2014 in Review: The story behind the stats
So you’ve read the end of year stats that WordPress has so kindly gathered, now it’s time to learn a little about my 2014 in a less number based way.
I started this blog on the 16th of June of this year in reaction to two things, first to inform the world how bad Watch Dog’s story was and second to keep me writing in one form or another. A few weeks before this blogs inception I had just left university for the last time, leaving many of my best friends hundreds of miles away. My time at university had been everything I’d ever hoped it would be, I meet great people, fell in love for the first time, learnt so much about a subject very dear to my heart. Alas as all things must it ended and I was sent back home. Home has never interested me as much, most of my friends are nice here but we don’t share the same interests, home is where I’ve had my heartbroken, home to me has always seemed like a dead end.
So I started writing about Video Games. Video Games have been a constant presence in my life for good or ill, for a time at home I was banned from playing them, but I still manged to get hold of them. I remember in 2008 as a 15 year old I made a deal with a mate of mine and he bought me a copy of the newly released Fallout 3. I felt so naughty, to me this is what it must have felt like to buy alcohol whilst underage (Something I never did). The dark days of the ban are behind me and my family. Once my parents learnt of my desire to write about games for a living they threw their complete support behind me in a way I can never thank them enough for. Every so often my mother or sister will sit down and watch as I play a game and give humorous opinions on what they see. I still laugh when I think of my mothers reaction to watching me play Thief and her asking “Why is the camera so low, are you playing as a midget?”
Upon starting this blog it became my goal to keep it updated at least once a week. In those early days I had the terrible issue where I was very results driven, I need to see something pay off immediately or else why bother. The small amount of views I receive in those early days kept me sustained, any new subscriber was a cause for celebration. A few weeks after this blog was born I received such an emotional sucker punch that I thought about jacking in the whole thing. This began what I’ll call the dark times that last for a few months. Through out all this I kept up writing because what else could I do? I was applying for jobs with little result, this blog became something to get up for.
Then in mid-august I played Depression Quest. For you who don’t know this game’s needless controversy, there are other sites who’ve talked about it with far more wit and grace than I did. Writing about my experience with Depression Quest and how it affected me as someone feeling the effects of depression was cathartic, it helped me come to terms with some issues I was having. It also helped me see my writing as something I needed to do, this was my pet project, this was something I was doing that I enjoyed and that I was proud of.
Then something happened. People found my article about Depression Quest*, and by people I mean Mike Bithell (Hey Mike, I think he Googles himself so he may find this). He found what I had written, and wrote about it himself. Offering advice to young game devs who are blinded by the fame they see others such as him achieving. You can read what he wrote here. His linking to my blog brought in a massive influx of new readers, from a measly 22 views in the week before the views shot up to over 500 in the next week. I was floored by these results. Obviously these numbers are nothing to any semi-decent games site but to me as a lone idiot at his computer they meant so much. After the dust had settled and after two weeks of madness I was back to the 22 views a week, but with a new found zeal to write, to create.
In the following weeks I started up my Youtube channel, where I stretch my piss poor improv skills as I play a Nuclear Throne very badly. I began to learn to edit audio and video, and while I’m still awful at doing so, I’m making steady head way and look forward to seeing what I can create in the coming months. Over the last month or so I’ve begun writing as a contributor to the great folks over at Indie Haven, there I’ll be writing about some of the more cultural implications of indie games, as well as a few reviews. Indie Haven has some very cool writers over there and you should definitely check it out. But don’t worry, I’ll still be writing about AAA games at this blog. I also did my first piece for a Bristol youth magazine called Rife. I wrote about a particularly strange job interview I had, and I look forward to writing more for them in the future.
So what’s planned for 2015? Well I’ve been trying to decide if I want to go full time with my games writing, trying and start pitching some of the large publications for a few pieces now and then to keep the money coming in and my words flowing out to a larger audience. The idea of doing such a thing frightens me some what, am I good enough? my lack of any perceptible ego says no, but surely it’s worth a shot. Over recent months I’ve watched as one writer a few years older than me has gone from strength to strength, getting hired for various well respected sites and making it look so easy. Of course things always look easy from the outside and like the over used metaphor of the duck I’m sure they’re working their socks off underneath it all.
Am I ready to work my socks off for something I truly want? There is never going to be a time when I’m not critical of my own writing, of how I turn a phrase or link two ideas. In Video Games writing we are blessed with many fine writers such as Leigh Alexander, Kevin Van Ord and Jim Sterling. I dare say when I look back at these lines in a years time I’ll be a different person to who I am now, hopefully a better writer, a smarter, savvier writer. The only way for me to find out is to do it.
Have a wonderful New Years Eve, I’m off to watch Guardians of the Galaxy**, go on a pub crawl and start a fire in a field.
*Those looking for my piece about Depression Quest, I’m afraid I did delete it a few weeks ago. As you’re probably aware the games developer Zoe Quinn has been the target for much internet bile, as have those who have complimented her work. I found my piece about DQ had been linked to a forum where some rather nasty things were being said, I decided the piece had served it’s purpose and that I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of any backlash. Cowardly? most definitely, but I’ve yet to grow the thick skin necessary for some of the darker parts of the internet
**Speaking of films, go watch SnowPiecer, it’s brillant