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!
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:
- Say thanks to who nominated you and leave a link back to that person’s blog.
- Give the story or history of your blog.
- Give two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
- Nominate 10 other bloggers.
- 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.
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.
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.)
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.
I 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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