It’s not like we didn’t see this coming. Right now, in this little slice of the blogosphere, the launch of Warhammer Online has turned blogger against blogger, with the Warhammer enthusiasts facing off against, well, anyone who isn’t a Warhammer enthusiast. It’s the blogosphere version of RvR, only there are no squigs and no living cities. (Plenty of Waaagh though).
I remember a long discussion that my “Shut Up We’re Talking” Common Sense co-host Darren started about whether bloggers are press. Lately, the answer seems to be a resounding NO. The main job of the “press,” is dissemination of information. Yes, bloggers can help generate interest in a game, but journalistic credibility evaporates when the focus becomes “them.” And while it’s true that commentary can fall under the definition of “press,” there is a fine line between insightful analysis and slightly longer versions of mundane forum replies.
The recent interview of Erling Ellingsen by Daedren of MMOCrunch is one example of that blurring line between journalism and ownzj00 forum flaming. What should have been a newsworthy and timely interview of AoC’s Product Manager instead turned into a piece largely about Daedren. His original review of Age of Conan was important, because whether one agrees with it or not, it presented a thorough recap all things wrong with the game. But he did himself a disservice when he forgot that it was the review, and not him, that readers found newsworthy. As soon as he inserted himself into the equation, credibility was lost, and the result was a Jerry Springer-esque feel to the interview, rather than a professional tone that might have helped to push forward the discussion of AoC’s troubles.
There was also a certain weirdness to the whole revelation of Tobold getting a lifetime subscription to Warhammer Online. Tobold is definitely an established blogger, with a prolific entry count, and a plump readership. But when he made the announcement that he accepted a lifetime subscription, it made for a very awkward moment. What’s the point of A) taking a subscription that he probably won’t use much at all and B) making it newsworthy by devoting an entire blog entry to it. With the title, “Full Disclosure on my Relationship with Mythic,” it’s little surprise that Tobold, the Blogger, was the focus of the debate. Right on cue, the blogosphere abided, and Toboldgate was born.
And in the past few days, we’ve become witness to a tag team blog-off about Warhammer Online that included references to Kool-Aid, Communist Russia, and the Bible. I don’t necessarily endorse the beehive-prodding strategy of Tipa (although her recent entries are hilarious and have become the only sparkling gem that’s emerged from this showdown), and I also disagree with going so far as to start a crusade against Warhammer fans. But at the same time, it’s slightly ridiculous that the same people over and over are making it personal, and rejecting any thoughtful criticism about this particular game.
Tipa wrote an entry a while back that still rings in my head from time to time. She threw down the gauntlet, and challenged the blogosphere to roll up their sleeves, dive into a game, stick with it for a year, and write about it. Not write about press releases, developer videos, and breathless anticipation of future titles, but about what exactly we are doing nightly when we log in to the game of our choice. That’s something that I used to do regularly, and something that I have had trouble doing of late. I agree with her that we don’t see enough of that, and it’s too bad, because that’s when blogger personalities are a welcome part of the writing process, and, if done well, really improve the quality of the storytelling. Tipa, Stargrace, and Van Hemlock are just three bloggers who do it well, and make me wish I could get back into that groove again.
Over in my guild, I’ve made it our philosophy that if someone has visions of their toon’s name, lit up with flashing bulbs that become so bright they explode into flames because the name is so powerful, they probably should look elsewhere for a home. I think the same should go for blogging. I’ve never had any aspirations of this blog becoming anything newsworthy, and I also don’t consider myself press. But to those that might, it’s worth noting that it’s the games, and what happens in those games, that’s newsworthy.