Answering Big Questions #001

Recently, The Well-Red Mage asked a big question and asked his readers to answer it:

What have you learned since your very first blog post?

The Shameful Narcissist already posted a fantastic answer, as did Cary over at Recollections of Play and LightningEllen from LightningEllen’s Release, alongside other wonderful people that I know wrote answers and I forgot to write down who they were so I could link them, but I also wanted to throw my thoughts out there into the interwebs for your enjoyment.

Here’s how to participate, as per The Well-Red Mage’s post:

    1. Leave a thoughtful and inspiring comment below about what you’ve learned about blogging/writing/marketing/communicating/reviewing/life, complete with a link to your very first blog post and a quote from that post!
    2. Instead of leaving a comment, the more verbose among you are welcome to write a full blog post on this subject and what you’ve learned since then, in which case you should definitely leave a link below to that new post about your first post!
    3. Explain briefly why you decided to start blogging and why you picked that certain topic as your first blog post.

After you complete your comment or post, be sure to pass this challenge on to your blogger friends to raise awareness! Leave them this badge to pass it on:

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Where I Came From

I started this blog not too long ago, at the end of August 2016. I had just moved home from Miami, where I had been working on getting my master’s degree. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find a job there, and so I returned to my parents’ house broke, unemployed, and sadly with no degree as I still had to finish my thesis. I’ve mentioned before that I really had two topics fully formed in my mind as to what I wanted to write about, and decided to start a whole blog. I figured no one would read it, so it wouldn’t matter if I shut it down after a month. Who, exactly, would want to have intelligent conversations about video games? No one I know in real life (with the exception of BadgersAndBowties) is as interested in video games as I am, after all.

At the end of the day, I had something to say and decided to say it on the internet. The idea of having a blog always interested me, and I figured I’d start one, say some (what I consider) cool things, and then make the rest up as I went along.

Solid business plan, right there.

Image result for hold tight and pretend it's a plan

My very first post is a welcome post, so if you really want to see that, go here. But my first actual post is a short little thing about storytelling in games. It’s not the most in-depth post, and I wish I could find my notes that I used, because there was a lot I didn’t cover and I want to write a follow-up post. At any rate, veryverygaming (followed by Aether) was the first person who left a comment (and a thoughtful one at that!), and so in the wake of his encouraging words I felt the first glimmer that maybe I wouldn’t be whispering into a void, after all.

Why Storytelling?

I grew up in a house where we were certainly allowed to play video games. We were monitored for both time spent playing and for content of games, which is what any responsible parent should do with any entertainment media, but generally we weren’t ever stopped from playing (except when my brother was grounded and we all lost NES privileges…). Not to get super heavy, though, but gaming was seen as somehow “lesser” than anything else we could be doing. If I read a book alone all day, that was fine. If I played a video game alone all day, I was wasting my time and “being a hermit.”

Regardless, I could never shake the feeling that there was something people just weren’t getting about video games. I became obsessed with Metal Gear Solid probably in middle school, and I was fascinated by the drama and intrigue. Playing video games became my favorite hobby, second to reading. I realize now that my enjoyment of both is for similar reasons. So when I had to choose between my two topics of storytelling or choices, I went with the former first, since that is what pulls me in to a game.

What I Learned

Not everything I’ve learned since August has been related to “how to” write a blog, but here are some takeaway lessons I’ve come across, even if their connection to blogging is obscure.

  1. Education is never wasted::: Whether this is formal education or self-education, the time you spend developing and refining a skill is never a waste of time, even if you aren’t using the skill in a way you originally intended. I was contacted by Paul from NowLoading to write for their site because he was impressed with my writing ability, which is a skill I honed from writing at a graduate-school level. While I have a few clunker articles interspersed here, many of my articles are backed up by research I’ve found and read (even if I didn’t cite it in text… oops I should get better about that), which are skills I’ve learned because of the field I’m in. My education has given AmbiGaming a unique flavor (I flatter myself), and given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Who would have thought I’d use skills from two degrees in music for a video game site?
  2. Love what you do::: I read a post by Cary when I first started blogging, in which she talked about a friend who asked why she blogs if she doesn’t get large numbers of visitors. Her response was, “For the 30 who care.” She’s right, of course. For me, I started this blog to talk about video games in the way I wanted to talk about video games, and hopefully find a person or two who would have a conversation with me once in a while. At this point in time, I’ve met some wonderful people who I would not hesitate to call friends, I try to do the social media thing, and I have a Patreon site, but at the end of the day, I love my little corner of the internet because I love my corner of the internet. Do I like comments? Yes. Would I love for this to be my job? You bet. But I don’t measure my happiness or my success by my stats.
  3. Know what it means to be successful::: Yeah, I’d love for this site to make money and for it to become my full-time job. But in all honesty, this blog is already a success in my eyes. I started this blog from nothing. And now it’s something. Okay, I don’t measure success by stats, but I went from “idea in head” to over 280 people who like my thoughts about video games enough to subscribe in some way or another, all in about six months. I didn’t think that was a possibility, and now it’s a reality. That will always be a real thing that happened, no matter what comes next. Bringing an idea to fruition is always something I will count as being successful.
    (*edit: another thing I learned is that I apparently can’t count. It’s been nine months, not six. Time sure flies when you’re having fun!*)
  4. Online communities are just like IRL communities::: A friend of mine has a blog (not about video games) and she was surprised at how many amazing people follow and comment on AmbiGaming. She said she wished people commented and followed her blog, as well. When I asked if she ever comments elsewhere or replies to the comments she does receive, she said no, because she just wants to disseminate information. Being part of a community means being part of a community. If that’s what you want out of blogging, you have to interact with people, otherwise people might “use you” (for the information you post), but you’ll never have the same connections or circle as if you had decided to interact with the people who take the time to try and talk to you.
  5. It’s possible to disagree online and still be a decent human being::: I don’t think I really need to explain this one, but the fact that it’s something I learned really says something about my expectations of the gaming community on the internet, doesn’t it? I’m so lucky to have met such fantastic people. You don’t always agree with what I have to say, and I’m okay with that, because it means we’re challenging each other’s ideas, not kicking each other in the face (or whatever the internet equivalent of that is). It also means that our conversations can be productive, especially if we’re talking about hot-button social issues, theology, or even classifying villains.
  6. Starting and running a Let’s Play channel is hard::: Yeah. I learned this. And I learned the crushing disappointment of spending so much time, money, and energy on something, only to walk away from it because I just couldn’t do it anymore. And there was a certain amount of growth that came with that, too, because I had done it, and I can do it again, when the time is right. See point number one.
  7. Don’t stress about the future::: Part of me toys with the idea of trying to make AmbiGaming a self-sustaining site and grow it to a medium-sized independent gaming site. But then I start to worry about future topics, and what happens if this happens, or what happens if that happens… But you know what? Right now, I’m having fun with the site. Right now, I enjoy sitting down to write. Right now, it’s okay. If you told me in August that I’d last until May and have over 180 WordPress followers, and over 280 followers total, I would have laughed and told you to stop teasing me. So don’t worry. Just love what you’re doing now and tomorrow will still somehow manage to happen.

Well, I’ve gone on long enough, I think. Seven things I’ve learned since starting to blog, and six (*edit: three. Sigh*) months to go until my one-year blogoversary! Maybe this will be revisited in August, who knows?

Anyway, thank you again to The Well-Red Mage for this first of (hopefully) many big questions!

What about you? Feel free to leave a comment about what have you learned since you started blogging, or if you’d like to write your own post, please do so and leave a link in the comments so we can all read what wisdom you have to share!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!
~ Athena


What’s next? You can like and subscribe if you like what you’ve seen!

You can also:
– 
Support us on Patreon, become a revered Aegis of AmbiGaming, and access extra content!
– Say hello on Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+!
– Check out our Let’s Plays if you’re really adventurous!

 

24 comments

  1. Awesome response! But what else should I expect from you? I can second all but one of your points, since I’ve not had the pleasure of attempting my own Let’s Play thingamajig. I think I’m just as surprised by the WordPress community. Keep going strong and best of providence for your future direction with this blog! Thanks for participating!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG, the Goddess of Wisdom mentioned my post! Thank you for the shout out, and for teaching me many things here. Video games have always been my favourite form of entertainment, and I’m so glad to meet people who appreciate them. 🙂

    I hope you can get back into LPs soon. I’m still looking forward to watching your Mass Effect one, once I’ve finally beaten the game, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course! I’m quite a fan of the Most Amazing Final Fantasy Heroine Ever 😉

      I’m very glad you enjoy the blog and that I’ve found yours, as well. I always look forward to hearing what you have to say.

      Me, too. I did have fun with it, and now that I’m not feeling like I’m dying of bronchitis or thesis overload I might be better at it haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great Post!

    Sorry our paths didn’t cross during your time in Miami.
    We have a deep love of gaming of all varieties, but have
    found it difficult to find a regular playgroup, so the blog
    community has become a surrogate space to explore.

    Keep doing your thing, you are doing an amazing job!

    Like

    1. Thanks! Ah, that’s too bad! Unfortunately I didn’t have a whole lot of down-time when I was there, but it would have been great to meet up with some other gamers! I’m certainly glad to have found this community, and glad you stopped by 🙂

      And thank you! I’m glad you’ve liked what you’ve seen so far!!

      Like

  4. I am itching to do one of these posts too. Great job by the way, not just with this post but your blog in general – I can’t believe it’s only been six months and you’ve achieved so much here! Keep up the good work, that’s all I can say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do it! I’d love to see what wonderful advice you’d have to give 🙂

      And thank you! I just realized that I somehow miscounted… I’m not sure where I got six months from, since it’s actually nine… (6? 9? Who knows). Apparently, as a musician I have trouble counting past four… But thank you, nonetheless. I’m really pleasantly surprised AmbiGaming has become the little corner it has 🙂

      And thank you, too, for being here from the beginning!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s the mindset you need. You’ve got to blog for you. It’s not for the views, it’s not for the popularity, it’s not for the profit, it’s all about fulfilling yourself. It’s just not worth the time otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When I first started to follow your blog, I had an inkling that you started it for similar reasons that I started mine. No one IRL seemed to care as deeply about the narrative of video games that I did, and I needed if not necessarily interaction, at least a sounding board or place to put my many thoughts. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are MANY people who realize that all narratives are worthy of discourse, which has become my rallying cry when people either express surprise that games have stories (that was a shocking conversation) or that I’m “wasting my time” delving into them. There seems to be a hierarchy of media with video games on the bottom followed not that far by comic books, though those are moving up in the ranks a bit due to being the basis of more and popular films. Games are, too, as more mainstream outlets recognize them. Hell, Castlevania is going to start airing on Netflix in July. I think there’s a community out there for every body, and it really seems like the bloggers who got into it not looking for accolades are the ones who deserve them the most 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You absolutely called it, my friend! It’s nice to have a group of folks who take games as seriously as I do. There *is* a hierarchy of media, with video games being the youngest and the one looked at with most suspicion (like most young things haha).

      I sometimes wonder if accolades are like heroes and true leaders – the ones who don’t ask (and don’t get) the recognition are the ones who wear those labels best. I’ve met a whole community that falls into that category. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never even thought about that. It IS the youngest, and that might explain why it’s looked at with derision. Comics/graphic novels are the second youngest…hm, I’m definitely seeing a pattern here!

        I’ve found that the people who least want to lead make the best leaders, because they understand that leadership isn’t about the glory or the accolades; it’s about being responsible, and in reality responsibility sucks, because any decision you make could cost lives, and a good leader will always weight the consequences of their actions. I think it’s the same with writing. The best ones aren’t writing to make the best seller list. They’re writing because they have something to say. And you wouldn’t undertake such a arduous, usually thankless task for the express purpose just to get your thoughts out if you didn’t have pure intentions 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah, that’s a pattern I’ve thought about for a while… And very true. At the end of the day, people respond to folks who are passionate about and love what they do. It should never be “all about the Benjamins.” Less stressful, too.

          So yeah. I really like your blog for all those reasons haha Let me just hit that point with a 2×4 a few times!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s funny how certain forms of entertainment are ranked higher than others. Reading for example is deemed better than watching TV (although one could argue that watching a documentary is better than reading a romance novel.)

    I don’t think I would have enjoyed the parenting you grew up with. Take away my console because sis misbehaved? Nooooo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true. I’d rather watch a documentary than read most romance novels, anyway… haha

      It made sense. I know a lot of people nowadays think it was harsh, but I never thought it was. The NES was technically my brother’s, and when he was grounded for playing too many video games and not doing his homework, the NES would be disconnected from the (only) TV. Since the TV was in a common area, that meant none could play. It also kept all of us honest because we’d get a side-eye from our siblings if we were the cause of the NES going away…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love love love your advice and pretty much agree with all of them! I also feel that my education wasn’t wasted, even if money was lost. I learned writing from graduate level courses as well, and that led to today. Although it’s easy to regret, I try not to and keep moving forward. Same with the other advice of loving what you do and counting the blessings of the success you already have. I’m so floored that even one person cares about what I write or produce online. Video-wise, now that I’m doing YouTube reviews and Let’s Plays too, I understand how hard it is and am trying to define success with how happy I am putting in the work and being grateful that even one person watches what I produce. It’s truly difficult on another level to make videos, and I admire you for putting as much as you did into them. I enjoy what you have put up, and if you ever continue, I’d love to watch it. Thank you again for your honesty! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mr. Panda!

      The education one was a hard one for me. I’m still having trouble finding work in my field (or work in general… sigh…) but I cognitively know that being an educated person is not a waste. That grad school thing really leaves an impression, doesn’t it?? haha

      And I love your videos! I should get better about commenting, but they’re so entertaining! There definitely is a certain satisfaction in appreciating all the hard work you’ve put in.

      And thank you 🙂 I’m thinking of starting it back up again – maybe not as rigorously as I did before (for now), but I really did enjoy making the videos, so we’ll see!

      Thanks for sharing your experience, too 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aww thank you so much for your kind words! It makes me so happy coming from you, because I’ve always been impressed by how you’ve put yourself out there on videos! I understand the rigor now that I’m in it. It’s a lot of work just for one video, which is why I admire you even more and why I’m so appreciative of your compliments!

        Also, I’m not a big fan of how higher education works sometimes, but I agree that it teaches you how to write! Really does leave an impression, haha. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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