July 2013 Roundup

July’s Blogs of the Round Table topic was the somewhat-experimental ‘Blogception’: your goal was to blog about blogging, but we also wanted to start up a conversation between writers rather than just a big blog dump. We succeeded! We had some excellent submissions, with a lot of back and forth. Here we go:

What is the future of videogame blogging? Has it been usurped by social media and YouTube pundits, or is it still thriving? Is a one-sided conversation one worth having?

On his blog Only a Game, Chris Bateman summarises a recent ‘blog moot’ between several bloggers. Should blogs be about “exploring my own issues in a semi-public forum” as Corvus Elrod says, or “something like an 18th century Salon… serious chat with nice folks” as Chris Lepine claims at The Artful Gamer?

To kick things off, I wrote about the emerging dialogue around Animal Crossing: Wild World for Split Screen. The rise of social networking has allowed us to share our opinions and fishing pictures instantly through the likes of Twitter and Facebook. But that also means that there’s less of a need for the type of ‘circular blogging’ spearheaded by the likes of BoRT. Are we a dying institution? On Sub Specie, Oscar Strik feels it doesn’t have to be that way and there is still a place for blogging, especially because it fosters a social environment where the conversation can blossom between blogger and reader. Oscar goes on to point out three areas where there is room for game blogging to grow: languages other than English and geographical diversity, religious differences (not sure if there’s a lot here that Christ and Pop Culture aren’t covering, but hey) and conversation.

Jonathan Schoenfelder doesn’t know if he is a video game blogger or not: obviously people can define themselves whatever way they want – I don’t call myself a ‘gamer’, for example – but Tumblr, with its mixture of blogging and social networking (reblogs, etc) doesn’t help clear the muddy waters. It doesn’t improve anyone’s writing to focus solely on videogames: we’ve expanded Split Screen to cover movies and books in the past. It’s your blog- do what you want! Again, Jonathan talks about the importance of conversation- that the conversation is ongoing means there may not be a blog ‘problem’ at all. Jeremy Voss is also having an identity crisis and talks about his early days on blogging with Livejournal, plus the special circle of hell that is the Gamespot forums (disclaimer: I used to frequent GameFAQs forums, so that joke’s coming from experience). To answer his rhetorical question “Is it possible to get a gamer-blog network up and running?”: yes it is, and if you build it, we’ll promote – assuming it’s not like Gamespot forums.

Mary Hamilton asks: “Where is the Roger Ebert’s commissioning editor of games?“, and I’m glad someone tackled this. She bluntly states: “the future of video game blogging is mainstream”, which is true, but we really need to get the games themselves into the mainstream too. What I mean is that we need to formally separate “gaming” from “gamers” in the way a mainstream audience can clearly delineate “the cinema” from “film buffs”. The commercial failure of the Wii U demonstrates that we’ve got a long way to go yet. But we need to get games out of the newspaper technology section and into culture. If only I knew someone who worked for a newspaper…

Chris Bateman replies to our post about his own blog post, thus achieving BLOGCEPTION. While Chris acknowledges that ‘blog clusters’ are dying (gulp) the conversation is bigger than ever. Unfortunately, the quality of that conversation – Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+ – is crap. It’s ephemeral, it goes around in circles. Of course, blogs can be crap too, but at least there’s a sense of permanence about the writing. There’s also a continuing conversation over at First Person Scholar you should read, as they’re trying to turn blogs into more meaningful conversations as well.

Finally, Leigh Harrison gives us a somewhat graphic trip down memory lane and the potential for games blogging to come across as overly-academic stuffiness. I feel like I should address two things here: first of all, I can’t be bothered reading or writing the academic work either. It’s just not my cup of tea. But that’s OK! With Blogs of the Round Table, we try to keep things a bit less ‘game studies’ and a bit more ‘armchair enthusiast’, but if you write something really academic I’ll try my best to understand it. Secondly, I’ve never received a pitch for Five out of Ten that was really awful. Honest! There are just some ideas that fit, and others that don’t. I rejected a pitch that ended up on Unwinnable, and they don’t take bad pitches. I’ve tried.

But I digress. There are times to have serious discussions about the mechanics of games, and times to talk about a cool experience you had without needing a degree in game studies. At Critical Distance there is room for both of these and everything that covers the spectrum between them. This is not a contest of mental abilities, a battle to decide who has finally won The War of Words about Videogames. This is a community for everyone, whether you’re an academic finishing off a paper prior to journal submission or an increasingly tired quasi-professional journalist writing a blog roundup to high-octane videogame music. No one should ever feel intimidated about submitting something to Blogs of the Round Table or This Week in Videogame Blogging. Ever.

Right, I’m outta here! This has been a great month for the new BoRT format. I’ll be back tomorrow with a brand new topic; entry is mandatory, as discussed in the previous paragraph. Peace.