On a July afternoon in 2007, Felicia Day uploaded the first episode of her homemade sitcom The Guild to a new website called YouTube. She had spent two years obsessing over the video game World of Warcraft, and with the help of a support group, she translated that devotion it into a TV pilot.
The Guild, a series about six goofballs addicted to a Warcraft-like game, was shot on a tiny budget, then edited into tight, digestible chunks to better target an always-online gaming audience. The gamble worked: The Guild went viral in an era when “viral” was still a medical term, and soon became one of the first successful scripted web shows.
Day ended the show in 2013, after six seasons. And though they’re now four years removed from their last episode, Day still thinks about the Knights of Good and where they would be had the show continued… or the characters existed in real life. “Codex is still Floyd’s assistant, probably a producer now. Zaboo is still on IT. Clara had a couple more kids,” Day joked during a phone interview with Inverse.
At the end of The Guild, Codex (played by Day) earns a job at the studio behind her favorite game: The Game, an off-brand, lawsuit-proof analog of World of Warcraft. Coming along for the ride are her eccentric guildmates: Clara (Robin Thorsen), Vork (Jeff Leiws), Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh), Bladezz (Vince Caso), and Tink (Amy Okuda). Produced on a shoestring budget even after it got sponsored by Microsoft and Sprint, The Guild was always a passion project for Day, who tells Inverse the show nearly continued using the sixth season’s rebooted setting.
“Season 6 was supposed to be the TV pilot I was going to sell to make the show a TV show,” Day told Inverse during a conversation for the oral history. “It was going to change the dynamics of the show to make it less insular and inside and more about a girl who worked at a gaming company who had all these quirky friends that blurred the line between her profession and her personal life. If you see the end of season six, the two become integrated in an interesting, kind of incestuous way.”
Ultimately, Day did not continue The Guild in any form. Between overseeing her online video enterprise Geek & Sundry, new acting opportunities (she recently starred in Netflix’s reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000), and gamers just not being into MMO games as they once were, Day disbanded The Guild.
After six seasons, multiple awards, comic books published by Dark Horse, three music videos, and a single that topped iTunes in 2009, Day knew it was time to end The Guild. Creatively, Day was out of “bandwidth.” Before the show’s final season, Day launched Geek & Sundry, a YouTube network that produces dozens of popular, nerd-centric online shows like TableTop and Critical Role. Becoming a businesswoman excited Day, but also left her no time and space to write the next season of hijinks for Codex and her pals.
As Day told Inverse for the show’s oral history: “I could see the long term of it being difficult, to do another season in a way we can get more people. I just did not have the bandwidth to do it the way we’ve been doing it shoestring before.”
In gaming, while there are still people exploring the world of MMPORGs, the halcyon days when Blizzard’s servers were jam-packed are over.
“We’ve sort of moved on from [those games]. The MMO life is very different now, I don’t think younger gamers would identify with that even on a superficial level,” said Day, who is also not a fan of reprising old roles for nostalgia’s sake. “I wouldn’t rule out the next couple years for exploring the show, but with the actors and the format we did, it would have to be something different. There’s nothing worse than unearthing something and not making it as good. I would hate that.”
And so if it was made in 2017, Day says The Guild would look completely different.
“It would be a group of people who played different games together. I don’t know if having them be a guild in one specific game is as realistic or popular [now],” she said. “Gaming has splintered and gotten more competitive and social. You’ve got casual games. The landscape has changed, and you have to do it in a different way.”
Day understands she could have kept the show going. It was just a matter of resources and management, after all. YouTube is as ubiquitous as ever. But are there any regrets? Absolutely none. Albeit some coulda-shoulda-wouldas, ultimately Day is thankful for the ride.
“If I could go back and not ended and just continued it, I probably would have, instead of the business stuff that I don’t think I enjoyed as much,” Day says. “But every journey leads to self-knowledge. I know so much more about myself. I’m so much happier. I can’t regret anything I’ve been through. We had six seasons, that’s more than most TV shows.”