The MMO Blogosphere Is Alive and Well
Popular gaming blogger Tobold asked whether the MMO Blogosphere was still alive in a recent post on his site. He stated, “as far as I can see that decline has continued over the last decade, powered both by the general decline of blogging as a form of expression on the internet in favour of tweeting, and by the decline of MMORPGs as a form of gaming in favor of other multiplayer games”. Needless to say, there were numerous comments to the contrary left on the article in question. Furthermore, several gaming bloggers debated the point further on their own platforms. As I have a dog in this fight, to coin a somewhat inappropriate and unsavoury phrase, I thought I’d add my thoughts to the debate. And as ever, the answer is somewhat complex because Tobold’s question is erroneously reductive.
The golden age of the MMORPG is certainly behind us and we shall not see the like of it again. However, there were specific factors linked to the popularity of this particular genre that were contextual and linked to the time. Yet despite these factors the genre remains popular and still commands large player numbers. Furthermore, games of this idiom have been subject to major changes in style and mechanics in recent years. Whether you, me or Tobold like it or not, the very definition of the MMORPG has evolved. Which is why major commercial sites such as Massively Overpowered now cover titles such as Grand Theft Auto Online and Destiny 2. What constitutes an MMO now is arguably different from what it was in the early 2000s. Therefore, Tobold is mistaken to render things down to a “like for like” comparison.
Blogging has also changed and adapted over time. Twitter, You Tube and Streaming have emerged to provide alternative platforms for discussion, fandom and social interaction. All of these mediums have their place and some have become popular because of brevity and convenience that they provide. They also have the advantage of lower barriers to entry. Writing effectively and maintaining an audience requires a degree of skill, a lot of time and stoic dedication. Yet, fans of the MMO genre still actively do these things and I have RSS subscriptions to dozens of active blogs writing such material. There are still guides and resources for classic MMOs such as LOTRO, Guild wars 2 and STO available. The existence of the aforementioned Massively Overpowered website is also evidence of the healthy state of the genre and its associated fandom. Many of those who regularly comment on that site run their own blogs.
Longform writing and analysis of the MMO genre is therefore still a “thing”. In fact, there’s a lot of longform writing about most things available online. It never really went away despite new mediums emerging. With respect to blogging about MMOs, it may well have lost its thunder to You Tube and Twitch TV, but to be honest, it’s a genre that lends itself more to the written word anyway. I also think favouring longform writing is the prerogative of age. The generation of gamers that I am part of, has grown up together and still uses the older mediums such as a blogs, as the means to pursue their passions. So, I am happy to lend my voice to the growing chorus that has politely refuted Tobold’s assertion. The MMO Blogosphere is doing okay because I get up each morning and read multiple new posts about the genre via Feedly.