Re-Imagining Dragonchasers

Regular readers may have detected a change of tone around here lately. I hadn’t detected it until my last post, after which I scrolled back and saw a lot of ranting and a few brief news items.

At which point I thought… “Yuck.”

This might be a good time to explain where the name of my blog comes from. Feel free to giggle, but one of my favorite movies is George Romero’s Knightriders. It’s about a traveling troop of modern-day knights that roam the country re-enacting jousts, only on motorcycles rather than horseback. Their King is played by a very young Ed Harris, and he is an idealist. He really is trying to recreate Camelot, while some of the other members are just having fun doing stunts on their bikes. Anyway, not really the point. But in one scene, Harris is trying to explain what he’s doing and how much it matters to him and he yells “I’m chasing the dragon!!”

I always interpreted this as ‘chasing a romantic [in the classical sense of the word] dream’. Chasing adventure, wonder, heroics… So that’s where dragonchasers comes from. The tagline (which no longer displays) is “A thoroughly mundane fellow’s quest for adventure.” And of course I chase adventure through games. 🙂

Two notes: 1) Harris might actually say “I’m fighting the dragon.” but when I created the blog I hadn’t seen the movie in years. 2) I’ve since learned that “chasing the dragon” is a heroin user’s term!! No correlation to drug use is in any way implied!

Recently a friend of mine told me he’d formed a WoW guild called DragonChasers and he felt a bit weird about it since he knew that was my blog’s name. He’d decided on his own what the term meant, and his feelings (I don’t think he reads this blog) were right in line with mine, so I guess the term does evoke what I originally meant it to invoke.

Anyway…I’ve been struggling lately with getting anywhere close to this theme. I’m conflicted in a lot of ways. I’ve been writing a tech blog for IT World (and I think that’s going really well… my posts have made the front page of Google News and Slashdot and traffic is really good, I’m told) and enjoying it so much that I start to daydream about those days when I was writing for a living. And I’ve been sort of enviously watching other bloggers getting noticed by PR people from various companies. Y’know, the Warhammer Valentines are one example, and folks getting review copies of games and stuff are another.

And I lost my way at some point, and started quasi-writing Dragonchasers in a more controversial way. One thing I know well is that pissing people off gets a site page views. [My 9-5 job is working as a web developer in online publishing.] At the same time, I’ve been making half-hearted attempts at being more ‘newsy.’ But not really committing enough to that to make it matter.

This is getting wall-of-text-y, sorry. Add to all of this some personal stuff going on with my mom, who seems to be rapidly slipping away from us, and I’ve just been being very unpleasant in a lot of my posts, and for that I’d like to apologize.

It took the comments in reply to my sneering last post to make me take a look in the mirror and see where I’d wandered to. I’d really like to thank Tipa, Werit, Green Armadillo and particularly Scott — who took a good chunk of his time to give me some solid advice — for helping me see the blog through the eyes of readers. And of course, to thank Angela for always having my back.

So I think it’s time to step back from this blog for a little while, and rediscover the magic of chasing dragons before I start posting again. When I return, I hope to once again be sharing my love of ‘adventures through gaming’ with whomever happens to come by to read me.

In the meantime, I’m pretty active on twitter (pasmith) if you feel like chatting. There’s a pretty nice community of gamers there, having an ongoing and slow paced conversation about the games we all love. Please come and join us!

13 thoughts on “Re-Imagining Dragonchasers

  1. I don’t write to make other people read my blog or to make them happy. I go from the gut, and if my gut is a roiling, seething cess pit of acid and vomit that day I am gonna post like it.

    Write what you feel. Even if it is about a game that people despise. There are some fickle people out there and some elitist snobs. Ignore them and write about what YOU play.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about your mom.

    I really enjoy coming and reading your blog and the comments, so when you’re ready to post again, I’ll be here to read it!

    BTW, I read your post from yesterday and I hope that I had nothing to contribute to it, I know that I re-subbed to CoX because I was wanting to play a MMO that wasn’t fantasy based, so I though I would dabble a bit with some superhero action.

    I did let my LOTRO sub run out, but some of what I am reading on Book 7 looks good, so I may re-sub to that again. I’m hoping to just get a lifetime sub at some point. But now I’m rambling…

  3. Glad I could help. I meant to come back and post a short followup to my wall of text, which essentially reinforced my first few sentiments. If you go searching for those “How do I get started blogging?” type articles, you’ll notice one of the primary points they all advise is: Write for yourself. That applies to writing in general, not just blogging. Every article you write, pretend it will be locked away in a super-secret vault for all time and only you will ever be able to read it again. Because, honestly, as we get started blogging, that is exactly what we’re doing since we have no built-in audience.

    I normally go back and read every post I make, a few hours after it’s posted and then also a day or two later. Not because I’m an egomaniacal narcissist, but because I want to evaluate my writing style and check to see whether the post communicated the message I intended, and also if it conveyed the emotion I intended. If not, I’ll usually make an edit, and hope that those considerations I notice doing a cold read of my own writing will improve my overall writing skills.

    If you’re putting your emotions behind your writing, your readers will pick up on that, and I feel that is what attracts regular readers — if you’re putting yourself into the article so we can sorta-kinda get a feel for the author even if we’re hiding behind an alias or nickname. Conversely, if you’re just putting out content because you feel you have to meet some self-imposed quota and your heart is really not into it, readers also pick up on that and it’s a turn-off. So that feeds right back into: Write for yourself. If you enjoy the topic you’re writing about, that enthusiasm can be infectious and grow your audience.

  4. I’ve had a similar feeling lately about my WAR blog. I love writing and I’ve always wanted to start a blog, but never felt that I had anything of value to contribute. When the Age of Blogging came around, and Regis at W&W started his blogging contest, I saw it as my chance to finally do something that I had been dreaming of.

    Now that I’m established and have a nice following of readers, I feel somewhat obligated to play WAR, despite what I may feel about the game. If I no longer play WAR (not necessarily something I am considering, but eventually I will quit the game and move on to something else, whether it’s next month or five years from now), then I will not only lose my host at blogwarhammer, but I’ll also lose my content. What will I have to contribute to the internet as a blogger if I’m not playing WAR? Will any of my readers follow me as I sample other games or, worst of all, discuss content other than gaming? Will I attract new readers from whatever blogging community I go on to join?

    I really love blogging, and I love writing, but I’m not sure how long my blog will be relevant or what I will do once it isn’t.

  5. I’m also sorry to hear about your mom. That’s tough to deal with, and surely has an impact on your writing here.

    I’ve also found that blogging evolves a lot over time, in response to personal changes and external events. I look at some of the posts I’ve written in various places over the years, and can hardly recognize that it’s me.

    I’ve actually been reading Dragonchasers on and off for the past two or three years, and I can see that growth/evolution here, too. When I first started reading, you were spending a lot of time talking about a book-writing project and more general technology issues; now there is a lot more time spent on gaming. Nothing wrong with that at all — I like reading about your thoughts on all of these topics.

    As for the tone, I actually didn’t notice a big change (or maybe I’m becoming more thick-skinned?). But that leads me to wonder — among gaming-related blogs and forums, sneering put-downs are the norm. When I look at the tone in Sarcastic Gamer or some of the stuff that’s linked from n4g, and then compare it to Dragonchasers, there’s a difference. Not like Pulp Fiction vs. Teletubbies, but it’s a pretty wide divide all the same. That’s not a limitation — I really think it sets Dragonchasers apart in a good way.


  6. I post when I can about what I’m playing under the ‘Game diary’ heading just to keep myself in line when I write. It’s easy for a blogger to go off on a wild tangent away from the originally intended subject & I feel readers can be turned off from the post, just because of that.

    I also think that bloggers that limit their topic scope by stressing things like, ‘MMO blog’ or ‘WAR/WoW blog’ in the tagline, are asking for trouble when it comes to longevity & lasting enthusiasm.

  7. Thanks for the comments everyone. @xXJayeDuBXx of course you didn’t contribute to my little rant. In fact no one did. Angela says I was walking around with so many raw nerves that anything anyone did hit one of ’em. 🙂

    @Ian, I had no idea you read this blog! Thanks for bringing up a good point, and that is the ‘snark quotient’ in both the gaming “press” and in a lot of gaming blogs. I’m naturally a pretty snarky guy, but I’d just rather not put my snarkiness down in writing. I’d rather celebrate the good parts of gaming just because there is so much negative (even if its often in a good-natured kind of way) stuff out there. So I *try* to stay positive, but I fail probably 30-40% of the time.

  8. I’d be happy to read about IT (having to do with games) or whatever your latest thing is if you want to tie DC it into your current interest. Doesn;t have to be a MMO only blog… dragons come in many forms.
    I never really got the impression of negativity from your writing, especially compared to what is out there. I tend to avoid those types of blogs (except you Hudson ;).

  9. Write what you love. Even if it’s something you hate. Either way — if there’s no fire, don’t write. Which others have said all up and down this page well before me, but it’s my 2 cents anyway.

    While there’s something to be said for writing “through” the bad times, blogging is for the most part something we do for fun/information/hobby/entertainment/whatever. We don’t get paid for it, and we’re not usually trying to change the world with it. If RL gets big enough to impinge on the blogging (as my work has done for me lately), then that probably means the blogging *should* be impinged-upon.

    @Jen — I started off as a WAR blog too. Oddly enough I have more readers now than when I was “just” a WAR blog. Sure, there’s a sense of commitment to those who are kind enough to come visit, but I don’t *owe* them any particular content (especially since I made no secret of my changes in focus). Most of my readers are bloggers too and I certainly don’t feel they owe *me* any content either. I’m just happy to read whatever rolls through my reader.

    Maybe that’s one advantage of having stuff on feed rather than visiting individual sites by hand — if some of my BFF bloggers don’t post for a while, it’s not a big deal to me. Not that I don’t care about them — just that I’m not reliant on a single source for my bloggertainment. 😉

    To be frank, I’ve (e-)met some really great people these last few months and it’s more important to me that you folks be happy and fulfilled and whatnot than to make sure you all provide me with my daily fix of updates. Seriously. Some things are important, and some things are not. The good people know the difference.

  10. Blogging: The new MMO.

    OK, that’s a bit facetious, but really, I think some of the same things apply, inasmuch as you’re dealing with people with a shared hobby and interests. (Can readership benchmarks be considered leveling up? I’m no good at this ego waving thing.) If you’re feeling obligated to perform in some way, maybe it’s time to tell “the guild” to lay off for a bit and do your own thing. Grind some trade skills, level an alt, go pet hunting, sightseeing, whatever. It’s your subscription money, after all.

    (Is that stretching the metaphor too far? I’m still an MMO noob, for all the pontificating I do about game design, so I may be doing it wrong.)

  11. @ Tesh – The metaphor is screaming in agony! Then again, torturing metaphors is fun. 😉 I’d disagree with the concept of reader numbers as levels, but I seem to be in a minority about that. For me, give me 3 sharp, articulate and argumentative (in a good way) readers over 100 trolling asshats anyway.

  12. Yeah, that’s one of the weak points of the analogy. Maybe the number of intelligent comments is the better metric? Or, as I’ve argued before, a level-less MMO is the way to go. 🙂

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