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.
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!