It is safe to say that World of Warcraft is going through something of a transition these days. The change to Cataclysm's new style of play has not been easy for a lot of people – particularly people who have been playing this game for a long time.
Evidence of this is all around us. Every time someone gives up healing or tanking because it's too hard, there it is. Whenever we hear that a long time WoW player has dropped his subscription we're reminded of it. Every time that a player drops WoW for Rift and starts spamming Twitter with an incessant stream of achievement spam, we can't help but notice. Whenever a beloved, long-time WoW blogger closes up shop, a flagrantly obvious fact is right there in your face like a village full of murlocs:
WoW isn't the same game that you fell in love with six years ago.
Over the past couple of months, many notable WoW bloggers have decided to retire their blogs. Tam at Righteous Orbs, for instance, and most recently Larisa at Pink Pigtail Inn has called it a day. Many others have quietly faded into oblivion without so much as a 'farewell' post - their blogs going dark, leaving their readership to wonder. There is no question that the WoW blogging community is smaller and less brilliant because of their loss of these voices that we were so accustomed to hearing, but as Vidalya at Manalicious so elegantly put it, "other's endings are not my endings".
Being plugged into Twitter and the Blogosphere means that it's impossible to not hear grumbling and griping about all sorts of things and very rarely do we hear someone mentioning how great something is. We bloggers are, if nothing else, champion complainers - and it's not a hard stretch to imagine that hearing all the doom and gloom would affect our opinion of our game and our community to the point where we would begin to believe that it's dying.
I'm curious how a WoW player who isn't active in the community feels about this game and it's health. Do they look at their guild and the competition for a raid spot and feel that the game is hemorrhaging people? Do they think that losing a long time guild member means that there is something wrong with the game? Or do they look at it as the natural way of these things?
With any game that sticks around for a long time, it's natural for people to come and go as their level of interest waivers. I'm not sure how anyone could play the same game for five or six years - or any length of time for that matter - without losing interest or feeling burnout at some point.
Before I started playing WoW, my game of choice was Counter-strike, and I played it for a long time. I ran my own large clan of players, operated my own public server, a private server and Ventrilo server and even competed in organized league play. I was as involved in that game as it was possible to be. Over time, the game became much less fun and the only thing keeping me coming back was the relationships I had with my clanmates. Eventually I quit, disbanded the clan and moved on. It was a very tough decision.
I see the same thing happening with WoW. I know that when I left Counter-strike the game continued on just fine without me, and the same is true when someone from the WoW community leaves. This game is bigger than any of us and will soldier on as we leave.
For better or for worse is still a point of great debate, but there is no question that World of Warcraft has changed a lot in the past six years. And whenever change happens there are going to be people who don't agree with or like the changes. There is no way to please twelve million people, and as I mentioned in my 2010 Peevie Awards, it's the definition of insanity to try.
The people who are most likely to be left out in the cold when change happens are the people who have been around the longest. These are your raid leaders, guild officers and respected, pillars-of-the-community types. And in the blogosphere, they are the ones that have become institutions. "Oh, [Popular Blogger] could never leave, he's been here forever and he's too good to ever quit." Of course, it doesn't work that way. Quite the opposite; they are the most likely to drift away to something else.
Losing one of these bloggers or guild members is hard, but it says nothing about the game or the community or your guild as a whole. The health of any community is determined by the strength of the people involved, and as someone leaves for other things inevitably someone else will come forward to take their place. New raid leaders will step up, a guild will pick a new leader with new ideas, and new bloggers will begin writing to fill the void.
THE CIRCLE OF LIFE
In the past few months since Cataclysm several high profile blogs have shut down, but even more new bloggers have taken up the blogging challenge. These blogs aren't high profile yet, and they don't have the readership numbers of the blogs that have quit, but they are providing fresh new voices for the community to listen to. Different styles, new opinions and formats are being injected into the community everyday.
That's what tells me that our game and our community are doing just fine. This community and game are far from stagnant, as the new and vibrant voices are showing in every corner of the blogosphere.
The circle of life continues.
Vidalya issued a challenge in her post: Introduce and link to a new blogger. I love this idea, and even as a new, post-cataclysm writer myself, here is a list of recent blog starts that have caught my attention. All of these blogs were started around the time that Cataclysm launched, although I'm using this criteria fairly loosely.
Muradin Musings by Janyaa
Unleashed Rage by Bloody Gneisha.
Ask a Salty by SaltySlainte
Mortigan the Lock by Mortigan
Zwingli's Blog by Zwingli (An older blog that has recently returned from the ether.)
Beer Bacon Brawling by Beerbelly.
Healer Aggro by Ttrinity
The Casual Raider by Jack
Rants of a Priest by Morituri
Elfi's World by Elfindale
Cleansing Waters by Mylindara
Specced for Drama by Ama (Who turns out to have been around longer than I thought... her blogspot blog has only been around since November, tho!)
Stand in the Blue Circle by Alacran
Word of Glory by Lynesta
Heavy Wool Bandage by Glorwynn
Healbot by Gina
And more! I'm quite certain I've missed a bunch of people, and I'm sorry for forgetting you! If you have a newish blog and would like it listed here, leave me a comment and I'll include it.