Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gazing Into The Navel of RPG Blogging

Well, at least *my own* navel.

A couple of years ago, I stumbled onto blogs such as GrognardiaPlaying D&D With Porn Stars, and The Tao of D&D, and thought - gee - you know, a large part of my very soul is tied up in role playing games, I love to write, and these guys are writing about RPGs - so why don't I do the same thing?

So I did.  The blog sputtered along for a while.  At that point, it felt like talking into a echo chamber.  I was all alone, talking to myself, and I really wasn't digging it.  Then, one day, I started getting blog followers.  Somehow I had gotten hooked into the OSR blog zeitgeist.  Well, I think it was primarily due to Cyclopeatron and Tim of Gothridge Manor, but for whatever reason, I was in, BABY, and people were reading and responding.

Ah, the halcyon days.

I did a lot of stuff to try to get attention back in those days.  I came up with outrageous blog titles.  I hunted down pictures to specifically get geeks like me to click while looking at other blog rolls.  I dug through other blogs' follower lists and went and followed everything even vaguely on the same topic as my blog.

And the stats.  Oh yes, the stats.  Refresh refresh refresh.  Who is reading?  Who is linking?  When are they reading?  Stalk stalk stalk.

If page hits were down, I obviously did something wrong.  Did I post on the wrong day?  At the wrong time of day?  Was the title not interesting enough?  Was I competing with too many of the 'big boys' at that time slot?  Was I not topical enough?  Was I too topical?  Was I on a boat that had already sailed?

Low post responses were also an issue.  Obviously, I was not interesting enough.  And if no one responded to a post?  ACK!  Well, that was like the worst.  I was a nobody for that day.

Over time, things changed.  Google Plus came on the scene, taking most of the blog chatter with it.  Some important blogs closed their doors.  Others wasted away into nothingness.  For a while, there were more blog posts about reduced traffic than there were posts about actual gaming.

Then I got horribly sick and stared death in the face.  I hallucinated that my cat was Smaug.  And over time, my gaming interests and posting topics have shifted away from fantasy to science fiction.  Old D&D is the center of the OSR universe, and always will be.  Lowest common denominator, if you'll remember from your old math classes.

The stats crashed.  Page hits are way down.  I think most hits come from Russian Mafia Server Farms scraping content to add to their slowly growing artificial intelligence emulators anyway.  Or whatever they are doing with the data.  Building the Singularity, I guess.

But you know what?  I don't care.

Okay, maybe a little.  But nowadays, I write the blog to write the blog.  To me, it's performance art.  It's not the end product, it's the DOING.  I write.  I write for my own pleasure.  If people are reading it - that's just peachy.  If no one sees it - if no one posts - well - someone might one day.  It's not a big deal to me anymore.

So to all you other bloggers who are writing out there, feeling like you are yelling into an echo chamber - I hear you.  And I probably read your blog.  And no, I didn't respond to that post where you said the thing about the thing.  I'm lazy and I read too many blogs.

And if you are not enjoying stringing words together for the sake of stringing words together, maybe you need a new hobby.  But if you do like to string words together - keep on doing that.  I'll probably read it.  And no, I probably won't respond.  But I do wish you the best of luck in blogging.

- Ark


  1. Well, here is a comment for you!

    I'm pretty new to RPG blogging myself. I haven't really done much in the way of promotion, aside from joining the RPG Blog Alliance hopper.

    So, here I am. I guess it's working?

  2. I'm not going to respond to your post. Ha! Oh wait... crap.

  3. Well, if you ever decide you're tired of maintaining a blog but are still interested in writing an article every so often, you are welcome to join my blog as a guest author. :)

  4. Double-plus amen! Just posted a lament yesterday about my current inability to blog as much as I'd like. But agreed, I'm blogging these days to get my thoughts out for it catharsis, organizing thoughts, whatever. If someone in the community reacts and wants to share, all the better. But I'm not worried about a popularity contest. It's all just for love of the game. Speaking of the game, if time is scare and something has to go, the blogging slows or stops for a time. Since I'm really in this hobby to actually play, rather than talk about gaming. My current situation has dropped me into a "gaming over blogging" scenario. I will miss the temporary loss of the outlet for my experiences and thoughts, and the interactions with fellow gamers, but actual gaming trumps all. It's good to have the old priorities straight, and to know what you truly want to get out of blogging.

  5. I'm coming up on my second year of blogging. I admit that I'm a bit disappointed to see my number of readers (as measured by Google Reader) stop growing. I don't change what I write (much) to lure in more pageviews, but I do refresh my hit counters obsessively throughout the day. I've never made any kind of attempt to move to a regular post schedule. I satisfy myself with the notion that my close friends (people I know offline) read and enjoy what I write, and as I build up a larger backlog, eventually the readership will grow.

    I keep telling myself this. ;)

  6. I'm still in the echo chamber phase of blogging. I'm strangely comfortable with that. I do wonder what the hits from Russia and China mean, though.

    One of the reasons I enjoy your blog is you seem to have a lot of the same intrests/sensibilities I do and you don't seem encumbered by any particular theme. Why constrict yourself for a post count? Unless you're trying to monetize (which seems an increasingly dismal prospect these days).

    I really liked the recounting of your red shirt campaign set up, bad science warts and all.

  7. Sometimes I feel like I am talking to myself, but I am fine with it! I like to have a place to put my ideas, and on those rare occasions where someone really digs that one weird idea you had, it makes it worth it to me.

  8. I know exactly how you feel.

    And if I had anything to do with getting you more notice, I'm glad, but I think it would have happened anyway.

  9. cirsova - I've checked out the blog - very cool. It's now in the blog roll.

    David - :)

    Zanazaz - ACK! Good luck on the zine, btw.

    Erin - Aww thanks. You got a deal.

    Drance - Oh yes, definately - gaming first - blogging second!

    Brandes - I think that writing for the people you know offline is a lot better - and probably much more healthy - than writing for an amorphous Internet mass of maybe humans, maybe Russian proto-AI, that you don't even really know. :)

    Nine-toes - I thought long and hard about the title of my blog before making it, as I figured that it would thematically define what I posted. I tried to stay away fromt he D&D tropes, and instead went with my favorite description of the taste of venison. Rather Gamey fit my style perfectly, being a flavor that many people don't like - but I love. Oh yeah, and it had the word 'Game' in it. :)

    frothsof - Yup, blogs are a wonderful sounding board that once in a while, accidentally talk back.

    Rob - Indeed I shall! :)

    Tim - Never underestimate the power that words of encouragement, or a heartfult award has, to passionate blogger pouring his or her soul out into the darkness. I appreciate both you and Ivy a lot.

    - Ark