B/X Blackrazor is a well-established 'old school' roleplayng game blog, renowned for author Jonathan Becker's forthright opinions and extensive knowledge of the hobby.
(1) How long have you been blogging, and how’d you get into it in the first place?
My first blog started in May 2007 and lasted until September 2008. The exact reasons for starting are hazy in my memory: curiosity about the medium, a love of writing, a need for a creative outlet, a certain narcissism regarding the value of my own thoughts, and the ease and accessibility provided by Blogger. However, that blog was very effort-intensive (it combined astrology and sports and required hours of research for each individual entry), and I burned out. I fell into a trap of trying to do something “interesting” and “unique.”
My current blog, started in June of 2009, started because I was reading other people’s blogs and found I had a lot to say in response (or in addition) to what they were writing. Some of the earlier reasons (love of writing, need for creative outlet, and narcissism) still applied, but now I had a subject matter (gaming) about which I was both A) knowledgeable and B) intensely interested.
(2) What do you blog about and how frequently do you post?
I try to post daily but my schedule doesn’t usually allow that; right now I’m averaging about three or four posts per week. However, they’re usually pretty long. Before my children were born, I blogged a lot more.
I mostly blog about gaming, specifically tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. My posts generally discuss, analyze, and/or reflect on design, mechanics, and deconstruction, but I also do reviews, discuss play sessions, consider history, and wax nostalgic about my own primordial gaming past. In addition, I’ve been known to throw in random posts regarding religion, astrology, professional football, and my own socialist politics (and news related to these things).
(3) How does your blog stand out from all the rest?
I don’t know that it does. I guess I’m very long-winded and very opinionated. I’m not someone who posts videos or a series of images as an entry…it’s usually a “wall of text.” On my own subject matter, I’m pretty knowledgeable…I’ve been reading, playing, and running games for more than 30 years. At times, I feel like I’m more critical (i.e. “less positive”) than other bloggers, and I usually allow my rants free reign (to the amusement of some readers). However, I try to be fair in my criticism.
(4) What’s the best (and worst) thing about blogging?
|One of Jonathan's self-published books|
The worst thing about blogging is the way some folks use it as a podium to spread hatred and abuse. I’ve seen a lot of anti-(insert religion) type blogs, and that’s pretty sad.
For me personally, the worst part is feeling like I’m letting folks down when I’m not writing or not writing anything “substantive” (my own expectations)…like people are waiting for my every word. They’re not, I realize that, but when you start building a following and having interactions with your readers through comments and email, you start feeling a personal connection and a need to produce. At least, I do.
(5) Do you have any self-imposed rules (or guidelines) for your blog?
I try my best to be honest. It’s difficult enough to convey nuance and subtext in writing (people might read sarcasm where there is none, for example, or vice versa). But the kind of white lies or exaggeration which we use in normal conversation with people…either to avoid “looking bad” or in an attempt to “look better”…those things I try to avoid in my writing.
If I’m writing about myself (which I often do, as I myself am a game player and game designer and the blog serves in part as my gaming “memoir”), I want to make sure I’m representing my own feelings and motivations as truly as possible, even when they’re ugly to look at. Even when I sometimes come off as a jerk or buffoon. The person writing the blog isn’t some “persona” or “character” I’ve crafted for the Internet; it’s me. And that’s tough to look at sometimes because laying your naked thoughts and feelings out for the world can leave you feeling vulnerable. But I think it makes my writing a bit better because I can speak “from the heart” with sincerity.
(6) Name one blog everyone should be reading (other than your own).
That’s a tough one because I don’t really read blogs except ones that are pertinent to my own…and not “everyone” needs to (or wants to!) read about gaming.
Folks that are interested in game design should be sure to check out Dungeon of Signs (for sheer creativity), Go Make Me A Sandwich (for a avoiding pitfalls and making your game more inclusive), and The Tao of D&D (for…well, for too many reasons to list).
For people who like “gaming history” (which I find fascinating) good blogs include Zenopus Archives, Oaths and Fates, Havards Blackmoor Blog, and Grognardia (archives only).
If forced to name one blog to check out, I’d probably go with Gothridge Manor, mainly because of the extensive blog roll on his site (which will lead folks to a lot of good reads).