Blogging is dying
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 July 2013, 12:57 am
There has been a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth lately about the death of blogging. Psychochild asked where the MMO bloggers went, Wilhelm asks whether there is really a blogging community out there or whether blogs are relics of a bygone age, and Marc thinks blogs might live on as ancillary components to the conversation held elsewhere. I think there are two factors here, one which is general to blogging, and another which is specific to MMO blogs.

Blogging in general is in decline for the simple reason that there are increasing numbers of alternatives to express your opinion online. And each platform has advantages for specific forms of discussion. A blog has the advantage of giving the blog owner the best available "ownership" of his writings, and to favor a sort of discussion based on arguments and counterarguments. Those are the main reasons I personally like blogging, but I sure can see the advantages of other platforms like Twitter if you have other needs to express yourself, for example for shorter thoughts. Social networks give you better control over who your audience is. Forums are better to create a more equal community, where unlike blogs everybody can start a new thread.

A secondary phenomenon is that the gold rush days of the internet are over and people increasingly realize that getting rich and famous by writing on the internet is a fool's quest. So even if you use a blog for the better ownership of your content and then try to monetize this, you'll find that your chances for wealth and fame aren't any better than by applying to a TV talent show. The barrier to entry might be lower, but the chance of success isn't any higher. A decade of writing got me over 5 million visitors to my blog, but that is some sort of extremely minor fame, and apart from a few free games and donations for coffee also completely not worth it from a monetary point of view. I am not aware of any MMO blogger who got rich and famous from blogging. The "most successful" is probably Lum the Mad, and that resulted in nothing more than a mixed bag of a career as game developer.

If we look at MMO blogs in particular, we will find one trend that is sure to annoy a lot of people: If you had a curve of the sum of readers of all MMO blogs over the years, the curve would be surprisingly similar to the curve of World of Warcraft subscribers over the years. "MMO blogging is dying" is as true as "WoW is dying", insofar as both are clearly on the descending part of the curve. That is not because everybody's interest is WoW is proportional to his interest in MMORPGs in general. But both the popularity of World of Warcraft and the popularity of MMO blogs suffer from the subject getting old. Just like you don't want to do yet another kill ten foozles quest, you don't want to read yet another casual versus hardcore discussion on a MMO blog. Just as there are very few new ideas in new MMORPGs, there are very few new ideas to discuss on MMO blogs.

And as to the question about community, I would say that whatever community there is, it is highly segmented. Even inside one game people are spending most of their time discussing their differences than their commonalities. Go somewhere else, and you'll be told that you are playing the wrong game, and that you are playing it in the wrong way. It is not just the Bartle types, but pretty much every sub-group of a sub-group is spending most of their time attacking anybody else. There is no such thing as a common purpose (or common enemy), so how can there be a MMO blogging community? I think this is much worse in the case of discussion about MMOs than in the case of discussion of other hobbies. The very fact that a MMORPG does not have a win condition, but various different ways to gain some sort of status that makes you feel superior to other players, is leading to the eternal accusation of "you're playing it wrong". You cannot build a community out of a common habit of attacking each other.

It is not just the Gevlons of the MMO blogosphere, but expressing hate against another population of players is an extremely common theme on MMO blogs. We hate the morons & slackers that don't use the auction house "right". We hate the random people we got grouped with by some algorithm, and get extremely angry if another algorithm groups us randomly with even more people. We hate people with money who buy shiny virtual things. We hate people who can spend more time than us in the game. We hate people who spend less time than us in the game. We hate raiders. We hate people who don't raid. We hate people playing a different game. We hate people playing the same game as us but in a different way. And because we hate all these people, we also hate it when they express their opinions on a blog. The internet is rarely a polite place, but gamers often stand out negatively in the way they talk to each other. And unlike let's say political blogs which express a clearly defined hate of the other side, gamers express their hate for each other. If that is any sort of community, it is at best a toxic one.
Tobold's Blog



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