Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Can We Talk?

The Aggronaut has a post this morning stating that blogs are not community. Upon reading the title, I was all set to disagree, but he makes some salient points. I tend to think of the little group of blogs that I read regularly as a community, though I know they are not. And other readers of the blogs I read do not read all the blogs I read, or even my own blog. (How's that for convoluted, Bel?) And yet . . .

And yet, I encounter many of the same blogs I read in other people's blog-lists. Some blogs focus exclusively on one game, and develop a dedicated pool of readers—and perhaps fellow bloggers. But what happens when the focus of the blog changes? I blog about games I am playing now, and issues in the industry that interest me, plus meta-blogging posts like this. That doesn't interest everyone.

Maybe I have a stronger sense of blogging community because I actually have ended up playing in guilds with fellow bloggers, right from the fleet I joined in my first venture outside of Azeroth, not long after I started blogging myself. (I believe the FNS is still somewhat active in STO.) Even now, I am part of cabals in TSW that are either mostly fellow bloggers, or castmates on Beyond the Veil. I am also technically part of House Stalwart, in Rift—because of my blogging connections.

I also try to foster community (or at least friendships) in my own little way. It's not much and it's not organized, but it is purposeful. I feel I was fostered in my fledging days, and want to pay it forward when I can. So I encourage my friends in the blogging community where I can. I can be argumentative on occasion, and some of my readers and commenters may think that is divisive. But in the end, I do hope no one has their feelings hurt, even if we disagree. And I do my best to encourage them on their own blogs.

But if someone doesn't engage with me, I can't say I lose much sleep over it. I also generally try to stay away from toxic people who criticize more than just the game design, but also attack others who do enjoy the game. I am happy with my little groups of friends, though I try to be welcoming to new ones.

I know I don't have a large readership in the grand scheme. But in the end, I Have Touched the Sky is really for me. I know that sounds egotistical, but it's true. And I believe it's true for every blogger to some extent. We blog because we feel we have something to share with the world, with the community.
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20 comments:

  1. I love blogging as a creative writers wanting a pat on the back for being creative, but sometimes the "community" turns their back when you switch games. The people that comment and truly love your writing are the ones that make it worth it 200%. I'd rather have those community members that engage in conversation and give back to the post. As a blogger I do love the attention

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  2. A lot of times I'm blogging for clarity (personal blog, not gaming one) because putting something in print and being able to go back and reread often gives perspective. I'm doing it online rather than in a private journal, however, because I'm reaching out and trying to make a connection of some sort. It's very self serving indeed but I think that's how we build communities in general, even if that's a broad sense. I wouldn't strictly put blogging in either category but instead say it's a mix. I do think community means different things to different folks, though.

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    1. That's true. The internet has enabled communities to reorganize along lines of interest rather than geography, and I think that's a good thing. How many of our, shall we say, nerdy predecessors were essentially alone, because they were and far between. One reason I never got into tabletop gaming was because no one in my circle of teenage friends was into it. Nowadays, I could find a group online, or simply play MMOs.

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  3. If you are going to do all the work, why shouldn't the blog be for you? I am pretty up front about my blog being first and foremost about me. Says so right at the top of my "About" page. It is more of a diary/timeline/record of related events than a news or editorial blog. But I welcome people to share in my notations and recollections and I make note, or respond to, other blogs as part of that. (Not as often as I would like, but there are only so many hours in the day and sometimes I want to actually play games.)

    I'd like to think than I would write my blog even if nobody else read it, though I am kidding myself in that I am sure. So there is some ego involved, but there is some ego involved in anything that might involve interactions with others.

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  4. I would like to think it isn't about ego, but instead me putting myself out there in hopes of finding more interesting people to interact with. I am quite honestly shocked when someone comments on my blog, it is not a thing I expect ever to happen. I forget I have readers most of the time, as Rowan can attest because I will start a conversation... about something I said on my blog... only to be reminded that yeah I blogged about that. I find my whole morning blogging ritual to be more therapeutic than anything else.

    I'm not a very competitive person, in fact I tend to avoid it. At the end of the day I think I just want us all to be this big happy family where everyone gets along and respects everyone else. Yes I realize that is a wholly unrealistic expectation or even vision. But I follow around 200 blogs and read them on a semi-daily basis, not a single one of them do I follow because I am that in tune with whatever they happen to be talking about, but instead because I enjoy the hearing what the person that writes them has to say. I care about "strangers" probably more than I should.

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  5. I think the great Casualties Guild experiment circa 2008 proved to me that we weren't a community. I kinda feel like if we are going to be an online community we would have to all be playing together. Which is, as you point out, where you are a part of a community that overlaps with blogging.

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    1. I think I burned some bridges in that guild. It was not intended or even something I thought I was doing. I really enjoyed CoW.

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  6. Depends how you think of a community, I guess. Like Wilhelm, my blog is first and foremost for me. I've written all my life, in all kinds of media and on all kinds of subjects, fact and fiction, but one thing I've always wanted to do yet never managed is to keep a diary. When I happened upon the blog format it turned out to be exactly what I needed to get something akin to a diary up and running.

    Okay, it's a diary of a very specific aspect of my life, MMO gaming, and it's by no means exhaustive even on that topic, but I can browse through it and get a fairly good impression of what I was doing when.

    I never expected to pick up much in the way of a readership since I was blogging for my own amusement not for an audience, but readers came along and so did comments and conversations ensued. That makes for something of a community, for sure. Not, perhaps, a very deep one but then how deep are most communities? I've lived in the same house for twenty years now and I barely know anyone in the area by name, far less have ever socialized with any of them. I could move away tomorrow and miss not a single person in the "community" where I live and no-one would miss me.

    There are plenty of bloggers I've read and followed who I miss when they go silent, however, and about whom I have the occasional, concerned thought, hoping their silence doesn't indicate anything bad. I don't really know these people, have never met them or even heard their voices, but there's some level of common connection between us and if that isn't at least the glimmerings of a community then I'm not sure I know what a community is.

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    1. I'm having a horrible time typing on my phone tonight. The comment I deleted said in a way, I read a lot of great blogs like yours, TAGN, Tish, Tobold, Syp, ect ect but I don't comment on your blogs because I feel it will ruin your great posts. I feel a lot of people are like me, we love blogs but don't comment much because the post is awesome. Not saying Rowan ' s or Bel' s post aren't awesome, I've just become comfortable with them enough to chance my stupidity :)

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    2. Hugs! I don't think you're stupid. Quite the opposite, in fact.

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    3. Scary I feel the same way at times... I get self conscious thinking that my opinion really wouldn't add much to the discussion so I end up NOT commenting far more often than I do.

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  7. Thanks to you all for sharing your comments. As I said above, regardless of how tight knit or loose our community is, I do believe it is a community—based on shared interest. One thing that can be said for all of us is that we're passionate about the games we play. Passionate enough to share it with others.

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  8. Rowan,
    I posted an extended comment over on Bel's post (thanks to your bringing it to my attention), but I did want to leave a mini-comment here saying that I vaguely disagree with Bel's premise.

    I don't disagree with any of the specifics, but the overall point that we're not a community chafes against my feelings. I think perhaps this is a semantic issue surrounding the word "community," where I think Bel's meaning and mine may differ somewhat, but I firmly believe we are, and simply people "moving out of the community" or losing touch isn't enough to mean we're not a community.

    More over on Bel's post, but thanks again for bringing it to my attention!
    Sincerely,
    Stubborn

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  9. Rowan,
    I posted an extended comment over on Bel's post (thanks to your bringing it to my attention), but I did want to leave a mini-comment here saying that I vaguely disagree with Bel's premise.

    I don't disagree with any of the specifics, but the overall point that we're not a community chafes against my feelings. I think perhaps this is a semantic issue surrounding the word "community," where I think Bel's meaning and mine may differ somewhat, but I firmly believe we are, and simply people "moving out of the community" or losing touch isn't enough to mean we're not a community.

    More over on Bel's post, but thanks again for bringing it to my attention!
    Sincerely,
    Stubborn

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  10. Rowan,
    I posted an extended comment over on Bel's post (thanks to your bringing it to my attention), but I did want to leave a mini-comment here saying that I vaguely disagree with Bel's premise.

    I don't disagree with any of the specifics, but the overall point that we're not a community chafes against my feelings. I think perhaps this is a semantic issue surrounding the word "community," where I think Bel's meaning and mine may differ somewhat, but I firmly believe we are, and simply people "moving out of the community" or losing touch isn't enough to mean we're not a community.

    More over on Bel's post, but thanks again for bringing it to my attention!
    Sincerely,
    Stubborn

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  11. I read about you all's adventures in the Secret World, for example, and it's pretty clear that you folks have a very real community. I guess you don't share cups of sugar with each other or whatever. But you get together on a regular basis to have joint, complex, cooperative adventures! If you were instead getting together to drink beer, everyone would agree that it was a real community. So why not count something far more socially complex and interdependent --- which is what you have? Funny old world I guess.

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  12. As with many debates of this sort, I think it boils down to this: The word you're using to describe something doesn't mean the same thing to someone else, therefore they correctly assert that it is not this other thing. It's like two mathematicians arguing about whether 2x = 4; one guy defines x as 2 while the other guy defines x as 3. Given their definitions, they are both right, and the other person looks incredibly stupid.

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  13. You guys are right, this is partly a question of semantics. By no means should you consider it a debate however. Belghast was feeling a little out on a limb, and got a big group hug I am sure he was not expecting. And really that's the point, which backs up the position that we really are a community, even if not in a traditional "borrow a cup of sugar" sense. :)

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