Blogger Recognition Award

Community is important. I’ve known this for a while, of course — I think most people know it on one level or another — but I want to make more of an effort to be part of something bigger with MoeGamer here.

I started this process towards the end of last year with some more active engagement with a number of other WordPress bloggers who are passionate about similar things to me, and, of course, I have a love-it, hate-it relationship with Twitter. I’d like to take things a little further, though, so expect more Community-themed posts here on MoeGamer going forward as I give some love and acknowledgement to the many talented people out there working hard on their own creative endeavours, just like I am with this little corner of the Internet.

A good place to start, I feel, would be by responding to the Blogger Recognition Award that Arthifis of Arthifis’ Place nominated me for earlier today, so let’s do just that!

Space Live: Advent of the Net Idols

For those not in blogging circles, “awards” such as this aren’t exactly formal things as such; there’s no ceremony, no prize, no official acknowledgement besides that which those participating in proceedings decide to provide. But they crop up quite regularly as a means of writers and sites giving some love to one another, whether it be for specific articles or simply a general enjoyment of another person or team’s work.

That’s not to say there are no rules, however, and in the case of this particular award, here they are:

  1. Say thanks to who nominated you and leave a link back to that person’s blog.
  2. Give the story or history of your blog.
  3. Give two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  4. Nominate 10 other bloggers.
  5. Leave a comment on the nominated blogs so they know they’ve been nominated. (WordPress pingbacks take care of this if you link to a specific post, so I’ll do that.)

All right then.

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

1. Say thanks to who nominated you.

Thank you, Arthifis. I’ve seen your blog start, grow and flourish over the course of the last few months, and it’s clear you’re enthusiastic and passionate about what you do — not to mention a delightfully positive member of the community. I’m happy to know you and be a follower of your place!

2. Give the story or history of your blog.

This is a story I’ve told a few times over the course of the last three years, but it doesn’t hurt to tell it again for the benefit of people showing up for the first time today.

Growing up, there was nothing I wanted more than to write for video game magazines. My father and brother, the latter of whom is ten years my senior, both wrote for an Atari-centric magazine called Page 6 (which later became New Atari User after a merger with another publication) and, instead of going to university, my brother left home at 18 to pursue an opportunity to help launch an unusual publication: a weekly games magazine called Games-X. Since that time, he’s remained in the industry in various capacities and, over the last few years, has been in charge of a number of sites including GamePro, Gamespot and Rolling Stone’s Glixel.

Ring-Out!! Pro Lesring

When I was a teen — around the same age as my brother was when he first started contributing to Page 6 — I got a few articles published with the assistance of my parents. At 16, I went and did my Year 10 work experience on PC Zone magazine in London, which my brother was editor of at the time. (Connections!)

After he moved to the States to work for Ziff-Davis on EGM, OPM and 1up.com, I stayed in touch with the PC Zone crowd and continued to contribute the occasional article, earning a few paychecks that, while they wouldn’t have been enough to live on for the me of today, seemed like an astronomical amount of unbridled riches to a 17-year old. (I subsequently also did some freelance work for the Official UK Nintendo Magazine, who had the most obnoxious house style I’ve ever come across and were a pain to squeeze payments out of, but who were otherwise a lovely group of people.)

I went to university, unlike my brother. I studied English and Music, because they had been my two main passions at school and I was labouring under the mistaken assumption that they would make for a “good, general degree” that would help me get a job in most fields. I reached my third year without a clue of what I wanted to do, so I spent another year in teacher training, then three years as a secondary school music teacher, after which I had a nervous breakdown and swore never to step back in a classroom ever again. (I subsequently broke this promise to myself for a brief period as a primary school teacher, but it proved to be a mistake. I should have listened to myself.)

Party Girls

A few years passed, during which time I had a series of unremarkable jobs, none of which offered a clear “career” and none of which were really what I wanted to do. Then, after an unfortunate period of personal upheaval in 2010, which included the end of my first marriage, I moved back home to live with my parents. During this time, I was introduced to some staffers at GamePro, which my brother had recently moved on from. I started contributing, first occasionally, then a little more regularly and eventually taking a full-time (albeit still technically freelance) position covering the site’s daily news shift.

loved this job, and it showed in my work. I was regularly complimented for how I’d track down stories that other sites weren’t reporting on, and how these interesting stories would draw traffic to the site. I also contributed reviews, previews, interviews and event reports — I even covered the Gamescom event in Germany single-handedly at one point, which was an ordeal (albeit an enjoyable one) and was a respected member of the site team, despite working remotely.

It wasn’t to last, sadly. I was present for the very end of GamePro, when its parent company decided that neither its print incarnation (which had, by this point, gone quarterly as an experiment) nor its website were viable to keep in business. So, one cold morning in December of 2011, I awoke to the news that I didn’t have a job any more and, as a freelancer, there was no kind of severance package or anything like that.

Nekopara

The contact from GamePro who had originally recruited me subsequently “headhunted” me for a site she was working on, which primarily focused on the then-fledgling mobile and social games markets, with articles intended to inform developers and publishers of things like good monetisation practices and suchlike. This job paid enormously well for what it was but was also extremely unfulfilling due to the fact that the mobile and social game market is one of the scummiest sectors of the games industry. You think lootboxes in Star Wars Battlefront II are bad? You know nothing of “fun pain” and “friction”.

Long story short, this site eventually closed, too, and I was once again left without gainful employment, though thankfully it wasn’t long before Jaz Rignall, who had been a high-up at GamePro while I was there, contacted me to work on a then-secret project. Said project turned out to be Eurogamer’s America-centric spinoff USgamer, where I worked for quite some time before being unceremoniously laid off without warning one day on the supposed grounds that “the site wanted an all-American staff”.

We’re nearly there, stay with it. During my time at USgamer, I had developed a particular passion for Japanese video games and visual novels, and took the opportunity to highlight them whenever possible. I gained a reputation as someone who gave these titles a fair chance, unlike most other publications, which tended to write them off without really exploring them in detail — a situation which has only gotten worse in the last few years. I even started a weekly column called JPgamer, in which I’d cover Japanese games from a variety of perspectives.

Omega Quintet

JPgamer is basically what lead to MoeGamer. After I was laid off, I knew I wanted — needed — to keep writing about these games that I love. So I launched this site, initially as a place to occasionally pen some thoughts on games and visual novels that meant something to me. But over time, I decided I wanted to build it into something bigger, something more structured.

In 2016, I launched my Cover Game format, in which I pick one game or series a month and delve into it in extreme detail over the course of at least four articles. In mid-2017, I expanded the site to include its current format of Hub Pages for games, the intention being to make the site as a whole a continually expanding database of overlooked and underappreciated Japanese games from yesterday and today. And, well, here we are, with something posted on the site every weekday, some generous supporters on Patreon and, if you’ll pardon me blowing my own trumpet, some of the best stuff I think I’ve ever written.

While the games press pretty much chewed me up and spat me out, leaving me with no desire whatsoever to pursue a career in that field — especially not with the obnoxious push for clickbaiting, audience-hating, politically correct progressivism that has been going on since about 2010 or so — I’m happier than I’ve ever been writing about games here. People reach out to me and tell me they appreciate what I do; devs and publishers share my work on Twitter; people discover new favourites (or rediscover classics) thanks to things I’ve written about them. That’s incredibly rewarding. And I’ve had the opportunity to explore games, visual novels and series I never would have had the time to discover were I still working full-time shifts on an ad-driven commercial site.

So that’s the story of MoeGamer, how I got here and why I intend to keep going with what I’m doing for as long as possible!

School of Talent: Suzu-Route

3. Give two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.

Ooh, responsibility! Okay, apprentices, listen up… no; I’m not going to claim to be any sort of authority on this, but I will share two things that have worked for me.

1. Focus and specialise. While it can be tempting to have a blog that meanders all over the place and acts as a kind of “online diary”, you’ll benefit from having a clear focus or specialism. This can be as tight or loose as you like, but giving your site a clear “mission” makes it much easier to find things to write about rather than having to just desperately figure out something to inspire you every day, and feel guilty if you write about the same thing too often. If everyone knows your site is, say, an anime blog, they’ll come to you expecting anime talk and stick around. If no-one knows what your site is, people will drift in and out and it’ll be hard to grow.

Sacrament of the Zodiac: The Confused Sheep and the Tamed Wolf

2. Research, and resist the urge for kneejerk opinions. It can be satisfying to post an immediate response to something that has happened, but there is nothing worse than writing a lengthy screed only to have some smug jackass in the comments dismantle everything you say point by point. Of course, you can just delete their comment, but if you’re anything like me, the damage will have already been done and you will be thinking about the mistake you made for at least several days afterwards. Instead, prevent this happening in the first place by taking some time to think about the thing that has inspired you, then doing some research. Wikipedia is a good starting point, but don’t rely exclusively on it; instead, use it as a jumping-off point to explore the references and citations, as those are where the really interesting thoughts and theories come from.

Point 2 has the advantage of allowing you to become the smug jackass in other people’s comment sections when they talk shit about your favourite thing without really knowing anything about it. (My Senran Kagura coverage has been especially useful in this regard over the last few years.)

Nights of Azure

4. Nominate 10 other bloggers.

I don’t know who of these has already had this award, so I’m just going to post a list of sites and writers that I’ve come to really enjoy in recent months; none of them are obligated to participate in this if they don’t want to, of course — the main point of this is for me to share some of my favourite things!

In no particular order… well, all right, the order in which I saw them in my WordPress Reader…

Irina – I Drink and Watch Anime

Whether or not she intends it, I think of Irina’s site as something of a “hub” for the community I’ve stepped into. Her site’s title is pretty self-explanatory — she writes about anime and provides convenient cocktail suggestions and drinking games with which to accompany your own viewing sessions — but she’s also played a key role in drawing people together thanks to things like the Blogwarming project, a community effort to help newer anime bloggers get up and running and build their audiences.

Gal*Gun: Double Peace

Baud Attitude

Baud posts some great articles about his gaming backlog, which appears to rival mine in its magnitude, and I’m also always happy to stumble across someone on the Internet who is actually older than me and still into video games, pretty anime girls and other such delightful Earthly pleasures. He also has a sticker from an Atari 800 on his PC case, which is deserving of mad props so far as I’m concerned, as someone who grew up with Atari computers.

Mr. Wapojif – Professional Moron

Mr. Wapojif, the esteemed and undoubtedly extremely attractive editor of Professional Moron, posts what he refers to as “daily doses of surreal humour and culture”, including a recent favourite regarding what is, so far as I’m concerned, the natural evolution of golf. His site combines the absurd with insightful looks at aspects of popular culture such as movies, and you should be following him.

OutRun 2006: Coast2Coast

Remy Fool – The Lily Garden

Remy’s site primarily focuses on the yuri side of anime and Japanese popular media, and is a delightfully written-from-the-heart account of his response to things he’s watched and enjoyed (and sometimes not enjoyed!) Remy is also a frequent collaborator with other bloggers such as Irina, and has plenty of great advice for those just starting out on their blogging journey or hoping to participate more actively in the community.

Annie Gallagher – Guardian Acorn

Longtime friend of the site, Annie writes from the perspective of a trans lesbian feminist otaku, which is a pretty interesting place to be coming from so far as I’m concerned — especially as she does so without excluding, alienating or shaming any of her readership, unlike many of the high-profile “progressive” sites out there. Her site includes video game reviews, social commentary and philosophy and is well worth a read, particularly if you’re interested in social issues but despise the grandstanding of obnoxious keyboard warriors.

Gravity Rush

The Otaku Judge

The Otaku Judge posts a variety of well-crafted content, including articles about anime, games, movies and manga. He’s been gaming since the days of the Atari 2600 and Amstrad CPC, which of course makes him a kindred spirit to fellow old farts like me, and I’m all for that. Atari 8-bit was better than Amstrad, though.

The Well-Red Mage

TWRM runs a great site in collaboration with a number of regular contributors and guest posters, with thought-provoking articles and excellent, long-form gaming reviews that are certainly a far cry from what we get on mainstream commercial sites these days. He covers a broad spectrum of different games on the site, and I’m a big fan of the philosophy behind his whole project.

Games & Girls

Infernal Monkey (NSFW)

Infernal wanks into onaholes and then writes about the experience. If you want to know what things you should and shouldn’t consider sticking your dick into this week, you should be following his (emphatically NSFW) site — and for more than just shock value, too. His reviews are informative, well-written, genuinely humorous (far beyond “hurr, hurr, wanking”, too) and a godsend for those considering spending their hard-earned money on rubber vaginas. Those things ain’t cheap.

Retro Redress

I really like the concept of Retro Redress’ site — inspired by My Name is Earl, the aim of the project as a whole is for Retro to resolve the issues he’s had with games over the years, preferably getting over them enough to be able to beat them. While some other projects over the festive season put the Redress efforts aside for a short period, I’m sure we’ll see more now we’re well into the new year.

Super Mario Maker

Chris Caskie – MrGilderPixels

Last but by no means least is my good friend — and longtime supporter of my work — Mr Chris Caskie, whose site primarily focuses on his artistic projects. Chris is a talented artist working in both the digital and physical spheres, with some of his most impressive work being his wooden pixel art sprites and standees. Check out his site for his past work and consider commissioning this fine chap next time you want to decorate your game room.

All right, there you have it! This came out a lot longer than I thought it would, so that seems like a good place to sign off for the weekend. Happy gaming, everyone; I’ll be back with more fun, games and thicc anime thighs next week.


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32 thoughts on “Blogger Recognition Award”

  1. Thank you for the nomination. I appreciate the shout out so much that I will forgive your Amstrad remark haha.

    Wow, the history of your blog is really interesting. I would have loved to write for game magazines back when I was younger. Shame that the industry doesn’t sound like a stable job.

    Arthifis is a great guy. His push up video made me laugh last night.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s true. I’m just so goddamned pretty it hurts. You know, if I can take a break from drinking petrol for more than 24 hours I’ll put one of these community posts together blaming everyone else for my foibles. Yeah!

    Oh, and that’s a super interesting insight! Kind of similar to my growing up plans. Ish. Me and my mate Phil used to do fanzines back in the mid-’90s of games mags – we made them on primitive computers. One issue, we even used printouts from the Game Boy Camera for photos. I even went on to do a journalism degree! Then I hit the petrol. I hit it hard. If only I’d turned to brake fluid, then I’d have been able to stop!! (NB: I went into copywriting instead of journalism).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve said many times that I love blog origin stories but this might be one of my favorites.The behind the curtains look at the gaming press industry was fascinating and explains the caliber of your writing. I feel a bit better now…
    Of course thank you so much for the tag, my own backstory is nowhere near as interesting I’m afraid…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks once again for the shout out. Also on the subject of kneejerk opinions, I thankfully have avoided them simply because I am rarely able to write a 4000 plus word piece in one sitting only because I got mad, and I never get the urge to finish them if it is in more than one sitting. So an opinion piece would need to be particularly meaningful to write in order for me to complete it to begin with.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations on this well deserved award. I have said it a couple of times already (but I guess some things just can’t be said enough), that I truly enjoy reading your blog. It’s now in my top three for blogs about reading things for the world of computergames, and I always love the retrogames you feature on your blog (like the pac man post from yesterday 😀).
    Keep up the great work! 😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the kind words! You’re one of my very few regular readers and commenters and I’m always glad to see you visit. I’ve also found several of my daily reads through your recommendations.

    I like your advice, because finding a focus has always been a problem for me. I tend to go near-stream-of-consciousness when writing and sometimes I will look back at posts a week later and wonder what the heck I was thinking. Maybe it’s an age thing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for the nomination! I’ll come back with some answers soon – you’re right, the festive period has distracted me, but I’m going to get back into games again, got a long standing problem game lined up for February!

    The origin of Moegamer story was pretty interesting. I’m glad you’re happier now doing what you”re doing – I knew of the US Gamer issues (I use to read that site loads, still like it but haven’t really followed since Jeremy left) and it sounds happier now you’re free to cover what you want.

    I remember Games-X! I use to read it as a kid. Decent mag – I liked that they covered all consoles. I always remember their ranking of systems issue – I was made up the Master System came in like 17th out of 50 or something. I took those kinda things very seriously back then!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, we all took that sort of thing seriously. Games-X was a fun time, it had a delightfully irreverent tone to it that we don’t really see in a lot of modern games publications. That was pretty common in the late ’80s and ’90s — I was a big fan of stuff like Zero magazine for that reason, too.

      Master System is one platform I’ve never gotten around to exploring all that much. My friend Dale had one when I was a kid, but I’ve never owned one. What’s it like to collect for these days?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had a subscription to Zero in those days – it was the first games magazine I loved and I was gutted when it ended.

        Not sure about Master System collecting these days (I haven’t collected since 2010, I think) but it was great back in the 00’s. Gamestation was selling MS and MD stuff dirt cheap, often ‘buy one, get one free’ so I built a huge collection. I love the Master System though – the uniform white boxes, the underappreciated software library. I reckon it’s not the worst system to collect these days in terms of price, but it’s a lot more expensive than ten years ago….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As with many things, unfortunately!

        I’ve been prioritising collecting PSP, PS2, PS3 and contemporaries at the moment, as those are absolutely dirt cheap for the most part. I’m looking forward to when the prices go up for those and I can feel smug about some of the things I have on my shelf 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yep. I’m actually hoping to acquire a complete collection of Wii U exclusives over time. I think I have about 20 or so left to go, last time I checked — though most of the ones I have left aren’t the best games on the platform! Of the “big names” I think I only need Kirby, Yoshi and Paper Mario now… maybe a few others.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They do! Apart from the Bayonetta 1 one I have, where CEX clearly printed out their own inlay and used the Japanese colour scheme for it, so it sticks out like a sore thumb. I’m not ashamed to admit I have considered purchasing another copy just to replace this case, though I’m not quite THAT anal about it. Yet.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Damn CEX! Bet they charged you full price too! Japanese artwork is awesome though (if I collected these days, it would be all Japanese Mega Drive games) does the artwork look great, just out of place?

        Like

      6. Oh yeah, it’s the same artwork, it’s just mature-rated Japanese Wii U games have a different shade of blue on the “Wii U” branding (they use dark, gradient blue instead of solid to indicate games for grown-ups) and the main part of the spine is white instead of blue. Not the end of the world, but does stick out a bit. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I assume it was a copy of the game from the double pack that got split up and thus didn’t have an original box. I’ve seen them do printed Wii U cases like this for other games, so I think their template is just wrong! Ah well. As you say, better a cover than no cover!

        Like

  8. Wow, what an amazing backstory. I’m actually disgusted with gamepress industry now. Their loss for not treating you better.

    Congratulations on the nomination! I also appreciate the shout-out. Keep up the amazing content~

    Like

  9. Great article.

    Not sure how small they are, but Digitally Downloaded and Tech-Gaming are my go to sites. Both really dig into games, are analytical, and seem to understand and appreciate Japanese culture.

    Like

    1. Yep, Matt from Digitally Downloaded has been a buddy for a while now, and is actually part of the reason I place such a square focus on Japanese games — a podcast appearance a good few years back where he talked about “otaku games” and how they were underrepresented in professional games coverage proved to be something of an inspiration.

      I follow Robert Allen from Tech-Gaming on Twitter but confess I don’t think I’ve been to their site much! I should fix that, he’s a good guy who has always had a kind word for me.

      Like

      1. Robert’s one of my favorite reviewers. He does some really good interviews as well. The one with Naoko Mizuno was really well done.

        Thanks for the tips on smaller bloggers. The larger, corporate sites aren’t for me.

        Like

  10. This is such a great read. I even remember the Page 6/Atari User years which betrays my age! Thanks for sharing your story and advice – it’s definitely making me think more about what I should focus on with my own online adventures. 🙂

    Like

      1. Wow, I hadn’t realised those were on there! I was searching for ST Action on there recently and completely missed Page 6. Great seeing so many of the old issues there… I think I might have some early 90’s issues stashed around here somewhere. I was an 8 and 16 bit Atari user so was keen for as much to read about both as I could get. 🙂

        Like

  11. Congrats in your award, it’s well deserved! 🙂
    I loved to hear your story until today, not in a million years would have though that you wrote for those big names! It’s a bummer that clickbait is the norm nowadays + people prefer reading negative articles about something than positive ones (although I think that’s slowly changing again).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s changing in that a lot of readers are leaving the mainstream clickbait commercial sites in droves in favour of small blogs like yours and mine. And that’s ultimately good, I think; personal, honest opinions are far more valuable than something that has only been churned out to hit traffic targets.

      Now we just need to figure out how to get people to pay us for our hard work… heh. I’m very very very grateful for my wonderful Patreon supporters, but I couldn’t make a living from MoeGamer. (Yet? Haha.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I don’t even understad how mainstream clickbait commercial sites were able to grow in the first place (or at least to be a thing).

        Well, if I had the answer I would tell you, honestly 😀 I would to live from being a content creator such as blogging or youtube

        Like

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