Before you begin I'll just say that this has became something of a ramble, a bit of a summary of my life and experience as a gamer. Please forgive typos or mistakes I may have overlooked. It is, for the most part, entirely subjective. Take from it what you will :)
I've been a fairly hardcore PC FPS gamer since the glory days of BF '42 - arguably one of the best teamwork-based shooters of our time. I eventually joined a clan, we did training every week, had a number of scrims, and entered a ladder or two. Alas, back then I was young - around the age of 12 - and I had little appreciation for the finer points in gaming or the value of my clanmates.
*Note: When I use the term 'clan', I mean it to be a competitive community which expects dedication from its members, not just a bunch of friends who give themselves a tag and play casually.
I look back on those times with a mixture of nostalgia and regret; for me the action and scale of BF '42 really hits the mark. By today's standards it's unrefined and probably rather clunky, but it's certainly aiming in the right direction.
I played with my clanmates through BF '42, BF: Vietnam, and for a time, BF 2. I must have been 14 by the time BF 2 was around, but still lacking the insight of maturity, I got easily frustrated with the "noob tube" and other such frustrations which I thought to be cheap and unsatisfying ways to get kills. I didn't appreciate the changes the series had taken, and gradually lost interest. At some point in time World of Warcraft was released, and FPS gaming within a clan died for me. I spent most of my gaming time on WoW for a long time, levelling up several characters and finally settling on the Rogue. As a young gamer I found it difficult to settle down, raiding quite honestly bored me. I was a PvPer. This went well for a while, and I was happy enough with the game until the arenas came into the game. It took another month or so but finally I gave up WoW as a lost cause, it would never give me the kind of PvP action I was looking for, and I drifted around games like Unreal Tournament 3, the Call of Duty series and a few RTS games like Dawn of War. I tried clanning up in COD, but the small maps and game modes didn't suit what I wanted from a clan game. I needed Battlefield.
Then comes Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, promising to cater for the lovers of PvP. I was so enthusiastic for this game that I immediately joined a guild (The Unnamed), a few months before the game was even released. They were a great group of lads, by this time I was almost 17. Many of the core members were around the same age and were also from the UK, we quickly became good friends and played a number of games together (TF 2, and the CS mod Zombie Panic were the favorites). We got into the guild beta of WAR soon after I finished college (the UK form, NOT university), and we had an amazing time - the best time in the whole of WAR's existence in fact - having plenty of great adventures and battles.
However by the time the actual game came out, my summer holidays were coming to an end and I had been accepted into University. I'm pretty sure the sinking ship that was WAR would have sucked me in were it not for the fact that the campus network wouldn't allow me to connect to the WAR client. I'm glad it didnt work - university is no place for MMO gaming, and I soon forgot my sorrows for the game I had looked forward to for over a year, as I had plenty of better things to do with new RL friends. By the end of my first year, WAR was dieing off, most of The Unnamed core had barely touched the game since getting it. We went back to TF 2 and a lot of L4D.
In my first year of university I really got into the first Modern Warfare, and this is probably what resparked my interest in FPS gaming. I found it pretty easy to get great scores but after a while became more and more frustrated with the game. Fighting a bunch of "noobs" in a public server simply wasn't satisfying. The moments of facing 3, 4, 5 enemies in a room and beating them was what I lived for in MW, but these moments didn't occur often enough to justify the annoyance of being bombed, shot by attack choppers, marty'd or nade spammed. The need to be in a clan again was strong, but I didn't feel that MW was the right game for me.
At this point I must point out that university was a year of huge change for me. I became a Christian, I made a new and diverse friendship group, and I became independant. Applying this to gaming, I gained a much greater appreciation of my online friends and wanted like nothing more than to commit to a clan / community. But first I needed to find a game I wanted to do that with.
And so I'm in my second year of university, age 20. I have played MW 2 and grown to hate it. I could (and have done, if you were to read my review on play.com) write 3500 words on why MW 2 is a failiure to the serious PC FPS gamer, but I will restrain myself. So now we are but a few days from the PC beta test of Bad Company 2. Finally, Battlefield is coming back! I avoided BF 2142 completely, and so I haven't played any game from the series in 5 years. My Unnamed mates are getting the game too, and we intend to form a clan once the game is released.
At last there is a game I feel will be great enough to deserve the dedication of going into a clan. You see, it was quality that was the problem for me. No FPS PC game since BF 2 has, for me, been of a quality where I can say "Yes, this is a game I want to play for months to come. This is a game that warrants time and effort." This is ofcourse, entirely my own opinion, and I wonder if many other people share that problem with me. For me there have simply been no games around that can match the satisfaction of battle and potential for teamwork that the Battlefield franchise has shown (you could argue that TF 2 has great teamwork potential, but I must retort that it lacks the thrill of the fight and the intense action that war games have). But now, assuming that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is going to deliver on its multiplayer promises, I think that it will indeed be a game that I can put time and effort into, and I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on a quality game that I will now have the maturity to stick with and appreciate. It's been a long wait - let's hope its worth it.