I have just read OpiumHerz's blog entry Community Discourse (or: for a better DToid). For those who haven't read it, the post consists of a quick list of suggestions for making the DToid community better. Although they are all valid, I do feel that part of the reason for the decline in community activity, perceived or otherwise, is beyond the reach of the staff or any initiative they might make. Rather, I think that video-game culture is calming down a little after a year or two of intense self-analysis across pretty much every site, and as it calms down, the communities which sprung up around these old debates deflate.
I came to this conclusion when trawling through my 180 odd comments made in three years of sporadic activity. What I found was that I, and other people, commented most extensively on posts in blogs from around 9-10 months ago at a time when, thanks to the likes of Dragon's Crown, the firestorm (or shitstorm, depending on your point of view) surrounding representation in games was still in full flow. In DToid as elsewhere, there was a near-constant flow of blogs, often with a great many comments and extended debates, about the topic. They ranged from the fundamental (is there a problem with representation? if so, is there a solution? etc) to the downright trivial (including one which stated in effect that "not just women, also transsexuals need more representation" whilst forgetting that there are more minority groups than just transsexuals). I'm not sure if the debate always fostered what we might call a sense of community, but it certainly ensured a certain level of activity amongst DToid bloggers. The other major event which preceded the lull was the unveiling of the next generation of hardware, something which prompted an equally large (if less divisive and less long-term) flurry of activity.
Between June and December of last year, I spent a great deal of time in foreign lands without internet access, let alone access to consoles to play games, and did not venture onto DToid. I returned to find it an altogether quieter blogosphere, in which the number of posters per day was equally numerous (or so it seems - I haven't bothered quantifying) but the number of responses to their posts far less so. The reason, I believe, is that posts lack the fundamentally contentious qualities of the gender debate, or the emotional impact of the console discussions, and so inspire fewer comments. The result, of course, is that it gives the impression of a dying community, when in fact it might simply be that there is no grand topic about which everyone has an opinion.
As I said, I do not doubt the solutions put forward by OpiumHertz may be of some use. But I think that as the major question of gender recedes into memory and the transitional period between generations comes to a close (more or less), we might also have to accept that there are simply fewer big issues to discuss and so, perhaps, there might also be less discussion for the time being.