Thursday, June 26, 2008

Public Figures - Part 2

The recent Bartle controversy caused a huge amount of comments here and on other blogs, as well as lots of blog linkage, not all of them very nice. Of course I freely admit that my remarks about Richard Bartle were not very nice either. But there are still degrees between calling somebody bitter and irrelevant, or calling somebody a fuck and asshat in an underhand "professional" way. I had a few of those insults in comments on this blog, and I deleted them. That makes me vulnerable to charges that suppress dissent, but in reality it is language that I suppress, not criticism. I left all comments that disagreed with me, even strongly, as long as they were polite.

I didn't feel like going around to all the blogs that attacked me and justify my words, like Dr. Bartle did. I very much enjoyed his comments here and elsewhere, because they made his ideas and point of view much clearer than his original provocative remark. But the only comment I can say about the people writing over me is that they have a point that I shouldn't have reacted that strongly and emotional to the provocation in Bartle's remarks. And they shouldn't have reacted that strongly and emotional to my provocative remarks.

What the whole thing taught me is that I'm a public figure now as well, in the small universe of MMORPG discussion, of course of lesser importance than Dr. Bartle. Massively had a Richard Bartle vs. Tobold headline. The thought frankly scared me a bit, because as a public figure you can get away with less. This blog is a non-commercial venture, a labor of love. I write because there are things that I feel strongly about, there are things that make me angry, and there are things I have totally subjective opinions of, and I want my opinions to be heard. The whole process of loving or hating a game is not very rational. Me writing not very nice things about a game I don't like, or about a person who said something provocative (intentional or not), is me being human, being angry, being emotional, being irrational. I have neither the superhuman willpower nor the editorial oversight necessary to prevent that from happening. I write what I think. And I hate the thought process where I catch myself thinking "Oh no, you can't write that, its going to cause too many angry comments". It is a perverse system in which the more you have the means to express your opinions, the less you have the right to do so.

So now I'm a bit at a loss what to do. I could pull a "reverse Lum" and turn into "Tobold the Mad", with an angry rant blog, and not care about all the comments with foul language that would undoubtedly attract. But that isn't really my style. I could write much less, or shut down the blog for a long period unless I'm out of the public eye and thus regain the ability to say what I think. Or I could shut down the blog completely and open a new one as "Dlobot", without telling anyone, and escape scrutiny that way. But I think the most rational is a mix in which I use the current summer MMORPG slump and holiday period to write less, try being myself without self-censorship, and wield a heavy banstick if that causes the language in the comments to deviate from my Terms of Service. And blacklist the kind of blogs that tend to call me names. What I don't know can't hurt me, because the internet is just words.

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