The Piggie Award Winners 2011! Part 3: Bloggers and Blogging

Part 1 of the Piggies Awards – Game Elements | Part 2 of the Piggies Awards – News and Affairs | Nominees for the Piggies

And so, we come to the main event of the Piggie Awards 2011: our awards for bloggers and blogging in the MMORPG blogosphere.

Before we start – it’s time for me to say something that sounds cliche, but is very, very true. We had a hell of a time choosing these. The arguments raged. In some categories, we wanted to make every single nominee the winner. You all rock.

OK, hang on to your hats, here we go!

Most Charming Games Company Employee

This was a tough one to choose, but at the end of the day, whilst everyone else can be lovely, fun and gracious in their interactions, only one person combines that with a transparency and honesty about his work that’s just inspiring to see. Thus, out of all the nominees, we’re choosing the marvellous Eric from Elder Game, for his tremendously interesting and honest work on Gorgon, the MMO that he’s developing in full view of everyone in the blogosphere – a brave choice, always a fascinating read, and a great member of the blogosphere!

Best Podcast

Both Twisted Nether and The Instance add a hell of a lot to the MMO community online, and we simply couldn’t choose between their different styles. Plus, they complement each other so well, it doesn’t seem fair to raise one above the other. Thus, we’re announcing this category as a tie, and awarding the Piggie to both Twisted Nether AND The Instance . Congratulations, guys.

Most noticed blogger breakthrough

This one was really tough. Flavor Text Lore have written some stunning posts over the year, and suddenly leaped into the eye of the blogosphere in the latter half with a couple of brilliant collaborations between Hamlet and Percula. Gamer’s Fridge and Niki are not only plying a fantastic idea, but doing so consistently and steadily gaining an audience. And Stubborn’s analytical, intelligent posts have become such a fixture, so quickly, that until I wrote my year’s roundup I thought he’d been around for much longer than he has.

The vote-in favourite for this award was Garrosh Hellscream, whose brilliant in-character writing – and occasional deviations into spot-on epic verse parody – has established him as a voice like no other in the community, and given him not a small fan following. We’ve never really seen a blog like his, and he earns an Honourable Mention for this category.

Bravetank has become someone we just couldn’t imagine the blogosphere without. Her posts are open, honest, and laugh-out-loud funny, and she’s become an established and distinctive voice in the community. There’s no-one else who does what she does, and the rest of the blogosphere notices and appreciates that. She’s our second Honourable Mention.

But in the end, we decided the award had to go to Apple Cider of Apple Cider Mage. She’s not new to blogging, but her blog is very new indeed – it only started in October of 2011. But since she started, she’s exploded into the blogosphere. Her passionate posts on extremely important issues are incredibly widely retweeted and reblogged (over 50 retweets on some posts), she’s known as one of the conversation-starters of the blogosphere – when she talks about an issue, you can bet that other posts will follow – and she’s willing to take risks on issues she believes in. From calling WoWCrendor on victim-blaming to highlighting WoW’s evolution Apple Cider Mage is our Most Noticed Blogger Breakthrough 2011

Most Solid Content Provider

I’m reading from Johnnie’s notes here, and above the listing for this category is a note which reads “they’re all awesome”.

And really, they ALL are. Nils fires out precise, cutting analysis day after day. I’m not sure Rohan could write a boring post if he tried. Derevka’s healing advice is invaluable, and has earned him a near-fanatical following. Anne Stickney not only works incredibly hard to highlight the best of the blogosphere – something we all have a soft spot for – but comes up with original, intelligent lore insights week after week. And Tobold – well, he’s Tobold. Five years of solid almost daily blogging and he’s still a must-read.

I frankly have no idea how Cynwise does what he does. I mean, he tells us that he has a family, a job, and actually plays MMORPGs from time to time, but I assume there’s some kind of Prestige-like legerdemain going on, because the frequency, quality and sheer, fascinating length of his posts have to be a full-time job. Oh, and did we mention he maintains not one blog but two ? For his astonishing hard work, he gets our first Honourable Mention.

And talking of spoilers for popular films, Rades must be doing the same plot-twist-I-won’t-reveal-here. I can’t think of another blogger who ranges so widely over the subject, from art posts to his trademark awe-inspiring lore posts, to transmog guides, to comment and opinion, to hardcore tactics and theorycrafting. And almost everything he does is really, really good. Dammit. He gets not only my envy but also our second Honourable Mention.

And then there’s Gazimoff and Mana Obscura . I’m going to let you into a secret here – Gazimoff is one of the few people whose work I will not wait until the evening to read. If I see there’s a new post on Mana Obscura, I’m off reading that bad boy right away. His writing is consistently insightful, intelligent, thought-provoking and entertaining. So, if you’re waiting for me to fix an egregious guide typo or approve your comment, and Gazimoff’s updated that day (which, let’s face it, is more likely than not), I’m probably off reading his post when I should be working. He gets not only the blame for my procrastination but also our award for Most Solid Content Provider 2011.

Best Writing

And once again, the response of your humble judging team was “Seriously? We have to CHOOSE here? AAARGH!”

Cynwise is always engaging and original. Beruthiel can put an argument to paper like no-one else. Tzufit combines serious intellectualism with a rare warmth and compassion. Stubborn – well, he’s a teacher by trade, and his skill at communicating shines through.

But in the end, we came down to three, and then to one.

Rades is too goddamn talented for his own good, frankly. Not only can he theorycraft, Photoshop, and keep up a publishing schedule that would make Troma Films say “whoa, hang on a minute there”, he’s also a damn talented wordsmith. His “here’s an idea for a WoW plot” posts are un-put-downable stuff – and I’ve never gotten to the end of one yet without thinking “dammit, Blizzard, hire this man already!”. Some of that is brilliant ideas, and some of it brilliant writing. He’s our first Honourable Mention.

One of the marks of a really great writer is an unmistakable style. You can read a single passage from Hemmingway or Hunter S Thompson and immediately identify who’s writing. And our second Honourable Mention, Jon Big Bear Butt Patricelli, has that same quality. He achieves the remarkably rare and difficult trick of writing conversationally, so that you really feel he’s talking to you, possibly over some kind of malted beverage, and he’s a gifted, engaging storyteller, whether he’s raising ire or telling a heartwarming tale.

But the winner of Best Writing 2011 has to be Melmoth of Killed In A Smiling Accident. Here’s a random quote – not the best one I could find, just a random quote from a random post of his:

“Like the marathon runners, we race along these paths, through landscapes and cityscapes of majesty and beauty, but always staying true to the well trod, well defined path. Barriers line the runners’ route, broken infrequently by refreshment stations where NPCs stand and offer bottles of XP to revitalise and give energy to our enthusiasm as we trudge ever onward. “

Try reading that out loud. It’s remarkable. His writing has rhythm, flow, a cadence to it that very few people ever achieve. For pure writing quality, his work is just astonishing. I don’t know what he does in real life, but were I to discover he was a White House speechwriter or a well-known playwright, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Most hugged blogger

The MMO blogging community is generally a very friendly and welcoming place, but even then some bloggers stand out as going that extra mile. The people who are not just a part of the community, but a cornerstone of it. The anchors around which the community gathers. The people everyone loves.

We were unanimous in our desire to give the first Honourable Mention in this category to Larisa, AKA Jessica, the originator of the Piggies and a vibrant presence in the community for many years. She’s no longer part of the WoW community – although we whole-heartedly recommend The Velvet Cafe , her new film blog – but when she was here she was an absolute pillar of the community, and her legacy will live on for a very long time indeed.

Our second Honourable Mention goes to Oestrus of The Stories Of O. She’s a fearless and intelligent blogger, who has rapidly built up a community of followers on her site and on twitter. Oestrus is always willing to help her fellow bloggers, and there’s a lot of love for her in the community.

In the end, though, the award for Most Hugged Blogger has to go to Alyzande the WoW Gold Queen. She had already established herself as a prolific and popular blogger, but the reaction of the community to the horrible events in Alyzande’s personal life last year proved in just how high a regard she’s held. Dozens of bloggers displayed a white ribbon in solidarity, and I’m sure the support of the community must have helped her get through such a difficult time.

Bravest Blog Post

We have a surprise category!

Yes, in our discussions over the awards, Rebecca, Johnnie and I all felt that a new category was needed. And so, with much fanfare (and an apology that we didn’t think of this in time to solicit nominations) we’re introducing a category for “Bravest Blog Post”.

What do we mean by that? Well, we felt we needed a category for the posts that not only talk about something important, but something close to the blogger’s feelings, too. Blog posts that require bravery to write, because they’re about things that could well get the blogger criticised or attacked, and are about very personal topics.

Our nominations for this category were:

  • Jaded Alt, for Mental Illness and WoW. Mental illness is still a taboo subject, and one that many people have extremely unpleasant opinions on. At the same time, it’s literally life and death. For Windsoar to write this post, and talk about her own experience with mood disorders, was both laudable and courageous.
  • Alyzande, The Gold Queen, for World of Warcraft Gold – What’s the F—-ing Point? and NSFW White Ribbon. Sexual assault is a hotbutton topic on the Internet, and one where victim-blaming is rife. For Alyzande to talk about what happened to her shows considerable courage.
  • Oestrus, for Out. Transgendered people are marginalised, abused, mocked and assaulted in our society. The wider World of Warcraft community is far from accepting of TS/TG people. And that needs to change. Oestrus was well aware that she was likely to be a target of abuse and hatred when she came out as transgender, but she did it anyway.
  • Bravetank, for Don’t Be Greedy. Bravetank risked being ridiculed when she talked about the difficulty and fear that the act of looting in WoW causes her. Indeed, I even saw people being rude about her for it – and yet anxiety’s no joke, and I know more than a few people who struggle with the social pressures of WoW grouping. Her post was valuable, useful, and, true to her name, brave.

And our winner is Oestrus, with Out . Writing that post and potentially making herself a target took a rare form of courage. I quite literally can’t imagine what it took to put a fact she’d carefully guarded, knowing how it could hurt her, out there. And by doing so, she’s serving as a model for everyone, saying loud and clear to everyone in the MMORPG community that transgender people are worthy of respect.

Great stuff.

Most memorable blog post

Wow, this one was really tricky.

There were so many great blog posts in the past year, from the inspiring and laugh-out-loud Out of the mouths of, well, you know from Big Bear Butt, to the Windsoar’s post which almost became a manifesto, I’m doing it wrong and I’m OK with that

After much debate, though, we settled on three absolutely stand-out posts. Our first Honourable Mention goes to Falling Leaves and Wings for Are 400 Pull Kills Good Design? Are They Fun?. It was a superb post: well-written and well though-out, with an inescapable logic that genuinely changed the way the blogosphere thought about end-game raiding.

A Honourable Mention as well to Orcish Army Knife for Sylvanas, the Val’kyr, and the REAL master plan. Rades has always had the ability to write excellent lore posts faster than most of us can even read them, but this post is one of his best. Rades sees conspiricies everywhere, but he’s often right. Johnnie, who read the post the same evening he finished leveling his goblin through Silverpine, is convinced that Rades has hit upon the real truth behind Blizzard’s secret master plan for the Forsaken.

We also decided to award a special min-award in this category – a Piglet, if you will. The award for Best Comedic Blog Post goes to Killed In A Smiling Accident for CSI: MMO.

It was close, but the winner of this year’s Piggie for Most Memorable Blog Post is Cynwise, for On The Forsaken. Brilliant even by Cynwise’s standards, this post permanently changed the way we think about the Forsaken. Cynwise details the greatest (and most terrible) moments in WoW’s Forsaken storyline, comes to a horrible – and I mean genuinely shocking – conclusion via an argument that none of us can fault, and in doing so reminds us why we love the game in the first place. Bravo!

Congratulations to all the winnes, and here’s to a fantastic 2012!

How to display your Piggie

Winner of a Pink Pigtail Award

Are you a winner, or Honourable Mention, this year? If so, you’ll want to display a PInk Piggie badge. It’s easy – just copy this code and add it to your website or blog.

<a href=""><img src="" alt="Winner of a Pink Pigtail Award" title="I won a Pink Piggie!"/></a>