I wasn't blogging or heavily involved in end-game raiding Wrath of the Lich King was released. I also wasn't reading any WoW blogs, so my information about the game came primarily from guildies, who occasionally pointed me to MMO Champ and other such news sites until I started checking them semi-regularly on my own. Because of this, I wonder if I missed a big upset similar to what we are seeing now at Cataclysm's release. The forums and blogosphere have erupted with complaints about the new game, admission of a general malaise surrounding the new content, gushing about new games competing for WoW-time, and announcements of quitting the game and/or blog. As I frequently saw touted during the RealID fiasco, the forum and blogging community are not entirely representative of the entire WoW population, merely the most vocal of it. (Although I will admit that I'm glad Blizz listened to the tons of comments against RealID and decided to scale back the system.)
Despite the gloomy atmosphere hovering over WoW bloggers at the moment, what with all of the recent departures of respected and well-spoken bloggers, and the increasing number of posts about not enjoying the new expansion, or turning to other games to relieve burnout, in-game I haven't noticed much of anything. Not a single person in my guild has quit due to burnout. Of course, we are having a hard time due to a slew of real life issues cropping up, from earthquakes to work to family to computer failure. (I mean, I guess all of these people could just be providing excuses when they are really spending 5 hours a night building up their Pokedexes, but in a guild this friendly there's really no need to hide that.) People are still eager to raid! When 8 raiders show up and we don't have enough to make a team, folks are disappointed. Even when repeated wiping inspired a drunken rant from a guildie, that didn't inspire any lack of enthusiasm for raiding. In my microcosm of WoW, no one is disappointed or burned out enough to have quit the game.
For me, I still feel interested in the game, and in fact I find that my enthusiasm has only increased lately, in part due to my participation in blogging. There have been points when my interest waned, and before I discovered that I was truly burned out I spent a lot of time idling in Dalaran feeling indescribably unhappy. When I stopped logging in in favor of Plants vs. Zombies or even my small collection of DS games, the feeling was immediately relieved and I was able to come back naturally to WoW when my interest returned, and it only took two weeks! Since then, I have only had issues like a toxic, verbally-abusive guild and the threat of RealID fuckery make me unhappy about the game, but my desire to play it has remained.
I don't have anything against people playing games, even mmos, other than WoW. At this point, I don't have the time or money to commit to playing another subscription mmo, because I am still deeply entrenched in Azeroth and honestly don't feel a desire to branch out. If you do, that is totally fine, and please bring your voice to that blogging community to contribute! I realize that the "Rift-free" badge business is intended to be tongue-in-cheek. I can appreciate bloggers announcing they will not cover Rift not because I hate Rift, but because I simply don't care to read about a game I never play. Which is also why I avoid a lot of multi-game oriented blogs and podcasts - I just don't care about other games! However, I'd like to add that just by not discussing Rift on your WoW blog, you are making it a Rift-free zone, which is pretty easy to do.
On game time
Something about nearing the end of a massive project - The Insane title - makes me feel a bit lost when I log in, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that it's the endless opportunity of unscheduled play time that's making me feel directionless. I still have guild raids to attend, although real life commitments have called many players away and we find ourselves unable to field a 10-man on some scheduled raid nights. But my non-guild time is now free of the burning
In a similar vein with my in-game time, I'm feeling slightly at a loss as to what to do with my blog. This has nothing to do with leaving it; I love writing and pretending that my words matter to some small audience and also spamming you with stupid pictures of me /flexing. What started this line of thinking was a post by a friend of a friend that I read. It was truly a thing of beauty. I won't link it because we only met once at a party and it's completely not game-related. This person was communicating an experience that they had. To summarize, they were on vacation in another country, needed to use a phone, and ended up being shown around a very friendly local's house who, in exchange for letting them see the phone and his extensive collection of foreign gifts, asked to be sent a Tshirt in return. Told like that, it's a sweet story based solely on facts, but the way this writer presented it, I was truly moved. He set up the concept of "do a favor, get a favor" in a beautifully-crafted essay and managed to weave it throughout the piece until the end.
It was incredibly humbling to read, in a selfish way that made me reflect on the quality of my own writing. Perhaps quality isn't the right word; I'd say that I'm a fairly competent writer capable of communicating my ideas clearly and with correct spelling and punctuation. (Also lots of alliteration?) However, that special something that makes a piece stick in your heart and mind long after reading, the kind of thing that makes you see the topic in a unique light and expand your own sphere of thoughts. This is the kind of writing we regularly got from Righteous Orbs and The Pink Pigtail Inn, and I think that's why they were so loved by the blogopshere. There is an inspiring blend of concept and craft that results in not only an interesting topic, but a moving one, and you could see it regularly in the way such blogs generated hundreds of comments on each thought-provoking post.
I admire those writers. I would love to emulate them, to make an observation so unique week after week that readers would be blown away by my ingenuity. And I don't necessarily think I'm a terrible writer, and it's certainly possible that every once in a while I hit on a presentation of a topic so unheard of that it can approach the concepts that these bloggers have hit upon. The presentation is more difficult, however, because I don't know if it would be my voice anymore. I'd love to emulate Tam's biting wit or Larisa's calm musings, but it would be a thin veneer over my own natural tendencies in writing, and no one likes a copycat.
So I want to develop my voice, but I also need content to develop it on. MMO Melting Pot frequently features bloggers who have hit upon a good topic, something interesting enough that readers stop and ponder or start a good discussion going. That's not to say that those bloggers are any less talented than RO or PPI; obviously, they are being featured because their posts deserve recognition and contribute to the community. Should I devote my posts to trying to hit on topics that will spark debate and get me linked around the blogosphere and back? Again, that wouldn't be my style, especially when I am too fond of self-congratulatory achievement squee posts. And I love reading those types of things on other blogs as well! It may not generate a flurry of link-love and further commentary, but I like seeing others' accomplishments and giving them the congratulations they deserve.
Like my profession post, I feel like I've come back to where I started, that I started with one hypothesis and played right into it with some lip-service to other outcomes. I want to be noticed, but I want to provide content worthy of notice. I want to be aloof, and create content that pleases me. I am humbled by writing I perceive as better, and arrogant enough to want mine to be that good. As repeated over and over by much bigger and better known writers, part of developing a following is simple existing for a long time and being an active participant in the community. Hopefully by the one-year mark on this blog I will have developed both my writing chops and my worldview (gameview?) enough that I can write off these blogging doldrums with some hilarious, insightful metaposts, and then get back in the swing of things with gratuitous achievement spam.