-based assessment, but simply based off merit. Joining the GGN is not something you ask for, and it is not easily obtained. The GGN is currently comprised of 17 clans and each clan get to appoint a representative to sit on the GGN Council. To get into the GGN a clan must have a web presence maintained for a minimum amount of time, a certain numbers of active members, and have met on the virtual battlefield with a fair number of GGN clans. On April 28th, 2010 SSG was granted access into the GGN, and I was speechless. From my start of being a loner and finding TTL by accident, to deciding to start my own clan and now to be considered equals among such communities as: Tied The Leader, Praetoria Guard, Master Theory, and the other 14 groups is simply amazing.
Shortly after we got SSG off the ground we got our first batch of recruits. From the beginning we knew CodeMoneky76 (SSG CodeMonkey) would be going far within the clan. With his likable personality, his way with words (www.codemonkeyfoobar.com), and of course his ninja-like skills with coding. Code was promoted to Forum Admin in only seven months and one short month after that was also made into an Overlord. His commitment to SSG has been unwavering, he has the most forum time of any us (even over me who spent countless hours setting up the forums), can be found on Xbox LIVE almost every night, and still has time to tweak the forums making them better and even hand coding our entire website from beyond the simple one I created.
Now that SSG has passed its one year mark as a community, I felt it was time for little reflection. Here at SSG we call our Knight hopefuls Apprentices, and a few weeks ago we had more Apprentices than ever before thanks to the”Bungie Rush”. Well, I got a big old grin on my face when I was reading the forums and a few of the Apprentices were taking about starting their own ‘Apprentices Gaming Night’. This made me think back to our ‘Allies FTW’ nights I knew at that moment that we had something special on our hands here with SSG.
I may have started with the idea of SSG but it would be nothing without the effort and help that I got from so many people dedicating their own time to help me on my quest.
TTL XerxDeeJ – You serve as the example of what a community leader should be. You may not have been the first with the idea of the ‘Good Game’ but you and yours personified it. You built TTL and you built the GGN, which brings so many lone-wolf gamers together. And for that, we say Thankee Sai.
Sunburned Goose – Before SSG had CodeMonkey, TTL was kind enough to let us “borrow” their technically guru Goose. He helped me work out all the initial kinks with the forums, and getting us ready for business.
TTL DDAY – Besides making some amazing looking forum signatures, DDAY had lent his Photoshop skills to SSG on a number of occasions. Like creating our banner for SSG’s Monday Knight Halo, weekly event.
Bob Zippers – A close personal friend of mine, he spent several hours with me annoying inspiring him while he created the iconic Sword & Shield logo that we use today.
BSG Surgeon – We became friends as TTL Allies and I saw you break away from TTL and help start something great with BSG. You were a big inspiration for me to start SSG.
Whachamacalzmit, TomaZero,& OdinRunebearer – Each of you helped me shape SSG into what it is today. You’ve stuck with me, through doubts and your own life changing events. I could leave the clan in your hands and not lose a moment of sleep.
CodeMonkey – As I mentioned above, we may have started SSG without you per sé, but you’ve turned it into a rockstar. With amazing features like the XBL Status Page, to the individual member pages, your signature is all over the matrix that is SSG and it is cooler than I ever dreamed.
Allies FTW – You know who you are. You helped start this ‘revolution’ although not from “the man” but from something we wanted to be a part of, something we wanted to help cultivate. While we may all be in different communities, we’re all still within the GGN.
There are, of course, many other people to thank and I wish I could list you all here. But to all my SSG Knights, GGNers, Apprentices, and Community Friends you are all truly the diamond in the rough. You make Xbox LIVE bearable and help to create a safe haven for those of us looking for a better place to game. To any of you newcomers reading this trust me, this is the home you are looking for.