I am frequently tired of “save the world” plots in games. Don’t get me wrong, its nice to be the hero in fantasy, but sometimes you want a more personal story. A story about people, trying to learn about themselves and grow. Sure, you might save some people along the way, solve some issues, retake a throne or two, but at the end of the day, its about the journey, not the destination.
I feel the same way. Can we scale down a bit? Fantasy and sci-fi games give us beautifully imagined worlds, but does every game have to be about saving that world?
I was excited to get Terminally Nerdy as my Secret Blogger Santa recipient. Here’s someone who also cares about stories in games, but is a much more prolific blogger than I am. I’ll definitely be following once this post goes live–I didn’t want to give myself away by following before.
These Are a Few of my Favorite Posts
The Revival of City of Heroes – An excellent explanation of what happened after City of Heroes was shut down. My husband plays the game and it was interesting to read about the game’s mechanics, since I’ve never bothered to ask said husband.
A Nerdy Moment With: The Outer Worlds (A Review) – This game has been on my radar for a while and I wanted to see Clay’s impressions of the game. Now I’m even more on board–hopefully someone will gift me this one for Christmas or my birthday.
TN’s Indie Impressions – Aurion, Legacy of the Kori-Odan – This is the post the intro quote comes from. Clay frequently covers indie games, which is awesome. I’m not sure I’ll play this particular one, but I appreciate all the indie game content.
A Gift From Me
Part of the Secret Blogger Santa prompt is to bestow a fictional gift on your recipient. For Clay, I’ve chosen a Crimson Welpling from World of Warcraft. As far as I know, Clay doesn’t play WoW (I didn’t see it mentioned in the blog) but I wanted to get him a little red dragon companion. For one, I was inspired by the critter Clay is holding onto in his header image. Even though I think that’s not a dragon since it doesn’t have feet. Wyvern? Basilisk? I’m not sure. Clay also mentions a red dragon in his later Bait Shop posts. So why not get him one? And I knew WoW was bound to have a few to choose from.
Now Clay, don’t tie your Crimson Welpling up like you did with your Wyver-salisk. These little cuties don’t take well to chains. Make sure to feed him, too. He can get very hangry.
Hello there! Did you think I abandoned this blog? I thought about it. Or turning it into something else altogether. My mind is constantly whiling with thoughts of what I should be doing with my various internet “properties.” But I decided to keep it. Here’s what I did while I was away from the blog, and what my plans are for my blogging future:
I got married! My now-husband Will and I got married outside at my parents’ house in the country. They live on a beautiful lot (that I never fully appreciated as a kid) and we had a small ceremony with my Uncle doing the service and a wonderful violinist. The best part of it all was when our son came up and took turns hugging mine and my almost-husband’s legs saying he loved us. This wasn’t planned. No one told him to do it. It was completely spontaneous and perfect.
Above is one of my Inktober drawings probably most relevant to this blog.
Will and I had a short honeymoon in Louisville, KY. We did a lot of walking and ate so much good food we spent most days going back to the hotel after lunch for a nap. Quite a lot of bourbon was consumed.
My work sent me their home state of Georgia for some team building, which included mountain climbing and rappelling.
My son was a pterodactyl for halloween. He loved trick-or-treating but did not enjoy being told he couldn’t have any more chocolate.
I did a lot of knitting.
My parents’ had some of the extended family over for Thanksgiving and Will and I outdid ourselves cooking: mashed potatoes, appetizers, apple turnovers, and the turkey. The food was amazing. I’d eat turkey and cranberry sauce every day.
Around this time I found myself gradually playing World of Warcraft less and less. I tried the LOTRO Legendary server but haven’t been playing that, either.
I wanted to reboot the blog at the beginning of the month, but wanted to have some posts in a backlog to grab from when I don’t have something new to say. I spent the beginning of the month turning outlines into drafts.
My new goal is to post at least once a week, and I may specifically limit myself to a maximum of three posts per week so I don’t get burned out again.
The hardest part of blogging is coming up with topics. If there’s anything you’d like me to talk about within the intersection of parenting, technology, gaming, and being a nerd, please let me know!
Cover photo is the view from the top of my mountain climb in October!
While this week was difficult, there were little moments of joy sprinkled throughout. I realized that our wedding is no longer a vague ways away, but in a few weeks. Despite the stress dreams, I’ve been enjoying the last few bits of planning. Instead of rings, we’ve decided to exchange framed hand-written vows. My mom and I went shopping for accessories. Tomorrow I’m going for a bra fitting. Oh la la!
I’m a natural worrier. I worry about the weather, the violinist who hasn’t emailed me back, and if I’ll like the flowers. The one thing I haven’t worried about is the man I’m marrying. I think that’s the important part.
I’m loving An Unkindness of Ghosts despite having limited reading time. The world building is exquisite and Aster is unlike any other protagonist. Sadly I won’t be getting much extra time to read soon.
Online, I enjoyed Wired’s article about Microsoft’s parental leave requirement for subcontractors. When I had my son, I had to go back to work after about 8 weeks. It was hard enough for me, someone with the luxury of a job sitting at a desk to go back when I did. It’s even harder for people who work on their feet. This line in the article stuck out: “paid family leave was the most desired workplace benefit.” Shout it from the rooftops, people!
One of the hardest things about being a mother is the judgement. We live in a society where nearly every parenting action, particularly of mothers, is scrutinized by others. Kelly in the City’s thoughts on the subject closely mirror my own. I’m so grateful for the judgement-free online community parents I’ve found.
Battle for Azeroth has been the perfect stress relief this week, particularly getting absorbed in the Nazmir quest chain. I think the fiancé may want to play our Alliance mains with me again soon, but he’s been leveling a shaman.
Tonight we played some Pokemon Go and walked to a small event downtown. The ice cream sandwiches were delicious. I always forget about Pokemon Go as a game I play, as it’s just become a regular part of life. My interest in it has been waning lately. We need some new Pokemon to catch.
Today marks the end of Blaugust. I’m glad I participated. It was the catalyst for me to launch the blog and a way to connect me to a larger blogging community. However, I have felt pressured to post more, perhaps lower quality posts than I would like. Yesterday I was working on a post and trying to get it finished. Eventually I decided I really wanted to spend more time and thought on the topic and posted some photos of my cat instead. I don’t mind posting (literal, in my cat’s case) fluff and I love injecting some humor in my writing, but some of the topics I want to tackle require more thought. Those posts are going to take longer than a half hour at lunchtime or 45 minutes in the evening to explore.
At the same time I tend to try to be too perfectionist in my writing and sometimes I need to just let go and hit publish. Perhaps the scales need some time to find the right balance.
That said: I’ve decided to go on hiatus until around the end of October. I have so many things coming up including my wedding, my honeymoon, a work trip, my son starting a new daycare, and some personal things. If I have extra time, I may spend it working on some of the more in-depth pieces I have brewing in my head so I can finish them when I start back up again.
This is going to be the last “Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing” update, but it’s not going away! I’m merging this feature in with Happy Friday. Instead of just a list of links, Happy Friday posts will now include this information about what I’ve been up to. I enjoy writing this more than the link lists. On Friday I look at my Happy Friday draft and see two links in there and then I have to scramble to find more so it feels like a full post.
I finished Song of Achilles and started An Unkindness of Ghosts. Since I bought a paper copy, I wanted to get my lamp setup for comfortable reading. The outlet was too far from the bed so I looked for an extension cord. My fiancé said there was one in the garage that was nine feet long. While nine feet was too much, he went and got it anyway. It was closer to 20 feet. Too long. I looked behind the bed headboard and, lo and behold, an outlet! The bed had to be moved a little, but now the lamp is in the perfect spot.
After a cultural victory in Civ 6, I’m finally done with Civ 6. This left more time to play World of Warcraft. Since my fiancé and I are leveling Alliance characters together, I’ve been playing my Horde character solo. Here she is dressed up like a pirate:
I’ve been having more fun with the Horde side quests than the Alliance ones. Princess Talanji might be my new favorite character. Sylvanas, who? Forget the Horde, I want to defect and join the Zandalar. Even though I’m a Blood Elf and not a Troll. I’m saving how much fun I’m having in Vol’Dun for another post.
My main writing accomplishment this week was to complete the outline of the one short story idea I have. It’s about the apocalypse, psychological experimentation, and a strawberry.
The theme for the week was “meals with relatives.” We made dinner for my uncle who’s officiating our wedding and my aunt. I cooked these herb butter chicken thighs and they were as easy and amazing the second time as the first. We made waffles for breakfast for my parents. Tonight we’re having dinner with my fiancé’s mom and his aunt. For once we’re not cooking!
Yesterday we went to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. There we picked up some deliciously tart rhubarb jam and smoked salmon. We had brunch at Social, which is one of our favorite places mainly because the first time we were there they gave us two free appetizers. I had the prettiest looking avocado toast ever.
Three weeks ago I started this blog. I was flush with ideas. The blog concept had been slowly cooking inside my head for months before and Blaugust got me to take it out of the oven. It was finally ready to be shared. While my posting frequency has waned since the beginning, I’m still here. I have more to say. I’m not going anywhere.
The theme Blaugust this week is Staying Motivated, so I thought I’d explore my motivations for starting and continuing this blog. The main focus of this blog is parenting in the digital age. I think other parents and I share some common fears about how different technology is now from when we were kids. I want to address some of those. I want to talk about how having an identity as a gamer can mesh with having an identity as a parent.
I want to thank everyone who has commented on and liked my posts so far. It says to me that people are here for what I’m saying, that it has value, and that I should keep doing this. Thank you!
I also have more personal reasons for blogging. I can practice my writing in small doses. I’ve been working on a new novel and writing it always feels daunting. It’s just the beginning of something huge. There are emotions to process. Many times I want to write, but I’m not in the right headspace to work on the novel. Blog posts are a perfect bite-sized chunk of writing that I can finish and put out there in an instant.
Back when I blogged anonymously about my life, blogging was an excuse for me to go out and experience things. My motto was: “Bad decisions make great blog posts.”
Eventually I grew up a little and the internet became less anonymous and I started writing in a paper journal instead. Even though it made my hand cramp up, I continued it until just after my son was born. I’d been writing just before going to sleep and when I had a newborn, I just wanted to crash.
I wanted an outlet again, and I thought long and hard about what kind of blog to create. I’m too messy for a lifestyle blog, so eventually I settled on “nerdy parenting blog.” I think this should motivate me to get out, more, too, but in a different way. Such as, I’ve never been to a nerdy sort of con. I’ve been to hacker cons and programming conferences, but those are different. I’d like to go to one, and maybe bring my son. Perhaps he and I should check out Free Comic Book Day. There must be other nerdy events out there for kids! This might help get me out, when I’d rather just be an introvert and stay home.
My final motivation is also for my kid. I want him to know that there’s more to me than my job and being a mom. I’m also a writer, a gamer, and a nerd. Even if he ends up being more of a jock, I want him to know this side of me. And for that to happen, I need to embrace it myself.
I write in my paper journal every now and again that my son isn’t a newborn anymore. The hand cramping keeps me from doing it more. Cover photo by Easton Oliver on Unsplash.
Happy Blaugust! I’m so excited to be part of this terrific community of bloggers. If it wasn’t for this event, I’d still be overthinking the whole blogging thing. This blog would not exist. You wouldn’t be reading it. My fiancé and I wouldn’t have started playing World of Warcraft again. (Yeah, after more overthinking we decided to give it a go. We rolled a couple level 1 Goblins just for fun. Let me know if you want to play with us!)
The concept of the initial Blaugust was to write one post every day August. Blaugust Reborn has different goal tiers. I’m aiming for 15 posts. I could do more, but I’m a parent, and I have a full-time job. Sometimes writing a blog post during my lunch break isn’t what I want to spend it doing. I don’t particularly like doing thing-a-day style challenges. 15 gives me enough days off in case something comes up but I’ll still get the Silver award. If I write more, awesome. If a catastrophe happens and I end up writing less, oh well.
Lucky for us, I already have a plethora of post ideas bumbling around in my head. Stay tuned for thoughts on topics such as:
Nerding out when you’re in a relationship with a Jock
Why “nerd” is a way better term than “geek”
Protecting your data online
Kids and online bullying and harassment
Adventure game recommendations
Parents in video games
Learning to code
How parenting has changed since we were kids
Pictures of my cats
Screenshots of my adorable shoblin
If you have a suggestion of a topic that intersects parenting and technology, please send me a note. I’m also looking for stories and insights from parents of older kids. When do you give them a cell phone? How much should you monitor what they’re doing online? As a parent of a 2-year-old, these are things I’m thinking worrying about already.
Remember when blogs were fun? Remember LiveJournal? You and your friends were all on LiveJournal and it was mostly completely uninteresting to maybe one or two friends but you wrote in it anyway because it was fun. I met my first serious boyfriend through LiveJournal. I got my first programming job through LiveJournal. Somehow, the tight knit blogging communities like LiveJournal turned into people posting professional quality photographs of their perfectly curated minimalist homes.
Maybe blogging still has a community somewhere, and I’m hoping to find that again. I used to write on this blogging platform called Vox. I didn’t tell my real life family and friends about it, and it was an essential outlet for me to get through a difficult time in my life. The best part of Vox was the community, or as they termed it, your “neighborhood.” I’ve since met some of my Vox neighbors in person and I’m still friends with a few of my Vox neighbors today, even though the platform died years ago. Maybe some bloggers today, even the super minimalist ones, do have a tight community like that and I truly hope they all do.
I could wax nostalgic for hours about how amazing the Internet used to be before social media came along and “internet life” and “real life” joined at the hip and became inseparable. But the point of this post is to explain why I started blogging again. I knew I wanted to start another blog for a while now, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted it to be. I definitely didn’t want to go the whole “here’s a bunch of photos of my perfect home where everything is white except all my plants” route because for one, I have a toddler. And two, I kill plants. RIP, plants.
Instead, I wanted to write about nerdy stuff, and what it’s like being a nerdy parent, and what if my kid doesn’t turn out to be a nerd, and how to deal with a partner who’s not as nerdy as you are. I wanted to write for new parents who wonder how the heck they’re going to find time to play video games now that they have kids, or for people who are wondering what the best adventure games are, or to crowdsource what MMO I should be playing, or just to talk about how great the Internet was back in my day.
This brings me to Blaugust. I’d been hemming and hawing about starting this blog when I heard about Blaugust. I was less interested in the blog-for-30-days challenge (I’m a Questioner and that sort of thing doesn’t work for me) and more interested in the community of gaming bloggers aspect.
Blaugust is about blogging in the month of August, but it’s also about the community. Blaugust has a Discord server where participants can get together, get advice, share posts, and game together. When I heard about it, I thought, this is just the thing I need to actually start this parenting/gaming blog I’ve had in my head, and hopefully keep at it, too. Click the link below (or here) if you want to sign up.
Screenshot of the old LiveJournal home page via The Toast.
Don’t start a billion blogs and then neglect them and hope that people will still be interested when you announce “I’m starting a new blog!”
They won’t. Except maybe your mom. Hi, mom! This is, maybe, the 59th blog I’ve started.
Don’t start a blog until you’ve mastered all the skills your blog requires, or can at least pay someone else to do them for you.
I always thought I’d be good at blogging. I’m moderately-decent-to-exceptional at all the skills required for blogging:
Writing: I have an English degree and I’m published in FastCompany, so I must not be half bad.
Making graphics: I can use Sketch.
Brainstorming: I can sit on Pinterest for hours.
Basic coding: I do quite a bit more advanced coding for a job and am paid money. I must be fairly good.
Photography: Well I have a nice camera, but I don’t see this blog requiring much photography. I’ll take screenshots and grab images from Unsplash. I think we can cross that one off.
Social media: We’ll put this in the “moderately decent” and “not really necessary” category.
Networking: Eh, okay, most of the skills.
Don’t insist you have to do everything yourself, just because you can.
I’m starting a blog and I feel super guilty because I don’t want to develop the WordPress theme from scratch by myself. I’m a programmer. I’ve used WordPress as long as its been around. Building my own theme should be a slice of peach pie.
But it would be a very time consuming slice of peach pie. Instead I can download a theme and tweak it until it’s perfect. It’s like buying the peach pie at a bakery. It might not be as lovingly crafted as if I made my own and I might have used some different ingredients, but it’s still delicious peach pie.
Don’t Use Comic Sans or Papyrus.
They are terrible fonts and should be avoided at all costs.
Don’t buy into all the “find your niche” advice.
This blog is about parenting, video games, and other nerdy stuff, and probably some feminism thrown in. Who knows what might end up in it. Instead of starting a blog in some super focused niche (because who is going to want to keep writing stain remover reviews or about fishing in video games after three weeks?) start a blog with a wide focus and then write different posts and see how much you enjoy writing about them.
Note that I didn’t say: see how well different post topics do on social media or see what gets more hits on search engines. Because if we all wrote for social media and search engines we’d all be writing the same stuff. (This is why so many blogs these days look and feel exactly the same.) Way back when, blogging was just a thing people did for fun. Let’s make blogging fun again!
Don’t get bummed out by the other blogs.
The internet is full of gorgeous, polished blogs completely free of grammar mistakes. It’s easy to feel inadequate. I think there’s some value in just starting something and figuring out what it is as you go along. Maybe you think you’re going to write about puppy training but end up getting really into making your own dog treats, and then suddenly you have a homemade, organic dog treat empire. You might start out on a WordPress dot com blog with a free theme and maybe that’s 100% perfect for you and you’ll never leave. Or maybe you’ll want to get your own domain and you’ll learn how to code your own theme. Just make sure you’re not using Comic Sans or Papyrus.
Don’t follow all the advice here.
Don’t follow all the rules. The best thing about rules is knowing when to break them.
Except the one about Comic Sans and Papyrus. That one’s really important.