Lately, the MMO “blogosphere” (if it actually exists) has been asking one question.
Where have all the blogging cowboys gone?
The answer’s obvious, isn’t it?
Some grew up and got older and prioritized other things to do with their time than write blog posts – like start a family, begin a new job, play non-MMO games, continue playing MMOs but not bother to chronicle or document it.
The others, well, they haven’t gone anywhere.
But as both the genre and the blog authors get older, interests have diverged, with a myriad variety of games to sate them.
Take a look at the sidebars of the two blogs I check out (MMO Gypsy and Inventory Full) in lieu of Google Reader to see recent updates of other blogs (I’d love to do the same but default WordPress is crummy) and just scan the subject matter.
Bloggers are talking about WoW, TSW, GW2, Eve, SWTOR, Rift, LOTRO, Firefall, World of Tanks, Civilization, Minecraft, Sims 3, Planescape: Torment, etc.
I scan a good number of these because I’m an inveterate and totally unchoosy game sampler. I own or have played a good number of these, thus understanding the specific jargon used and have a moderate amount of interest in checking out how others are getting along in them.
But to be honest, my greatest attention and most in-depth read throughs are of my immediate game of choice, which firmly ensconces me in a teeny tiny community of three “regulars” – Ravious and Bhagpuss my other partners in wall-of-text-crime, and I’m beginning to worry that Bhagpuss is losing interest in GW2, which is going to leave Ravious and me in a lonely little echo chamber.
Semi-periodic updates and comments by Syp, Syl, Paeroka, Kichwas, J3w3l, Rakuno, Tremayne, Valourborn, Lothirieth, João Carlos, Ursan, and any others I unfortunately missed, let me know there is a mini-community of irregulars who still dabble with GW2 and/or are interested in reading about other people writing about it.
As part of a wider MMO blog community, I lurk around and read and idly comment on a whole bunch of other blogs from time to time: in no particular order, Rowan Blaze, Stubborn, Klepsacovic, Telwyn, Liore, Azuriel, MMOgamerchick, Tesh, Rohan, Psychochild, Tobold, Spinks, Saylah, and of course, Wilhelm Arcturus, who got this round’s topic discussion ball rolling.
And if you look at any of the latter blogs, you will see that they too have their own mini game specific communities of TSW people, or Eve Online players, or WoW stalwarts with whom they interact and whose paths I would rarely cross, being not a current player of any of those games.
In the so-called previous heyday, there was mostly only one game to talk about. World of Warcraft. Then later, the “generally understood” peak was the hype surrounding Warhammer when everyone leapt on the blog bandwagon.
Nowadays, you might say that MMO blogs have lost focus, or diversified, depending on how kindly or unkindly you wish to term it.
Personally, I think it’s just an unavoidable symptom of the genre maturing and more games being developed for different niches of MMO players. Progression raiders and sandbox PvPers and themepark achiever tourists all move in separate circles.
As the genre matures, commercialization takes over. News sites like Massively aggregate content and develop their own community. MMOs themselves create forum boards and form their own community nuclei.
And as the younger generation muscles in on older veterans’ territory, they bring with them their Youtube videos and their social media like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, et. al. all of which form different communities to compete with the blogging one for audience attention.
The community I frequent right now (GW2 Reddit, GW2 forums, Tarnished Coast forums) will not be the same one as an Eve player, or a lost soul looking for the next MMO to satisfy them (Massively’s full of those.)
And that’s as it should be.
Blogging is only one niche of many. But it has a function that is hard to replace by other competitors. It serves as a repository of independent voices – subjective opinion and editorial, personal feedback and reaction, game design analysis, pretty screenshots and commentary.
A post takes less time to consume than a video, there’ll always be room for blogs, if people care to visit and write them.
In short, if you want a blogging community, it behooves you to form your own. Go visit and bookmark your favorite sites to read and leave a comment here and there. Develop your own circle and fellowship.
Some blogging cowboys have settled down, perhaps started families, and become townsmen and farmers and merchants and businessmen.
A few others have hung up their hats, having gotten tired of the existing trail, but still are itching to become pioneers, looking forward to the next gold rush.
Others have become spacemen or conspiracy theorists.
But they all still have interesting stories to tell, if you care to stop by and listen.