One of the things I’ve learned over the course of my blogging history is that, sometimes, I must be an absolute chore to read. My most popular blog, the Dead Good Tanking Guide, saw most of its content written from a happier angle that was more engaging to a wider readership. As a bit of a noob, I could simply relate what I was getting up to, why I was enjoying it, and why it was worth getting involved in for my readers. In short, it was a blog about having a blast playing a Protection warrior. Not much more, and not much that would exclude people.
Unfortunately for my blogging appeal, I did the worst thing I could ever do as a World of Warcraft player. I got good at the game. Not only that, I also started to take a far keener interest in things like class balance, theorycrafting, game design and comparative analysis. And while these topics are fine to speak about once in a while, they’re topics that probably alienate more people than they engage.
Worst of all, and I mean really worst of all, I started to whinge. Complaining about why things were going wrong and pointing out faults is only really acceptable in the smallest of doses. A succession of posts that do nothing but moan?
Staying positive through it all
My favourite warrior blogger, Veneretio, was always the fella I aspired to be like. A wealth of good information and thoughtful prose, he had the unerring ability to engage his readers by staying positive regardless of what Blizzard threw at the class. To my eternal detriment, I couldn’t hold up to that standard; but I promise you that I did try. Filtering through the platitudes to get to the nub of an issue, I think his biggest gift was the capability to sell a change to warrior players by sidelining negative developments or nerfs and, instead, concentrating on how you get over them. Sometimes, that was really hard; seriously, some of the nerfs we’ve seen had absolutely no positive side to them. But that doesn’t mean that a positive approach cannot be taken or, more crucially, cannot be prioritized.
Seriously, reading back through his stuff, it’s amazing how little complaint is in it.
A few other MMONBI blog sponsors have been speaking recently about the power of positive writing, but it really bears repeating. My own experience has compounded lessons that I should have learned long ago, but still have trouble grasping. People want to read about good things, what you’ve had fun with, what you’ve enjoyed and why you’ve enjoyed it. They DON’T want to read a laundry list of things to avoid or developments that you hate. There are enough of those on the official forums and they rarely end well.
How to stay positive in the face of adversity
This isn’t advice I’m giving to new bloggers from the coalface of an old hand. No such luck. It’s something I’m putting in writing so that I can be held publically accountable the next time I go on a bitter rampage against Blizzard and all things “Gc”.
In saying that, if you’re going to talk about any subject, here’s what I recommend you do to ensure you’re being upbeat about it and, thus, more widely inclusive of your audience.
- 1) Start with YOUR take on a subject, and don’t bother with anyone else’s. If there’s anything I’ve learned about forum interaction, it’s that certain people can drain enjoyment from you (my heartiest apologies are extended to those I’ve done this to). You’ll invariably find that what you have to say is from the greener side of the fence, and that’s what you should present first.
2) Positively reinforce what you’re trying to say rather than negatively reinforcing it. What this roughly means is that you talk about how something could be, rather than what it’s not. If you walk into a dark room, don’t say “there’s no light”; instead, ask if anyone has a bulb. In this way, you’re never talking about something that’s missing, you’re talking about something that could be put in. This should also encourage debate.
3) Look for opportunity in what you’re writing. If your class has been nerfed for whatever reason, or something has changed that you don’t like, try to read between the lines for what it could mean. For example, Protection warriors just got a nerf to their Enrage uptime. What this could mean is that we’re no longer expected to manage high Enrage uptime and we’ll be balanced around that fact. It’s positive!
4) Try to use light-hearted and upbeat language. Once again, I’m the worst person for writing long-winded and tiresome prose on a subject, but if you can concentrate on emotive terms and phrases that reinforce a positive slant on your topic, you’re going to come across as positive to your audience and they’ll want to get engaged. I won’t list examples as there are too many, but just read what you’ve put down and see how it goes.
There’s a lot more, but it remains simple!
I could go on and on about this (like I usually do… -.-), but the point I’m trying to make is that nobody wants to read complaints. They don’t engage anyone, they stunt conversation, and they don’t paint a picture of an author who wants to share their enjoyment of a game or topic.
And while negative dressing down is a trap I keep falling into, it’s something I’m actively fighting against.
You should, too. :)