Exactly one year ago I created this blog because I wanted to talk about video games.
The backstory is that somewhere in my transition from responsibility-free teenager to person-who-pays-for-food-and-own-place-to-live (often mistaken for adulthood), playing games had become a more occasional kind of affair. While keeping up with gaming news on the handy Flipboard app I’d been amazed at the amount of hype being ladled over some of the big releases of 2014 looking to establish for themselves an immediate player-base. Even without a Microsoft machine to play it on I couldn’t miss Titanfall’s unveiling earlier in the year or hide from the PR crescendo leading up to Destiny’s big reveal. All of a sudden the iconic trio of Guardians shown above found themselves splashed across every second news post. Apparently Destiny had also leapt from the typical sphere of online, gamer-oriented advertising to adorning the sides of real world buses in… well, the real world. These happenings planted the seed for the very first post and series to make themselves a home here on MisspentYouth, and things have just kept on growing since.
I know she has questioned and possibly rued the choice many times since, but when my wife brought home a PS4 (with The Last Of Us Remastered I might add) a whole new world of contemporary gaming possibilities came with it. One topic that has coincidentally book-ended this blog’s content for the year was the chance to transition from being a Destiny spectator to a Destiny participant and thereby get the inside scoop on this whole HD, online-emphasis console gaming revolution. The PS4, and more specifically the dozen or so titles I’ve been able to spend some quality time with, have far from disappointed. For a bit about my long awaited journey with Joel and Ellie in The Last Of Us you can click here, or for more about my most recent experiences wrestling with the captivating beast that is Destiny, try this. For a bit of a pictorial scrapbook of all the games that have had a look in since last September, check this one out.
The articles that followed that initial, hype inspired foray into writing have dealt with a surprising range of gaming-related topics. Some examples include the matching of certain games to certain periods of our lives (Why Every New Parent Should Play Hearthstone), coming to terms with the contemporary trend for open world gaming (When You’re Right, You’re Right), quasi-reviews that actively avoid definitive assessment of their subjects (The Beautiful Bikes Of Ride), and even an excited summary of what the E3 conference/marketing bonanza introduced this year (Well, That Was Unexpected…). Things recently became both more personal (Fathers’ Day Reflections – Fatherhood, Childhood and Video Games) and more professional (Improve Your Gaming Performance In 4 Simple Steps) than I had ever anticipated, so I can’t wait to see what this next year brings.
So continuing in the spirit of birthday reflection here are a few things I’ve learned about writing in the last 12 months.
- Whilst I tend to be a bit “back in my day…” regarding the necessity of Day One Patches when it comes to Triple-A games with millions of development dollars at their disposal, I readily use the equivalent when it comes to my own blog posts. Perhaps others have encountered a similar experience in which a piece gets to around 90% completion and all of sudden there comes an overwhelming urge to hit ‘Publish’ and give it its freedom immediately. There’s probably a fitting analogy about baby birds who are only 90% ready to fly being shoved out of their nests that could go here, but let’s not dwell on that… The consequences in my case are far less serious. Based on the 20-something posts that have made it to MisspentYouth so far, I have to admit that drafting, re-reading and re-writing before releasing an article still seems to be wisest course, just as English teachers have been saying since the dawn of time.
- As evidenced by the unexpected twists and turns most of my article series have taken, the question I start out wanting to unpack is often shown not to lead to the heart of the matter at all. Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, of Freakonomics fame, espouse the importance of finding creative questions if you want to uncover important answers, and while importance honestly isn’t very high up my list of criteria when writing about games it is occasionally nice to stumble upon. One piece that may have been of some importance or benefit to the world was this interview regarding the use of Minecraft in schools. After reading it, an occupational therapist friend got in touch to discuss the possibility of adapting Minecraft’s control setup to the limited, arcade-style controller one of her young patients was able to use when dealing with computers. I haven’t heard back about whether the remapping of Minecraft’s commands to enable this child with access to the Minecraft phenomenon was a success or failure, but it was nice to know that I’d helped inspire a potential solution to a challenging and – for the boy who was unable to manage any kind of two-handed controller – frustrating problem.
- I suppose this last one is more about the presentation than the writing itself, but it turns out that changing up your blog’s theme feels a lot like changing your phone’s background but with a much longer lasting sense of satisfaction. I remember the Ninja Turtle theme you see below with fondness, but – to employ yet another suspect analogy – there comes a time when your parents make you stop wearing onesies for good. MisspentYouth making the transition from green columns to the current white and glossy theme represents that milestone moment for this blog and as its figurative parent I couldn’t be more proud.
If you’ve made it to the end of this and feel like sharing, feel free to hit ‘Share’ or leave a comment below with suggestions for the next year of blog life!