It’s been nearly a year since I started out this blog. Soon I’ll be doing something revisiting my first post on here, which is pretty hilarious in the context of what I’m playing now. But that aside, the year 2017 brought alot of personal growth for me here. The year 2018 is here in full force, and I wanted to go over what I’ve done over the past year, and what kind of plans and approach I’ll have for this year. I’ve definitely learned alot, met some great people, and achieved some goals I set out to hit. That being said, there will be changes to how I approach things. In a way, it may be seen as a negative, but basically what I need to remind myself is I’m doing this out of my spare time and for fun. I’ve taken an approach that has kind of burned me out to this point, and in ways made me question why I want to keep doing this. Don’t worry, there will be a happy ending to this, so don’t be afraid to read on, this isn’t one of those posts where I call it quits or anything. I’m just redefining my priorities essentially. This may be a lengthy post so strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride!
How it all began?
When I first set out to do this blog, I had a keen interest in not only writing about video games, but socializing and getting in touch with people who have similar gaming interests as me. Outside of my brother, the people I know who play video games aren’t really into some of the niche stuff I am. It’s one thing to enjoy games on your own, but it’s a whole other thing to share your experiences with others over the internet, whether it be here or even on twitter. I had thought about writing about games for some time, but never really pulled the trigger on the idea. So I said, what better time to create my very own WordPress blog and start posting away. At the time, news about the Nintendo Switch and it’s features were very new, and I really wanted to get my two cents out there, and essentially rant about it a bit. Since then, my posts have come in all sorts of forms, and opinions I had early on have drastically changed, but this early period was very important for me. As the first few posts of mine went up, I slowly learned about the greatness that is the WordPress community. I got in touch with many bloggers as I started following many blogs, and they also followed back. Before you know it, I was up to my head in all sorts of great reading material on games I loved, and games I never heard of, and games I’d never consider. It felt great being able to not only learn, but also contribute to this wealth library of gaming articles all over the web.
I personally loved writing reviews the most. Along with general opinion pieces on specific games, or gaming topics. I really loved breaking a game down categorically and provide my overall thoughts and recommendations. Kotaku was one of the big inspirations for me to start doing this as well. I really loved their post structure and how they would tackle things like reviews, or write pieces on why gaming minimaps are not so good, or had a quick short post on something quirky about a game. It was all over the place and it felt like people were able to freely express whatever they wanted, no matter how absurd or niche it may have been. Naturally, I started out reviewing games that were primarily in my backlog, or something that I had played a while back that I had a strong opinion about that I really wanted to put out there. The views and comments for these weren’t going through the roof, but regardless I was happy with what I put out, and was also happy to see the comments talk about things they didn’t know and expressed that they learned something from reading my review.
Goals I Achieved
Seeing things like constructive comments was highly motivating, and made me feel even stronger about the blog, and got me very confident in my writing abilities. I started creating ambitious goals for myself and had a vision of what this could be one day. I had thoughts of being a site that would obtain review copies for game, and in exchange, provide at least an honest written review and possibly some coverage depending how much I liked the game. I did quite a bit of research on how one could go about starting this, and settled on reaching out to PR reps, publishers and developers of indie games that caught my eye. Even further from this, I thought it’d be great if I could monetize the site in some way, and make a small amount of money, and even make this a recognizable brand. This may sound overly ambitious, but they were simply thoughts, and it would be nice if it happened, but wasn’t a must. My main focus still was getting those review copies though.
Much to my surprise, this approach had huge success for me. The first few people I contacted were very willing to provide keys to me for their games, and I quickly got to playing through, and publishing my reviews. After that, I continued this trend and built on it and continued to strive to get review keys for even more games. It made me feel very good that the people were trusting me with their games and to me felt like they recognized I provided some value with my writing.
I stuck to a very disciplined approach to this however. Getting review keys meant I’d have to prioritize to play games I received over my personal collection. I still made some time to play some smaller games from my backlog, and given that I was aiming at indie games, getting through these games was generally very easy and I was able to do it fairly quickly. I also liked sticking to the indie games, because I wanted to turn around reviews very quickly. In fact, I wanted to get codes for games prior to release so I could almost run a review as something exclusive when embargo was lifted. This way, my review wouldn’t just be coming out at a random time, but it would feel more relevant being close to the games actual release.
Problems That Arose
This approach to prioritizing for review copies came easy early on since the games I played were generally very enjoyable. But as time went on, I received games that I didn’t exactly hate, but weren’t the most interesting to me. It quickly became this thing where I’d have to put aside my games that I was hyped and excited for to play through a game that was not really at the top of my list, or worse, was not a good game.
Rest assured, this didn’t affect my reviews, I still put out positive reviews for games that deserved it, but it has brought me to a point where I at times questioned whether I should keep doing this. The reviews for the most part didn’t attract much viewer ship, and to make matters worse, they weren’t always games I loved. Those two elements combined started making the back half of 2017 a drag.
With all the great games that came out during the second half of the year, it became tougher to continue doing this. It was tough to have to put aside Super Mario Odyssey to review other games. I haven’t had a chance to really jump into the Switch version of Skyrim, or only really get to appreciate the greatness of Mario + Rabbids until now.
It quickly became a thing where I’d frantically be playing the Switch at my bed side to get through stuff, not because I wanted to, but because I had to. When I reflected on this, this blog isn’t generating any money for me, as nice as that would be to have. Without sounding too over dramatic about what I felt, the enjoyment was slowly getting sapped out of me, as I looked through my blog and saw review after review of games that I wasn’t too big on in the first place.
The other problem was I was trying to be the first to do everything. This made me try to get through games quickly, whether it was reviews copies I got, or games I bought on my own. For review copies I obtained, the games I would received on Switch would only be sent a day or so before release, not leaving me with much time to actually complete the game. Or better yet, imagine buying a big sprawling open world game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and wanting to rush through it ASAP just to get a review on your blog. That’s 80 hours of solid gameplay crammed into a short while. You could see how this would quickly become a chore and make these games less enjoyable. I bought several games I was genuinely interested in at their respective launch dates, but aren’t actually properly playing until now, such as Mass Effect Andromeda, and Mario + Rabbids. I like both game, but buying them for full price at launch hurt, because I see the games on great sales now, which is when I actually put real time into them. I payed $80 for Andromeda, when I could have waited and got it for $25 over Christmas. I had to put these aside because I chose to go after reviewing games I received from publishers and had to play them first and quickly.
Changes In My Life
Well, I had a look in the mirror, and even spoke to my wife about this. This blog is something I started out for fun, and although I set some ambitious goals, I did hit them to my satisfaction. That being said, continuing to pursue and grows those goals further just won’t be feasible for me. It will make writing and managing this blog feel more like a job and a chore, than that really interesting thing I wanted to tackle.
Don’t get me wrong, if I could make a full time wage doing this 9-5, you can bet your ass I would do it. But let’s be realistic, with my current job and work, and family I need to give time to, there is only so much time I can dedicated to this blog. I’ll be honest, and I’m kind of ashamed to say this, this blog actually started out at my work desk. I hope none of my colleagues are reading this, but early this year with work brought some dark, slow and boring times, that I ended up pouring alot of time into the blog then. Things picked up quite a bit over the summer with my work, but I’m back to things being a bit too casual for my liking, leaving me with much blogging time once again.
The reality is, I’m starting a new job today. With a new job and new salary comes new expectations and responsibilities I need to adhere to, and it goes without saying, I really need to prove myself. So my main outlet for finding time to blog will go away, so I need to steer this into a more manageable direction where I can actually do this at home without feeling overwhelmed all the times.
Not to mention, I am playing in a new metal band in my local area, and I have to devote the proper time and practice to that as well. Yes, I clearly juggle too many hobbies, but that’s what really keeps my blood flowing. I have this exact same approach to my music, where if I don’t make it in the big league, so what. I am still getting to make and play great music with some amazing people and learn a butt load while doing it. The key is doing it all at my own pace.
To add to this, there are some big changes coming to my family this year. You heard it first here as we are officially announcing it now, but comes sometime in July. I’ll let this picture do the talking. This was a combined effort through the creative direction of my wife, and my technical prowess, and our love for all things Metallica \m/ >.< \m/
That’s right! My wife and I are having a baby! We are super excited for this! We don’t know yet if it’s a boy or a girl, but it will be a beautiful baby we will both love like crazy. It’s going to be the first kid on my side of the family, so it’s a pretty big deal. Not to mention, there are alot of responsibilities I have to commit to, not just when the child is born, but all the way up until that point for my wife. God bless her, she’s a soldier and pregnancy is never easy for anyone, so I have to do whatever I can to make things easier for her. Even with her going through this, she’s always so supportive in me doing this blog, and playing with my band.
Where Does It Go From Here?
So despite getting a bit carried away with all my hobbies and this news, where do things go from here? Well, expect to see a drop in posts. In fact, it’s already started. If you note, December hasn’t been a very active month for me, not only did I have some family stuff to attend to, but I felt I needed to step back a bit and really reflect on this. This proved beneficial to me, as I took the time over one weekend to write my top games of 2017. That easily reminded me why and how I want to keep doing this blog. The response to the post on WordPress and Twitter re-invigorated me and god bless you all for your support! But that aside, given the things I had on track for 2017 in my general life, I’ll have to invest a bit less time here, but I think it’ll be for the better.
The big change that I’ll do as well going forward, I’m going to be less active on obtaining review copies for the sake of doing it. I may still do it rarely, but it’ll only be for games that I’m very interested in. It won’t be me spamming all the publishers listed on the eShop upcoming releases schedule for the Switch like I did last year. This is simply for my sanity, and so that I can open up more time to write about games I am really passionate about. I will finish reviews for the remaining review copies I have obtained for obvious reasons. I owe the developers and publishers that much.
The other change, I’m going to stop trying to be the first to do everything. I can’t possibly keep this up and retain my sanity. I’ll become a mad man and probably make myself enjoy games less. Gaming has to remain fun, and not something I’m forcing myself to do. Big games like Breath of the Wild I think really need people to take their time and enjoy. As much fun as it is to play these games at launch and be part of discussions, it’s sometimes not possible. Plus, the way the internet is these days, there will always be people to talk to well after the fact of how great such games were.
So with these changes, maybe I’ll be writing less overall, and less about unique, lesser heard of games. But the upside is probably expect to see more quality in my work, and more importantly, more passion. I’d like to be able to write more about all the games I purchased in the second half of 2017. I’ve had Splatoon 2 since launch, but still haven’t reviewed it! I’d also like to get more general, abstract type pieces out there. I really enjoy these kinds of things, and also love the discussions they usually spark. WordPress makes things like this fun because everyone here always respectfully expressed their opinions in civilized ways, even if they don’t tend to agree with the subject matter.
The Morale Of The Story?
A quick summary to it all. In the end, we do blogging, and other hobbies because they are fun, interesting and to learn. So, I think it’s important, at least for me, to keep them fun. It’s very easy to change your expectations of things and end up working too hard and making things less enjoyable as you keep setting new goals. Don’t get me wrong, there are those that can take their hobbies, and extend them to unimaginable places, and I salute people who can and have done that. But where I am at this point in my life, I’d have to sacrifice to much to be able to do that and that just can’t happen. I’m more than happen in keeping this blog where it’s at, and in the end, I still get to talk about all my favourite games and continue to interact with all the great people out there!
Here’s to a new 2018! For those who stuck around, hoped you enjoyed this. I’m excited for 2018 and can’t wait to see what everyone has in store. What are some of the things you have planned for this year?