On Thursday of last week Psychochild posted on his blog an interesting article, musing where did the MMO Bloggers go? My immediate thought process is that they have not really gone anywhere. There are lots of bloggers as evidenced by the fact that the Newbie Blogger Initiative brought droves of them out of the woodwork and a year after the fact roughly 35 were still actively blogging. I think it is more an issue that the online community changes drastically on a regular basis. Older bloggers have dropped off and newer ones come in to replace them.
The Lack of Community
I think one of the big problems at hand, and why it seems like the ecosystem is not nearly as fertile as it once was… is the fact that there is no one overarching community. There is no single home base that bloggers check into, especially when it comes to blogs that are not so game-centric. I started my journey into blogging thanks in part due to the massively supportive community that is Blog Azeroth. Granted of the original batch of active bloggers, there are only a handful remaining, but that ecosystem has remained fertile thanks to the constant tilling of the volunteer staff and the works of podcasts like the Twisted Nether Blogcast always bringing new and upcoming blogs to the forefront.
The problem is… I no longer play wow as my primary game… and once I shifted away from that I lost my warm cocoon. There are friendly people out there in the outer reaches of the blogosphere, but it is far less certain once you are no longer looking at a single game. We have no broad gaming blogging community, because quite frankly we rarely get any form of consensus on anything out here in the black. This frontier community is far less friendly to newcomers, and while I have been blogging off and on in spurts of activity since April of 2009 I still very much feel like an outsider in this community. Instead of the attitude of "lets be lifelong friends" it usually feels a bit more like "lets be independent states with temporary alliances".
There is definitely a community out here on the rim of society, but it feels like it is mostly limited to the first pioneers to reach the outer rim. So the same dozen or so blogs link to each other frequently, but seem very closed to newcomers on their territory. Sypster did an amazing step forward by trying to reach a hand out through the cold black space, with the Newbie Blogger Initiative. But for those bloggers that participated as mentors… I ask you… how many of those new bloggers do you follow on twitter or G+ or facebook or have on your blogroll and or RSS reader? Basically I feel that we have made some steps, but have done nothing really to create a fertile colony out in the game agnostic reaches of space.
If we want bloggers to set down roots we have to make them feel a part of something bigger. Blog Azeroth did an amazing job of this, and gave me the confidence I needed to venture out into the black once World of Warcraft was no longer giving me what I wanted. But once I got out here in the outer reaches, I was just not prepared for just how different the community was. Admittedly I have a bad habit of just assuming everyone I am friendly with, is an actual friend… but sadly out here in the black that hasn’t always been the case and minor conflagrations occasionally turn into full blown wars. All of that said… I feel that the MMO and Gaming bloggers themselves could do a much better job of trying to help others out.
There are several examples of people out there doing amazing jobs to bridge the gap and found communities. I have to give @Sypster massive amounts of credit for the Newbie Blogger Initiative program. For awhile it felt like we were really gelling into a nurturing environment thanks entirely to his efforts in bringing disparate communities together. Unfortunately as a community we seem to have dropped the ball in keeping that effort rolling. I wonder what we could do to bring things back up and running and jump start some life back in that effort.
Another person that I have to recognize is Rowan. He does the most amazing job of trying to retweet people and give them recognition. I have no clue why he has latched onto my blog posts, but he does a great job of rewording things to make entertaining and original retweets. As much as I sometimes disagree with the quotes they choose, MMO Melting pot in the past has done a pretty good job of rebroadcasting and aggregating various topics from within the community. Lately however even they have seemed to be slowing down.
As of this Friday I have started my own little plan of sorts. Each Friday I have decided to do 5 #FF tweets, each singling out a specific blogger or member of the gaming community. Instead of a generic blast of a bunch of names, I am trying to write some reason why you should follow each individual person, giving them their own 140 characters. I am not sure if it will work, or make any difference, but I felt like it was a good thing to try anyways. Additionally making something routine is a way for me to keep doing it… and I have been pretty horrifically bad at doing the #FF practice in the past.
By Will Alone
As Psychochild states blogging is a lot of work. There are so many times where you are throw up against a choice… of do I blog about games or do I actually play said games. My problem is that in the past I too often chose to play the games, and then at the end of the night I lacked the oomph to actually cobble together sentences to say the words I wanted to say. In April I started a new experiment, where basically I would force myself to write something every morning as I am drinking my coffee. It might not be the best post ever, but it would at least be constant movement forward. I have no clue if the experiment is working other than the fact that 46 days later I have not missed a day… and on some days I have done extra posts like this one.
I made a commitment to blog about something, and even if I don’t want to… or it is extremely inconvenient as it was this morning… I have kept up the vigil. There are definite days where I am brimming with ideas I want to talk about… then there are other days where I have to make a post happen by surfing through my blog roll until "talky words" appear in my mind. I might be posting pure crap, but I am posting something… and for me that is progress considering I have had some pretty epic lapses in content during these four years of blogging.
Where to go from here
If we want to do something to offset those leaving the blogging community… we have to nurture those just entering it. This is where we are really failing as a "community". We have made some amazing efforts for short periods of time… but we really need to come up with a solution for the marathon. Individual game blog communities are thriving, and that is awesome for that specific game… but we need to come up with a global community that supports all the games. My only thought is to maybe create a permanent forum similar to Blog Azeroth that acts as a central home for all gaming bloggers regardless of their chosen game. I have no problem building such a forum community… but I want to make sure it would even be used before going through the effort.
Would such a community get used? Is there a community that already exists that is acting in this manner? I am open to suggestions… but these are the problems as I see them. Thanks for reading.