A slightly early “happy new year”, everyone! I was originally going to post this at midnight but figured no-one would actually read it then, so I’m posting it now to go with all the other people posting 2017 roundup threads on Twitter and suchlike.
It’s been an interesting year and, I’m pleased to say, one that has been overall very positive, which is a very nice contrast to the numerous challenges I’ve encountered over the course of… well, probably the last seven years or so, now.
As such, I wanted to make this post a bit of a personal one to look back over the last year, to celebrate the things that went well, and to look forward to what 2018 holds. Regular gaming coverage will continue on Tuesday!
To provide those of you who have joined me more recently with some context, and so you can understand exactly why 2017 has been such a highlight for me, I recommend reading both this post and this one, which, between them, describe pretty much what I’ve been dealing with since 2010 or so. I don’t want to repeat myself or focus on the negative aspects of the past right now, but those posts are there for those who would like to find out more!
For now, let’s turn our attention to 2017. The first quarter or so of it was not great. A company I’d been doing some freelance work for abruptly told me that they were no longer going to be using freelancers — in other words, they’d run out of money — and thus I was, once again, left without a regular source of income. I was determined, though; I put my efforts into a combination of jobhunting and working on MoeGamer, and managed to keep myself occupied, and the support of family and friends also helped stop me going insane.
A few months in, I got a call from a recruiter who was interested in putting me forward for a job that he didn’t really appear to understand the description for, but which my skillset appeared to fit. I was initially rejected for the position, but for some reason the recruiter pushed for me, and I ended up getting an interview. Then a second interview. Then a third and final interview. And finally the job.
Perhaps most significantly, since I had been living on unstable, unpredictable freelancer’s income for the past seven years or so, this was a proper, regular, full-on job in an actual office with real people. Regular, predictable hours. Regular, predictable pay. Benefits. Training opportunities.
It sounded good, but I was cautious; back in 2014, I had also managed to find myself with a proper, regular, full-on job in an actual office with real people, but that turned out to be one of the worst experiences of my life thanks to the awful people that worked there, the company’s stifling corporate culture and the generally terrible way in which I was treated during a somewhat dark period for my mental health. (The company was energy provider SSE. If you have the opportunity to work for this monstrosity, run a mile.)
Thankfully, new job has turned out to be nothing like that disaster, and moreover is actually a very pleasant daily experience that pays well and affords me the opportunity to flex my content management skills a bit in a variety of different ways. That’s all I’ll say about it for now; for reasons that anyone who has fallen foul of corporate “social media policies” will understand, I haven’t named the place where I work anywhere on the Internet, and have even gone so far as to close my LinkedIn account. Not that the latter will be missed.
Shortly before I secured my new position, I was also diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a mild autistic spectrum disorder that I had come to suspect I had been dealing with for a long time after a conversation with a friend who also happened to have the condition. It was a long process to finally get that diagnosis, but once I did I suddenly felt like I understood a few more things about myself; not necessarily how to deal with those aspects of myself, but certainly why they were part of me.
As such, by the time I started my new job I was feeling reasonably good about life for the first time in quite a while; I felt like I was starting to understand myself for the first time in 36 years, and I was in a (hopefully) stable position to be able to try and settle down and continue to work on figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do.
All through this, I found working on MoeGamer to be continually motivational and inspiring. There was always something I wanted to write about, and unlike my previous rather more freeform daily blog, having a clear focus and “specialism” helped keep the content on point — and readers coming back. As such, even after I started my new full-time job, I stepped up my efforts to get new things on the site, increasing my output to an article every weekday along with some experiments in video that I’m keen to get back to in 2018.
Eventually, I had some bright ideas for what I wanted to do with the site over the long term, and implemented them during a few days’ holiday from the day job at the end of July. The result was MoeGamer 2.5, the main feature of which was the addition of Hub Pages for each and every game I had covered, helping to build the site into a database of interesting, overlooked and underappreciated Japanese games as well as the place for me to enthuse about what I’d been playing that it already was.
Having started to build the site into something I was really genuinely proud of and wanted to keep going as long as I could, I finally took the long overdue step of engaging a bit more with the broader WordPress community, starting with following a selection of blogs I found via tags such as “anime” and “visual novels” and subsequently following more sites as I saw regular commenters appearing and conversations happening.
Doing so proved to be an excellent decision, since I feel like I’ve made a whole host of new friends in a very short space of time — making new friends isn’t something that comes particularly easy to an Aspie such as myself, believe me — and I now have a wide variety of highly enjoyable posts to read every day, along with people to talk to, share stories with and reminisce about the good old days. Who could ask for more, eh? Check out the icons in the left sidebar for a sampling of some of the blogs I’ve followed most recently; there are some truly talented writers out there beavering away on the things they’re passionate about!
On the whole, everything I’ve described above contributed to helping me feel happier and, perhaps more importantly, more confident. This latter aspect became particularly apparent to me later in the year where I saw off a particularly persistent troll who had been harassing me and the site on and off since the end of 2016, all because I liked Gal*Gun and he didn’t. Before this new-found sense of positivity and confidence, I would have let this situation really get to me and would have probably gone into “hiding” for at least a little while, but instead I sent him packing. Eminently satisfying, particularly when it’s a sign of how much progress I’ve made from a personal and mental health perspective.
On top of all this, I’ve covered some of my favourite games and visual novels of all time here, a sampling of which you can find on the Cover Games page for those titles which I’ve given in-depth features, and the rest on the All Games page.
So what’s the plan for 2018? Well, to keep doing what I do for the most part: writing about games without prejudice, without assumptions, without shaming the audience and without shoehorning in politically progressive talking points purely for the sake of it. Now I have a Nintendo Switch, you can expect more coverage of games for that platform (along with platforms such as NeoGeo that the system emulates extremely well), along with the range of current and classic systems I already write about.
I’m also going to make more videos, particularly now I’ve finally got over a nasty repeating cold and sore throat combo that made me not want to say anything out loud for about the last three months of the year. And my good buddy, longtime supporter of the site and the artist behind Midori’s first fanart, Chris, has expressed an interest in podcasting, too, so that may well be a thing in the near future.
I’m also looking into print options for physical versions of MoeGamer’s features. I’ve been experimenting with combinations of quality and affordability and am just waiting on a proof of my latest effort to see how it came out. Further updates on that by the end of January, hopefully.
And finally, I’d like to bring back the GameCast, though whether this is as a thing for everyone to enjoy or as a Patreon reward is something I haven’t decided yet! Either way, I’ll be making use of the excellent Visual Novel Maker to put this together.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped make 2017 the best year ever for MoeGamer… and certainly one of the best years ever for me personally, too. Whether you’re someone who chats, jokes and shares lewds with me on Twitter, a regular reader and commenter, someone who likes and shares articles on their own social media pages, someone who has bought me a coffee or someone who regularly backs the site on Patreon, please accept my genuine, heartfelt gratitude. While I still primarily run this site for my own enjoyment, knowing that other people out there are getting something out of it too means the world to me.
Here’s to a great 2018 for everyone. Play more games, and have no shame in loving what you love!
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