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Culling My Gamer Presences

A couple of days ago, I shut my Xbox 360's blog over on 360voice down. The only purpose it was serving was to pat me on the back for playing regularly; I'm sure there are times in the past where I've fired up my Xbox just to make sure the “Happy Xbox” badge stayed on my profile. Although I'd set the site to track a few other folks' blogs, I wasn't really reading them.

Now I'm starting to look at all the other gaming services I'm signed up on and trying to figure out whether they really serve my purposes. Aside from my Xbox Live and Steam sign-ons, I have profiles on Raptr and Xfire (services that track gaming activity and provide instant messaging clients), the Xbox World, Xecutive Order and Dawn of War 2 Community forums, the Gamespot review website and the BigPond GameArena, a review / online game retail site.

Per my big New Year's post, my main purpose in gaming is to have good times with people whose company I enjoy. My Xbox live friends list is filled with people I either already know on this side of the screen, friends of friends or folks I've met through forums. This means that Raptr and Xfire aren't really doing anything for me. I rarely see anyone on my friends lists for either of these apps and on those occasions they're usually too busy with a game I don't own to chat. I may as well stick with Trillian.

As statistic collectors, the other main thing Raptr and Xfire do is similar to what the 360voice blog did: Tell people I don't know and probably don't care to what I'm doing. Anyone can check my public profile and view my gaming activity. In theory this would allow someone of similar gaming tastes to send me a friend request but as far as I can remember no one ever has. Xfire only tracks PC activity, and while it also provides clan support, the clan groups I've joined aren't of any practical use. I think I'll shut my Xfire profile down, if I can.

I'm in two minds over Raptr. On one hand, it's fun to get my recent gaming activity, whether on Xbox or PC, posted on my Facebook profile which I know only folks on my Friends list can read. I also like its instant messaging client, which combines all the usual IM suspects (ICQ, MSN, Yahoo!) with its own, gaming-dedicated channel.

On the other, I'm not sure how much value having my gaming activity put up on Facebook really adds. It's only of interest to to other gamers and I've had more response on Facebook to my reviews or updates where I actually express a personal opinion than I have to a “SlamDance has played Borderlands (360) in the last 24 hours” status update (I find that other folks' Raptr status updates don't really tell me anything of great value about them either). Add in the aforementioned fact that the IM channel is pretty much useless and Raptr is looking like a candidate for the bin as well.

As to forums, I spend a fair bit of time on Xbox World and Xecutive Order; I have friends on those forums and have made new ones through them. But I've barely ever frequented the DoW2 Community forum, so I can shut that down painlessly.

Then there's Gamespot. I like its general coverage and that it can send me news alerts for games I'm tracking, but I'm not so sure about having my games library publicly available. Privacy concerns aside, it again doesn't seem to do me any practical good; no one's ever contacted me via Gamespot and said “Hey, I see you have Game X, do you want to play?” Finally, GameArena, which I don't touch; I'm more likely to access a GameArena server via Team Fortress 2's browser than through the Arena client.

It looks as though I'll be going through a few “account shutdown” processes tonight. Hopefully, with fewer appeals to my gamer vanity to get me to go and play even when I'd be serving myself better by doing something practical, I'll get more quality gaming in - and get more practical things done in the meantime!

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Dips finger in red ink and marks a huge X on the wall over Rob's computer.

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