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.


Pikmin Bloom Pikmin Bloom
"youre encouraged to join group quests that take place over a week and everyone's steps/flowers planted are totalled together towards the goal"

Pokémon Café Mix Pokémon Café Mix
"Logging in everyday and playing maintains an active clan, which has its perks with events"

Kawaii Home Design Kawaii Home Design
"There a guild system. To get points, you'll have to check in everyday and design a room with one or two other members from your team. You have to choose your room and complete it within a few days, and some guild are really competitive and won't hesitate to remove inactive players or players who don't manage to get an A for their design."

Tears of Themis Tears of Themis
"Every day we get friendship badges which can be used in an in game store"

RuneScape Mobile RuneScape Mobile
"A little bit, but it's not directly encouraged by the game the way e.g. WoW raid guilds can get."

Food Street - Restaurant Management & Food Game Food Street - Restaurant Management & Food Game
"It's a constant worry with the guild"

Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales
"You can join a club, which will earn rewards for battling a daily club boss. Everyone who battles the boss, if the combined attack is successful, earns rewards."

Baseball Superstars 2020 Baseball Superstars 2020
"play to not get kicked from a guild"

The Walking Dead: Road to Survival The Walking Dead: Road to Survival
"There are faction events. You need to score points to contribute to your faction, otherwise, you will most likely get kicked out."

Ulala: Idle Adventure Ulala: Idle Adventure
"Players who do not play for 3 days or more are marked with a sleeping icon. While their skills can be changed, nothing else can be modified, making them dead weight. Plus, seasonal events require all players to cooperate to get higher scores."