Posted in Blogging, Gaming, NBI

#NBI2016 – A Gamer is Born

This blog post is in response to the weekly NBI 2016 writing prompt.

pacman-e1408711855384 Growing up in the 80s, I didn’t have a cell phone or PC or game console. Those things either didn’t exist or didn’t exist in the capacity they do now.

My parents weren’t gamers, obviously, and they still don’t quite understand my draw to these things. So becoming a gamer, and my earliest memories of gaming, were all a childhood discovery for me. I think that was a great way to do it.

A few years ago, I wrote about how my earliest gaming memories revolved around a hand-held Pac-Man game that I inherited from cousin. Sadly, it required a constant flow of batteries to play, and my parents weren’t going to pony up that kind of stuff for silly game.

For many of my childhood years, we lived next door to family, including a cousin who always had the latest and greatest games. He was born disabled, and lived his whole life in a wheelchair. So, where he couldn’t do physical things most people can, he could do things quite well with his hands.

I remember all the model cars he made, and also remember him always giving permission to play games in his room when we came to visit. Looking back on it, he was quite tolerant of his two younger cousins (he was like 15 years older than I). But my sister and I were well behaved and never messed with his stuff — we were too into the games.

He started out with an Atari, which we inherited when he got the newest, coolest system of the time, the Nintendo. The Atari was the first game console we owned, and we played it quite a bit. Still, I was totally taken by the NES, especially the whole Super Mario Bros thing going on at the time.

We didn’t own our own NES until much, much later. It was almost at the end of the system’s life, once it dropped to a reasonable cost that non-gaming parents could swallow. We played a ton out of that NES. I still have it, in working order, and all of the carts from back then, which are also in working order. I took good care of my systems. 🙂

I remember when the SNES first came out. That summer, I scored my first serious babysitting job. I was watching three kids for 8 hours, 5 days a week. Looking back on it, that was a big job for a 14-year-old. But I did it just fine (I was a responsible kid) and I got paid something like $85 a week ( a steal for the parents and big money for me). This only lasted a few weeks (the family was in the process of moving), but I saved enough to buy the SNES, and had a great summer of playing Super Mario World after that.

Rental games were great back then – we had a place where we got games for $1 for 3 nights. My parents would always let us rent something when they picked out some movies. And that’s where I first discovered Final Fantasy IV (back then, called FFII). That was the game that changed my life.

snesffii

nbi-blog-logo

This post is a part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2016. For more information check out these links:

Posted in Blogging, NBI

NBI 2016: To Niche or Not To Niche

 

nbi-blog-logo

This post is a part of the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2016. For more information check out these links:

 

blogging-niche

Though this blog is only a few years old, I’ve been blogging a whole lot longer than that. Back when everyone seemed to want a piece of the Problogging pie, and folks imagined making money was as easy as throwing up some ads and posting a few times a week, one buzzword you heard thrown around a lot was “niche blogging.”

In fact, you were told that before you started a blog, you must have a niche. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t make it. Then again, this was from people who were looking to cash out on their blogs. I think blogging has moved more into the realms of hobby writing now days.

I’ve fallen out of reading all those Problogging type blogs, so I don’t know if this is still a thing (apparently, it is). However, I want to take a moment to address what niche blogging is and whether a blogger (new or old) should consider a niche.

What is Niche Blogging?

Wikipedia has a page dedicated to niche blogging. And it says:

Niche blogging (CanE, UK /ˈniːʃ/ or US /ˈnɪtʃ/) is the act of creating a blog with the intent of using it to market to a particular niche market. Niche blogs may appeal to “geographic areas, a specialty industry, ethnic or age groups, or any other particular group of people.”

So, for example, maybe you’re a girl gamer and you’re really into Hearthstone. So you decide it would be awesome to create a new blog dedicated to girls who play Hearthstone and you call it something like Ladies of Hearthstone. Feel free to steal that if this is you. XD

This would be a niche blog. Not only do you define your audience as primarily Hearthstone players, but you also define them as female.

The idea behind niche blogging is to find an unusual population combination and “corner the niche.” It zooms in on a very specific audience, tells them “this blog is for you,” and makes your blog unique because it has its own unusual identity.

And while this sounds very cool, and some folks can pull off a niche blog well, there are both pros and cons of niche blogging to consider. So before you jump feet-first into branding your girl gamer Hearthstone blog, think of the big picture.

Pros

respect-my-authorityThere are a number of pros with niche blogging. These include:

Knowing your audience. You’re pretty sure who you’re writing for, so you can really target in on topics that matter to them.

Standing out. If you can find a niche no one else has claimed, you’ll be the first and the only. Your blog will stand out.

Being memorable. Because your niche is different and unique, readers may remember your blog better.

Stability. You pretty much know what your blog topics are going to be about, and you can establish and hone your authority on the topic.

Cons

Bored-ClipartThis all sounds great, but what’s the downfall?

Being stuck on a topic. Especially once you’ve grown bored of it or become passionate about other topics. What happens when you’re no longer interested in playing Hearthstone? Abandoned blog.

Earning copy cats. Just because you’re the first Ladies of Hearthstone blog doesn’t mean other girl gamers who play Hearthstone can’t come along and imitate your idea. If you’re blogging in a niche to be original, that goes right out the window when other people start following in your footsteps.

Missing your target audience. Having a target audience is nice… but what happens if your audience is only a handful of people? Will you still be content with a small number of readers? What happens if the content you’re writing doesn’t seem to appeal to ladies or to Hearthstone players? Oops.

Narrowing your readership. Following up on the above, once you target a topic, you have to accept that folks who are not Hearthstone players are probably not interested in what you’re writing. Guys may or may not be interested in a girl gamer blog — it depends. So you are willingly narrowing your readership by choosing a niche.

Running out of stuff to write. When you narrow down topics you allow yourself to write about, there’s always a chance you’re going to run out of stuff to write. This isn’t always true, but I know there’s only so much I can think about to write, even with my favorite games.

Niche Gaming Overview

So should you create a blog with a niche in mind? I can’t give you an answer about that because I believe it totally depends on two things:

  • the topic you choose
  • you as a blogger

I know a number of passionate bloggers who can choose a specific topic and just churn out content on it. Somehow, they blog and blog and blog and don’t run out of interest or things to talk about.

I’m not one of those people.

For me, variety is good!
For me, variety is good!

I’ve learned very quickly that all my niche blogs fail within the first two months. I just get bored.

I can’t just say, “This blog will be about fiction writing. This blog will be about old skool gaming. This blog will be about webcomic art.”

I have too many interests that go all over the place, and these change with the weather. That’s part of the reason why I didn’t narrow down the topic of this blog to be just overall “gaming.” There are days I want to write about writing or art or post a song I heard… or blog about blogging like this!

So I chose to do the opposite of niche. I chose to embrace everything I enjoy and just create a “geek blog.”

Or maybe, “geek blog” is a niche? It’s just a wide one that encompasses many topics. I don’t know, but it’s working for me. This blog has lasted much, much longer than my previous attempts.

So my advice is, choose your blog’s theme wisely. Don’t corner yourself with one game or one topic just because you feel like that’s what’s going to earn attention or is what you love right here and now. That may change. But only you know if a niche is something you can maintain in the long run.

Good luck! 🙂

Past NBI Posts:

 

Posted in Blogging, NBI

Newbie Blogger Initiative (NBI) 2016 Announced!

Alone

I’m so very happy to announce that this year’s Newbie Blogger Initiative (NBI) is set to launch for June!

Gaming and MMO bloggers of all kinds – new, vets and returning – we invite you to be involved! 

Ever thought about making your own gaming blog? Do it! We want to meet you and read all that you have to say!

Have you blogged before, but set it aside for whatever reason? That’s okay. Come, start blogging again, let us meet you!

“Vet” bloggers (if there’s such a thing), let’s shower these new and returning folks with help, mentorship, encouragement and (most importantly) readership. We all know what it feels like to put the shiny new blog out there to the vast big Internet, and then wonder “What’s next? How do I actually connect with people to get what I posted read?”

So many of my own, lasting blogosphere friendships were formed through folks I met in the NBI. There are so many very talented, creative and intelligent writers that I just can’t speak more highly of them. But if you’re new, don’t let that intimidate you – we want to give advice, read your posts, and ultimately welcome you to blog along with us.

nbi-blog-logo

For More Information and How to Get Involved!

Posted in Blogging, Gaming, NBI

#NBI2015 Talkback Challenge 4: The Seven Gaming Sins

noevilThe original questionnaire can be found at the NBI blog. I thought this was an interesting exploration of gamer virtue and vice.

Lust – Do you enjoy games more if they have scantily clad and “interestingly proportioned” avatars? Do you like playing as one of these avatars? Why or why not?

Ew, no. In fact, I’ll quit playing a game where I feel female avatars are too revealing and have no other choice but to dress in that way. Shoot, I even skip the subligar-style armor in FFXIV if at all possible. Cuz no.

Call me a prude, but I have strong feelings on this. My avatar is a representation of myself, and the way I allow them to look reflects on me.

Gluttony – Do you have a game backlog of unfinished games but still buy new games regardless? Why or why not?

Yes, I admit I do. However, I’m actively working on that with my Steam Challenge post series. I’ve actually done well in fighting the temptation to buy new games lately and trying to play the ones I have.

Greed – Do you enjoy hand outs in a game? Have you ever opted to NOT do an action / in game activity because the rewards were lacking? Why or why not?

Sure, I’ll take free stuff in a game. I don’t really consider that “greed,” however. For instance, I’ll log in to get my daily reward in GW2, or to do my cactpot in FFXIV. I used to do the raffles in LOTRO and had a lot of fun with free items I won from the Legends of Norrath card game. If a game is giving out stuff like that, especially cosmetics, I’m all for it.

Yeah, I’ve opted out of an action because I believed the activity wasn’t worth my time or frustration vs the reward I’d earn. On the flipside, I’ve done a lot of silly things for little or no reward, simply because they were fun. So rewards don’t dictate my activities in a game. Fun does.

Sloth – Do you ever leech or AFK in a party? Do you discourage others from attempting things that you feel are difficult? Have you ever seen someone that needed help, but decided not to help them? Why or why not?

No no no no. I never AFK or leech off of groups. I’m way too group-shy not to work as hard as I can to prove myself to every group I join. I’m too scared I’ll be called a “noob” and kicked or something. XD

I usually will go out of my way to help someone who seems like they need help or actively calls for help. But I’m sure I’ve had my anti-social nights where I just log in and don’t feel like dealing with anyone, and keep to myself. I can be a hermit sometimes. Sorry.

Wrath – Ever get angry at other players and yell (or TYPE IN CAPS) at them? Have you ever been so angry to stalk a person around in game and / or in the forums? Why or why not?

Er… no. If I get THAT angry in game, I’ll keep it to myself, leave the group if I have no other option, and talk it out with guildies after the fact. I’ll turn off a game before I embarrass myself by screaming in all caps.

Envy – Ever felt jealous of players who seem to be able to complete content you can’t? Do you ever suspect they are hacking or otherwise cheating? Why or why not?

Eh, I’d be lying if I said I never felt that way. In most games, I’m a very casual player, so I don’t usually hit level cap or raid or do all those big sparkle-pony things. I can usually accept that because it’s a self-limitation and a limitation of my time.

But I do sometimes look with longing at awesome end game gear or weapons and know I’ll never be the person carrying them. It’s a momentary thing cuz that’s just the way it is.

On a sillier note, sometimes I do get class envy, though! I see someone come through on a class I’ve never played and just trounce the monsters. I get so impressed that I have to rush out and roll an alt of that class so I can be that awesome. The alt usually never makes it past level 20-something. I blame this for my alt-aholism. 🙂

Pride – Are you one of those people that demands grouping with other “elite” players? Do you kick players out of your team who you feel are under-performing? Why or why not?

Hahahahah… no. I am no leet player and do not usually play with leet players cuz I’m one of the noobs that they’d kick out of the group. I have no patience for leet-ism in my groups, either.

In all seriousness, when someone is struggling with content, I do try to offer help and suggestions, if they seem receptive. If they aren’t receptive or seem confrontational about changing their play style, I will vote along with the group to kick someone. In that case, they aren’t being kicked for poor performance, but rather poor attitude and unwillingness to attempt to improve.

I’ve totally done my share of teaching new players how to do content (in FFXIV specifically), and I’m always sympathetic to the new folks, especially when they speak up and let the group know. I see it as an opportunity to make a new player’s first experience something good… just as many people did when I was new to these things (for the most part).

Thanks for some great, thought invoking questions! 

Posted in Gaming, MMORPGs, NBI

#NBI2015 Talkback Challenge 3: What Made You A Gamer?

Credit for cool image - get a T shirt!
Credit for cool image – get a T shirt!

Can someone have just always been a gamer? As in, it was just part of who they were, something just waiting to be discovered? I don’t have any other explanation for it, because there was never a moment I can point back to that “made” me a gamer. It was just something I was.

I didn’t come from a gaming family. My parents weren’t gamers, still aren’t gamers, and probably will never understand the draw of gaming. I didn’t have a computer while growing up, and was only exposed to PCs and the Internet when I got to college and bought a PC for myself.

pacmanI noted in this Gaming Questionnaire that my first gaming memories revolved around a 5-year-old me and a hand-held Pac-Man machine in the early 80s.

When I was five years old, my family moved across country. Somehow during that, I inherited some of my cousins’ old toys — I guess they thought it would help keep 5-year-old me occupied on a 10 hour car ride. Among those toys was a handheld Pac-Man arcade game.

I played it until the batteries were dead (which sadly didn’t take long).

Once I arrived at my new home, living next door to yet another cousin opened up the world of Atari. He had it all!

When he graduated to the first Nintendo, we inherited his Atari system — good times! Whenever we visited, though, I would play his Nintendo for hours.

We finally got our own NES for Christmas one year, after saving up half the cost and splitting it with parents. Again, parents weren’t gamers, so they didn’t understand the concept of paying $100 for a gaming system. We were lucky (and happy) kids!

From that point on, everything I experienced about gaming came from all my own personal discovery. In 6th grade, I discovered fantasy fiction (again, parents were not fans) through The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. So when I stumbled on the stories of Final Fantasy games (particularly FFII/FFIV), I was immediately a fan of JRPGs.

It wasn’t until college, as I said, that I had access to a PC with an Internet connection. That’s when I discovered MUDs and eventually MMOs. I also became a huge computer nerd, learned how to code and run websites, learned how to build and maintain PCs and networks, and all sorts of things on my own… just because I was interested in it. For a kid who never had a PC, I think I’m doing pretty well in the technology area! XD

In response to the prompt NBI: Talkback Challenge #3: What Made You A Gamer?

Posted in Blogging, FFXIV, Gaming, NBI

#NBI2015Safari Epic Achievement: Steps of Faith Win

This screenshot is for the #NBI2015Safari, the theme is Epic Achievement. 

Steps of Faith is the final trial at the end of the FFXIV 2.5 main scenario storyline. It is required that you complete this trial to see the end of the story and to eventually access the Heavensward expansion when it releases next month.

It took me three hours of repeated failure in the Duty Finder before I finally beat it on Zuri with the help of FC friends. I wrote about this awful experience last month.

However, finally winning this trial was one of the most epic moments for me. Looking at the chat box (names blurred for privacy), you can see a number of people were happy about the win.

sofwin
Click for bigger image.

The expression on Zuri’s face is so perfect because that’s exactly what I was doing at that moment. After HOURS of trying and failing, I finally could rest assured that I’d be able to progress into the expansion content.

Since then, Squeenix has nerfed Steps of Faith in order to encourage people not to constantly drop out of the trial, and to help people who are gated by the trial get past it for the expansion. It was never the case that the trial was hard. It just has mechanics that require coordination and communication. When you approach this with a random PUG, it’s hard to know what you’re going to get… more often than not, it results in failure.

I’m just so glad that I’m done with that… Thanks to the team who got me through!

sofwin2

Posted in Blogging, NBI

#NBI2015 Tips: Connecting to the Blogging Community

You’re all revved up to take part in this year’s Newbie Blogging Initiative. You’ve done the sign-up. Folks have welcomed you. You’re blogging stuff. It’s moving right along.

While you’ve got the momentum, it’s time to talk about what happens after this month is over, and how to take away the most important part of the experience. I’m talking about the “C” word, the one that’s been tossed around a bit this week. That word is Community.

Gaming bloggers have formed a community whether they meant to or not. The NBI is the community’s way of opening the door and welcoming new folks to join in. You’ve taken the first step through the door, but to make it stick and to really get the most of the experience, there’s a little more to it. I’ve found that building connections with other people is what community is about, and you get back what you put into it.

Being a part of a blogging community is a wonderful and inspiring thing! There’s many times I would have nothing to write, except I just read an article a fellow blogger posted that inspired me to try a different game, do something new, or respond to a topic I wouldn’t have thought of myself. The community is really an ongoing whirlwind of ideas and writing prompts! Not only that, but comments from the community (on your own blog or on other blogs… or when you go to make a comment yourself) can also provide fuel to write.

So How Do You Connect to the Community?

I’m a shy person. I don’t like to throw my writing and creative stuff out there and shout, “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT MY STUFF!”

But under that all, I’m still a writer and creator. So, like many of us, I still want folks to see what I spent so much time musing and writing. It’s a weird sort of paradox, but one I think is familiar for introverted creators. Most of us write because we have something to say and hope that someone else will read it and care.

While I’m not going to promise that you’ll get a million hits and comments and become wildly viral popular, I will say that building up other people is one way to build up yourself. By giving a little bit to fellow bloggers, you might be surprised at what you get in return. The key, though, is to be sincere in what you give – don’t do things because it benefits yourself. Do things because you are genuinely interested in others. That shows through your interactions, and is a good foundation for making lasting connections.

So how do you do that?

  • Remember that behind every blog is a person. View reading that blog as getting to know a bit about the person who writes it. When you react on a blog, always remember you are responding to a person.
  • Follow blogs that appeal to you. I posted an article on using RSS to make this an easier process.
  • Read and comment on blog posts that interest you. (Note, the following is my personal comment etiquette…) Only leave a comment if you have something sincere or significant to add to the discussion. I’ll use a Like button, but I don’t tend to just plop down the “I like this.” or “Good post.” kinda stuff. Spam bots do that enough for us. 🙂
  • Get a Twitter account if you don’t have one already, and follow those bloggers you like. Tweetdeck helps make this easier to do… maybe a future post for me to make!
  • Interact with those bloggers on Twitter. Start out small if  you’re unsure. Favorite posts. Retweet stuff. Respond to questions and offer positive reinforcement. Little interactions are what make up Twitter and can add up over time.
  • When someone comments on your blog, respond to their comment. Like, every time. I try to leave no comment unanswered. Well, unless they’re a troll. In that case, I delete the comment and move on. No need to feed trolls with drama.
  • If you read a blog post that inspires you to respond with your own post on the same topic, link to that original post or to other posts on a similar topic. If you give links freely (and really, this doesn’t take that much time to do), other bloggers will see this, and are more likely to link to you one day, too!
  • Check out blogs in people’s blog rolls. Stop by blogs you’ve never heard of before and see if it’s a new blog you’d like to follow.
  • Be generous and sincere with gratitude. Did someone link you? Thank them. Did someone say something kind about something you wrote? Thank them. Approach people who provide small kindness with appreciation, and return that kindness when you can.
  • Be open to welcoming new bloggers and encouraging other writers. Not just during NBI, but all year around. Even if you’re new, yourself, interact with new folks and encourage them to become part of the community, too.

And the most important thing is:

  • Do all of the above as consistently as possible. The goal isn’t to “earn readers,” it’s to make lasting connections. That takes time as you learn about other bloggers and they learn about you. You get what you put into it.

I’ve been involved in this blogging community for about a year now (since the last NBI), and I still feel like I’m a new kid on the block. I don’t really know who knows me and who doesn’t, or if they know me well. It’s okay, though. This isn’t a popularity contests, it’s a gathering of online writers. That doesn’t stop me from reaching out to interact when something moves me, even though I’m fairly shy.

With all that being said, if vet bloggers have thoughts to add on making connections in the blogging community, I’m humbly open to your feedback!  🙂