Warhammer Online is doing something pretty cool with four lucky bloggers: Gaarawarr, Mykiel, Shadow-war, and Werit. They invited the four to visit Mythic Entertainment and sit down with the WAR Design team for interviews and discussion. There is a real heavy emphasis on interactivity via Twitter too. I love seeing stuff like this because not only is it a fan dream to meet developers but bloggers are fonts of communication… so everybody wins. The event got me thinking about developer recognition regarding bloggers.
There are a lot of ways a developer can recognize a blogger. I would say Werit and Co. hit the jackpot, but even a developer dropping by to comment at the blog, re-Tweeting a blog post from the game’s official Twitter, or a small email from the company saying “we read you and appreciate your posts” can all count. A developer granting an interview request or offering to give an in-game tour of new content are good forms of developer recognition too. There are plenty of ways to do this without even creating a small shadow of bias.
For me, developer recognition is like a potion of energy. I love blogging, and I definitely do not need developer recognition. However, there are plenty of times where it feels like my ideas are not working, the words aren’t coming, and I have nothing interesting to write about. Some small form of developer recognition was instant immunity from the dreaded blogger’s block. It was important to me to get some developer recognition because I know for a fact it has helped shape the blogger I have become. Still I wanted, internally, to make sure it was less important than the other reasons I write like love for the game and simply communicating my thoughts.
Being comparatively new to the blogging scene, I wanted to gather some veteran bloggers’ thoughts on this subject. I asked these bloggers one simple question without giving any explanation to the terms: Is developer recognition of your blogging important?
Syncaine, over at Hardcore Casual said:
Is it nice, sure. Is it important, not at all.
While its nice to be mentioned in something like a Spotlight for DarkFall, the blog is more for me to document my time in-game and what I’m thinking about in terms of the MMO genre than a real attempt to shape a game or change some developer’s mind. As I’ve been told the few times I’ve spoken to devs, a good dev team is always 2-3 steps ahead of whatever changes have just been announced, and while it’s always fun to react to the latest patch, I know enough to understand that what was released today is usually only one piece of a larger puzzle.
That said I think in many ways blogs are similar to fansites in some ways, and its a good PR move for any game to interact with their fan community, even if its just silly stuff like what Mythic did for Warhammer, or whenever a blog/site gets to do a dev interview.
Tobold, at Tobold’s MMORPG Blog said:
I’d classify developer recognition as “nice to have” rather than “important”. Of course being recognized, or even receiving freebies from game companies is flattering. But if you value that too highly, you risk to change your writing to please the developers, which can be damaging to the quality of your blog.
Beau Turkey, part of the duo at SpouseAggro writes:
Is it important? Of course. HOW important depends on the blogger and what their goals are for the blog, but I have not met a blogger/podcaster yet that gets no thrill out of it.
Some companies are better at recognizing scene players than others. I’m always kind of amazed when companies don’t recognize their best fans, being that it is essentially free advertising. I can see how some developers might be afraid of officially patting volunteers on the back, but the damage has got to be worse when they don’t.
On the other hand, bloggers must do a little reaching out to the developers if they want it to happen. Of course we must remember to go through the correct channels (PR people, community managers) so do a little research before sending an email. Consider how many contacts or mentions the average MMO developer sees in an average week, so standing out seems to help.
So yes, I can tell you that from my experience and from seeing others go through the same thing that developer recognition is a thrill and can inspire you to do more.
Tipa, headmistress at West Karana said:
Oh, no. I think developer recognition hurts blogs, especially hobby blogs like mine. You start thinking your words have weight and that your opinion counts when of course it does not. Having a dev say something nice about your blog makes you start craving that kind of favorable attention, more and more. You become in danger of just becoming a willing mouthpiece for the company line.
Blogs, like outlets for real journalism, need to maintain a separation. More so — real journalism is assumed to have at least some objectivity, but anyone can start a blog, come up with a corny name and spout off whatever nonsense occurs to them. To be taken seriously — and taken seriously by developers — bloggers need to know what they are. Bloggers are the vox populi. If a blogger isn’t speaking for themselves as a player, then what ARE they speaking for? If you cosy up to devs, you may get more access, but you won’t get their respect.
Gordon, ground control at We Fly Spitfires wrote in:
To me, developer recognition isn’t important because I never, ever thought it would ever happen :) I’ve had some developers comment on articles and it’s always delighted me but honestly I was just shocked they found the posts :P I don’t write because I think I can influence the industry, I just write because I enjoy commentating on it.
Syp, of Bio Break (busy with a new baby, congrats!), replied:
Short answer: nope. Long answer: it’s only important if you write blog posts for the goal of getting that kind of recognition, which I don’t think anyone would do. But is dev recognition of bloggers in general important? Absolutely it is. If CMs really want to promote their game, it helps to acknowledge the folks who are already doing so, for free — the fansite operators, the wiki admins, podcast personalities and bloggers. It doesn’t cost much to give them a nod, and it’s always warmly appreciated by the fans.
Thank you guys for the responses. It seemed to me that most of the responses came back on the same page. Developer recognition is a boost, but not a drive. But, it’s still a really good boost and reinforcement to keep on trucking. I hope Gaarawarr, Mykiel, Shadow-war, and Werit have an absolute blast with Mythic. I will be looking forward to seeing their thoughts and sharing their excitement.
I can’t believe this is the same car