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The sixth season of pioneering web series The Guild ended with a new twist on the show’s traditional format. First, Codex (star/creator Felicia Day) vlogged to the camera/audience, giving a wry but heartfelt monologue about what she’s learned from her experiences as not just a gamer, but someone who over the course of six seasons turned her fellow gamers into a full-fledged family.
But then, we see Codex not through her webcam, but sitting in her bedroom at her desk — then shutting down her computer and leaving the room. It’s a decidedly final moment, which is appropriate: Until further notice, The Guild in its current form is officially over.
No press releases were sent, no major announcements made, but the odds that The Guild will never return as a web series are “100 percent,” Day said in a phone interview.
“If I woke up with an amazing idea for season seven, then booyah, I would have done it,” she added. “But six years of one show? That’s more than most shows ever get. It was such a peaceful decision that I knew it was the right one.”
The timing is good, as The Guild, which has never shied away from exploring merchandising opportunities, has received a complete look back at the show’s production with The Guild: The Official Companion, available from Titan Books on July 16th. Drawing on interviews with the cast and crew, The Official Companion is a surprisingly honest oral history of the show — both its triumphs and difficulties.
“It was very therapudic — we tried to be very open about our struggles,” Day said of the interviews she, producer Kim Evey and others did with Abbie Bernstein (the book was edited by Omar Khan). “There are a lot of things in the book that I didn’t even really remember, and reading through the cast member’s experiences gave me more perspective on how they approached the show.”
“It was really me and Kim making the show [with some part-time help],” she added. “We did everything the hard way because maybe it paid off better, but it was a harder journey in the end. I wouldn’t go back and change anything — we made the right decisions for the show.”
Her big takeaway from the experience: “Enjoy the process — and when you feel overstressed, ask for help.”
While The Guild may be over as a web series, Day and her team are exploring other options, including television. However, that process has made her appreciate the freedoms being a web series afforded the show: “Seeing all the barriers that go up, we see how lucky we were to make it as we did,” she said.
It’s been a while since The Guild was Felicia Day’s primary online presence; last year, she and her team launched Geek and Sundry, one of the first wave of networks to be funded by the YouTube original channel initiative.
Notably, unlike other networks, Geek and Sundry received additional production financing this year. Now, Day can be seen supporting other vloggers, occasionally playing board games and battling with her brother.
She’s also looking forward to her next major project, whatever it might be: “It’s a question of overcoming the bar that was set with The Guild and just creating something. After Comic-Con, my emphasis is going to be on creating that next thing, that’s really authentic. However long it takes — that’s my primary focus right now.”
Web series come and go like magpies, largely because (especially in the independent world) they don’t get so much canceled as they just run out of money or drive.
Most importantly, it was one of the first shows to illustrate a major key to success for web content: Find an underserved, very specific audience, and make a show about them, for them. The Guild found comedy and humanity in the World of Warcraft gaming community, and that community grew into six years of success.
“The thing about The Guild is that we all crave to connect with other people — which embodies the internet in a certain way,” Day said. “That is the core of The Guild — it was not created to manipulate, it was created to make a family.”