Blogging and the internet is a revolutionary medium, in the sense that as writers, we are not subject to the brutal editing by editors working for advertisers. If you write for a magazine or a newspaper or a large web site, what you write or how you write it is often dictated to you by market forces. Bloggers have total freedom to write what they want – and I dare say that this is the first time in history that such a situation has presented itself. Oh sure, in the past you could write what you want in a journal and show it to a few friends, but bloggers can write what they want and reach all around the world in an instant. I often wonder if this particular turn of events will last.
The problem, as I see it, is that even with this total freedom a good number of bloggers restrict themselves because of a failure to understand just who they are writing for. This article, and it’s a long one, was on massively.com last month. It interviews a bunch of community managers from MMO companies asking them how people can make it as an MMO blogger. It’s a nice idea I suppose, but what a lot of it effectively amounts to is how bloggers can get game companies to like them. How you can get noticed, how you can foster a relationship and how to avoid pissing the companies off is all well and good. But it assumes that the reason you’re writing a blog is for the game companies to notice you. If this is true then you are nothing but a glorified fanboy and your blog will reflect that. Is your allegiance to your readers or is it to those that you write about – the companies that pay game designers to make the games.
An example of this that I found recently comes from World of Matticus. It’s a famous blog. One that the blogging community looks up to. Which is why when I see stuff like this that I begin to question his real motives for having a blog. To sum it up, Matticus was asked to write some articles for the Blizzard magazine, which were accepted and published but his name was not included anywhere in the publication. This hurt his feelings a little bit. In the post he said that the reason was that it was political, which as it turned out meant that in reality Blizzard just doesn’t like him very much. This he found to be crushing. To quote:
“… Its just crushing when you find out that the gaming company who you’re most loyal and passionate about has heard of you and doesn’t really like you. Sorry, this is bothering me a lot more than I thought it would …”
I would feel a little put out at that as well. I would not find it crushing that a company asked me to write for them, knowing full well that they didn’t respect me or my opnions but needed a space filler, and then refused to credit me and told me straight out that it’s political. I instead would find it extremely fucking rude. Maybe I would have given them back their dirty money and asked for my articles back. Stick it up your arse you bunch of wankers or something like that. Matticus didn’t want to do that as he needs the dough, it’s helping him out at a crucial time and fair enough too. We’ve all been there, I can respect that. So what he should have done is take their money and then turn around and publically give them the big fat fucking finger. Did he do that? Not exactly. He included a link in the same post to where people could sign up for the magazine. So while he was getting arse-pounded he was more or less turning around and giving them the big thumbs up through gritted teeth.
Now that’s pathetic, of that there is no doubt. But each to his own. What raises my hackles is the whinging that goes on. But Blizzard doesn’t like me, sob sob sob. And I was first in line to buy their games, sob sob sob. And all my friends played one of their games at my house, cry cry cry. Makes you want to just reach for a tissue. Can you imagine Lester Bangs doing that? I mean, really, can you imagine it? Great critics don’t care about the good opinion of their chosen target. It should be irrelevant. But all gamers want to be is fanboys. From the days of boardgame TSR and Wizards of the Coast right through to Electronic Arts and Blizzard, we’re just wide eyed gals on their big wedding night. And it’s a unique situation. Because these are companies, not artists. A film reviewer reviews the directors, actors, and crews collective work. They don’t go on about Touchstone pictures or whoever bankrolled the movie. A rock critic gets stuck into the band. He’s not really that interested in Atlantic Records for example, (unless they made unreasonable demands to commercialise the end product). But with video games, our only visual point of reference is the companies who make these things, (unless we get a gift like Ghostcrawler). So we have to criticise them. But if we like their game then we want to love them. Ask any WoW blogger what their dream gift from Blizzard would be, (as the Twisted Nether podcast regularly do), and the universal answer of extreme patheticness is;
That’s just mind-blowingly fucking crap. I can’t effectively communicate the depths of crappiness that is present with that response. If your dream is to work for Blizzard, (or any other company that makes these games), then you have no objectivity. You’re just a glorified fanboy writing in the hope that you will get noticed so that you can score the job of your dreams. It would be okay if bloggers would state that on their site heading: Glorified Blizzard, (or substitute any other company here), Fanboy. But they don’t. So then I have to waste my time reading them until I discover the sordid truth.
The first step up is to get a job on wow.com. Remember these are the guys who got into a big pissy pink fit because the forums weren’t being respectful enough to Blizzard. It just makes me want to claw my eyes out of my head in an orgy of blood enfused frustration. From there the ultimate hope is for the Blizzard execs to come and swoop down and scoop you up and fly you off to their big castle where you can work for them all day in an all-in orgy love fest, ala Patrick Beja.
Before blogs came about, before forums, before the internet, you purchased a game and played it and talked about it with your friends and that was pretty much all you had. Apart from the games magazines, and the closest you could possibly come with them was to write a letter to the editor and actually have it published. Now we have this incredible opportunity to be able to get our own thoughts and ideas out there, unfettered and unrestricted by publisher or advertising demands. And who knows how long this freedom may last. Because the companies that you dream of working for are really not that nice. These pinkly clouded visions that you have of working for these companies is far removed from the reality of games design. I wish that some bloggers would realise what an incredible opportunity it is that we have. It should not be us waving our hands trying to get the attention of game companies, it should be them waving their hands trying to get our attention. And the sooner we realise it the more power we will have.