I am possibly being misinterpreted.

17 01 2012

(Before I start, let me say that I bear absolutely zero ill-will because – as a savvy reader may already have determined – I am a damned happy guy and it’s nigh impossible to break that. Unless of course we’re talking about player-controlled loot systems or statistics that are hard-bound to gear, in which case I am the very definition of unbridled rage.)

I have been misinterpreted. It’s the Internet, so 1. that’s to be expected, and 2. no amount of effort on my part will ever prevent that. Far be it from me not to try, though. So, here I go.

There have been a few responses to my recent thread on whether the blogging community actually enjoys video games. I already responded to the one generated on MMO Reporter. Today I’d like to respond to this post over on Massively which seems to assert that I prefer rose-colored glasses.

Let me state for the record that this is a gross misinterpretation of my remarks.

Here are my points:

  • Punditry is not progress.
  • Supporting an MMO that you like is impossible.

The blog-o-sphere is rife with one and nigh devoid of the other; indeed, one tiny dash of “I like this game” provides near infinite fuel for the pundits, or – as I have come to call them – the haters. (Hyperbole. It’s my thing. See the About and Disclaimer pages, above.)

“What I do find funny is the notion that folks are somehow obligated to put on a happy face and refrain from voicing opinions unless they’re positive.”

This is actually not what I said. Criticism is good; I said as much, in that initial article. It is in fact a vehicle by which improvements may be made.

Constant, relentless, derisive trashing of the genre is not criticism. It’s a slander campaign. And it’s depressing. It honestly does make me wonder if you actually like video games, so the question stands. (Cheers to those who have answered it.)

“Put simply, what’s the point of blogging (about MMOs or anything else) if all you’re interested in is praising the status quo? To be honest, the point is progress, and that’s one reason why writing about arts and entertainment is generally called criticism instead of positivism, no?” (Emphasis mine.)

Ideally, the point of blogging is in fact progress. The point of blogging is not punditry. Put simply, that is the difference between NPR and Fox News.

Punditry is easy and it’s rampant. It doesn’t take anything more than an opinion and time and, man, can it snowball. It’s not the only way to entertain your readers, I swear.

” Eventually, the design pendulum is going to swing back toward the type of game that I enjoy, and I’ll be one of Thade’s shiny happy game-bloggers (for a time).”

I honestly don’t think this is going to happen. Warcraft got its subscription numbers from (forgive the vernacular here) casuals and casuals that turned hardcore. Those numbers are stupidly large and unreasonable. That the upcoming expansion’s new race is essentially a giant, playable non-combat pet should speak massive, massive, massive volumes to you.

In case it does not, let me spell out this depressing news for all of us. It is a weight I carry and no longer wish to carry it alone.

Ready?

We, as bloggers, are the vocal minority. We are an even smaller population than the more vehement and louder forum trolls. Put plainly:

WE ARE NOT THEIR TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC.

 And I fear that, for the foreseeable future, that will remain the case.

I would be endlessly, endlessly thrilled to be proved wrong.

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4 responses

17 01 2012
Telwyn

I think a lot of pundits/bloggers think somehow that the gaming industry is immune to the general problems that beset software design in most of the broader IT industry. There is never enough money for everything, and given business realities features get cut from the original ambitions of the developers and often testing is inadequate because of time or money limits.

The sheer amount of bile against Rift and now TOR is pretty shocking, but I think the industry as a whole has a problem – people expect perfection when that is simply impossible.

17 01 2012
Daeth

Punditry is not progress, but if you never point out problems, express a dislike or ask for something different that you’ll only ever get more of the same. Whats more helpful? “hey i do/don’t like the game” or “hey i do/don’t like the game and here’s why.” What is harmful is when criticism and opinion is interpreted as an attack and met in kind. Both fans and the less enthused deserve to be treated with civility so that a rational and productive discourse can take place, a discourse that requires dissent and dislike as much as support and excitement.

As MMO punditry It can only be expected that a big AAA MMO launch will garner every ones attention. This is especially in the World of MMOs where there is often little that is ever truly new and the same stories are often covered multiple times out of necessity. Like the game or not, by its sheer size TOR requires a response from an blogger that desires to be relevant. This leads to a profusion of articles by people who would seem to have only negative opinions. They don’t dislike video games, its just that they prefer certain types of games. Expecting every one to like the game is not realistic, but we can expect them to be professional and honest. That means stating both what the game does well and poorly regardless of your stance on the game. Don’t ask for positivity, ask for fairness an open mind and general professionalism

What I believe the real issue is is that MMOs are not all the same as you contend, there is more than plenty of room for different play types that all qualify as an MMO. This distinction is not limited to Theme-park and Sandbox, but considerations like period (such as modern, ancient myth, high fantasy and future/sci-fi) or combat, class and level advancement mechanics. Its that wile we may get innovation from small teams for low budget releases the few AAA releases are content to publish games that are very similar to each other with only minor differences to set them apart. TOR is like WOW, AOC, Rift, Aion, EQ and all the other big releases since 2005. Not since City of Heroes, World of Warcraft and Guild Wars all went live have we seen such diversity of top quality games. The good news is that it seems this trend is ending with games such as Guild Wars 2, The Secret World and FPS MMOs like Fire Fall and Planet Side 2 slated for release this year or early next year.

-Disclaimer- I figured you put one up so i should return the courtesy. I am not a writer nor a pundit, just a concerned gamer that likes open debate

17 01 2012
thade

No contention against criticism, again. My contention rests only with the idea that “If we don’t slam these games and those that like them as hard as possible, they’ll never get fixed.”

Some seem to think that’s the avenue to fixin’ stuff; I disagree.

It’s very true what you say, that – really – there is more than enough room for a great many MMOs, theme park, sandbox, or somewhere in-between. I thin a world with a few dozen MMOs with each a modest .4 million player base would provide a far superior and competitive gaming environment to the current WoW-dominated model. However, neither slamming the players of that game or the game itself is going to provide a better MMO scene.

18 01 2012
UnSubject

Criticism doesn’t attract nearly as many eyeballs as punditry, and controversial, angry punditry is the best way to attract those eyeballs.

The blogosphere (such as it is) is very much a Viscous Circle: you get applause for being funny, sharp and cutting, not for being cautious and analytic.

This is also an unusual time in the MMO world since everyone is highly focused on one title – SWOR – which a lot of people thought that BioWare + Star Wars + MMO = BEST GAME EVAH, only to find something that would happen when BioWare made a Star Wars-themed MMORPG title.

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