Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Are you reading theory posts?

As I frequently said, my main reward for writing this blog is the feedback I get from my readers. It was very nice to see how many of you replied to my question which class I should play on a new Alliance character, that post got 55 comments, plus some advice by e-mail. Thanks again!

But of course I couldn't help but notice that for example my summary post on the "Why do we play?" series only got 4 comments, in spite of having been linked to by Massively (and that link only resulted in 250 page visits, they'd get more if *I* linked to *them*). The individual posts of the series got somewhat more feedback, but if I don't count the people who replied to several posts several times, the whole series got less feedback than that one "Paladin or Warlock?" post.

I think you'll believe me that writing a 7-part series over the course of two weeks, plus introduction and summary, requires a lot more effort than firing of a half-page post with a question on WoW classes. So now I'm wondering if that effort was worth it. There are basically two explanations: The less charitable being that nobody is interested in such theory posts, and my posts were tl;dr (too long; didn't read) walls of text anyway. The more charitable explanation would be that people read my posts with interest, but didn't feel like giving feedback. I mean, a question automatically evokes more response than some long text full of statements. You're probably not writing comments in the margins of the books you are reading either.

So to find out which of these explanations is closer to the truth, I'd like some feedback here: Are you reading theory posts like my "Why do we play?" series? Are you enjoying them, or shouldn't I bother? Is there some value in my general game design theoretical posts at all?
Honestly I found those posts a little boring. I know why I play - I didn't really need to go into it in such detail.
Yes I am reading you, I just spend a lot of my time with my chin in my hand going....hmmmm.

Its just that I did not identify with that list of why we play as you did not have closet megalomaniacal tendecies and a god complex that cannot be acted out in the real world included.
I think, as you say, that it's much more easy to answer an explicit question. Especially about such a topic as class-choice which most of the readers have an experience of and have thought about.

But, I don't believe this kind of posts is what keeps people reading this blog.

It's the theory and reasoning about the games that is really interesting, so don't stop that.

To get more feedback from readers, one thought is to insert a bit more "questions" into the theoretical posts.
For me it really depends on the subject and can vary quite a lot. Regarding your "Why do we play"-posts, yes I skimmed through them. Personally I found those posts somewhat interesting, but I'm sure there are people out there who love them.

They were a bit long, but then it's a subject which is hard to cut down in size much more.

Anyway, I usually read most of what you write. Some I skim through and some I read more careful. Of course it also depends on if I have the time to read it at that moment too. I often read your blog at work. :)
A couple of points for you, you post ALOT, since the last time I checked your page you did 4+ posts.

2nd, sometimes you say something that people don't have an opinion on, or they're opinion matches yours.

3rd, I had wanted to add to what was said to the why we play series, but what I had to say was already said by someone else, so no opinion was needed.

I guess if I could just vote a comment up it would work out, but I don't think blogger allows for that.
I find nearly all your post interesting/constuctive. I personally enjoy even the non-gaming-related ones like the one you did about the economic crisis.

I visit your blog nearly on a daily basis, but I seldom comment on them (except short motivational posts like this one if I feel you need some feedback to keep going on with the good work).

Interesting subjects can seldom be discussed/presented in a non-wall-of-text form as they are often complex in nature.
I do have the time/patience to read your post and give it some reflection time, but I don't really have the time to word a feedback post longer than a few lines unless something really important to me pops up.
That doesn't mean I do not appreciate your argument, only that I don't have the time to elaborate or that i silently agree with most of it.

Keep up the good stuff

I said I liked your posts in response to the summary post! What more do I need to do?

In order get comments, you need to do one of two things: ask a direct question that relies on opinion (which class?) or say something so outrageously controversial that people *have* to respond. (This post is the latter, "My game theory posts suck, huh?")

I didn't respond very much because you were right for the most part. You also weren't treading very new ground for the most part.

Want to do some interesting theory pieces? Try to head in new directions. What are some alternatives to the "holy trinity" of PvE class design? How could we get rid of levels in games? (You can read my thoughts on that topic for a starting point.) How can you build a good community for a game before launch without building up unrealistic expectations? What are the pros and cons of small server sizes vs. large servers vs. "shardless" worlds from the player point of view?

I think there are a lot of interesting topics you could cover. Just need to put some real work into it to keep the old hands reading your blog interested. :)

Have fun.
hi tobold

just stopping by to say that yes, we read you, and yes - these were a couple of very serious and interesting posts. i'd be glad if there are more like these in the future.

about the discussion - i think you shouldn't worry much about it; as usual - there are more lurkers than talkers and this holds true to any good thread in a message board or a blog post;

keep up the good work! :)
Personally I read your blog at work (during coffee breaks etc) as it is one the few sources of gaming related info not blocked by our evil content filtering.

I read almost every word on your blog (for a couple months now) and enjoyed your series of posts on "why do we play" but the "Warlock or Paladin" post was the first I ever made a comment on.

Why? Because I can bang out a quick answer based on my experience in about 30 seconds with little to no thought. This can be achieved without too much interruption to my work.

The more high-minded theoretical stuff is great, but as you have clearly put a lot of effort into thinking it through, I would feel bad about responding without also putting mental effort into my comment. And I'm short on spare mental capacity at the moment :)
I commented almost all your 'why do we play' posts - and I didn't comment the warlock post.

I, generally, like to think about the grand scale of things and I dislike the small scale.

I tend to think that there are two kinds of people on earth. Those who like to think about the dollars and those who like tot think about the pennies. And, surprisingly, most people like to think about pennies.

You could argue that these are the ones with an IQ of less than 115.
I don't - but sometimes it is hard to resist ;)

Point is: If you want to have aquality blog about gaming you'll have less readers than Gevlon, just like 'FAZ' has less readers than 'Bild'.
Personally I love your theory posts. I tend to skip the "where I levelled today" content on most blogs.

Your views on economics are always welcome and more recently the social engineering bent that you put on your guild advancement post made for a really good read.

As for the "Why We Play" series, the topic itself didn't interest me much and didn't shed any light on the matter for me (I suppose I'm in the minority though as I've already read plenty of game design books).

Definitely keep going though as that's the type of content that keeps you in my feed reader!
I mostly only glance posts here that are not directly linked to warcraft theme. Also, i skip post that are a bit *whiny*. I have mind keywords set on "another 10 levels" and "kill ten rats".
Yes, I do read theory posts, or generally long and well-worded posts. It's one of the main reason why I travel the blogosphere.

I did not read your "Why do we play?" series yet, but firmly intend to do so. This question, and what people consider answers to it, is among the reasons I started playing MMOs in the first place (and discovered they're jolly good fun, huh!).

I think the second of your reasons applies. A long, fully argued, self-contained text can basically only evoke two sorts of response: a generic "agreed", or a full-scale writing of their own. While the question which class to play .. hey, you know you can use that to raise MMO players from the dead. It's like .. asking MMO players which class to play!
Yes I read all your posts, but reply only to those that i can relate to. And while the entire 7 part theorical discussion is a worthy effort, it did read like an academic essay.

A little too academic for my taste and probably many others'. So keep them coming, but with a little more personal opinion and less theory. Opinions a fun to read and thought provoking, theories are too safe to do that.
Another possibility was your brief hiatus caused a drop in readership? You'd know the stats on that.

Personally I'm interested in game design, game mechanics, social engineering but no so curious about motivations to play in the first place.

I linked for example to two of your recent articles. I have written a tiny bit on motivations in the past, linking to Nick Yee, so could have linked also to your series on motivation. I didn't though because it's just simply not as interesting to me.

I think another reason is most people who read this blog probably already play MMOs, and a subset of those don't really care so much about WHY they play. I suspect that subset is very interested in the game design itself, though.

The Warlock? post would have been popular also because everyone has an opinion on it, it's easy to answer, PLUS do not forget: we all really like and respect you and want to help.
That I/nobody commented does not mean that your articles were bad.

But commenting on it would basically have resulted in me writing an about as long article...

But ask people about their opinion and you will get more answers than you ever wanted. As Claes said, it is much more easy to answer an explicit question than to elaborate on a complex framework of theories.

I really liked your articles and did not agree to some points you made, but did not comment.

This does not mean you should stop writing these articles. After all, your motivation to write them should have been intrinsically yours, and not based on the amount of readers/comments. And I do not think you are one of the bloggers who hunt after readers and comments, so what?
Been reading for a couple years, never commented before. Just wanted to let you know it's great stuff. *Especially* the theory articles.

One of the things I always liked is that you didn't seem to care how many hits or comments you were getting but wrote what you wanted to regardless just because you wanted to. But, if once in a while you need some affirmation, then that's fine and, yes, people like me are reading and loving your stuff, just not commenting. I come to read, not write. If I wanted to write I'd start my own blog.
I read your posts with interest, I just don't tend to comment very much
I only tend to read your theory posts. Their the only thing that brings me back.

I'm always at odds with your play style, reviews, and opinions. But when you objectively dissect a system, and ask why is this like this, should this be like this, how can we change this for the better? Those are the posts that interest me because they are thought provoking.

But that being said, I understand I'm likely in the minority. I'm the type of person that enjoys theory-crafting, the math behind game systems and the reasons things work how they do.

I like looking at things like Blizzard's new Experience in PvP and saying

"Why did they add this, how is it different then other games. How is it better, how is it worse. How can it be exploited, what can they do to fix those exploits."

Things like "Derrrr what class should I roll" Is the kind of pointless drivel that composes on less then 30% of the posts on the class forums of Blizzard. 69% is people saying their class sucks. And 1% is intelligent discourse.
One other thought in favor of the paladin now is that warlocks are getting some new tricks in Cataclysm. (the Soul Shard revamp that will make them cooldowns that regen quickly outside combat)

If you want to do the 1-60 content after Cataclysm hits, I'd definitely hold off on the warlock until then. I imagine that they'll be even better for soloing and levelling after the change.
I read only your theory posts. I tend not to comment much. Either I don’t have anything constructive/important/interesting to say or I have so much to say that I just post my own blog post and link yours.
Oops, I missed that you made two posts back to back -- I read via RSS, so it takes a bit of extra effort to actually add a comment. In the case of paladin vs. warlock, I thought I had some experience having leveled each class in TBC and half-leveled another paladin during Wrath. I found your "why we play" series interesting, especially in comparison with other commentators like Gevlon or Player vs. Developer, but I didn't feel like there was a lot that I could add to your observations.
I enjoyed the "Why do we play series", but I think the way it was delivered was not what I was used to from your blog, Tobold.

In future, breaking up these themes in (even!) smaller chunks would make it easier to read.

E.g: a few ideas, a few examples, some stimultation for debate.
Yea, I skipped em. Just wasn't something I was interested.
I find them more interesting than conversation about wow, but not as interesting as conversations about games I have not played or do play.
People generally comment on the stuff that they feel qualified to comment on.

For example, a news article about world events will usually generate fewer comments than an article about dogs or kitchen implements. Very few of us are really qualified to make useful comments on international events, but we can all say something about pets.

Similarly, everyone can offer an opinion on paladin vs warlock levelling, because most of us have tried those classes at some point. Theory posts are a bit more rarified.

Though, to be honest, I didn't really read your "Why Do We Play?" series. I'm not really sure why I didn't. Maybe it was a case of "tl;dr" for a relatively obvious question.
I really enjoyed your series, T! Being a social scientist, I loved to read your ideas/speculations and conclusions on gaming behaviour. It's really hard to find such a good analyses on a more theoretical level: well structured, comprehensiv and with some "scientific" background. Sure, the empirical bases could be critised for being a bit thin, but it was a great start for more thinking!

So, although I read your wall of texts and pondered about it, I never commented; consider me a(longtime) lurker, never commenting! So, congrats at getting me to do it this time :)

- Kar

PS: thank you for mentioning the game theory in one of your recent posts ;)
"The more charitable explanation would be that people read my posts with interest, but didn't feel like giving feedback"

I fall in this category.

I read the series, enjoyed it, and thought a bit about my own reasons I play. I'm just not big on commenting if all I have to say is something like "right on!" or something equally pointless. If I cant add to the conversation I tend to lurk more than anything.
I enjoy them a great deal but a comment on a theory post takes more commitment and thought than a simple question.
Yes, I read you. And yes, I enjoy more the "Why do we play?" than Paladin vs Warlock.

The Paladin vs Warlock have more comments because a lot of people think about this, and have experience with playing one of those classes. But few people have an opinion of "Why do we play?", and a lot of people only has played one game (most only WoW).

I think you should don't care what kind of post is readed more or comented more. You should write what do you want, what do you like to write and forget about the number of visitors counter.
That series is brilliant. I haven't commented on it yet or written a post of my own connected to it, because I haven't yet figured out any way to match it without sounding like a clueless child compared to you.

I know it's easy to do that, but please try not to mix up the amount of comments with the amount of impact a post has or how appreciated it was among your readers. You're just hurting yourself that way, and that without any reason.

Some posts are SO easy to comment on, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're good. It's just about the level of provocation, it's at easy as that. But surely, you don't have any "most commented blog" e-peen?

So please, please... keep doing stuff like that. I found that series MUCH more interesting than giving you advice on what class to roll.
I did read the first one in the series, but didn't read the rest.

It would help a lot if you had a heading for different sections/subtopics within the post. So formatting was a bit of an issue. Also, as a sub title to your post, a one liner that explains a little better what you mean by "lore" or whatever the topic is. Lore, pvp, socializing are still a bit vague, something like "PVP and it's affect on our gameplay while soloing".
First, let me say that I actually read the whole series, and enjoyed it.

However, writing an intelligent response to each of the posts in question requires a time investment of it's own, significantly larger than writing "warlocks rule, you should play one" :)

And frankly, time for reading the posts in the first place was already taken out of my working day, commenting would would put me in the red 0:) This comment brought to you by business trip induced downtime :) Sorry for "lurking", and keep exploring subjects that you find interesting - that's what it's all about.

Btw, I recently ran into a fascinating exploration of RPG theory - slightly off-topic since it applies to pen-and-paper play only, and refuses to acknowledge computer games as role-playing at all - but still, helped many pieces of the puzzle "click" in my brain. If you want to spend a week reading about the topic instead of writing about it, I highly recommend
The long answer is:

I did not read them. The knowledge contained has no real value for me, whether I know it or not does most probably not change my play style. It will not change the amount of fun I get from anything I do in a game. For me, posts as this dip a little too far in the same zone as a trained professional psychologist does when, by his knowledge, he cannot stop himself from over-analyzing people which prevents him from enjoying peoples company.

And the short version is:

I realize people are heavily driven by emotion. And reading these posts just wasn't fun, unlike most of your other posts.
You are a bit wordy to begin with, but when you try and go in to theory I would say your wordiness causes a lot of focus to be lost. I did try and stay up with the series, but I sped read most of the posts because I felt I got the crux of things in the first few sentences where you were more focused. YMMV.
Having not read the "Why do we play series", but reading your game-theory/economics posts I'd offer a rather simple explanation. It is way easier to give appropriate feedback on a simple question such as "Warlock or Paladin" than to a complex and well thought out theory posting.
Found the series very interesting, but due to the fact I read them through reader I wasn't in a position to comment: however, I've linked to the series in my own post dealing with the subject. That can be considered as my comment, and it gets a few hits on its own.

I hope.

I've been reading your blog pretty much in its entirety over the past few months, and appreciate the thinking, theory posts a LOT - good stuff, clear writing. Not just a few words thrown on the interweb, but well laid-out, with thinking behind it.

Now most people that read your blog regularly will be "like-minded" to some extent. There are 1000s of blogs, so reding this one on a regular basis means that you are at least somewhat aligned with it. So most people reading your theory posts will mostly agree. If they disagree, it will be a more subtle point, or require extensive background & writing.

Also, most folks reading your blog respect your writing, and would engage in a discussion of such well crafted posts only with well crafted responses. Which takes time, at least minimal writing skills, on top of the "material", i.e. the thinking behind the discussion.

Those factors make it so that you're likely to have not that many responses.

Last point: your "why do we play" posts are well crafted indeed, but written on a consensual note. Hard to disagree with them, at least in a simple, fast way, since you start with "obvious" facts and work your way up. Great writing & thiking, not the best way to stimulate discussions ;)

But keep it up, cheers!
To be brutally honest, I've been reading theories on "Why we play X" for years now. Nobody really has much new to say on the subject. I pretty much skimmed through them.

Don't take this the wrong way, because I do love this blog, which is why I read it. However, I read it to get the point of view of a player on games.

When I want game design theory, I go read stuff by people who are making games, like Scott Jennings and Dr.Richard Bartle.

Not that you don't have anything interesting to say on the matter, but I'm more interested in the random thoughts that seem to idly pop into your head than a long, prepared series of posts.
It's not about interest, it's about effort of commenting. About "warlock or paladin", one can make a VALID comment on the fly "I've just leveled a paladin and it's not slower than any other class I know".

On the other hand to meaningfully respond to a theory post you have to think a lot. I did a "why do we play" post, that can be considered a reply, and it took me several hours.

So if you post theory, the commenter has 3 options:
- spend lot of time, maybe hours to formulate a proper comment
- comment a "1o1 ppl play for fun XDDD" class thing
- don't comment, even if the post had stirred thoughts in them
I found those posts to be interesting, read them all. And gave feedback to a few.

I think this has a simple explanation. If you ask which color your car should have everyone will have an opinion. If you ask what engine it should have, most people won't care. The more vague (and often of little importance) a subject is, the more debate you'll have.

A post about "should I pick a warlock or paladin" doesn't really offer much. I wouldn't be reading a blog with only that kind of posts.
For me it's about half and half... I tend to always read a short post, and for the longer posts it just depends on what else is going on. Most times I'm just sitting down in the morning with my coffee when I fire up Google Reader. I'll hit the quick posts and come back to those that require some more thought when/if time permits.
I loved your "Why We Play" posts! They were (as always) very well written and backed up by some clear thinking.

However, I would have been far more likely to respond to a "What class to play?" post. There was a direct question there that could be answered quickly and easily by a lot of people who have levelled in WoW.

Your longer posts make me think about game design in the abstract but I don't normally have much to add to the conversation because:
a) You thoughts on the subject are aligned with mine and you have conveyed them more succinctly than I could, or
b) My thoughts differ from yours, but in-depth replies can take some time to write/think out. Unfortunately, I read your blog from work and it is difficult to find the time to do that.

It does NOT mean I don't appreciate what you are writing though.
Some people probably like talking about why humans like cheeseburgers.

But if I, personally, was going to talk cheeseburgers, I'd talk toppings I like, or why a particular cheeseburger was really good. Perhaps I'd discuss ideas about hypothetical unmade cheeseburgers and why they would or wouldn't be tasty.

I'm not sure why.
I have read them with interest and joy.

As someone already suggested they did not contain much new insight in your opinion. Not if you are already reading your Blog since a coup[le of years;)

The lack of comments in my opinion is also due to the setup of your piece. It is a bit long (you could make it a book;)and scattered. IE if you read one of your arguments/subjects you can not really disagree with it, only be of the opinion that that is not the main reason why YOU play.

When you posted the summary I did not read back and did not have the complete picture of your survey anymore which makes it difficult to have an opinion and post about it.

Remember this for when you want to avoid discussion for your plans ;)

Please keep posting, I missed you during your break :D
Yes, I read them. Here's some of the reasons why I didn't comment:

A series of long posts is more like a lecture than a discussion, so I was more vary of "interrupting" until I've read your entire train of thought.

At one time, I wanted to make a point about how reasons A and B interact, but didn't know whether to comment on the post about A or on the post about B and forgot about it when the post about C was published.

And now that the entire series has been posted, going back and reorganizing my responses into a single, comprehensive and coherent post is a bit overwhelming, and I'm not sure whether a comment is really the right tool for the job. Answering properly would require my own series of posts, and I frankly can't be arsed to do that now. ;-)
I like the theory posts, but to reply requires me to have things a little better thought out. I read your blog because I enjoy intelligent posts about games--when I finish I find that you have things better thought out than I do. I would love to become more involved, but really I don't have the time. Thanks for writing!
I like both types of posts. I don't leave comments very often, but you are my first stop on my daily round of blog posts :)

In fact, those theory posts made me think a lot about why we raid, why my guild raids, and how the two entities should ideally have the same goals at the end of the day to really mesh together well. It is those posts that make me question whether I am in the right guild and am I playing for the right reasons ?

So in short, yes, I read everything, but I leave very few comments, though I do read all the comments too.
Personally, when someone tells me they are writing a series of posts, I skip them until the series is done so I can read the whole thing from beginning to end (unless its clear that the "series" is going to be "a post a month" or something). Once I have a series to read, I need time to read it. Needless to say, I have not yet had the time to read your latest series.
I do read the longer posts and I enjoy them, i very seldom leave a comment though.
I think you should consider your audience, is it more players of MMO's or developers and designers. The former may find some of the things discussed in your 7 part series on why we play but be less inclined to leave a comment due to not having anything to add to the conversation or because they didn't feel a comment was warranted. The later as a whole may have read your comments with more scrutiny but as before would refrain from commenting possibly due to not wanting to draw public attention. And as others have said a simple question about what class to play in WoW will undoubtedly draw more attention and comments from a audience of players.
yes, I love your theory posts and therefore I read them.

I am always interested in game(r)'s theory (not only the game's mechanical side of view). And I am always surprised at the high intellectual level of your posts and afraid of not delivering a high quality comment - if I would dare to comment ;)

What I really love too are the links that you provide in your posts that lead one further into the topic.

So please don't stop being theoretical.
Personally I like to read theory and background information on games.

I tend to visit multiple blog about this subject, even though I don't activly participate in the discussion.

It's nice just to get multiple viewpoints, on the subject, especially when it shows that the author really put some effort in it, and makes valid comments in a constructive way.

These are the post you take your time to read, and with a coffee/beer in hand (depending on the time of day), go"...uhu..hmmm...well...aaahh...true true..." etc.


PS Yes, first time poster...but long time passive reader.
Another possibility was your brief hiatus caused a drop in readership? You'd know the stats on that.

I think that is exactly the problem: I don't know the stats that interest me. You might be surprised to hear that during my break this blog still got about 2,000 visitors per day. There is a significant amount of "background noise" in my stats, coming from people visiting the blog after having typed some keywords into Google. Plus a lot of people read this blog via the RSS feed, and those aren't adequately counted at all.

So I don't really know how many people regularly read this blog, and I know even less WHAT they were reading.

I found the mix in the comments to this thread comforting, some people read even my long posts, others don't. I simply didn't want to be that old man sitting in the corner telling long rambling stories with nobody listening. If I know that at least some readers listen and some even enjoy these kind of posts, I'm fine. I'll take the criticism to heart that maybe game design theory needs to be packaged in smaller bits.
They were the only posts I've ever skipped on your site.

Was it a waste of time? Only if you found it so. It's your blog. If you liked writing them then keep it up.
yes i loved reading them as matt said theyre more of somehting to ponder over though, than to reply to
Didn't read them. I hit your blog for more of a light about mmo games style, also the personal element of your words echo's my thoughts/feelings on the genre and games. Not really looking for a game theory kind of report.

Hope you don't feel to bad about it not getting a lot of attention, I'm sure that type of thing has an audience, just maybe not in your daily readership?
Yes, I read that, that's quite a good summary plus some original thought that to the big question that "why do we play", got several problem though

1) the post is a bit lengthy but without adding too much value, maybe try shorten that, people nowadays dont usually spend so much time reading such lengthy stuff

2) Formatting/ sub-title, there is more with the presentation than content, add catchy title like "7 Reasons that we play", and then list out one by one like "Reason 1: Social Interaction", and each of paragraph, use bold/ underline/ hyperlinks/subtitle of each paragraph/ or even pictures(not your style though)
Tobold, I found your posts interesting. Overall it was a lot of text that you obviously put a lot of thought into.

Most of your comments were reasonable and I didn't feel the need to comment.

I think the bottom line is that the posts were not contentious. Most intelligent readers would probably appreciate if not agree with what you said.

You last question about classes was a personal twist on the age old, which class is best question. So of course you got more feedback, because it is far more contentious!
Nothing new to say, but wanted to put my notice in the pile - I read them. I just don't commonly comment on blogs.
I didn't read them, to be honest. However, the reason for that was more because of timing then lack of interest. You're a great blogger and I love to read your stuff... but you do compete with lots of other stuff on my reader for my attention, those days there were just more interesting stuff to read. Don't take it personally - I do intend on reading them on the basis of my interest in your overall thinking.

I'll offer you this other piece of information. I came to you first because of your commentary on WoW. You sustained my interest in your blog because of your continued commentary on WoW. I know, I know, you're not a WoW blogger but an MMO blogger instead. I get that. Just saying that it was the set of posts that mentioned WoW that got most of my interest and led me to read more and more. Now that you've scaled back on that, I too have scaled back my involvement in your blog. Your series, by consequence, ranked lower in priority. Then post about WoW again, and in particular about what class to pick to level up through a world whose days are numbered, and... yeah, I jumped at that! I read it! I thought about it! I offered an opinion. Good ol' Tobold is back! Or so was my thinking...

My point is this: had you sustained more WoW commentary, even if from the outside, you may have had more participation on the theory posts from me in particular. I hardly represent the whole, but at least it's one reader's perspective. hehe.

<3 you Tobold. :)
Pala vs. lock doesn't interest me, but it's easy to comment on it. Look at the community managers on wow forums: they only give trivial answers of the "my favourite vanity pet is the striped moth" kind.

Game theory on the other hand...great read, simply didn't have anything to add to your sum-it-up post ;-)
"people read my posts with interest, but didn't feel like giving feedback."


I almost never comment (first time here) but read pretty much every post (bored at work... :-) )
They were great reads! I think that they were so detailed and covered a lot of ideas that many people may have thought the same thing and just didn't reply. A topic about WoW that almost anyone who reads this blog can answer and who most likely has played one or the other or both make it easy to give their 2 cents on the subject; you can say everything there is to say about a class vs another class and keep hearing others viewpoints and people won't feel like they have nothing to add.
Anything WoW related is going to get a lot of posts, especially when they are a direct question for peoples opinions on popular classes.
I replied to the "Pally vs. Warlock" post because it applied to me. I have experience with both classes, and I wanted to give my honest input.

I did not reply the the "why we play posts" because I was away from work for a few weeks (I read this mostly at work), when I came back there was a whole bunch of these posts and I just didn't feel like going through them all considering there is now so much to read about the upcoming WoW expansion. I guess it is a case of bad timing.
I read your blog on my google reader, so I never comment on any post, but this one that is, and I gotta say, I took a look at the 1st "Why..?" post, and to me, those kind of post suck.

I have no interest on it, I think its useless. Maybe others liked, I just though you wasted a lot of time and effort in something boring and "lame".

But thats me.
The theory posts were interesting, it's just that I don't have anything to add, really. Whereas a post with a question implies there being answers...
Too many comments - not reading 'em all before posting.

I tried to read the "Why we play" series at first, but found that the walls of text were too intimidating. Especially with white-on-black text it's tough to focus on that many words and stay focused.

Something I try to do on my own site when I write lengthy posts is break up the articles with headers and/or images. I find this makes them much more readable, and also much easier on the eyes. And added benefit is a post summary is built in almost by default.

Not to toot my own horn too much, but had you done something like the following I would have found it so much easier to read: sample post that has images/headers to break the wall of text.
I read all your posts but hardly ever comment because I read em at work and I don't have that much time in my lunch hour.
Having said that the why do we play? series was a good read.
Like many readers, I rarely comment. But I enjoy your theory posts -- it's one of the things that distinguishes you from other blogs. I appreciate the thought you put into what makes various MMORPGs work and how they relate to each other.

And commenting through a feedreader is a pain...
gotta be honest and didnt read your Threory posts matey - I do check for new posts everyday and read the ones I find interesting though, so dont take it too bad *grins*
I enjoy the theory posts very much. I'm going to go out on a limb and state what I think is obvious ^__^ - the number of post you receive on a topic is inversely related to the difficulty of the subject matter being discussed. As you discuss difficult and thought provoking topics you do get as much feedback as when you ask "yes or no" questions. I believe that's why you blog and most of us don't - we either don't want to, or don't have time to put in the effort to post cognizant thoughts.

In addition, as you've speculated before a large number of us read at work, where taking the time to respond is probably not acceptable. I know that I only take the time at work to respond when i think it's important (such as now). However I enjoy the posts alot and wish I had the time to engage in meaningful discussions based on my own obersavtions or research - I just don't :/(
Toblod very long time reader as well. Frequent reader and less of a everyday commenter. I read just about everything you write because i enjoy the intelligently written pieces that you write as well as opinions. As well I do enjoy being informed on things as well.

Often I read from work as well. But I do enjoy the great intelligent blog pieces. Whether i agree with you or disagree with you I still enjoy your posts because I do respect your opinion.

So keep up the great posts and intelligent discussions. You got more lurkers than commenters. Thats most obvious.
You asked an easy WoW question that required little knowledge or effort to answer vs a long, 7 piece series that not only required sticking with it for two weeks, but also went deeper than 'Which class is awesome?'.

WoW has 5m subs, EVE has 300k. Easy blog posts get 50+ replies, longer deeper pieces get 4.

I find the short 'no content' posts far less interesting than the ones like the "Why we play" series, but then I play DF.
I read them and enjoyed them. I'm an amateur theorist because I like to have something to think about. I don't often comment because I'm an experimentalist IRL. So, please, don't take my silence as disinterest. If we were discussing this over beer or coffee, then I would wholeheartedly join in the topic, but I reserve that thinking to more face-to-face situations.
I liked the theory posts a lot. It's nice to see some high-level discussion of MMO design. I agree with Psychochild though--you might get more responses if you either pose a question or take a more controversial position. When people agree with you, there's not much to say except "great post!"

One thing I'd like to see is more discussion of specific design ideas. E.g. is there a way to tell stories more effectively? To make crafting more fun? To get rid of the grind? A concrete proposal might be easier to discuss than abstract principles.
Pangoria-"A couple of points for you, you post ALOT, since the last time I checked your page you did 4+ posts.

2nd, sometimes you say something that people don't have an opinion on, or they're opinion matches yours.

3rd, I had wanted to add to what was said to the why we play series, but what I had to say was already said by someone else, so no opinion was needed."

This pretty much sums it up. I read them, enjoyed them, but didn' really have much to add to it. I guess I could have put something like "Good post!" but didn't really think to do that =p.

And IDK your probably right that some people don't like/care about posts like that. It's a whatever though just keep writing whatever makes you happy, remember the whole point of a blog is to let you put your thoughts somewhere. it should serve you more then it serves us if you get my meaning.
I read them, but I really don't have anything I could contribute with.
Have to confess, my reaction to these posts was "oooh, interesting! I'll read those when I have more time".

Needless to say, I have not yet had the time but they are likely to be something I turn to in the future, particularly as they are not as topical as more newsy posts.

As you pointed out a while back, you are lucky in so far as being a blogger (as opposed to journo) allows you to write about what you find interesting. Perhaps this is an indication of where the balance between your own interests and your wish to please the masses lies?
I keep up using a reader and don't normally comment. Loved this series. Please keep posts like this coming.
I read about half of the "why we play" posts. I used to read Terra Nova a lot, and still check it now and then, so this subject is pretty familiar to me.
I didn't make the effort to post anything substantial because I didn't feel I had much to add. It is your opinion, and I let it be.
Your thoughts on specific games are more interesting and more revealing of your ideas about why we play.
If you ask more questions of your audience, you might get more responses (case in point).
I think you vastly over-estimate the intellectual engagement of many(most?) of your readers. These are the very same people that post on, for example, the WoW forums. Have you ever been there? It's chock full of posts like:

-LOL Chuck1172 is teh geyh!
-So I farted in the bathtub...
-Why are CLASSNAME all scrubs?!
-So your mom was at my house last night.

Really? Do you really not know. Hell, look at what "chewy" said:

"Honestly I found those posts a little boring. I know why I play - I didn't really need to go into it in such detail."

or check out this gem from the SWTOR forum:

"... The only downside I have seen so far, is the voice acting, although it is a very nice addition, all it does is take up time and add onto the role-playing experience. When I play a mmo I look to be the best, as in WoW I was a Gladiator at 70, in WAR I have a 80 renown rank zealot. I don't care to much for the story line, in WAR I rarely ever quested, and in WoW I just spammed next and had instant quest text, don't care to much for story lines, So I really hope this game offers something else besides hours and hours of talking to a NPC. <---Gonna be a bounty hunter!"

You really don't know what type of people you're dealing with do you?

Here's a tip: Go to a middle school, find the oldest children there and observe their behavior. Now pretend they're all roughly six feet tall and I think you'll be on your way to understanding your audience.
I enjoy the theory posts quite a bit, but rarely have something to add. Just as a seven-part series over two weeks requires more effort than a half-page post WoW classes, contributing something to a theory post discussion takes more effort than answering a simple question like "what class should I play?"

Personally, I comment on this blog extremely rarely and usually on in response to direct questions. The posts I choose to comment on, however, are in no way indicative of the posts I most like to read.
I use google reader to follow your posts and so I never come to the actual site to post comments. I definitely find the theory and speculation post much more interesting that a question. As in this particular example I already know what class I would reroll, but am more interested in the reasons why you chose what.

Also, as proved again by making another question post (with 81 comments and counting), putting a question to your readers generates much more response than an insightful theorhetical post, but does not neccessarily mean it is worth more. ie What should your metric be for post worth be? Number of comments, quality of discussion, generation of interest? Its a tricky one.
For me, the "Why do we play" series was a little of both.

They were long and detailed, but I feel like they each were summaries of themes that you talk about on a regular basis. When you say "Do we play because we like learning?", I already know what the answer is because I've been reading you for some time and you already answered that question. The formal articles are a good compilation, but I found that they were summaries of the Tobold Philosophy.

However, I really enjoy reading about the Tobold Philosophy. But I like how that comes out in application. I believe many others are in the same boat, since any number of seemingly innocuous posts create some very in-depth discussions in the comments. Each of these posts represents a theory discussion of your represented through an applicable lens. The fact that the theory-through-example posts are more tangible and easier to relate to perhaps also explains the comment disparity.

I wouldn't advise nixing the grand article series style completely. They are good summaries of this blog's themes and information, and I suspect that they're somewhat cathartic as well. But I'm also not overly surprised at the comment disparity either, and I hope that you don't see that disparity as discouraging.
Theory (or in this case, opinion) posts are good reads, but for me to comment on them I would have to either agree so strongly that it made my eyes water at how perfectly you made your point, or I would have to disagree soooo vehemently that I could not go on with my day without telling you just how wrong you are.

If I just find them a good read and agree/disagree on various points but not in a passionate way, I will very rarely comment.
I loved the theory posts. I read every one of them. I prefer reading posts like that in general, but I rarely feel like I have anything to add to the discussion.

I read them and didn't see a reason to comment, I only comment if I have something to say on the matter which is why I seldom comment.

This is your blog, your opinion, disagreeing with your opinion is moot because it is your opinion.

Also, I read most of my RSS feeds from my Blackberry and by the time a long post finishes I don't feel like typing out a comment.
I thought your theory posts were extremely insightful, and I loved reading them.
Lurker here, first time posting! I actually prefer your theoretical postings, moreso than your wow specific posts, i left that game over two years ago, don't care for it much now.

We have very similar opinions on the subject of mmo's and you articulate very well some very interesting topics. I think doing these posts shows that there are intelligent thinking people that play mmo's, players and developers need to know we exist. I for one am more interested in seeing how the mmo evolves and what new things can be done, I believe we've only scratched the surface of what is possible.

Anyways keep on writing theory! I for one appreciate it and if you do I will try not to lurk so much and post!
Yes, please continue!

I did enjoy reading those but I rarely comment, and by the time I finished mulling over them, I did not respond as so much time had passed.

But I DID enjoy them, so please continue.

Skarlarth and Co.
I was directed to your blog by my boyfriend a few months ago. I've been a gamer for over 10 years and like to think I know a few things.

However, I really liked your "why play" series. I thought about posting several times but tend to be a lurker more than a poster.

I did want to show support for the series and would like to read more your thoughts about theories of gaming.

I enjoy your blog very much.
The theory concept sounded interesting at first but there was no scientific theory to be found. Good guesses and lots of text… that's nice, but I hoped to find references to cultural studies etc.
I read the whole series of "Why do we play?" posts and enjoyed them immensely. Thanks!

I think it's easier for people to reply to "Paladin or Warlock?". Not only is it a direct question, but it's also a topic that many people will simply have a gut feeling for after playing both classes. Thinking about (and responding to) "Why do we play?" takes more effort and more critical thought, so you'll naturally get fewer responses, even if people enjoyed the posts.
Tobold. Basically the only reason I read this blog is the amount of non-game specific posts. (Never played WoW Anyway tl;dr is the opposite for me I tend to read longer posts and not the shorter. Ts;dr would be more accurate. Anyway, I find theory one of the most interesting part of MMO blogs, and a great part of why I read them, so I personally would like more theory posts. Yay. Go me. Go you. Scott Pilgrim versus the world.
You should blog for yourself, not the adoration of readers.
You added well thought out and somewhat new ideas in your series. I kept saying "yeah" or "well...kinda...I hadn't thought of it like that", but those ideas are complicated comments, or redundant. About locks/pallys, I think...oh, locks are way cooler, but my recent pally was really fun to play (especially prot speced). That looks cooler in the comments.

One thing I've noticed over the years is that not everyone likes thinking deeply about things...Questions like why seem insignificant to them. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't continue to ask the question because there are lots of us who are being fed by these ideas and I don't know of any other place on the net that provides such deep insight on a regular basis as your site.
I'm a longtime lurker and enjoy your theory posts very much.
Dont you dare stop posting theory posts ! They are the reaso I visit your blog ! you are insightful, intelligent, and you ask the right questions ! Do not take away what makes you diferent from other bloggers. the reason why some people like me did not post on these posts is that they were so good that I did not feel like I could have said it any better. especially your post on monry and the economy was very interesting since I did study macroeconomics. and I loved how you focused on different elements of your why do we play series. Although I feel like they might appeal more to older players more. Keep up the good work !
Umm... well, I think the issue with the "Why do we play?" posts in particular was simply that they were "too" complete.

That's not a bad thing per se, but it's not going to evoke conversation when you have already covered most of the discussion points.

In other words, the posts were long and well thought out (worth reading) but the reader was left with little to comment on that hadn't already been covered.
I think those posts were a little long-winded and there was little to make me think or disagree. You were so moderate in your tone and you had already done all of the thinking that there is little to do other than nod and move on. It would have been nice if you had done the thinking outside the blog and then summarized into a single pithy post illustrating how each of these factors influence a single baby tauren druid on his adventures to 80. It is your blog and you can do what you want... but as you ask...
Personally, you posted that "Why Do We Play" summary after I left for Blizzcon, and I'm still working my way through my backlog of blog posts in my reader. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I know why *I* play, and your posts feel more like a "what are the various reasons OTHER people play" which is not something I'm particularly interested in. I'm probably only going to comment if I feel that you got something blatantly wrong.
Already 100 comments on this post... I haven't read all of them so I'm sorry if this has been said.

Your warlock/paladin post asked a specific question looking for a specific answer. I'm not surprised you got a lot of comments on it. The series of why we game theory posts was not a specific question.

I enjoy the theory posts but don't feel like I need to comment on them unless you specifically ask for feedback or unless I have something worth while to add.

I stopped reading your blog a few months ago, when you disallowed anonymous post. I didn't want to create blog account so I could comment on a blog account. (but I see you've changed this now). Also, sometimes I find your blog very negative in your opinion of wow that goes beyond simple critizem. You tend to treat wow as an ex-girl-friend you dislike but keep getting back together with.

I read your "why we play" and thought is was well writtend and interesting.

Your comment about getting more people to respond to on how to play a lock/pallidan is easy to explain. More readers have more experience sharing their experiences on class questions then heady questions of "why we play".

- Dyslexic
The theory posts are good. I can barely stand the other ones honestly. I don't typically leave blog comments on anything.
I read the ones in the beginning, but they were very long overall and I ended up skimming them.

I did like them, but shorter might be good.
I didn't read them. They were a little long and abstract for my taste. But write whatever you want, I can (and do) just skip over posts I'm not interested in.

That said, it is a very common phenomenon for light and frothy blog posts (like the Paladin vs Warlock post) to get lots of comments, and long, thoughtful posts to get very few. This is the case even on personal blogs. Additionally, like this post, the PvW post posed a short and direct question that somebody can easily respond to without much though, while your other posts were less directed towards feedback.
I love your theory posts, but that series wasn't that interesting. Plus, it was the type of subject to spark conversation or controversy.

Keep up the theory posts. Not everything you write is going to be amazing.
The main thing with the theory posts was that they didn't interact with the audience.

Secondly, they didn't have anything controversial in them for people to really get worked up over.

Third, they were at times a bit long and dry. Five paragraphs at most, maybe.

Forth, why each of us plays is very subjective, and I didn't find that the articles spoke to me. It was a lot of theory, but lacked the one thing theory needs, evidence to back it up. There was no research done to back up the theory, only you personal opinion, which isn't what you were trying to pass off the articles as.
I skimmed them at the beginning and skipped them entirely by the end.
They're a bit long winded, to tell you the truth.

"Honestly I found those posts a little boring. I know why I play - I didn't really need to go into it in such detail."
Your prep time to write that treatise on MMO's required a lot of effort.

Similarly, someone commenting on that work would need to have read it, thought it over substantially, come up with interesting insights or alternatives to discuss or debate, and then post those thoughts.

In other words, you set the bar pretty high for the commenter to follow up with and have an opinion they feel would be worth the effort to share.

Whereas "Should I pick a Pally or a Warlock?" is not much of a hurdle for most commenters. Most people have already thought about that question and already have a valid opinion that they would like to share. And its easy to do so.

So, it comes down to the prep work. The more "intellectual" a post, the more "intellectual" a commenter feels he needs to be to contribute. Ergo: you get more comments from the posts where it is easier to formulate or express an opinion.

So, there's nothing wrong with the enjoyability or readability of your posts. Its that some of the posts require a great deal more effort to comment on.
Although this last specific set of theory posts was not my cup of tea, I generally *love* your theory posts. In particular, I enjoy reading about your discussions of economy (real and virtual), game dynamics and the results of game design(or reward structures) on game play. I think this blog would be much, much poorer without the theory.

Remember that you asked a direct question in the post about your new character - that probably made a lot of people comment or email that normally would have just read and pondered.

I liked the recent "why we play" theory posts, but didn't find much to argue with, and much that echoed what I've argued myself before. As such, I *could* have posted some "yeah, that" or "me, too" posts with links to what I've written before, but that seems so... shallow.

I definitely spend more time with theory posts than "play" posts, economic and political diversions included. To each their own, I guess. I don't always comment, but it's not like you need the Tesh seal of approval or Tesh wall-of-text counterpoint, either.

For what it's worth, it might be fallacious to gauge a post's value by the amount of feedback it elicits.
yes I'm reading, never fear ;)
Speaking of TL;DR...lots of comments. Didn't read them all :).

I actually came to your blog and ended up subscribing because of the theory posts. Theory is harder to comment on, because you need to have a solid understanding of the Big Picture before you can go spouting your mouth off. Also, if you don't say anything that might be disagreed with, all a commenter can possibly say is "Mmmhmmm...yes." and that's not a very interesting comment :)

Thanks for writing!
The posts were interesting and I know you will protest -- but I saw a lot of parallels with Bartle in them.

I would also add to your list of reasons -- boredom, habit, meh, & "cheaper than going to the movies"!
I read some of your theory posts, not all. Main reason there is probably that I do not check your blog for new posts as often as you post them.

I like those types of posts better than the WoW related posts, which is a game I have close to zero interest in.
I come here first for your game design evaluations on a large variety of games that I would otherwise never get any exposure to. Obviously because of the fact that I haven't played these games (or that many MMOs in the first place) it's hard for me to comment.

On top of the mentioned exposure I thorouhly enjoy the theory posts though as many people have already pointed out, these are usually well established theories that have already experienced a fair share of discussion. Having these theories of game design applied to present day games is wonderful, it's just not as comment provoking as a direct question. There I rephrased what others already said but at least I commented!
I read the theory posts. They seemed logical and complete and so I had nothing to add. The WoW class post asked a direct question (like this post) and so i felt I had something to contribute.
"Why do we play?" series is really good: a thoughtful but still entertaining analysis.
I read and liked the posts, and it is part of what makes me read the blog. But I felt they deserved a long and proper comment and never had the time ;)
This might have already been said, but I'm going to post it anyway because I didn't read all the comments. And that illustrates my next point precisely:

People are by nature lazy. I suppose that's a rather cynical view of things, but I think it holds at least a little bit of truth. Posts about theory require more critical thought than a post about Warlock or Paladin. The choice in the latter comes down to immediately available information in-game and on third party sites and most importantly opinion. Opinion doesn't need facts or well-thought-out arguments to exist. However, the former - your theory posts - require quite a bit of critical thinking in order to generate a remotely valid comment. I suppose someone could say "I think you're wrong because I play for this reason instead" but that has much less weight than a dissenting opinion over the "best" class.

And of course there's the direct question that plays into it as well.

People follow the path of least resistance. Being 70% water, I suppose that's not surprising. Hehe.
I enjoy all your posts, especially the theoretical ones. It's easier to comment on the paladin/warlock question because most of us have played both and have strong opinions. Whereas very few of us have thought deep into the inner motivations of why we play.

Also, the summary post didn't contain new content. The individual posts (before the summary) is where I would have made any comments.

Your theory posts, however, are like journal papers: less read and commented upon, compared to a trashy magazine article. But adding more to the general knowledge of the world.
I liked them but I'm not one to comment too often. I'm usually reading a post here and there among many other things thus commenting only happens if I really disagree with something and want to make that point known. So keep up the good posts even if you don't get a lot of comments!
I can read pleasantly written but overall pretty generic remarks about games on lots of blogs. Few venture a bit deeper sometimes. I think your blog is one of those, and probably the main reason i keep reading.

I wouldnt necessarily interpret the lack of response as a lack of interest. Sometimes i just agree, and mentioning that fact doesnt seem to contribute anything at all, sometimes i feel that others made the points i wanted to make already and maybe formulated them in a superior way. And sometimes i just dont have the time to make a meaningful post, and just stick to reading. I think this goes for a lot of visitors.
I read them and find them very interesting. But usually don't bother leaving my own comments as i'm a bit lazy.
Well you have a lot of comments here again, and I'd bet that's because you asked a direct question.

I read your theory posts. I couldn't see the point of them, to be honest, unless you just enjoyed writing them, which would be reason enough.

They were very dry, even allowing for your style, which is generally quite formal. Your English isn't particularly idiomatic, and whilst your grammar and syntax are excellent, these pieces came over rather like hand-outs for a seminar.

The subject is interesting enough, but I think you would need to have a specific thesis to propound to generate interest. I actually disagreed with the majority of what you said, as far as I recall. I posted once, I think, on a point I particularly objected to, but overall your analysis was so mild that it didn't provoke any strong reaction.

I think it's important that bloggers have something to say, and don't just post to keep up a self-imposed "one post a day" rule. I don;t believe they need to be original, insightful or novel. They can say the same thing over and over, if it's something they feel strongly about. But they do need to want to say it.

Your most interesting posts for me are ones where you either ask questions that you really seem to want answers to - this one, the Warlock/Paladin one - or ones where you are either enthusiastic or riled about something you are playing. Those tend to be the ones that provoke a response.
"In other words, you set the bar pretty high for the commenter to follow up with and have an opinion they feel would be worth the effort to share."

@Justin - My thoughts exactly. I read all the "why play?" posts but couldn't think of anything to contribute that hadn't been covered. Ironically, it's all the effort that went into thinking through the post so throughly that kept me from remarking on it.
I've never commented before, but I'd just like to say that the theory posts are what I find most interesting of all. They're the reason I read your blog. Don't stop them now!
When I clicked to comment there were already 126 posted comments. I read your posts, good stuff (I like both long and short posts). Personally if I'm in the mood to say something I do, if not I just read, smile, and go on my way.

Either way I like your stuff. Someone suggested that if you want more responses to lengthier, theory posts, to ask a question or two that requires an explicit answer, I think that's not a bad idaa. Keep up the good work.
tobold. your theory posts are the reason why i visit your blog. daily.
You shouldn't judge an article but it's comments. Usually people will respond to shorter, direct question than a large, static comment. It doesn't make the article any more or less worthy, it's just how humans behave now. Really you should be writing what you want anyway :D
I liked your Why We Play posts, but I am not one that normally comments. Greedy Goblin and Hardcore Casual both posted responses in their blogs to some of your theory posts.
I enjoyed reading them, they were cleverly written. But comments are not done to debate. They are only usefull to give a short feedback.
I'd really like to debate about MMO IRL with you. I could speak countless hours about them. Unfortunately, I'm not as good as you to write. Or maybe I'm too lazy
Personally, your theory posts are the reason I started reading your blog. They give me a lot to think about during the day, but like others have said it's hard to sit down and respond with something meaningful and I don't usually have the time for that. Sometimes I'll say something quick though if a thought pops up.

Right now I haven't actually read the whole 'why do we play' series yet, I have the perma links bookmarked for when I get a chance though, I want to read them all in one sitting when I do.

Also, I really liked that you broke this one down into sub-topics! It's more useful for reference :)
137 comments at the time I post this reply. I guess that proves the point that asking a direct question will provoke a greater response. Heck, it got me here. :)

I read every darn thing you write because I find your perspective interesting. Your series felt like a survey of current thought on the subject. You did not posit anything that evoked a strong reaction. I mostly just nodded my head and moved on to the next blog.
The longer you write the less space you leave for us to draw the wrong conclusion. Thus we don't have to post and I'd like to think that most of us are beyond the point of just posting an agreement post.
You're theroy on why we play came mostly from your interpretation. So there is no need to debate. I realized half way thru the first/second article it wasn't going to help me a whole lot in real life or in game so I filtered it out.

Keep the theory posts up. I read them. Just not all apply.
I've been reading your blog for years (I check it every day) and I always enjoy your posts - the theory ones are no different.

Having said that I hardly ever post a reply to any of them, I am one of your silent fans :)
I personally loved the why we play posts, but then i like to reflect on all this kind of thing anyway. Part of the problem with people commenting though i think comes from people already "know" why they play. More accurately they think they know why they play, so they don't think about it.

On the flip side, i don't feel comfortable telling someone what class they should play, as that is something only you can really decide. I know i started out with a Lock in the first few months, and ended up being my first to the cap at the time (60) and when i tried others, i couldn't get in the flow of it. Then later i went back and tired new things, worked better in that class. I still can't get the feel of melee though even if they live longer. That's just me though.
I appreciated your "theory" posts but as some others here have mentioned, I found them to be overly verbose and to some extent superficial. Your project, to identify the varied motivations for why we play (mmo) games, is a valuable one, and there is still much left to be said. However, your analysis read more like a survey of possible answers to the question rather than an argument that either: 1) these are the possible answer for the question, or 2) among possible answers, this or that one is the prime reason motivating our play.

Such a survey is valuable in its own right, but I doubt whether it makes for a provocative blog post. Few will respond to what you are trying to present as self-evident truisms of game design and human psychology if in doing so you make few claims as to the strength or validity of these motivators.

If you want a reaction, write with an eye towards engendering one. Make arguments that your readers can grapple with. I've found that often the more prolific bloggers take a more assertive stance, defending positions that they might on reflection be more hesitant to support. But it gets your readership talking and that is what you're after.
I thought they were a bit too lengthy, to be honest. I find the subjects interesting, but I kept getting impatient halfway through the posts and ended up skimming most of them.

I actually do this with a lot of your posts, and I don't mean it as any kind of offense - it's just that when things show up in my RSS reader, I feel like I need to digest them in one sitting and then move on. ADD, perhaps.

Also, I - and probably many other regulars - seldom visit the actual site, so it's probably very difficult to gauge how many people were actually reading that content.
i read all your mmo and gaming review / experience , but usually i skipped your non-gaming stuff..

but your 'series' of gaming post theory maybe the 1st gaming post i skipped because its like a reading assignment from classroom heh heh..

better to combine fun gaming stuff and interject your theory in there instead of putting it independently
Read the first, skimmed a couple, then started skipping them. I didn't see anything new they were bringing to the conversation.
I read the posts, but as one commentator said in this thread, the only way I could respond would be with an equally long post, which most people wouldn't bother reading.

Ultimately the more comments you get doesn't mean the more people read or enjoyed the post, but the easier it is for someone to answer back with their own opinion. On each of the theory posts, and all of them taken together, it would be pretty hard to respond to them in any meaningful way. Especially with the new commenting system and the delay before posting, the conversation is a little laggy in the comments since comments seem to be posted in blocks.

I definitely enjoyed what you wrote though. Don't take the lack of comments as dissuasion to post long comments that deal with theory. Most of your readers aren't looking for another blog that just talks about what level your alt is and how much gold you got from the auction house.
I read them. You made some interesting points, but there were also large sections that were so descriptive in nature that they mean nothing to MMO-players. Write what you enjoy, and people who aren't interested can skim or skip those posts.

You got a lot of comments on your class-related question because you asked for opinions, which internet-folk love to give. Your theory post was heavier on observation, so there was little to contest.
I'm reading your "Why do we play?" series. Some of it got me thinking, some offer a new perspective. Overall, I find it quite enlightening.

Regarding few comments for theory posts, maybe because your tone is more of informative?
I'm a fairly new reader. I stumbled onto your blog via the "why do we play" link on somewhere/somewhen.

I generally try to read all of the posts on a blog I subscribe to, but I rarely comment on them. It's the overall quality of writing of a person and not the different topics that make something worth reading/following.

Feel free to consider this comment a 'fluke'.


ps. sorry for any mistakes - I'm not a native english speaker.
Yes, keep em coming!
Tobold, I love your theory posts. You simply cover everything so well that it is sometimes hard to add any of my own thoughts. I've read every post you have made since the first time I found this blog. Keep up the good work.
Hi there, i only recently started reading your blog and haven't bothered to comment yet i think. Hard to track all the stuff i comment everywhere.

Anyway, i got here via a cross link from Gevlon, regarding your "why do we play" series.

And actually i like them. Its not much news but if you hadn't put it in your blogs i would have had to put it all into words myself ( Gosh that sounded like a lyric from some song.. )

Anyway, keep em comming, i actually only read blogs that will fill my whole screen, if its not a wall of text its rarely interesting and only stress relieving. ( Ok i admit, i read those aswell, but in general they don't mean anything to me, its the bit walls of text i like, but hey, i'm prolly just crazy or something. PP )
Gevlon's response is pretty much spot on. The other thing you might want to do to engage readers is to ask a direct question (or several) at the end of your post. And not just a "Do you agree?"

In other words, put the ball in our court.
I think you should've called the series "Why I play" instead of "Why we play"
I read them Tobold, enjoyed them, and gave them a think, I'm just shy about posting. Welcome back!, btw. :)
It was ok, you probably went too in-depth over a short period of time. I'm not really big on theory posts myself, because I tend to be more concrete in my thinking, and enjoy details over method. Sometimes I do it, though, I tried to make a new MMO typology recently, but I think I like your work more when you talk on specific play instead of general theory.

Of course this is just me, write what makes you happy. Even if people dont comment they do read it, and sometimes there's really not much you can say to a well-reasoned position.
1) Everyone has an opinion about which character to play. Fewer feel that they can make meaningful input on a more theoretical subject. But I think your ideas have far-reaching influence that you won't recognize just from comments

2) I feel silly if I'm just commenting with "great post Tobold!" which is what I usually feel the impulse to do

3) I tend to put aside the meatier-looking posts for later, when I have the time and effort available to give them what they deserve. Unfortunately, I often fail to come back to them. Less meaty posts always get read immediately, because they require minimal effort on my part.

In summary, I'd say you should keep doing the theory posts because they do have impact and meaning even if you don't get as many comments, and they also help define what kind of blog this is and establish you as a strong intellectual force, giving context to everything else here.
Yes, I do read theory. I am a would be game designer. I read Bartle, Koster, Castronova and Tobold :-)
Just wanted to pop by and let you know that I've been sporadically following the blog and have really enjoyed the "why we play" posts. I suspect my reasons for reading them are in the minority, since I'm also in the business of commentating from time to time.

But more important to me than own personal interest in the subject of what makes a good MMO vs a bad one is why people leave. My husband got burned out somewhere around the DAOC/COH stage and hasn't come back. I keep waiting for the MMO that will bring him back into the fold, and often your opinions mirror comments he has made. Occasionally we brainstorm about what it would take to create that "perfect" MMO, so I find it interesting to read articles from other MMO gamers on this subject.
I definitely read the theory posts (if not at the time they're posted). Personally, I find them more interesting than question threads because I'm not generally drawn to reading comments. I read blogs to read the author's thoughts not to become follow a conversation. At their best, blog posts inspire me to discuss the thoughts presented in them with friends; not the original author.
Actually I got into your blog because of those posts - never found anything similar to them, nor had the mental strength to go into such complexed details. It actually got me thinking and help me answer a lot of questions, which I had directed to myself a long time ago.
So now I'm hooked on and can't stop reading your blog. Cheers!:)
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