Ben’s latest post starts with a lament on the lack of blogging about multiplayer games (which I agree with; I hope Ashelia resurrects Hellmode soon, she had some great posts on multiplayer gaming), and then continues with
(competitive) multiplayer gaming has been hard to talk about unless you are something akin to a top-tier player. But that may only be the case if you are trying to add an explanation of things – anyone should be able to attempt a complete description of a multiplayer game regardless of their skill. The compulsion to explain so exemplarily embodied by the critical essay and its relentless push towards the ‘conclusion’ is a habit from the English department that we perhaps aught to consider jettisoning alongside the Comp. Science faculty’s reliance on ‘concreteness, definitiveness and finitude’, as I put it in Rhetorical Questions.
Latour’s approach, which I am hoping to make my approach, will be to stick to description. Description that will come, mind you, from a very specific and embodied perspective – that is, from my own. In this way we get to hold onto the best of the Sciences reliance on ‘facts’ and ‘objects’ and concrete things while maintaining our commitment to relativism, rhetorical persuasion and… beauty, I think.
(Emphasis and ellipsis in the original.)
Which rather struck me, because I’ve been doing a variant of this on my new blog, and I’ve been surprised at how that’s turned out. I’ve been really enjoying it, at least a few people have been enjoying reading it; but it’s also served as a source of raw material, and while the effects of that have been hidden so far, I hope it will start showing up here fairly soon. I’ve been doing descriptive writing in a matter that’s quite different from what Ben’s describing (in particular, not going into nearly as much detail about the actual games involved), so we may end up going in quite different directions, but right now it seems possible to me that we’re uncovering similar issues in our own ways.
I continue to be surprised by the variety of productive niches that online writing provides. First, I blogged (well, first I wrote static web pages, but never mind that); then I joined twitter. Then Tumblr, and Facebook; I’ve never really gotten into the latter as a publishing platform, but it has its virtues, and the ‘like’ button is a real advance. I also haven’t really gotten into Wave or Buzz, but they also have their virtues, even though I choose not to explore them. And then there’s Formspring, Quora, the list goes on. Not only do all these platforms have their own distinctive strengths, but they’re also all broad enough to support multiple usage styles. (E.g. I use Tumblr as a linkblog, many people use it for personal pictures, many people use it for short paragraphs of personal experience, and then there’s the whole reblogging thing.)
And if descriptive game writing is another one of those niches, great: blogs as research notebooks.
This post has not been revised since publication.