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Making it as an MMO blogger: The bloggers speak up part 2

Shawn Schuster

A common myth about gaming bloggers is that they all want to eventually become game designers one day. Do you feel this is either true for you, or MMO bloggers in general?

Beau: Sort of. I think there are a lot of us that would gladly take a job working in the industry, but for myself I would rather make money at writing. That way, I can say whatever I want about whatever game I want, and still have some influence.

Petter: For a majority that is probably true, in the sense that most people will want to be deeper involved with what they blog about and burn for. Most MMO-bloggers I follow seem to be pretty stable in their jobs already, though, if they aren't already an actual part of the industry. For myself? Since I can't see myself in another business than the game business, I do hope to cross over from press to developer at some point, sure.

Syp: For me? Nah. Those who can't do either teach or blog, and I like to blog. I had a great interest in game design growing up and still have -- as all gamers do, I suspect -- a lot of ideas and an internal "wish list" of what we'd like to see in games, but that doesn't necessarily translate into wanting a job in game design or development. I think there's a lot of fun involved for people who do, but I've talked to enough people in the industry and read enough interviews to know that there's a great amount of actual work, tedium, frustration, games that never launch, games that launch but people hate you just because, and an inability to be a dictator who makes every internal wish happen just as I imagine.

"Those who can't do either teach or blog, and I like to blog."

Ravious: This myth is not true for me, and I don't think it is true for most MMO bloggers. Most MMO blogs I follow have writers with careers in other professions or they are already game developers. I've heard this myth apply to amateur modders, skinners, and level designers as well. For the most part I believe, at the very least, most bloggers are just furthering their hobby with a creative outlet.

Syncaine: Certainly not true for me. I love to armchair design, but actually having to do the job itself is not for me. I know a few bloggers think it might get them someplace, and for a few it has, but there are MUCH better ways to get into game dev than writing your ideas on the Internet.

Keen: We all have our dream job, right? Mine would definitely be to work in the gaming industry in some capacity. Whether it is in game design or marketing, I have a passion for these games that goes beyond simply playing them. However, I do not feel that this is the case with MMO bloggers in general. There are plenty of sane people who simply draw the line at talking about games.

I wouldn't say that all of them become game designers or even make it into the industry. Or that they all desire to become one. To some, like me, blogging about games is a rewarding experience as it is and not a means to an end. Having said that, being a gaming blogger is a great way for you to get noticed and eventually make it in the industry, like so many have done.

Do you feel that your role as a blogger doubles as an "unofficial" community manager?

Beau: I don't think so, but I think that some of my readers think so. Just because I get an interview or write about a particular game a lot does not mean I am connected to the company. But bloggers can help community managers spread the word, for sure.

Petter: No, not personally. I guess there might be bloggers out there that do, in one way or another. But I guess I blog about too many games at the same time. If you only focus on more or less one game, you might end up in that role without even meaning too. I guess bloggers like SynCaine might feel like that from time to time.

Syp: A CM role in the way it's used on official forums is to bridge the gap between players and devs, which is not my focus as a blogger. I mean, I'm pleased as the next guy if devs read my blog, and if it's useful to them in any way (even if just for encouragement or constructive criticism), then bully for them.

But I'll take this the other way, which is to say that an unofficial CM is a person who helps to connect the community, give a voice to their interests and concerns, and be a facilitator of discussions and the exchange of ideas. Is that part of my role as a blogger? I would say "yes". Before I ever wrote a blog post, I read an awful lot of them, and enjoyed feeling connected with people who shared my same passion for MMOs. I started writing because I wanted to add to the discussion and felt I had enough to say to be a worthwhile part of it. In a way, blog posts are similar to forums, in that I as the blogger am the "original poster" who kicks off a topic of discussion, and everyone else chimes in the comment section -- or picks up the ball and runs with it on their own blog. It helps to build friendships, networks and support groups, and I love that feeling of connection within this great community.

"I define my role as a blogger to be one of complete candor."

Ravious: I think that my role follows more like a trafficker of information than to manage a community. At Kill Ten Rats our community mostly takes care of itself with very intelligent commentators. We don't moderate comments and we rarely delete them. I am amazed at some of the popular MMO blogs that do try and wrangle the community that chooses to read them. I personally feel that if I write intelligent, thoughtful posts then the reading community will respond in kind. One famous quote I try to keep in mind while blogging is from Albert Camus: "Those who write clearly have readers. Those who write obscurely have commentators."

Are we talking community for a certain game, or the community that follows my blog?

Keen: Definitely not. I define my role as a blogger to be one of complete candor. When I sit down to write on my blog or anywhere for that matter it's going to be my gut reaction that you see. A community manager does not always have that luxury. It's quite evident in the bloggers who turn community manager that the two styles do not mesh entirely. There are other ways in which I've taken the blog to a more community level though. K&G's Gaming Community has exploded into an enormous gathering of people who share a passion for gaming. There are times when running that community feels like a community management position.

Being an active blogger within your community does put the spotlight on you, a position that can be leverage as an unofficial community manager. If you play your cards right, you can certainly establish yourself as an important figure, but it's a position that is difficult to maintain and can easily be taken away as quickly as it was given. In the end though, it's all about the community.

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