The Ancient Gaming Noob has an excellent post over on his blog that you should read. In it, he provides a bit of perspective on the condition of blogging these days in a gaming sense, and raises a great question (actually six of them):
Where do you think blogs in general, and MMO gaming blogs in particular, are headed these days? Has progress passed them by? Are they relics of a bygone age?
Or have they just gone from being the latest “new” thing to being just part of the norm and have settled down?
And is there really a blogging community out there? Am I just making that up in my head, or do you feel like you are a part of it as well?
I thought it might be fun to take a stab at these. First, a disclaimer: my views are biased due to the fact that I have been blogging for some time, primarily in the EVE Online sense of blogging.
MMO gaming blogs seem to have settled into a niche which suits their format and accessibility, in that most these days simply recount the experience of its author in the game(s) of their choosing. Put simply, most gaming blogs are really just about the experience of playing said game. There was a time when every blogger out there had an opinion on a Very Important Matter. And while there is certainly no shortage of navel-gazing or Deep Thought regarding issues in the gaming community these days, alternatives like TheMittani.com (in an EVE setting) or GameSkinny (in a general gaming setting) provide a larger soapbox from which to proselytize. The thing about opinions and Deep Thoughts is that, generally, authors want to share those things with as many people as possible. Thus, sites like TMC or GameSkinny provide an advantage that a MyBlog.Blogspot.Com address simply can’t compete with.
That’s not to say that there aren’t success stories out there. Do a search for MMO Blog and on the first page you’ll see a handful of bloggers that have carved out a space for themselves in a crowded and old community: Tobold, Taugrim, Nils, etc. Pay closer attention, though, and we might just have our answer to the followup “Are they relics of a bygone age?”
“Massively’s top 10 MMO blogs”….of 2010. The MMO Community Awards….of 2011. “What are some good MMORPG blogs?” on ask.metafilter.com….from 2006. Again, this is not to say that blogging has actually died. There are still more than can be counted being updated daily. If the question is whether blogs are relevant anymore in the wider context of gaming and games development, the answer is there for those who can accept it.
However, I think that the slow fade of the average blog from importance (if not relevance) is not something we need to dispute or cry over. Blogs still have their place and bloggers can still become moderately successful at what they set out to accomplish, but gone are the days in which linkbacks were king and blogrolls were relevant. These days, social media is how I find new blogs to read – and this is a good thing. If I see a blog post retweeted by a bunch of people I already follow, I can almost guarantee myself a good time by clicking on that link those retweets provide, whereas blogrolls and linkbacks can lead you down dangerous alleys of wasted time and soul-crushing self centeredness.
The proliferation of feed readers probably also has something to do with it. If you provide a feed of your blog with full posts enabled, you are guaranteeing to yourself that less people will actually visit your blog. And while most bloggers will say “I don’t do it for the hits,” most honest people will admit that when they make a blogpost that gets read by a couple hundred spiders and bots, and only about a dozen real people, it takes a bit out of you. The sad fact of the matter is, however, that most blogs I read these days are read using Feedly. Why? Uniformity of design, ease of reading, accessibility – all the things that by their very nature blogs tend not to have.
There is still a place for blogging in the gaming community. I do believe that blogs will continue for a very long time, which isn’t exactly the most ‘out there’ prediction to make given the age of entitlement that we live in these days. However, blogs may be moving into a place where they are ancillary components of a conversation. As I pointed out the other day during the Evebloggers Handover Thing, blogs tend to be something that individuals keep up in order to have something to point to from their Twitter, or Facebook, or G+ profile when 140 characters isn’t enough or the thought deserves to be preserved. You can engage in a bit of back and forth on Twitter all day, then sum up your thoughts and drop it like the nuclear option for those who can’t be bothered to read through your Twitter feed. Or, if something particularly thought-provoking comes up on your Internet Horizon, you can crap out a bunch of ~words~ and feel like you’ve contributed.
In that way, the community at large has never been closer together. Social media allows for immediate conversations to take place, as well as a more efficient and self-policing way of introducing readers to blogs they may enjoy. Sure, maybe there aren’t as many blogs these days. Sure, maybe there are fewer posts on the blogs that do exist. But rather than lament over those facts, let us consider the alternative: there are fewer dangerous alleys of wasted time to meander through, fewer opportunities to be disappointed when a blogger goes dark, and less chance of wasting your time engaging in pointless blogwar.