The Future of MMO Blogging: collectives! and video!

Earlier today Wilhelm posted some thoughts on the past, present, and future of MMO blogging. The scene is arguably past its prime, a fact that particularly bothers me because I joined in too late for the fun. Curse my poor timing! Anyway, I started writing a comment over on TAGN that turned into a post, and so here we are.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I write this blog because it makes me happy. I would still be posting if I had 10 visitors a day. However, if I honestly didn’t care at all about other people reading what I write I’d just jot posts on a piece of paper and then stuff them under my mattress. As much as I write for my own satisfaction, I definitely get validation from people reading, listening, and commenting, and I very much enjoy seeing the number of readers and listeners increase over time.

Well, increase over time in theory, anyway. My site gets far, far less traffic than some of the “big names” like Bio Break or Kill Ten Rats, but one of the things I’ve realized in the last year is that I’m likely already at the peak of what I can muster. The MMO blog scene is losing writers and readers just through the attrition of time, and there just isn’t that big a pool of folks who are be interested in reading about RIFT add-ons or rants about Huttball. Which, again, is definitely not the only reason I write but it is still kind of a bummer.

So if developers and players looked to blogs a few years ago for insight or publicity, where are they going now? Social media and video are killing the blogging star. People now to go Twitter and Facebook, or to Twitch and YouTube. And this sucks, frankly. I don’t like putting in a lot of effort to create content for other people’s websites, where they own everything and can make weird and arbitrary decisions about what to do with it. I’m good at writing, frankly, and I’m not confident with video or extemporaneous speaking. And honestly I just don’t have the bloody time to be present on social media AND stream AND make videos AND blog AND podcast.

I mean, I’ll try anyway, but it’s under protest against .. change.. and .. the passage of time. Dammit.

I love being an independent content creator, and as a content consumer I know I vastly prefer seeing what independents and amateurs say about games than almost anyone who is a pro “games journalist”. I suspect, then, that the future of blogging is going to be .. small artisan collectives. Think about your favorite podcast — it’s probably part of an amateur network. Small Twitch channels are frequently managed by a group of people or are part of a circle. YouTube channels also mostly band together as networks, although unfortunately for the medium most of the networks there are big entities who care for the bottom line more than the happiness of their creators and the quality of their content.

I think blogs, too, are going to start looking at the network model, whether it’s multiple authors posting at the same site, or 3-4 multi-discipline creators contributing equally. I’m not talking about some site with a draconian central editor with the goal of squeezing out advertising dollars, a scheme which Wilhelm rightfully dismisses in his post. I mean more .. a collective, in the truest sense.

(Full disclosure, I’m kind of slowly working towards that myself — a couple of months ago I got a business license for Totally Legit Publishing (check out my content-free hipster web design!) and although technically right now it’s just the blogs of myself and Ellyndrial, I have some plans in the longer term.)

This all being said, I think there will always be a place for the single-author, independent, blog-only site. Right now these folks produce my favorite things to read on the internet every day, so this reader isn’t going anywhere, anyway.

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And now.. I am off to the UK! I’m going to a wedding in Edinburgh of one of my closest friends, where I will eat chicken tikka masala and find out what Scotsmen really wear under their kilts. (Like photos? Follow me on Instagram!)

I’ve pre-written a couple of posts that will appear while I’m away, plus J3w3l contributed a guest post about the good, the bad, and the ugly of MMO PvP which will show up next week. Also Arolaide and Ellyndrial will be producing episode 30 of the Cat Context Podcast on the 17th! It’s the first Liore-free episode, which means it should be full of swearing, chaos, and pet battles. Don’t miss it.

While I’m at it, today there is a “Behind the Blogging Scenes” interview with me over on World of Matticus! With a photo of my horribly messy desk!

I guess basically what I’m saying is that it’s easy to feel a little cranky because MMO blogging is past its prime, but it ain’t slowed me down yet. Have a great few weeks, folks!

Author: Jessica Cook

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10 Comments

  1. I am not sure if a collective would indeed make sense, especially if you have no problem creating regular content yourself (unlike me… I go through phases). However it would be nice to have a site which just aggregates all the blog posts related to this specific topic (MMOs). As is I usually use your ‘Things I read’ feed for this purpose.

    Anyways – enjoy your holiday!
    Mighty Viking Hamster´s last post: A War Of Excluisivity

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  2. I’m not even sure writing for an aggregate site makes sense, as an individual. One of the biggest reasons I abandoned “Player Vs AH” (and the sweet, sweet traffic from Greedy Goblin/Undermine Journal, sigh) was because I got tired of not being (or feeling) able to write about the other games I was playing. Maybe it’s a bit different if you only ever write about RIFT or EVE or whatever… but what about 2-3 years down the road? Hell, look at Gevlon: he went from WoW-only to EVE-mostly with WoT and LoL thrown in to boot.

    Besides, performing work for another person’s gain = a job. If someone wants to pay me for the articles I was planning on writing anyway, that’s one thing. Giving them away for free, so they can get ad revenue? Hell no.
    Azuriel´s last post: Comfort & Fashion

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    • I totally agree about not giving away content for someone else’s ad revenue. Blech. I would, however, join forces with a hypothetical friend who loves to make videos but hates blogging.

      I love writing, and I love blogging, but I am not sure that in another 5 years there will be blogs like ours any more.

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    • It really largely depends on what your “long game” plan is. If you want to commit to blogging as a possible profession, you have to get known. And one of the best ways to get known is to write for larger or established blogs to get your name out there. Guest posting generally includes a byline back to YOUR blog because people become more interested in you (Who’s this person? Why did he write such a fascinating post on blobs? Holy crap, I really want to learn more about blobs and this fella has a blob blog!) Again, this is assuming that your guest post is really cool/awesome/intriguing/thought-provoking, etc.

      If you’re in it just for the hobby or you plain don’t care about trying to get more subscribers/readers/enthusiasts, then it’s a different end game. For me, I like to get my thoughts out to as many people as I can even if it’s just to make them really think. I want to try to generate conversation. Doesn’t really matter where be it my blog, or Liore’s or whoever (Liore’s as an example). But yeah, different methods for people with different goals. I just wanted to provide an alternative viewpoint ^^.
      Matticus´s last post: Behind the Blogging Scenes Interview: Liore

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    • Speaking of coming to the blogging world late, I am very much in that boat – and several years behind folks like Liore. But even with that in mind, I have found it to be a great exercise in thought-focusing for me. I’ve always been one of those people who forms thoughts while communicating, rather than ahead of time, and just writing down an argument in blog form (or participating in comments sections) really helps me get some clarity of opinion.

      The frequency of my updates will give up the illusion that I have what it takes to actually be a force in the blogosphere, but being able to participate in a collective situation makes that a lot less of an issue. When I have something to write, I write it. When I don’t, I just ramble about stupid crap on the podcast. And I think that’s the best situation for me. I’ve also tried to avoid branding myself as an “MMO blog” – specifically because doing that limits the topics that I can address while staying true to my mission. MMOs clearly inform a lot of the discussions, but I want to also be able to talk about the Steam sale or huge pile of Reaper minis that just showed up on my doorstep.

      So, regardless of whether blogging is a living zombie or not, I’m glad that it exists. And my blog list keeps on growing, so I hope that other people feel the same way.
      Ellyndrial´s last post: What a Difference a Month Makes

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  3. Wait…. you’re going to Edinburgh to eat Indian food? Shouldn’t that be something more like haggis?

    I prefer reading blogs myself. I can read 20 blogs or more in the time it would take to listen to a single podcast and twitter is vanishingly ephemeral, so if you weren’t there as the tweets were happening then you might as well not have been there at all. Blogs just seem to work better. Sure they’re not “the next big thing” or whatever, but they’re still a great thing and I think they’ll always be around.
    pkudude99´s last post: Rift – New content and F2P

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  4. The collective idea is a good one. It would make MMOBlogs resemble the apazine zine I used to frequent even more closely than it does already. Although there are a fair few blogging collectives around already – KTR is one for a start as is Nomadic Gamers from the link above.

    I’m a lot less pessimistic about where this scene is headed. Writers gonna write and Twitter and the like aren’t going to satisfy that craving. What platforms we all use isn’t going to matter that much.

    The best thing that’s come out of this current round of navel gazing from my point of view is that it’s actually made me go out and look for some fresh blogs rather than just sit and wait for them to come to me. I can’t believe I didn’t already have Herding Cats on my blogroll/in my Feedly for a start. That will be rectified pronto.

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  5. You don’t know how jealous I am of your UK trip – we had a Scotland trip planned but new workplace changed all of that, so not going anywhere this summer (although I suck for complaining really, I live at a gorgeous place!). :( oh well, my hopes are on next year. hope you have a blast over there.

    I feel very similar about my blog right now. I’m actually very happy with the community that orbits me and my regular readers and commenters but I often miss ways to collaborate more and I miss serious feedback from other writers. after three years of MMO blogging, I believe I have found my voice and that people know me (as in what I do or what my topics are) but I don’t feel like I am growing so much any more as a writer, in formal terms. I’ve watched your journey into other media with great interest as I started dabbling with a bit of frapsing myself and then podcasts. I’ve asked myself in the past if I should join one of them ‘bigger news sites’ and apply for a column or something – somehow it never felt right. I just don’t see myself there. I know not all of them are the heavy-handed Escapist but somehow I don’t think I could keep my voice (let’s face it, I am too hypey when I’m happy about games and too ranty when I’m critical while I’ve no intention to tone myself down. I think it’s more entertaining that way and those who take time to know me, know I’m fairly balanced overall….oh and I swear sometimes zomg)….also, I am just totally not interested in srs bzns ‘journalism’ :D I love blogs and I love that we’re part of this independent and creative community. I have lots of fun with my different little projects or that I can post a silly cartoon tomorrow if that’s what I want to do.
    also, I love meta and design discussions which bore the average IGN reader to death. still, it is so immensely important that bloggers exist – if there’s a general blogging malady at the moment, I don’t take it too seriously. blogs will gain importance (again), maybe exactly because huge and nontransparent networks start taking over seemingly everything (where I live we’re notoriously suspicious of anything large corporation and identity, anyway). we’re the next underground movement!

    @pkudude
    if we’re talking Scottish cuisine, then she’s definitely better off sticking to the Indian dish! :P
    Syl´s last post: Battle Bards – Episode #7: City Themes

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