The Grouchy Gamer

Yeah, I'm cranky. That's kinda the point...

Bloggers: Be Objective. At least.

First a little housekeeping… I’m still occasionally posting here, but mostly I’m posting at I’m Talkin’ Games.  OK, that’s done.. Now to business.

I don’t usually call out other bloggers because usually they have their opinions, which everyone knows is like a part of the body, and they are entitled to that opinion.  My standard for reading a blog is that there is a shred of objectivity to the posting there.  Sure we all have our favorites and I tend to write mostly about what I am playing at the moment.  Right now that is WOW, but it’s been variously EQ2, EVE, AoC, Vanguard, and even TF2.  There have been others but you get the point.  Other than on the fan site that I started (which was sanctioned by the studio and clearly labeled as such), I’ve never really advocated a game and tried to stick to posting about what I like or dislike about it or my sometimes inexplicable behavior around it.

I’ve noted that a lot of others stick to that same ethos.  There is currently one blogger that stands out, and that is Syncaine over at Hardcore Casual.  Hardcore Casual has been on my blogroll for a long time.  I remember enjoying reading it back in the day, and even looked up to it as a successful blog.  Recently though a trend has emerged over there.  In short, it appears that Syncaine should change the name of the blog to Hardcore Apologist.

In the post linked above, he sets out to discredit Scott “Lum the Mad” Jennings, who I believe is a respected gaming veteran.  He even goes so far as to impune the job that Scott Jennings is currently doing.  Now Scott certainly doesn’t need me to defend him and that isn’t what this post is about anyway.  The real crux of the issue for me is that the blog has crossed over from being a blog about gaming to being a Darkfall fansite.

Here is my take:  First, the  blog has an ad at the top that Syncaine states gives him 20% of the client cost for each new Darkfall sold through it.  OK, you want to monetize your blog that is your business.  I pimp Jinx gear, and I get a few pennies toward a t-shirt if you buy a t-shirt.  Full disclosure and all.  So far that has amounted to about 3 dollars off for me.  That’s about how much it has influenced what I write.  Second, the tone of the posts has become defensive and is clearly written from the perspective of someone who is advocating for the game.  Third, he has a disclaimer;

(DarkFall-related post disclaimer/reminder. If you click the image link near the top-right of this page and buy a DarkFall account, I get paid 20% of the client cost. If you believe this taints my views and reporting on DarkFall, your opinion is wrong.)

This disclaimer is more of the dismissive tone that more and more is present at the site.

What do I think?  I think Syncaine has whored himself to Darkfall both emotionally and monetarily.  Yes, I said “whored”.  Syncaine, if you are reading this I am here to tell you that you have lost your objectivity and your credibility with me.  I’m guessing you can live with that but I’m here to say: “Man, I thought you were better than that.”

Syncaine’s commenters have also taken a similar tone.  The comments section there reads more like a PVP game’s forums.  All the tiny penis boys are shouting anyone down who disagrees with their Precious.  I’m not alone in being critical of these developments.  Read the comments on that post and you will find some of the people I respect most in the community also challenging his stances and statements.  They are, of course, immediately discredited.  I expect I soon will be myself.

I stand by my earlier post saying that PVP is not a viable mainstream MMO mechanism.  EVE is about as big as a PVP game can get.  While EVE is certainly a success, the road behind it is littered with the corpses of the would-be successors to the throne.  And on that Lum and I agree.   I DO hope that developers keep trying to make a great PVP MMO.   It keeps this element’s eyes on another shiny beside the game I may choose to play.  Am I against PVP?  Absolutely not.  I enjoy it.  I just don’t think it works as a stand-alone MMO in the greater sense.

So I’m here to mourn the death of a blog.  Long live the fan site!

25 Comments

  1. Agreed. I used to enjoy Hardcore Casual but it’s been on a downward spiral for the past year at least. Darkfall or not, he really needs to change the name of his blog, because now he’s just about as anti-casual as one can get. Or at least that’s what he writes.

    I’ve only kept Syncaine on my blogroll in the hopes he’ll return to writing good posts like he used to, but it seems instead he’s doing his best to go through a second puberty and show us all just how hard his wee lil’ core is.

    Kinda funny how he occasionally pokes fun at the average XBL kiddie when honestly he’s just a “faggot” or a teabag away from being one himself.

  2. Well said. if your a fan site, then just come out and say it. I enjoy WoW and I tend to blog mostly about what I like, but if someone has an opinion other than mine, I accept it. I’m not a paid endorser of Blizzard because when they screw up, I report it and bitch about it just the same.

    But if your main focus is one game and you spend all your time spouting the god created goodness that is this game and have a legion of followers spreading your gospel then your not an objectionable blogger you a fanboy and trust me the world doesn’t need more fanboys.

  3. I’m just a more or less average blog reading MMO player and take his posts that go more into the direction of trolling as a gloss. It works well so far as long as you don’t take him serious :D.

  4. I don’t care so much about bloggers trying to maintain an objective perspective, as long as they’re not trying to convince me their opinions are facts or attempting to pass themselves off as journalists (which would require more of an objective viewpoint). Most of the blogs I read are because I’m interested in their opinions and I can adjust for any bias they have based on their body of work. I user different filters for reading Syncaine, Keen, and Kill Ten Rats.

    I am getting tired of the back and forth going on between some of these guys, though.

  5. I disagree that blogs should be objective… after all, the originated as personal diaries and really just a way for people to express themselves. I think everyone has the right to say what they like and that’s what blogs are. If we want to read something objective, we should be looking at more legitimate news sources.

    Still, I agree with your points about ranting and going overboard. I get fed up reading posts from someone who is clearly extremely pro one thing or anti another.

  6. YOU GUYS ARE ALL WRONG! It’s team Tobold’s vs. Team Syncaine, okay! So now you must go buy darkfall (because we all already own Wow) and play it to really understand where these two are coming from… blah blah blah blah blah. :P

    Good post Genda,

    **I was paid handsomely by the moguls over at No-rolls in Real life, and I’m talkin’ games to publish this comment.**

  7. I won’t debate that there’s a lot of juvenile “discussion” regarding Lum’s article, but I will challenge you on this Genda — objectivity is not why people read blogs. Objectivity belongs in professional journalism; subjectivity is what blogs are all about. They’re about us, our thoughts and our experiences, and as such, will always be subjective as all get out. Once in a while over at Mutant Reviewers I get someone who blasts me for not being “objective” enough about a movie I’m reviewing, at which point I say that they actually don’t WANT me to be objective. They want a stance, a viewpoint, an observation, a judgment, a decision, and anything less than that is pretty boring and disappointing.

    Still, I understand the spirit of what you’re talking about, and in that spirit I agree — we all (including myself) often make snap judgments without properly evaluating things, and can fall into the temptation of denying personal bias, especially when it starts to overwhelm and cloud common sense.

  8. So where does the whore line start? There are many benefits from a popular blog other than just money.

    Call me when Syncaine is lying about Darkfall in order to entice players to buy. Until then, I see no issues at all.

  9. Werit, that is a fair question.

    For me, whoring starts when your blog is single-threaded to a source that funds it, you don’t make rational arguments, and in fact you are the major apologist for the game. Oh, and anyone who disagrees with you is either wrong, a care bear, or an idiot. (paraphrasing) Add to that the willingness to fling mud at respected community members for expressing their opinion and you pretty much have become a whore.

    He should get CM pay for what he’s doing over there, if he weren’t doing it so poorly.

    He’s not necessarily lying (when did whoring = lying? Some would say it’s honest, if immoral) but he’s not necessarily giving good information either. His view is clouded and myopic. Of course that is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

    BTW, Tobold isn’t blameless in this. His “mini-feud” with Syncaine has given him a voice. A voice that in my opinion he lacks the judgement or maturity to wield.

    He’s absolutely entitled to have a blog. Hell, Perez Hilton has become a celebrity for having one. ‘Nuff said.

  10. The trouble with this whole objective vs subjective debate is that objectivity is not a binary state. None of us are entirely objective or entirely subjective. The interesting question for me is not “should bloggers be objective?” but “how objective should they be?”.

  11. The unfortunate thing in all of this is that Syncaine has a fundamentally different point of view on many aspects that I find interesting in gaming, MMO and otherwise, and it would be great to engage in civil discussion with someone from his perspective. There is a lot of potential for learning new things.

    However, as I commented on his blog, most ‘discussions’ with him devolve into ad hominem attacks, made up statistics, apples vs oranges comparisons, etc. I’m not asking for an objective blog in the most strict sense, but how can you debate with someone who doesn’t follow the same rules of discussion? Opinions supported by dubious arguments and that cross the line of hypocrisy simply make for bad discourse.

    One is fully entitled to his or her opinion, but I don’t think a willingness to admit error, not making shit up, and shying away from being a dick is too much for which to ask.

  12. Looks like Tobold agrees with you on this one.
    There is a reason his and your blogs are on my bookmarks list, while Hardcore Casual is not. Tunnel vision writing doesn’t make fun read.

  13. I wrote this on Tobold’s blog, but what I think Syncaine has lost is not his objectivity, but his ability to rationally and logically form a compelling argument.

    His posts have devolved into either ad hominem attacks or arguments where he uses what’s called argumentum verbosium in which he forms an argument that is so verbose and filled with superficial facts that it persuades people to not attempt to argue the point.

  14. @Matt: Saw your post after mine. Funny that we both seperately draw the same conclusion from his recent writings.

  15. I DO stand corrected on this. I don’t think objectivity is the right expression, but I can see you guys definitely caught my drift.

  16. How did Scott Jennings become such a sacred cow. How come folks were quite prepared to put up with Syncaines Rants until he dared to criticise Lum the Mad?

  17. As I said on Syncaine’s blog (I came to this late, I suppose) I don’t mind pugnacious commentary on what I write. If I did, I’d be hypocritical, since my own writing often throws an elbow or two.

    Is Syncaine a Darkfall fan? Of course. I don’t think anyone disputes that. But blogs are partial by definition – they’re journals of opinion. And that’s why we keep up with them. I certainly never claim to be objective – I think Darkfall’s community is toxic and I love poking them because, I suppose, I love having them spit back or something. But that’s not an objective viewpoint, it’s one derived from dealing with the blowback from that particularly community in many other games over more than a decade.

    So, I’d dispute that blogs should be objective. They should be transparent. Your biases should be clear, and admitted to. But no blog is objective, because blogs by definition are opinons.

  18. I’ve read almost every side here, and this was the one thing I was hoping would show up sooner or later. Thank you for writing it. :)

  19. Personally, I took both blogs out of my blog reader. Plenty of finger pointing on both sides in my opinion. Plus, I had gotten rather bored with the WoW-centric and Darkfall-centric nature of both blogs of late.

  20. @Lum, so perhaps instead of saying Syncaine’s blog is arbitrarily bad for those reasons, we should rather say that Genda (and a lot of us) find it his blog is no longer worth reading. Maybe because he’s no longer open to actual discussion? Someone shouting their point of view at the top of their lungs isn’t necessarily wrong or even uninteresting. But they are someone that you can’t really communicate with, and whom you’d rather not interact with.

    On the upside, this little “blog war” has led me to a couple blogs I hadn’t seen before, notably this one. So maybe there was some good from it. ;)

  21. I stopped reading Syncaine’s blog a few months ago for similar reasons to those many have posted above. After reading quite a few of his columns and his posts to other blogs, I felt like I already had the gist of what he had to say, and lacking novel information that was of interest to me, and especially lacking any sort of actual discussions between opposing viewpoints on his blog, I didn’t see a reason to keep reading. He’s a clever guy and I respect his views but I tend not to agree with many of them.

  22. I find it comical that Syp thinks objectivity belongs in professional journalism, cause that is the last place you find anything objective these days.

    I respect Syncaine for his passion and dedication to Darkfall and wanting to write about it, no problems with that. What I don’t like is the cult following of Darkfall fanatics that will defend Syncaine and what he says and attack those who say or feel any different.

    I agree with the gist of your post Genda.

  23. I think most of what Syncaine writes is pure crap and not worth reading. That said, I didn’t take him off my blog-roll. I will continue reading him for the 10% that is correct, insightful or just generally interesting, even if I have to ignore all the chaff around it.

    Furthermore stopping to read a blogger just because you disagree with his opinions or think he expresses himself like a jerk (well we don’t *think* it, we know it, but you get my drift), smacks to me too much of censorship and exactly what anyone who considers him/her-self a blogger or fan of blogs should be against.

  24. I like syncaine’s blog. It’s not the disinterested, rational, unbiased, blog I like but the enthusiast, and you learn more from them than “objective” reports. He also has a talent for describing the game he likes, and he is a good viewpoint for the hardcore player into consequential PvP.

    Conflict happens, and it makes the blog an interesting read.

  25. “Furthermore stopping to read a blogger just because you disagree with his opinions or think he expresses himself like a jerk (well we don’t *think* it, we know it, but you get my drift), smacks to me too much of censorship”

    *Censorship is the suppression of speech or deletion of communicative material*

    Removing a blog from a feed reader is not censorship in any way shape or form. Removing his blog from the internet or physically stopping him posting would be, not reading what he has to say is nothing even remotely like censorship.

    I stopped reading regularly around the time he coined the term “wow tourists” I think. Not particularly because of the “wow tourism” stuff but more due to his attitude towards anyone playing games he did not like.

    The whole Ed Zitron 6 month rant spattered with hypocritical unsubstantiated claims about Aion, Warcraft, and just about any other MMO he has never played did it for me.

    6 months of taking shots at the integrity of Eurogamer reviews (and I’d be willing to bet he still makes comments about it), and all the while making all sorts of comments and judgements on games he has never played.

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