I’ve played a wide variety of games in my day. These MMO things tend to want to monopolize your time, but I’m just not wired that way. Some might consider World of Warcraft’s Azeroth or RIFT’s Telara to be home, then, for the social roots they put down there. Me, I don’t really have such a “home”, but no MMO feels more comfortable to me than Puzzle Pirates.
I have several characters there, but my “main” character and identity on their forums is Silveransom. I’ve actually spent almost as much time on the forums and community art and game design projects as I have in the game proper. To this day, my greatest “achievement” in the game is getting some of my art in as an Easter Egg, this little Croatian-inspired beauty. It’s no big deal in the grand scheme of Life, but the game and the community have been good to me, and I’ve had fun chipping in.
It’s not a traditional DIKU-flavored MMO, but it’s the first one that really wound up capturing my imagination. I actually made friends there. I started playing more than six years ago, and it has consistently been the one game I can go back to and feel comfortable. To be fair, I did try World of Warcraft thanks to a ten day friend pass shortly after trying Puzzle Pirates, so that wasn’t my only MMO at the time, but even then, the clear dichotomy between the DIKU level-grinding loot-heavy pedigree in WoW and the different design of Puzzle Pirates was very clear, and I had a strong preference for the latter, even though I really liked the sense of world that WoW offered (as I’ve noted a few times, especially here).
Anyway, as is so often the case when I’ve occupied a space for a length of time, whether it be mental space or physical space, I’ve developed habits and traditions in Puzzle Pirates. The very first sloop I bought was second hand, one a crewmate didn’t need any more. She left a piece of small driftwood up in the bow of the ship. It’s technically furniture in Puzzle Pirates, so it was placed there on purpose sometime, but she had just forgotten it. She let me keep it, though.
Thing is, that piece of driftwood, possibly the cheapest bit of furniture in the game, became a tradition. That little sloop was my transitional vehicle from a newbie in the game world to a pirate, more or less in control of his own destiny. That ship was freedom, and that little personality quirk of a piece of wood in the bow was inextricably tied to that phase of my Puzzle Pirates experience. It was, in its own way, a symbol of my change from a lowly deckhand who might just have washed up on shore, clinging to a piece of driftwood, to a ship’s master, boldly sailing into dangerous waters. To be sure, there are other, bigger ships (like my favorite ship, the Longship that I painted and renamed the Silver Dragon), and other transitional phases in the game, like when I scored my first Ultimate trophy (in Rumbling, on my alternate Silveransom character on the test ocean), but y’know, those “firsts” stick with you.
As such, I’ve had occasion to give a sloop to other pirates once in a while, and I always leave a bit of driftwood on the ship for them. Is it silly? Of course. Is it fun? Yes. Will they remember it? I hope so. It’s the little touches like that that remind people of where they have been and why. That’s important for charting a course to the future. To be sure, the future will happen whether or not you’re ready, but if you know where you’ve been and why, you can position yourself better for when it does come.
So what does this have to do with blogging? Well, tradition is a strong tool in maintaining information through generations. It can also be a strong tool in reserving headspace in readers, carving out your own little niche in the blogging hivemind. The human mind is geared to find patterns. Traditions are patterns, ranging from the tenuous to the tedious, perhaps, but the whole point is that they are repeated events. And people remember them, for better or worse. If you do something more than once, especially with any sense of regularity, you may well be establishing a tradition. Memes had a start somewhere, for that matter, but they grow because they are repeated and shared. The tradition goes viral.
If you are trying to maintain a tone or tradition for your blog, maybe you use a particular “signoff” line like Mark Rosewater’s Magic The Gathering articles. Maybe you just maintain a role or character for your posts, like Warchief Garrosh. Maybe you post a random My Little Pony cartoon or a photo. Whatever the case, you’ve done something patterned, consistent, and readers will remember it.
So go, have fun, and maybe, just maybe, carry over or establish a tradition. You might have fun with it, and your readers might have fun with it. That’s one of the best parts of blogging, when you share something fun with those people out there.