The Year in Blogging 2014

For the last few years WordPress hosted sites have received a set of stats aptly called the “[year] in review.” I posted my results yesterday, mainly because this was my best year in blogging since I have been running with this incarnation of my blog. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I’ve been blogging since the late 1990’s, but this iteration has been in existence since 2005, and I’ve been hosted by WordPress since 2007. I’ve received the review before, but there wasn’t really anything noteworthy to share. This year was in contrast to that attitude, though I’m still not as big as some of our community, I was still proud to have more than doubled previous yearly highs in views and post. It felt worth sharing this time too, because I know I have a pretty decent readership at this point, largely due in part to my involvement in the community that has sprung forward this year. Many of us may have been around for longer than just this year, but we weren’t as interconnected, and that is the major milestone for the year.

Of course, I can’t take credit for anything on my own. I didn’t create this community, I just became a part of it. I didn’t force anyone to start blogging, though I hope I helped to inspire the sense of community, and maybe someone started or kept on blogging because of it. Blogging has been an integral part of my life for many years now, and though I’ve had points where I slacked off, I have always come back to it, and this year has been awesome because of it. I became familiar with many new people, helped run or was involved in events, started a podcast and joined Twitter. All in all it has been a fantastic year and many of you helped me to get through some rough times by just letting me be me, to vent or rant about what came to mind, and to comment, re-blog or counter post.

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None of this would have been possible without the Newbie Blogger Initiative. Had I not decided to get involved with that yearly event, I wouldn’t be in this position today, with so many people I’ll probably never actually meet, yet who I consider friends. I remember points in time previous to this year where I wished to be part of a larger community, be it via blogging, social networking or gaming, and that never came into fruition. Sure, there were communities out there, but they all seemed to be segregated to their own little corners of the web. Sure, our community is probably just as much a small corner of the greater Internet, but it feels like it’s consistently growing and the more effort we put into it, just by continuing to contribute our thoughts to the collective, the more it is likely to grow. No matter how much we might disagree about semantics, we can all agree that growing this community has been a rewarding experience.

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It goes beyond just the NBI though. Belghast of Tales from the Aggronaut decided the momentum needed to continue, and formulated the Blaugust challenge. As a daily poster himself, he thought it would be a great idea to challenge the rest of us to follow suit for one month. I answered the challenge, as did many others. It brought us all together, pooling ideas and drawing inspiration from one another to get through it. Most of us (myself included) didn’t keep to a daily posting schedule, but I surely post more now than I did before these events.

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I tried my hand in running an event as well, not only to help keep our community busy throughout the year (we still need someone to step up with a spring event), but also to combat gamergate and all of the shitty things happening in the game industry in the months leading up to October. Bragtoberfest was my answer to the negativity, in which we could get together to play games and in turn blog about them. I also challenged folks to brag about their achievements in games, because what better feeling is it than to meet your goals in games? Of course, that didn’t cure the gamergate disease all by itself, much of the foolishness is still going on, but I hope that it at least took people’s minds off the negativity for a while.

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December was upon us quickly, and this year Syl of MMOGypsy.com decided that we needed to create a virtual advent calendar on the web. Bloggy Xmas was born, and members of the community wrote posts around the topic of gaming and community. I participated in this, right around the beginning of the month. You can check out all of the awesome posts on the official blog. We were also treated to Listmas (which also happened last year) courtesy of Murf and United We Game. I also participated in this, coming up with a couple of lists that won’t win any awards 😀

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It would be remiss of me to not mention the Podcast that myself and Eri of Healing the Masses started back in June. Not only has it been a blast to come up with different ideas and then totally crack jokes and not take anything seriously, but it has also been a way to convey our feelings about various issues surrounding the gaming industry. I’m hoping to be doing this for a very long time, but we’ll see how long she can stand me and my Aussie jokes. We were also kindly invited to a larger group of podcasters from our existing community that came together to form The Gaming and Entertainment Network (TGEN), which has been a fantastic experience as well.

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I can’t say that the year has been entirely positive though. Aside from the gamergate fiasco and some of my own personal woes, we lost an amazing guy who was a fellow blogger. River passed away this year and the community was devastated. We took to our blogs to say our goodbyes, and posted pics of scantily clad women as was his style, as tribute. He is still missed. Another passing of the torch occurred more recently, when Roger, Brian and Sean decided to throw in the towel on the Contains Moderate Peril podcast. I was personally affected by this, as my guest spot on the show was my first podcast experience, and Roger had been a mentor in the field of podcasting for me, but I know that he’s still active on his blog so it’s not a total loss.

There have been some other great round-ups of the year, and here are a few of them:

Satisfaction of the Year – Belghast
A Year in Blogging and Podcasting – Roger
Link Dead Radio – A Blogging Year in Review – Eri

Here are some of my best posts of the year, that sparked dialogue amongst the community:

Foot in Mouth
Nice Guys Can Be Killers Too
PvP Uncensored

Overall I feel like it’s been a great year to be a blogger and a podcaster. Here’s to many more to come!

#blogging #podcasting #community

Couch Podtatoes Episode 24: Gaming Culture

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Welcome back to the show! This week we dive into the culture of gaming, and really, the culture of the Internet as a whole. I’m not sure if you’ll notice, but we’ve been taking more of a free-form approach to our discussions in recent weeks, not really being as structured and just letting the conversation flow to where ever it may. I think it’s made for some organic conversations, and it’s a little more casual, laid back and accessible. Anyway, we talk about some of the good and bad stuff when it comes to gaming culture, and then insert some personal experiences and other related stories into the mix. Personally I’ve been having a lot of fun with the show as of late, so I think that should reflect in the finished product. For Idiots on the Internet we take a look at the recent CS:GO Dreamhack tourney debacle, and then we highlight the fabulous Bloggy Xmas Holiday Countdown that was started by Syl of MMO Gypsy, of which I have already made my contribution. So have a listen and enjoy!

 

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Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 24: Gaming Culture (runtime: 1:11:32)

What are we playing? (starts at 1:32)
Discussion: Gaming Culture (starts at 20:02)
Idiots on the Internet: CS:GO Exploit (starts at 57:11)
Community Spotlight: Bloggy Xmas (starts at 1:07:39)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter:@mevsmyselfandi

J3w3l
Blog: Healing The Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Idiots on the Internet Article:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/11/30/worlds-biggest-counter-strike-tournament-reveals-that-exploits-equal-cheating-in-esports/

Community Spotlight: Bloggy Xmas

Music Credits:
“Level Up” by Cookie Monsta (from the Riot! EP)
“Built For Sin” by The Black Dahlia Murder (from the album Miasma)
“Watch Out” by Doctor P (from the album Circus One)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at http://couchpodtatoes.libsyn.com/. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

#couchpodtatoes #podcast #gamesdiscussion #gaming

Bloggy Xmas Day 3: A Sense of Belonging

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Syl, of MMO Gypsy and Battle Bards (also a member of the esteemed group of podcasters that Couch Podtatoes calls home, TGEN) fame has called for another blogosphere event where members of our community come together to create an online Advent Calendar. Each day, two members of the ‘sphere will post their thoughts on gaming and community, and the entirety of the project will culminate with the Calendar, which you can view here. I was given December 3rd as my day to create the window dressing, and as such here is my post for Bloggy Xmas.

Early Years

The early years of gaming were getting their start right around the same time I was born. There were video games before 1982, but my birth year saw the crash and almost demise of gaming as a whole. E.T. and Atari could be blamed, but those relics of the past are now for sale on eBay, and we all know that gaming did not go the way of the Dodo. My earliest memories of gaming were both console and computer based, be it on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) or my father’s Atari ST, and I moved forward with a split interest throughout the years. I’ve always owned a console, and I’ve typically had a computer as well, though Atari doesn’t make them anymore, nor are they called IBM Compatibles, and my love for Nintendo waned right after the NES. Still, gaming has been a staple form of entertainment in my life for basically the entirety of it.

When I was young, I played games by myself. When I was a bit older, I had that community feeling via friends coming over to play, or I would venture to their houses for game time. It didn’t matter that I moved away and started school in a new town, I still managed to find the gamers in my area so I always had someone to play with, or a group to discuss gaming. These were the way things worked before the Internet became the culture changer that it is today. If you wanted to play or discuss games with others, you needed to have face time to do so.

The Internet Age

The Internet Age dawned in the mid 1990’s. I was an early adopter, but we still played/discussed games in the traditional face-to-face manner as well. Being a teenager at the time, I didn’t have free reign to the net, particularly because it would tie up the phone line (those pesky modems!). This meant console play and sharing TV space were still a premium, though I did manage to play Counter-Strike and Starcraft with friends over the Internet, usually at night when family wouldn’t be expecting phone calls. My community didn’t really grow at this point, it was still people I knew in real life that were the ones whom I’d game with over the net. We did have a new place to talk about games and whatever else was going on in our lives though, with web logs gaining popularity towards the end of the century. This new form of community was one that we all embraced, starting clans for various games and using discussion boards and blogs to communicate with people outside of our “real life” grasps. I still mostly played video games with friends, and most of the time we’d hang out with each other while doing so, but the other options were there when we couldn’t get together. Internet cafes starting cropping up as well, so we could go play on someone else’s machinery (that was typically better than what we had) and get better ping because they were all hooked together on a LAN. Many an hour was sunk here, with many different friends coming together to form groups and play games against each other. This wouldn’t last long though, as high speed internet was about to be available to nearly everyone, at an affordable price.

The Past Decade – To Today

The Internet has truly changed the way a community can work. The general definition of community is a grouping of people living in close proximity that have common values and goals. Generally speaking, the people in your neighborhood and small surrounding area are your community, as you all have a similar income level, are members of a family/have your own family, and generally want to see everyone succeed at living for lack of a better term. Not only has the Internet changed the way we interact with our immediate neighbors and community, but it has allowed people to form communities around common interests that may live in the next town, next state, or on the other side of the world. Also, as we age we tend to get more involved in our own families and less involved in the social circles we once held dear. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but most people get to a point in their lives where they no longer hang out with friends from high school, or even college. They focus on their own, and get further away from social events than they once enjoyed. That’s not to say that we’re all introverts or anti-social, but it seems to be the natural progression of life as an adult. Partying gives way to a career or a family or both.

With the Internet being the driving force in many of our lives, we keep up with news, gaming, social events and everything else via different channels streaming to your house via a series of cables or satellite signals. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you choose to look at it, but either way, this is the way life works in the 2010’s. I choose to look at it as a good thing, in that I can go literal months without going to a face-to-face social gathering but still feel like I belong to a group of peers. Not only do social networks like Facebook and Twitter keep me connected to people I know in “real life,” but they keep me informed of things that interest me, and keep me in touch with people from around the world who have similar interests. Gaming via the Internet also keeps us connected because we can play games together, and maintain relationships with people whom we might not ever meet face-to-face. Some may see that as a bad thing, in that we don’t have that same social connection without face time, but I see it as a way to maintain sanity in a life that would drive me crazy otherwise.

You see, I moved a few months back. Away from a place I lived for 15+ years, where everyone that I knew from old social circles lives. Away from anything I could remotely call a “life.” I am now in a position to make new social circles, but there were things to take care of first. In the interim, I have made friends with a large group of people from varying backgrounds and from around the world whom I do consider real friends. People that I would have never met were it not for gaming and community. My interest in gaming lead me to the point where I enjoyed writing about it, which lead to the discovery of the NBI which lead to the discovery of a slew of blogs that I didn’t know about, which lead to being involved in a community encompassing a vast number of people I didn’t know. I have gamed with many of you. I have argued with many of you. I have written with/about many of you. My podcast wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for you. This blog would still be relatively stagnant if it wasn’t for you. As much as I will say “don’t write for others, write for yourself” I still much prefer writing for you. Just knowing that people read my opinions and care enough to comment or write retorts on their own blogs makes me feel like I belong to something greater, and that’s been my goal for a long time. So thank you, dear readers, for making me feel like I belong. I owe it to you.

#bloggyxmas #community #gaming