Influence

A commentator on Syp’s always entertaining blog Bio Break took him gently to task for sometimes dwelling negatively on MMOs that he has abandoned. Syp rightly defends his approach on the grounds that it would be dishonest to say otherwise, though he agrees that letting go is eventually appropriate.

It’s an interesting dilemna, one faced by critics of all forms of entertainment. Critics have such a huge influence on the success or failure of a venture that it must sometimes seem overwhelming – some recipients of bad reviews have even turned to the courts to seek recompense. I remember talking to a record store owner who knew the music reviewer at the Sydney Morning Herald. This reviewer had made a conscious decision to only review music he liked, perhaps as a response to being sampled by The Necks apologising profusely for a bad review he’d given them. That’s obviously an extreme reaction, but on the other hand, why waste time dissing something when there is so much good stuff out there.

Now independent blogs are obviously a different order of influence magnitude to a old school broadsheet newspaper, but the influence is still there.

Despite blogs being a free-for-all, people are impacted by blogger opinions and thoughts, especially when the blogger is as well known and prolific as the bio-breaking one. We can’t help but want our choice of MMO to be ‘right’, and for that decision to be reinforced by the community at large. I remember the great disturbance in the force when BRK stepped down – it actually made WoW feel less fun for a while. I (and many others) still keep an half an eye on his personal blog, just in case he comes back – wishful thinking I fear, but he added so much life to the WoW community, and hence to my enjoyment of the game.

If I read someone praising WoW – as everyone is doing at the moment due to the new LFD tool – I feel justified in my investment in the game. If someone attacks or criticises, I want to turn a blind eye (if it’s justified criticism) or argue back (if it’s unfounded or irrational).

The complusively-readable-despite-the-horror Goblin would call this hopelessly “social” behaviour, but I’m sure even he enjoys his popularity. As Tobold pointed out, “if Gevlon would be honest to himself, he’d realize that writing a not-for-profit blog is an extremely social act”. If even Gevlon can be partly socialised by popularity and influence, what hope do the rest of us have?!

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