Tobold's Blog
Friday, March 13, 2015
Making readers think

Some days ago somebody tagged me with the Liebster award, which is a kind of chain letter currently making the round in gaming blogs. I ignored it. But then I thought that I should at least explain why I would not want to participate, and then my thoughts quickly turned onto a wider issue. MMORPG bloggers and blog readers are probably familiar with the concept of the Bartle types, the idea that different people play the same game for very different reasons. There is a lot less discussion about the fact that different people also blog for very different reasons. The Liebster award is like an invitation to a MMORPG event which only appeals to a specific Bartle type.

I am not a sociologist, so I won't try to categorize blogger types. But I would like to point out two families of blogs that I am not particularly interested in. The first is blogs where the author is principally motivated by writing about himself, which would be the kind of blog that would be most interested in a Liebster award. The thing is I don't think that I am a very interesting person. You might be interested what I say about games because you care about games, but that doesn't mean you care about me, especially not about the boring details of my private life. I never understood the idea of posting what you had for breakfast on Facebook, I mean who could possibly care?

The second type of blog that I am not interested in are echo chambers, the Fox News of game blogs. I've been called "controversial" or other less polite forms of the same concept, but the thing is that if you read a blog post of mine and think "I totally agree, this is exactly what I was thinking myself", you and me both wasted our time. There are certain blogs I don't read not because I disagree with them, but because I know *exactly* what they are going to say about any given piece of gaming news. Those blogs are like trying to discuss American politics at a tea party convention: You already know what everybody is going to say, there is little hope of any original thought that challenges preconceptions, and the participants aren't open to different thoughts. I am not interested in the creation of "facts" by group think, an opinion doesn't become a fact by lots of people chanting it.

Personally I write with two goals. One is to archive my thoughts and my gaming history for myself. And the other is to make my readers think, to challenge their preconceptions, to come at a news story everybody is talking about at a different angle. I'm aware that this can make for less comfortable reading, or be perceived as "weird". But I think, therefore I am. If I express ideas that do not require thinking, I cease to be as a blogger.

Interesting....but now you have me wishing someone would analyze blogs to create a "Bartle Type" spectrum.

I spend about 80% of my blog time writing up campaign/scenario ideas for D&D and talking about news related to it (proactive D&D blog basically), and 20% of it talking about other shit I like such as video games....but I really hate injecting myself into it, and rarely offer an opinion piece. Other blogs seem to thrive on that. I like your blog because you're generally offering reasoned opinions and manage to find an interesting spin on topics you address, and often bring a unique view to a topic due to your own unique circumstances (plus the Favorites of Selune, of course).
Interesting....but now you have me wishing someone would analyze blogs to create a "Bartle Type" spectrum.

The Bartle types are the result of sorting people along two axes: One in "Acting on" vs. "Interacting with", the other is "Players" vs. "World". The same principle might work for blogs, there are clearly "socializers" blogs and others who are more like "killers" attacking others. Mine is more an "explorer" blog, interacting with the world more than with other players.
I strongly agree with you, Tobold, on everything there except one small point: there are times when it is very helpful for me to hear someone voice something I agree with, because sometimes you do it from a different assumption or for different reasons, or you just articulate it in a way that I couldn't before.

It's only a small point though, because I do also agree in principle that the most potential value comes from challenging one another's ideas.
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