The Best Laid Blogs O’ Mice an’ Men

 

Let’s face it. I’m not the most prolific of bloggers. In fact, my last entry here was in… September of 2016?! Wow… I… uhhhh… yeah, that’s embarrassing. So, this Blaugust, headed up once more by the incomparable Belghast, let’s get into reasons WHY this long break has occurred and what you, as a blogger, can do to not make my same mistakes.

The Best Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ Men

Let’s face it, we’re not perfect. And when it comes to our hobbies, sometimes they have to be waylaid when more important priorities come around. I type this as I look forlornly at my Disc Golf bag and discs sitting near my front door. When your hobbies are not making your family a living, and you need to put food on the table, and caring for your family is a priority, this can be the result as smaller pursuits and hobbies fall off.

When stress levels become so high in your life due to family, your career, etc. you tend to stick close to your primary sources of relieving that stress. For me, that is gaming itself. At the end of the day, it’s nice to kick back and immerse yourself in another world, one without the same stresses and goals and wins are easily attainable. But when the choice came: do I play games to help relieve my stress or do I spend that time writing about games, something that didn’t necessarily help, which was easier to choose? Time and again it became easier to choose that which I *knew* would help me.

The hard part is it’s hard to justify keeping up consistency under these circumstances. When faced with more important life decisions, only the foolish would continue worrying about the ephemera. But this is okay. You have to do what you have to do, and an understanding audience would sympathize, you just can’t expect them to hang around.

Habits are Hard to Force

The key to creating any sort of content, though, and having it reach your audience is: consistency, consistency, consistency. This has shown, time and again, to be one of the biggest paths to success. The music industry is filled with examples of one hit wonders, but the bands we tend to stick with the most are the ones that have kept creating. Our favorite authors have created multiple books, and our favorite Twitch/YouTube creators have plenty of backlog. The same goes with any creative endeavor. It’s not enough to just create, you have to keep it up.

Over the time that I’ve been away from blogging, it’s not like I’ve stopped creating. I’ve become more active on Twitch. I’ve been podcasting on Beyond the Veil, Master Debaters, and have been guests on multiple other casts. My want to create has never subsided, but making blogging a habit has always just been out of my reach.

So how do you force yourself into the habit? Obviously, it’s not impossible. Just look at Belghast, the force behind Blaugust itself. He makes blogging seem as easy as breathing.  According to James Clear, the psychology behind this is a circle of Reminder, Routine, and Reward. Reminding yourself to blog, getting into a routine that makes it easier for you to do so, and then seeing the fruits of your labor. Still, it’s not the easiest of processes.

Stop Beating Yourself Up!!

This is probably the hardest hurdle of all. You’re going to start writing, and feel like you’re yelling into the void. You’ll spend minutes, sometimes hours, pouring over a post, making it as perfect as you can, trying to separate yourself with some view that nobody else has come up with yet. After you post you’ll look up the stats, this big post that you’re especially proud of, that has life-changing wisdom strewn throughout it… and it only has 5 views. 4 of which are from Turkmenistan with the comments filled with  Rayban sunglasses spam.

I’ve beat myself up many times over this. Where I think I’ve made some poignant view, filled with wisdom and would be relatable for everyone, and then nobody sees it. See what are currently my most popular posts? A list of Skyrim mods, a look at the EA references made throughout Ultima VII, a post about having to switch to a flip phone for a week. The reality is that the best content you’re going to create, at least in your mind, will not be what others will gravitate towards.

In the end, you have to be happy just in the act of creating. When Twitch streaming, try not to look at those viewer numbers. When blogging, try not to focus on those hits. When podcasting, try not to worry about that blank space. They’re not always going to be nice. Hold onto those times when you get that “hey, this streamer is amazing” tweet, or that “this post has inspired me to post about this myself”. Let those be your fuel to keep going.

You Can Do It!

It can be hard, though, when you’re removed off that blogroll for not posting for a while because work stress has bogged you down, or when you see someone post about streamers they enjoy and you’re not a part of the list as you had to take time off from sickness, or simply when those that you’ve respected don’t reciprocate that respect. These have all happened to me, recently even, and it feels like you’re being kicked when you’re down.

Down, though, is the best place to start. Or, like Blaugust Reborn itself, the best place to pick yourself up and reinvent yourself. To attempt again to create that habit, to attempt to not let setbacks and negative reactions get the better of you.

I’ve done it, and I have failed, and I have done it again. Nobody but you can dictate how many times you pick yourself up and try again. Hold on to those reasons why you’ve decided to start in the first place, because they’ll be the same reasons why you pick yourself up, and why you keep going after the kicks.

You got this. You can do it.

 

// Ocho

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The End of Massively, The End of an Era, The Opening Door

Rumors had been swirling for a few weeks, but it wasn’t until Brianna Royce’s official post last Friday that the news finally sunk in. Massively, one of the few gaming news sites strictly dedicated to MMO news, is shutting down. AOL, Massively’s overlords, decided in their process of restructuring to shut down their gaming news coverage contingent, Joystiq, which holds both Massively and WoW Insider under it’s umbrella. This comes as not only a blow to the writers and avid readers, such as myself, but I feel will send shockwaves throughout the industry.

In my opinion, Massively stood as one of the last bastions of trustworthy gaming news out there. The more and more irrelevant “consumer revolt” who’s embers are slowly dying claims one of their highest tenets as “ethics in gaming journalism”. Well, Massively epitomized that. They stood up time and again for the consumers and never sugar coated a game in their genre that they didn’t feel lived up to it’s expectations. As a Philadelphia sports fan, this is second nature to me. When you’re passionate about a subject, you celebrate the highs but you push back when you see the subject falter. We are keenly aware of how good it could be, and we push it to live up to those standards. Massively pushed the MMO genre to live up to higher standards, and the genre reacted. Over the years, time and again we saw MMO developers take what the journalists at Massively said to heart and make changes to their games for the better. And those that didn’t listen? Well, let’s just say humble pie is hard to swallow.

This level of enthusiasm, which you could almost physically feel coming out of the text, earned the trust of many readers. Even in disagreement, which happened frequently, that trust still flowed. In this day and age of polarization, what news sources can we really trust? I won’t lie, the prospects are grim. MMORPG.com exists, but it’s hard to take them seriously with the uber-cluttered front page and propensity to deck their background in scantily clad characters. Fatal Hero has a decent missive, but they don’t cover MMOs often, and most of their pieces border on the over-compensating negative side. Personally, unjustified negativity tends to drive me away.

I won’t lie, when it comes to world news more and more I tend to get it from Facebook and Twitter. When it comes to trending stories, multiple outlets produce multiple stories and, when taken with appropriate doses of salt, combined the truth can rise to the surface. Information by inundation. The other day I was watching the RizeUpGaming weekly stream on Twitch and I asked the panel of hosts how they felt about Joystiq being shuttered, and their overall response was a resounding “meh”. They didn’t see the closure of the site as any big deal as it had stopped becoming their primary source of news ages ago. YouTube, Twitch, Reddit, Twitter, and other aggregation sites were where they said they received their information currently.

Is this the world that we’re heading into? If so, individual game bloggers, streamers, podcasters, and vloggers may be the last bastion of truth. Game and MMO bloggers tend to write with that same passion that the Massively writers possessed, just with not as much talent. We’re not writing to get famous, to become rich, for personal glory. No, we’re writing to make a difference, to give a voice to what we wish to see, to push the genre to the heights it could reach. We’re writing because we want to be a part of the overall conversation.

So though I may feel sad that Massively is the victim of AOL’s thrashing about to remain relevant, I am hopeful. The writers have passion. That passion, combined with their experience, means that if they wanted to continue writing they could probably easily find outlets that will take them, and those outlets would become better for it.

We may be seeing the end of Massively under AOL, but I certainly don’t think we have seen the end of Massively.

// Ocho

P.S. – So, hey, it’s been a while since my last post. If you’re reading this, thanks. I’ll probably be picking up blogging once more, if for no other reason than to help throw my pinch or two of dirt into the sudden hole. Over the past few months, I just didn’t feel like what I said would add anything to overall conversation, thoughts I had were better reflected and better written elsewhere. I still think that’s true, but I may still post more anyway.

Edit: Well it looks like we certainly haven’t seen the end of that Massively spirit, as the gang appears to have started numerous new outlets all under the banner of “Massively Overpowered”, including a Kickstarter to fund the overall site! That didn’t take long. Here are all the links, check them all out:

Kickstarter: Massively Overpowered Kickstarter

Site: MassivelyOP.com

Twitter: @MassivelyOP

Facebook: MassivelyOP

Twitch: MassivelyOverpowered

Podcast: Massively OP Podcast