On Anonymous Blogging

Don’t do it.

Darius has a great post on why students looking to get into the industry should blog and I whole-heartedly agree. Even though the archives here don’t go back that far, I’ve been continually blogging since college. (My first was hard coded and sloppy so I couldn’t figure out how to shift the posts when I joined WordPress and so they have been lost to the ages and archive.org. Moral: Use WordPress.)

An anonymous blog still gets you the benefit of writing, interacting with readers and stresses the critical thinking parts of the old noggin’ but it doesn’t allow you to make closer relationships with people, it can’t help you get a job and it is less likely someone will take an anonymous blogger seriously. Why? If he won’t put his/her name behind it, how do I know it isn’t a professional shill or troll? It’s so easy to lob hand grenades on the web. It’s much harder to criticize in a way that you would criticize if that person was right in front of you, face-to-face. I have very little respect for anonymous bloggers, but I can see why people would want that safety blanket. Hell, if the guy from WikiLeaks isn’t anonymous, what the hell are you afraid of?

Back to blogging. If you want to start, you have to commit to post regular, interesting content and you have to commit to doing a little bit of self-promotion until people actually start reading regularly enough that if you say something catchy enough that it gets linked somewhere. These are the hard parts, especially before you are not in the industry and cannot connect news items to personal experience.

There’s only one other thing I want to add because Darius’ post is sufficient. There is a non-zero chance you will get flak for having a blog with any sort of opinion on it. I had two separate instances when I was at EA where a manager pressured me to remove a blog post. I did in both cases because my job was more important even though I said nothing in the posts that was unfair, represented the company poorly or was a thing I would not say in person. A certain vice president has a Google alert on his name and I guess he spends time reading blogs that mention him and making sure the bloggers aren’t EA employees, so he put in a call to my EP saying WTF. (The post wasn’t about him. It was about tuning, but I used a quote of his and attributed it.) I still believe what I said, that it certainly wasn’t unfair (history has proven me correct) and thought it was a useful point to make for making design decisions, but in retrospect I probably should have kept my digital yap shut.

If you are not comfortable with feeling some fraidy-cat with managerial powers breathing down your neck, then censor yourself to never say anything that could be taken as a criticism by anyone. I, unfortunately, cannot do that. I’m a very speak-my-mind type. People came up to me at work and said essentially “Nice knowing you” after my Mario post because they thought it was critical of my employer and that I’d be fired. It wasn’t meant to be critical of my employer at all (fool me once) but to the whole industry, myself included. Nothing happened, of course, but cowards like that will try to make your life harder if you try to make any interesting statements. Roll with it.

I’ve met so many interesting people thanks to Twitter and this blog and I hope every other aspiring game developer can have the success I’ve had with the practice.

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