It’s my birthday! More importantly, it’s also MoeGamer’s birthday. Buy us presents! (You don’t have to do that. But I’m not going to stop you if you want to.)
Ahem. Anyway, yes, it is indeed the fourth anniversary of MoeGamer’s inception. I’ve told the story of how the site came about numerous times — most notably in last year’s birthday post — so I won’t reiterate that here. Instead I wanted to take stock of the year that’s gone by and thank you all for continuing to support my work.
It’s been an interesting year, for sure — and a very good one, both for me, and for the site. So that’s nice! Let’s look at it all in more detail.
Probably the most significant thing that has happened in the last year is that I got a full-time day job, which brought me some much-needed financial security… and had a very positive impact on my overall emotional and mental wellbeing. I’ve now been in that job for over a year — I started a little before the site’s third birthday — and have no intention of going anywhere. Finally settled (well, hopefully) at 37… I got there in the end. Thanks to everyone who has stuck by my side during some difficult years!
Anyway, while it would be nice — ideal, even — to have all day every day available to work on MoeGamer and related projects such as videos, podcasts and GameCasts, this job is one I can “switch off” from at the end of the day and just enjoy my evenings — and publishing things on MoeGamer is part of that enjoyment.
That’s an important thing I want to highlight, really; MoeGamer has never felt like “work”. It is both a hobby in its own right and a natural extension of my passion for gaming; I’ve found over the course of the last few years that playing games with a mind to writing about them brings me a considerable amount of enjoyment beyond just playing them for the sake of it, so it’s not something I intend on stopping any time soon.
Sure, it can sometimes be a challenge to think of things to cover every weekday outside of the main Cover Game features, but between the weekly Waifu Wednesday column, the themed Essentials articles and one-shot reviews and opinion pieces, I always seem to have something to write about. Switching my writing focus from my former daily general-purpose blog to MoeGamer has been a positive move; now I get to indulge in my passions every day and share them with everyone!
As I’ve mentioned, it’s been a great year for the site. Looking at the stats, I’ve seen significant growth in the number of views per day as well as follows via WordPress, email and Twitter — over 2,000 active followers in total now across all three platforms — and it seems most visitors are sticking around to read at least a couple of articles while they’re here rather than stopping by and then leaving again. That’s really exciting to see, as it means that people aren’t just swinging by to read something I’ve posted on Twitter — it means they’re taking an interest in the other stuff on the site, too.
I’ve done my best to keep things as organised as I can to help newcomers find things — besides the Cover Games page, there’s also the All Games index, and I’ve also recently revamped the top menu to organise the various categories of article in a slightly more compact manner… as well as allowing a bit more space to expand if I need to!
Last year, I also launched my “MoeGamer 2.5” format, in which every game I cover on the site has its own “Hub Page” that includes a convenient list of all the articles about it, gameplay videos, a screenshot gallery and, in some cases, even trivia, tips, tricks and walkthroughs. Anything you click on on the All Games or Cover Games pages will take you to a Hub Page for that game, where you can find out more about it — here’s this month’s page for Blue Reflection as an example, including both the Cover Game features about it and any other articles that mention it.
Partway through last year, I also stopped considering MoeGamer as a self-sufficient site that just happened to be hosted on WordPress, and instead reached out to connect with the wider anime and video game blogging communities here on WP. The response has been wonderful; I’ve made some lovely friends and found a huge amount of interesting things to read each and every day — and it’s always a pleasure to see these fine people in my likes and comments.
While I’m still keen for MoeGamer to maintain its focus as a site about enjoying and appreciating games through in-depth coverage and analysis, the occasional Community posts have always seen a good response, so those will certainly continue when interesting topics or tags come up!
Thinking long-term, I mostly plan to keep doing what I’m doing now. In terms of social, I’ve dialled back my Twitter usage somewhat as that site is becoming increasingly hard to have worthwhile discussions on with the sheer amount of rage flying around on a daily basis; I’ll still poke my head in occasionally, but don’t be surprised if you don’t get a response for a day or two if you have a question or comment.
I’m currently also in the process of setting up a new Discord server which will include both public channels and private areas for any WordPress anibloggers/gaming blogger friends who would like to hang out, as well as a “VIP” area for Patrons and close personal friends. Look out for the launch of that soon.
Longtime readers may recall that MoeGamer used to have a Discord that disappeared rather suddenly one day; at the time, it wasn’t being used much and was getting increasingly frequent visits from trolls and spammers, so the easiest thing to do was just to nuke it, so apologies if you wondered what happened. The new server will have much stricter auto-moderation rules in place for those without “roles”, and I will likely require people to request an invite rather than posting the links publicly (as I believe that is where the problems arose) — I’d like to keep things manageable as I am but one man!
Personal highlights for the year gone by? Well, it’s actually quite hard to pick specifics, as I deliberately pick Cover Games and other features based on how much I anticipate enjoying them or how interesting they look to me; there’s enough negativity in the world, so I make an effort to keep things positive here! But okay, if you insist, let’s pull out some particular highlights.
Gravity Rush was great fun to cover, and I’m glad I took the time to do so. I had mixed memories of the Vita original from back in the day, but it turns out I was playing it a bit “wrong”. As a result, I enjoyed the PS4 port and its sequel a whole lot more — and delving into the deeper influences behind it, such as the inspiration it drew from Franco-Belgian comic book art, was fascinating. I actually ended up declaring Gravity Rush 2 my Game of the Year for 2017, and it bums me out it didn’t get more love and attention from gaming enthusiasts and the press alike. It really was wonderful.
Nekopara was another series I was glad I took the time to explore, as there’s a surprising amount to it despite all of the episodes being non-interactive kinetic novels, and the series’ reputation as cute but ultimately throwaway fluff — or worse, as I’ve seen some people call it, nukige. I found there was a hell of a lot to discuss and explore about the stories these catgirls had to tell, and am very much looking forward to more in the future. Coconut is best cat. I think. It might be Maple.
Staying on the visual novel front, a real highlight of the last year for me was finally sitting down to plough through Fate/stay night in its entirety. It’s absolutely criminal that this genuine classic hasn’t been officially localised, but at least it’s possible to play it in English thanks to the sterling efforts of the fan translation community over the years. Reading the whole thing took time, effort and a considerable amount of emotional and mental energy — it’s powerful stuff — but I now feel I understand why Fate is general is such a huge phenomenon. Plus now I can officially be smug towards anyone whose only contact with the series is blowing too much money on Fate/Grand Order.
Before I just list all the Cover Games from the last year as highlights, I’ll limit myself and say that finally, the most pleasant surprise I had was probably Rance 5D and VI. I knew this series only by reputation prior to actually trying them out, but was delighted to discover there’s a lot to the series as a whole, especially from a lore perspective — and these games are actually a great entry point despite technically being partway through the entire “run”. Very much looking forward to Sengoku Rance and Rance Quest Magnum, which are both currently in the works from MangaGamer.
As for one-off reviews… well, there are a few obvious standout titles. Seven Days with the Ghost was a wonderful yuri story with a supernatural twist, and Re;Lord 1: The witch of Herfort and stuffed animals was a highly peculiar game that ended up being enormously memorable! Both are well worth your time. As is Honey Select Unlimited, for entirely different reasons.
I’ve also really been enjoying delving back into the Namco and Taito archives thanks to various compilation packages — most recently the Switch release of Namco Museum. Watch out for more of this retro goodness in the coming weeks and months — there’s still a lot of Taito Legends in particular that I’ve hardly touched!
At this point, I’d like to say some big thank yous. Thank you to you, dear reader, for reading MoeGamer and supporting the site with likes, shares, comments and whatnot. Thank you to the wonderful WordPress anime and gaming blogger communities for welcoming me in with open arms and making my daily writing even more fun thanks to your interactions.
And thank you to the developers and publishers who have worked with me to provide review copies, arrange interviews and help share my articles to a much wider audience — I’d especially like to highlight Eve from Denpasoft and Matt from Inti Creates in this regard, as both have been enormously helpful over the last year in particular; I look forward to working with you both more in the future! If you’re a developer, publisher or localiser who would like to partner up with me for some coverage, feel free to get in touch any time — assuming you handle things that are within MoeGamer’s remit, of course!
Finally, a particularly huge thank you to those who have put your money where your mouth is and supported MoeGamer on Patreon. It really means the world to me that there are people out there who believe I should get paid for my work — particularly after my professional career in the games press was cut frustratingly short through no fault of my own. Believe me, your contributions are always used for things to make the site better — be it expanding my game collection or purchasing new hardware to broaden my scope of coverage.
In the near future, I’m going to need to upgrade MoeGamer’s package on WordPress for more storage space as I’m starting to run out; I’ve previously said I’d do this once I hit $100 per month, so I’d love to hit that target. Besides providing me with more space to host images, this also opens up the possibility for things like hosting audio and video, which will make posts like this less reliant on YouTube and more self-contained. It will also remove WordPress’ ads from the site, and I have no intention of monetising the site with ads of my own. So if you really want to help out as well as be a part of making the site a better experience for everyone, chuck me a dollar or two and help me reach that goal.
Patreon shilling over, and I’d just like to reiterate and emphasise those “thank yous”, whether you’re giving me money or not. Working on MoeGamer is something I genuinely love doing and look forward to every single day, and it’s a wonderful bonus to know there are other people out there enjoying and appreciating what I do.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you, and here’s to at least four more years of fun and games!
– Pete Davison
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