Monday, August 12, 2019

Word Up

This week's theme is Getting To Know You, which a couple of Blaugustians have chosen to interpret as "Why I Blog". Kluwes at I'm Not Squishy went into considerable detail under the banner "Why Write a Game Blog?". Naithin at Time to Loot bounced off him with "Why Write About Games?".

It's a good question. I was pondering it myself during Topic Week, when I concluded that limiting yourself to a single subject probably wasn't the best idea.

All very well, but after eight years of posts almost exclusively discussing MMORPGs, turning the supertanker around isn't all that easy either. I've been dropping music-related posts over the side like depth charges and I have to say that writing them is enormously enjoyable for me, but whether many people are reading them, let alone watchng the videos, is another matter.

Still, in the end, Inventory Full is my blog. That's always important to remember. Tobold, who, as usual, isn't even acknowledging that Blaugust exists, far less joining in, nevertheless has a very relevant post up today, in which he answers a question posed by one of his readers: "Could you ever see yourself starting a Youtube channel?".

The short answer is no. The long version runs through a number of very convincing reasons why "no" is also the right answer. For Tobold.

Tobold, of course, was once a very successful gaming blogger indeed, to the extent that he was interviewed at some length by Engadget. His arch-nemesis, SynCaine, recently confirmed that he made "thousands of dollars" from the click-through link to purchase Darkfall (a pvp mmorpg now largely forgotten) that featured on his blog and about which he wrote often and at length.

Clearly there was a time when blogging about games could lead to fame and fortune. Those possibilities migrated some time ago to YouTube, Twitch and similar visual and/or real-time channels. I doubt anyone who starts a gaming blog based around long-form text and still images in 2019 is expecting much more than an outlet for their opinion and a few lively discussions in the comment threads.

Rift as I prefer to remember it

When I decided to start blogging about MMORPGs eight years ago I did it for two reasons: playing MMORPGs was my main leisure/hobby interest and I love writing. I hadn't had a good outlet for my writing since I gave up producing apazines in the mid-90s. I'd been writing hundreds of thousands of words, because writing is like breathing to me, but they'd all been on ephemeral platforms like forums and the comment threads of other people's blogs.

I was looking for something with more permanence but I was somewhat apprehensive of the response I might get if people knew where to find me. In my experience, comment threads can get a bit lively. I'd been banned from a couple of blogs myself for over-zealous or inappropriate commenting and I didn't particularly relish being on the other end of something like that.

In the end, though, the lure of having my own platform, where I could set the agenda and write about whatever I pleased was strong enough to overcome my doubts. And once I started I couldn't stop. Didn't want to stop. Have never stopped.

Writing about MMORPGs gave me some structure and it was many years before I even started to wonder if I was ever going to run out of topics. So far I haven't. The genre theme also helped the blog to pick up traction because MMORPG players and bloggers are quite cliquey, in a good way. Word goes around, link love is given and next thing you know you're part of something that feels curiously like a gang of pals.

I imagine the same applies to any number of special-interest subject areas but I happened to choose MMORPGs and I have never regretted it. I am, however, finally reaching the point where I'm getting several itches that need a gentle scratch. I love MMORPGs but after two decades I'm not playing as many hours as I once did and other interests are beginning to nudge me for attention.

That said, Inventory Full will remain primarily an MMORPG bog for the foreseeable future. Writing about games is fun. It also encourages me to play games. As several bloggers have observed of late, you approach gaming differently when you also write about it.

You'd think I'd remember this cat but a picture really isn't worth a thousand words.
I find that makes for a powerful synergy. Gaming is more absorbing, more fascinating, more satisfying, when I can analyze and assess and discuss it afterward. 

Also, as Wilhelm explains with great conviction in the essay that comprises his "About" page (which, shockingly, I had never even looked at until Naithin linked it in his post) writing about your gaming allows you to remember it.

I have a number of lapidary gaming anecdotes, polished in the retelling, some of which I occasionally trot out here, but they comprise no more than the tiniest fraction of the experiences I have had. Outside of those few shining stars, I'll never recall beyond a general impression what I felt at the time about the MMORPGS I played in the dozen years from 1999.

From July 2011 onwards, though, I can go look up exactly how I was feeling about just about every MMORPG I've played. In September 2011, for example, I can see I was already disillusioned with Rift. I was also expressing distrust in my own memory and quoting comments I'd made on SynCaine's blog a year earlier.

In October 2014 I was waxing lyrical about ArcheAge, a game I now scarcely remember at all. Until I read what I wrote and then it all comes flooding back. In February 2016 Blade and Soul was in the spotlight and so it goes.

My blog is stuffed to bursting with my tales of games I played and enjoyed then dropped and forgot. Because I recorded my impressions at the time I can go back and relive those experiences whenever the fancy takes me.

The games may change or end but all those moments I wrote about are caught in amber, glowing gently every time the light catches them. And that's why I write about gaming. Not to become famous or rich but to turn now into forever.


  1. I'd just like to say that based on everything I've ever seen of you, the thought of you getting banned from places for inappropriate commenting is mind-boggling to me. :) (Over-zealous... maybe. ;))

    1. I have written about it before and it was mostly my fault with a little bit of misunderstanding. Beau blocked me from commenting because (I think) I was too persistent in deconstructing ideas. I was under the impression I was agreeing with him but I think he thought otherwise. It's something that used to happen to me a lot in pub conversations so it was hardly a surprise.

      The other blogger who banned me, which was extremely helpful and from which I learned a lot, was Zubon from Kill Ten Rats. I had formed the erroneous impression that KTR was an MMORPG blog and when he posted about other topics I got a bit annoyed. I said something about Portal that he completely correctly felt to be inapporopriate and not constructive and he banned me. However, he discussed it with me in emails and I quickly understood that he was right and I was wrong. In due course he unbanned me and I have, I hope, never again made the mistake of telling people what they should be writing about on their own blog!

  2. Great write-up Bhagpuss.

    When I grow-up as a blogger, you're one of the few I'd like to be like.

    Not much else to say on the content otherwise, but just to say that and that I really like how you've framed the sentiment.

    1. Thanks! That's the kind of feedback I like, hehe! I have to say, though, that Time to Loot is one of my favorite blogs these days. It's usually quite obvious which blogs I'm currently enjoying by how often I comment there - and right now I have a ton of free time to indulge my commenting urges.

  3. I can believe the banning. ;) There was a point way back in the mists of time (when MassivelyOP was just plain ol’ Massively) when everything in a Bhagpuss comment was contrarian and longform, which could give the impression of purposeful trolling.

    Over time, I think this part of the MMO community has just grown to realize that yes, his impressions and opinions really are that out of the norm and thus a fascinating perspective on what might otherwise turn into an echo chamber.

    I love the last sentence of the blog post by the way, poetic and insightful. It kinda helps me understand why I’m in a fallow period for words. There seems very little “now” game-wise that I’m experiencing that I would wish to crystallize into forever, and that has a knock on effect.

    1. "Contrarian and longform" is exactly right. It stems from more than a quarter of a century, going from sixth form into university and then for another couple of decades in a social circle where almost all conversation revolved around deconstructing each others arguments and reconstructing them to form a consensus. I spent most of my free time doing that, in print in fanzines and apazines and in endless round-table discussions at people's houses and in pubs.

      It used to cause arguments and fallings-out even then, among people who all did it and understood the process, but when I carried it over to online forums and comment threads the methodology was not always either understood or accepted. Taking Beau, for example, I almost always agreed with, in general terms, what he was saying and my comments were very much made in support of his arguments, but because I replied a lot and in essays and with full deconstructive analysis I can readily see how it might have seemed like the opposite of support.

      Took me a long time to adjust to a new mode of expression but no-one's banned or blocked me for a long time now so I guess I've got the balance right at last.


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