The other day, I was in the middle of a humanizing anecdote when something happened that was tangentially related to MMOs. This prompted me to start thinking about this particular tangential issue, by which I actually mean that this was a column I wanted to write for a while but finally had an excuse to do so with a humanizing anecdote at the start. I like humanizing anecdotes. They make people feel so much more human, which is especially good for a column that is mostly about long-winded pontificating.
Speaking of long-winded pontification, I think it’s time for me to start doing exactly that as I state my overall thesis and general viewpoint. Whatever subject I’m talking about, however one-sided and narrow it might seem, I’m going to make a point of stating that it’s more nuanced than you might think. If you’re fully aware of how nuanced it can be, that’s probably a good thing, but don’t worry; I’m going to thoroughly hammer on that point about nuance for a really long time now.
We start off with a definition of the most relevant terms here because it’s useful for A) getting everyone on the same basic page and B) sounding very smart while eating up word count here. It also gives me a chance to go off on a major tangent, which is going to happen later anyway but can happen multiple times. Sometimes I write this column and it’s absolutely nothing but tangents. If I’m having a good day, no one even notices the seams as you stitch them together.
How do you do that? Well, you work forward and backwards at the same time, basically. I just keep writing and rambling onward in what is functionally a string of consciousness musing, and then I just work backwards a little to make it look like the previous tangent was something I was setting up with earlier writing. Like I said, when done right, it’s almost invisible.
See? There was a tangent right there. And now it’s time for a meaningful pause for a shorter paragraph.
The trick there is that creating a meaningful break gives the impression of a sudden and sharp pause as I move into the main meat of the discussion, which comes back from the tangent and ties in with the initial observation I had back in the introduction. And of course, it’s very nuanced. “Nuanced” is just a fun word.
From here, we have basically three options. The first is that we’re dealing with a column in which I outline a situation, at which point we start by breaking down the individual examples in paragraphs. These are fun to do because it’s actually really easy to get sucked into even more tangents, some of which involve robots. Plus, they each wind up filling up a paragraph or two on their own.
The second option is that I’m trying to break down an industry mistake, at which point I start by explaining the right way to do things and then draw a stark comparison with what is actually being done. This may or may not overlap with a player perception issue, and when that happens Bree gets very annoyed because she knows that it’s going to make for an absolute mess of moderating comments for that day. Me, I don’t worry about that; I just write this stuff and maybe giggle at the upcoming comment storm.
Our final option is that it’s all about a player behavior issue, at which point this column switches into basically being an advice column. The advice more or less always comes down to “maybe don’t be a joyless, argumentative toolbox.” Someone always pops up with a deep emotional commitment to being joyless and argumentative. In the industry, we call this “bait.”
To a certain extent, these things overlap, which also brings in the glory of the phrase “to a certain extent.” It modulates all of that sweet, delicious nuance wonderfully. By making everything nice and nuanced we can really start to dig into the juice of the issue here, and if I’m having a good week, this is where I start to make you really think about the multitude of issues at play here. There is always a multitude of issues at play.
Then it’s time for a definite tangent, referencing something that you may never have heard of and giving you a brief history to draw you into a sudden swerve in a different direction. Bam! Now you’re hooked and you think that I’m very smart because I referred to an obscure film you probably haven’t seen. Or maybe haven’t seen. Honestly, I don’t know if my viewing habits are sufficiently divergent in that regard.
Feel free to suggest weird films you like in the comments. That’s not related to this extended joke; I just like watching movies.
Hey, you saw what I did there? That’s right, another short and meaningful paragraph before moving into the closing section! It also makes it nice and easy to format things and put in images, which is important for breaking up the wall of text and formatting.
A lot of people don’t really think of that and they think that the images are just flung in without regard, but speaking at least for myself, there’s a lot of thought given to how things break up the flow on the page and how people are going to be reading the whole thing. This is also part of why I’ve stopped using side-aligned images.
As you can see, there’s still space for another tangent or two. Sometimes the conclusion is pretty short and it helps bulk things up a little. Plus, well, I naturally go on a lot of tangents. Not just when writing, but all the time. Tangents are kind of my thing. I think it’s an ADD thing, probably.
Where was I? Oh, right, the conclusion. Time to wrap these things up.
In summary, the issue that I’ve been discussing up until this point is ever so nuanced and I have thought about it a great deal as well as doing some research about connected fields, which means that I probably have a pretty firm grasp of what’s going on and have just spent a thousand or so words explaining it. Or, you know, half of that space explaining it and half going on wild tangents that were meant as more humanizing anecdotes and hopefully made you smile. If not… well, what can I do?
Now it’s time for a meaningful final paragraph that summarizes everything again, but in a very punchy and quotable format. The firmer it sounds, the happier I am. The idea here is to create something that ends the discussion deftly.
Thank you all and good night. I’m sure that someone will pop up in the comments with a bad take to allow everyone to dunk on him for the life cycle of this particular article. Refreshments are available in your kitchen. Or maybe they’re not; I don’t know, I’m not your parent.
Editor’s note: well, oops