In the latest versions of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), developers have purposefully made guilds part of game environments. Guilds represent a powerful method for giving players a sense of online community, but there is little quantitative data on guild dynamics. To address this topic, we took advantage of a feature found in one of today's most popular MMOGs (World of Warcraft) to collect in-game data: user interfaces that players can modify and refine. In addition to collecting data on in-game player activities, we used this feature to observe and investigate how players join and leave guilds. Data were analyzed for the purpose of identifying factors that propel game-world guild dynamics and evolution. After collecting data for 641,805 avatars on 62 Taiwanese World of Warcraft game servers between February 10 and April 10, 2006, we created five guild type categories (small, large, elite, newbie, and unstable) that have different meanings in terms of in-game group dynamics. By viewing players as the most important resource affecting guild life cycles, it is possible to analyze game worlds as ecosystems consisting of evolving guilds and to study how guild life cycles reflect game world characteristics.