Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blog Readers Don't Want Creative Content

My last post about the OSR Blog Graveyard generated an interesting discussion about the nature of OSR blogosphere content. I mentioned in a comment that even though quite a few blogs have gone quiet, there are still over 200 that are regularly pumping out a Dragon Magazine’s worth of material every day or two. This comment generated these thoughtful responses:
-C: “Entirely too much of that dragon magazine's worth of material is equivalent to forum letters, rather than articles. I am fairly frustrated during my daily blog roll review at the amount of posts that are nothing more than opinion pieces on "what OSR means" and the absurd "OSR is dead" other rubbish.”
Dyson Logos: “I'm with -C from Hack & Slash. Even worse than the navel-gazing though is the edition warriors. Keep to the content generation and talking about how awesome our games are (with examples of play, not with navel-gazing) instead of how un-awesome something is.”

As a blog READER I like the best of both commentary (i.e. history, news, and opinion) and creative content. I think both can be done quite well. As well, both are equally susceptible to becoming trivial and uninteresting in the wrong hands.

In contrast, as a blog WRITER I find myself constantly pulled towards writing more commentary. Why? These are by far my most popular posts. I would be lying if I said I don’t get some sort of positive reinforcement when a post gets a ton of comments and hits. I’m only human.

I’ve put a modicum of effort into a number of creative content posts – like my Gamma World character sheet, fillable-PDF henchman cards, and fully-illustrated culinary guide to wizard entrails. I like writing these kinds of posts and I will continue to do so. The attention these posts get, however, is miniscule compared to something like my pretentious and gametastically useless I Am D&D post from a few days ago.

So what does this all mean? Well, one obvious explanation is that the creative content I produce stinks, which may well be true. I think, however, that most blog readers truly prefer commentary over creative content. Grognardia is the biggest old school gaming blog around – how much creative content does it have? Virtually none. On the other side of the coin, I could easily name several blogs that regularly produce excellent creative content yet attract relatively little attention.

Even though I think most readers would say they like creative content the best, I bet you dollars-to-donuts their mouse clicks would say otherwise…