Thursday, July 11, 2013

Please Yourselves

Generally I try to avoid meta-posts about blogging and specifically it's a busy week and I don't have time both to blog and play, but I wanted to get my two-penn'orth in before the whole End Of Days thing slides past uncommented.

I forget who started this off. It was probably Wilhelm but I'll link to Jeromai becuse he links to everyone else and it saves me the trouble. The gist of the debate is this: there may or may not be a cold wind blowing for The Blog, or more accurately for the MMO Blog. There might be fewer of them than there were, more could be going dark faster than they used to and fewer might be starting up to replace them. Either the bloggers or the readers have moved to Twitter or G+ or no-one's reading or writing anything any more because we're all Livestreaming.

Sometimes I like to claim I'm not a Gamer. Occasionally I've even claimed I'm not a writer. Neither of those claims really stands up to analysis. I've been playing video games since the late 1970s and writing since the early 1970s. Occasionally I have a few months off from one or the other and sometimes I think that might stick but it never does. I always come back.

I only started blogging a couple of years ago. I'd made a concerted effort to stop writing back in the late 1990s and for the best part of a decade I was convinced I'd cured myself of the addiction until one day I had an epiphany. All those hundreds of thousands of words I'd written on gaming forums starting about two weeks after I discovered Everquest in 1999? That was writing, too. I gave up giving up, gave in and embraced my demon.

By then I'd moved off forums and into the comment threads of blogs, which I discovered well after the famous Warhammer Blogsplosion, something about which I only became aware way after the dust had settled and the fires started to die back. It occurred to me, belatedly, that it was probably quite rude to write comments longer than the blog posts I was commenting on, especially since some poor bloggers got the benefit almost every time they put something up, so I started my own blog.

It turned out to be a very familiar experience. In fact it turned out to be exactly like writing and publishing apazines, which I did obsessively for a decade and a half in the 1980s and 90s. The community was very similar, the same kind of characters appeared, the same cliques, the same mutual admiration societies, mortal enemies, in-jokes and running gags. I felt pretty comfortable.

I still do. I've been especially touched to see my name and this blog mentioned in the current navel-gazing round. There really is some kind of a community happening here, even if most of us could pass each other on the street without a second glance since few have ever met.

Blogging may not last in its current form. Bloggers who post every day right now may stop at any time and never post again. Technology will change faster than we can keep up. In the old apazine days contributors came and went all the time. New enthusiastic members joined, burned brightly, jaded, faded and left. Old stalwarts plodded on. Some of them are probably out there, still cranking the mimeograph as I type

Will people who love writing stop writing about stuff they love? I don't think so. There'll always be more to read than there's time to read it, just like there are always too many games to play. And in the end, even if the only person reading me is me, well that's the audience I've been trying hardest to please these last 40 years. I'll just keep on doing that.

I encourage anyone reading this who's thought about blogging but hasn't given it a go to do the same.


  1. It's been several months since I've felt compelled to write something new in my own blog... I feel guilty to let it sit fallow but I don't want to whip together articles just to make busywork for myself, either. I still read lots of others' and enjoy their perspectives, and lately that's been good enough for me.

    I've had my blog for 7 years now, and don't have the most popular or most interesting one out there, but I like having that space and I do seem to come back to it eventually even after long breaks.

    I agree with you that blogging may be becoming more niche nowadays -- there are many other social network/sharing things out there than when I started, for sure.

    1. Seven years is a long time to do any one thing intensively. I'd be tempted to say that after seven years of blogging I'd slow down a lot too, only that isn't really born out previous experience. I like the sound of my own voice too much :P

      I very much agree that posting just to be posting is a bad plan, though. See a bit of that here and there, now and again.

  2. "And in the end, even if the only person reading me is me, well that's the audience I've been trying hardest to please these last [x] years. I'll just keep on doing that."

    In the same boat and I couldn't have said it better myself. :)

  3. Was going to type up a long explanation of why I enjoy blogs over other forms mentioned...But no point! Keep on doing what you do bloggers, your posts are some of the most insightful and informative posts out there in the internet. Quite frankly, I'm shocked bloggers like Tobold compares blogging to Twitter. The quality of discussion that goes on is like night and day.

    Though this blog is a special favorite because of your writing style and your blog roll to the right.


  4. I found your blog from the comment's section of Tobold post. I couldn't agree more and look forward to reading your blog more!

    1. Good old Tobold! What would we do without him? :P

  5. /seconded
    (omg...for a moment I thought u were actually gonna quit blogging there but then I was happy to realize my misunderstanding!)

    On a more general note, I think summer time is big on MMO blues - it's certainly caught up with me. I am incredibly frustrated with GW2 at the moment, in fact I hadn't logged in for weeks before today's post and that didn't turn out so happy either...
    I've a hard time feeling excited for more items and achievements in the MMOs I play and it seems to be more and more what they are - or maybe that's what I am increasingly perceiving. I've had more fun on my 3DS during the holidays than I had with online games in quite some time. that saddens me.

    still, it's a phase I've gone through before and so have others. I love blogging about MMOs and I'm happy to be part of this small community, no matter how niche. I think there's plenty of great writers here, we must not all write books or publish for money in order to earn that title. I read Neil Gaiman's authorized 'bio' some years ago and what he said about declaring yourself writer stuck with me; no one can do this for you, nobody can 'legitimize' you. you need to declare yourself and know it in your heart (the rest may follow). in this, writing is like other arts even if 'anyone' can write in daily terms (which is part of the problematic for so-called unpublished writers).

    anyway, highs or lows with our blogs, we must stick together imo! =) personally, I like that the blogosphere has become more diverse since WoW's hayday and I keep a pretty colorful blogroll. I always love reading your MMO 'diaries' and this will always be a blog I come back to for its unique voice and personal commentary. that's something no big news site or stream can do for me and I look forward to many more years of MMO blog reading (and writing)! I hope we'll all get there together :)

    1. Thanks! I just replied to your current GW2 post before I read your reply here. The asynchronous communication of blogging is another thing I like about it - it kicks up all kinds of odd cross-currents.

      GW2 is driving me mental at the moment. I feel as though ANet have decided to target the Bartle Achiever archetype at the expense of all the others and I have virtually no Achiever in my Bartle. One the other hand, they make incredibly fascinating, beautiful 3d virtual spaces that reward non-achievement based exploring richly with exactly what explorers should actually desire, namely stuff they find that has no extrinsic value beyond the thrill of finding it.

      What I'd really like, selfishly, is for them to put in all the same content but take out all the achievements and rewards so the only satisfaction available would be memories, screenshots and blogs. Of course if they did that they'd be out of business in a month.

  6. Judging by the lively comments here and the even livelier blog feeds on the right (and thank you very much for including my blog there) - I think blogging still has plenty of juice left!


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