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A Pillar of Salt

January 27, 2012

And Lot’s wife, of course, was told not to look back where all those people and their homes had been. But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes.

– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

Dear Reader,

What better time to look back at the previous year than nearly a month into the new one?  I’ve been one-foot-out of the normal blog community I haunt for about two months now, and it baffles me as I come back into it how much I missed.  First and foremost, as late as I may be, I want to thank MMO Melting Pot for hosting the Piggies this year, and I’m honored that I was nominated for not one, but TWO awards.  Thank you for thinking of me!

On that note, congratulations to all the winners!  They were certainly deserving of the honors they got, and I want to put out a heartfelt threat that I will work twice as hard this year to dethrone you!  I mean… a heartfelt thanks, yes.  Seriously, thank you for all the wonderful posts that have entertained and informed me for this first year in your community.  With sincerity, thank you all, and congratulations!

The next chapter of this reminiscence, though, is a little darker.  To be honest, I’ve been reading on this for about 72 hours now and just can’t really decide whether I want to even drag this back out of the depths of history that it’s slowly falling into.  The event I’m referring to is well documented at The Gold Queen‘s own page, and I’ll leave it at that.  I’m shocked that I missed such a community response, and I’m truly sorry I didn’t have the chance to show my solidarity and share my sorrow for her fate.  What happened was a tragic moment that reveals both the best and worst of human nature, the worst where we do unspeakable harm to others for personal benefit, and the best where we come together to share, heal, and support those who are harmed.  I’m sorry I missed it, but far sorrier that it happened at all.

It’s hard to transition away from that topic, so I hope you’ll forgive me for simply cutting away to a new topic.  Looking back over my blogging for 2011, I’ve tried to identify what I’ve done well and what I could have done better.  I’m proud of some of the creative and original combinations between psychology and gaming I generated here.  Thanks to all the researchers, alive or dead, who provided the theory that I borrowed.  I also feel like I’ve set a nice tone on this blog, a tone of tolerance and looking for middle ground even with those whose opinions may seem mutually exclusive.  I like the voice I’ve established, which one of my buddies who I’m just getting back in touch with (he should have a guest post here, soon, too!) pointed out to me the other day in email.  Perhaps most of all, I like the new relationships I’ve forged within the community, bloggers I’m happy to call friends (Internet friends, if friends is too familiar and creepy for you, though that sort of sounds more creepy).  Thanks to all of you for helping make this blog successful.

There are many things I could have done better, too.  I’ll be honest and say I don’t really understand tags, don’t feel like I know why I should do the extra work, but I note on virtually every other blog tags are used.  I’m going to try to be better about that in this new year.  I also feel like I’ve missed a lot of the hottest topics.  Sometimes I consciously chose to avoid them, but I’ve been told that even if everyone else is talking about them and you don’t feel like you have anything particularly new to add, you should jump in.  I’ll try that more this year, jumping in to the fray, which I’ve for the most part tried to stay out of.

Looking back I noticed that a great number of my blogs turned out not to be about part-core gaming, the founding principle of this blog.  Instead, they turned out to be about community: what we want, what we have, how we can grow, and what hurts us.  I’m perfectly happy with that as a result, even though I was really pushing to make part-core gaming a  new term.  I still am, in fact!

In the spirit of community, I’ll end today’s correspondence with a tongue-in-cheek recipe I’ve been bouncing around for a while.  In the old days, rogues not only had different levels of poisons but had to brew their own.  I’ve come up with a recipe for Community Poison.

Start with the meat of a strong community, bred from a common interest in a new genre, fed on cooperation, and raised in a hostile environment that put collective teamwork over individual gain.

Add 1 cup weak and secretive enforcement of behavioral rules.

Mix with 3 tablespoons elitism bred from instant, easy access to data.

Toss with an ounce of oil of competing for gear.

Let sit in a pan coated with an increase focus on efficiency and the “right” way to play.

After two years, add 1 cup of making other players an expendable resource.

Blend with six teaspoons of attunement reduction, focusing the game more on speed than quality.

Sprinkle with forced groupings of different play styles for an arbitrary currency cap.

Simmer over heat generated from constant game changes in the name of balance.

After another year, remove from heat and cover with players feeling trapped by guild experience.

Let sit until all the excitement felt from a new genre being explored has steamed away and been replaced with fatigue.

This dish is best served when catering to small portions of the game community instead of the majority of players.

So it goes.


Stubborn (Iron Chef)



4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2012 12:51 pm

    That sounds like a very appetizing (cash revenue) recipe. Are you sure your grandma’s own hasn’t leaked into competitive restaurants (game companies)? :-p

    • January 27, 2012 1:32 pm

      I unfortunately expect that it has. When the main ingredient, the MMO community, was fresh and new, simply the act of being there, together, was something. Until a uniting new stock appears, I’m afraid we may be stuck with leftovers.

  2. January 27, 2012 8:31 pm

    Tags aren’t for everyone. A lot of blogs I read don’t use them very well but that still doesn’t affect the overall quality of my reading experience. I really like them on the large blog sites though (such as WoW Insider, Rock Paper Shotgun etc.) to easily find more posts on the same subject I’m interested in.

    On my own blog I actually mostly add them for myself, because it makes it easy to quickly access and reference older posts I’ve written on a similar topic, without having to resort to googling my own blog for what might be some very vague keywords.

    • January 30, 2012 5:52 pm

      I forgot to do tags today, again! …which of course is the opposite of your point, but I do want to make a concerted effort to do them, even if it’s only a few per post. I’m glad to know, though, that there are readers who, like me, don’t really see the need for them.

      While this is only tangentially connected and in NO way a reason/excuse for not doing tags, I envision the perfect bookstore as having everything organized by author. I don’t like categorizing books, allowing people to browse only what they want. A bookstore should be a place to see what’s out there an potentially run across something new and great, and categorizing books prevents that in the sake of saving time.

      Sure, it’s unrealistic to have a bookstore like that, but idealistically I’d love it.

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