Collaborations are one of my favourite things about blogging. In recent years they’ve become massive, growing in both size and length – but there are also loads of smaller projects going on that may not get as much attention, but are just as creative and community-focused.
One example is Charming and Open hosted by the awesome Ian over at Adventure Rules. The question I asked him this time was focused on the community rather than gaming: I wanted to know how he thought collaborations would evolve and what he’d like to see from them in 2020. In return he asked me how blogging about video games for a few years now has changed how I play or think about them. So let me grab a cup of tea while I mull it over for a few minutes, and then we can begin.
Play games for playing’s sake
When my now-husband Pete first introduced me to his young son, I wrote a post for an old blog dedicated to Ethan called The wisdom of the LEGO Movie Videogame. This was a turning point because it far more personal than anything I’d written before. It made me realise I was attempting each new gaming experience in a way that was almost clinical, with one eye always on the lookout for material for the next article, and I’d forgotten about the joy that comes from playing video games.
That old site was left behind a few months later and I started afresh with Later Levels, deciding to take it in a direction which was much more fulfilling. As well as writing about subjects with more meaning, I wanted to make sure that gaming was ultimately what it was supposed to be: fun. I stopped searching for new content and started picking up games to simply enjoy them, and if they happened to end up in a post then it was an additional bonus. Play for playing’s sake and write because you have something to say.
Know what you like – but try new things too
Point-and-clicks have always held a special place in my heart since finding The Secret of Monkey Island as a kid, and several years of blogging has shown me I prefer video games with strong narratives. I love picking up a new title where the beginning holds the promise of a new adventure and endless possibilities. This focus has come in handy at expos where there are so many games trying to grab your attention all at once: I’m now able to look at them and know within the first minute whether they’re going to be something I’ll enjoy.
But you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover (or a release by its Steam page), and I realise occasionally I need to step outside my comfort zone to try new gaming experiences. For example, I’m not usually a multiplayer gamer but I found something that sucked me in for hours after getting roped into a round of Guns of Icarus Alliance at Rezzed last year. It’s important to know what you like so you don’t waste your precious spare time on titles that aren’t fulfilling, but it’s also good to expand your horizons every now and again.
Don’t feel guilty about your backlog
We have a horrible habit of feeling bad about our backlogs and lack of completion. But we rarely stop to consider that it’s something we shouldn’t feel so guilty about: why spend your limited free hours on releases you’re not getting pleasure from? Blogging about gaming has taught me that this attitude is a bit self-defeating. If we’re open to new experiences when they come along, there shouldn’t be any remorse felt at putting a title down in favour of one more fulfilling.
This was what inspired the lovely Ellen from Livid Lightning and I to host the first #LoveYourBacklog Week in February. We wanted to show everyone that a huge pile of games isn’t something to be ashamed of; it’s just a sign of how much you love your hobby and means you have something ready to play for whatever mood you’re in. Finally playing the title that had been waiting in my library the longest for #MaybeinMarch was a liberating experience and who knows, it might be one Ellen and I decide to repeat in 2020.
Video games can be more than just entertainment
I’ve heard so many inspiring stories from blogger friends over the years which show that video games can be more than pixels on a screen. We use them to help us cope with difficult situations in our lives such as overcoming grief. They can open our eyes to new ways of thinking and give us the opportunity to live a situation completely different to our own. And a protagonist whom we’re able to relate and look up to can inspire us to become a better person.
Blogging has made me see that this is an important aspect of gaming for me, and it’s one of the reasons why I continue to support SpecialEffect. Their mission to help everyone enjoy the fun and inclusion of gaming regardless of their physical limitations is one that’s very close to my heart. I’ll continue to participate in their annual GameBlast marathon for as long as Later Levels continues, and I can’t wait to get started on our 50-day challenge for GameBlast20.
Thanks so much to Ian for giving me the chance to write this post! Head over to Adventure Rules to check out the great posts published as a result of the Charming and Open event – and keep your eye out for the next one if you’d like to participate.
Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.