Save Point: 2022 in review

Zelda, cat, laptop, cute
faces, Later Levels, Kim, Pete, Butlins 2022

2022 is now behind us and a bright, shiny new year lies ahead.

That means today is a time for taking stock, looking back over achievements and being happy we made it through another weird 12 months here at Later Levels. It’s also the perfect opportunity to consider where to go in the future and the new goals we’d like to set for ourselves.

After taking a break in October 2021, I returned to the blog six months later with an updated version of the site in April 2022. It’s hard to believe how quickly the past nine months have gone by. The blogging world now is quite different to the one I left, presumably changed by the impact of COVID-19 and digitalisation of our lives, and I’m still figuring out my place in this new community.

There were many changes on a personal level too. I started a Data Fellowship apprenticeship in March and have been documenting my journey here, and also moved to a new team recently to switch my career to a different direction. My brother and sister-in-law adopted a little boy so I’ve had fun getting to know my nephew over the past year, and Pete and I marked eight years together.

Before I get started on 2023 properly, I’m looking back on blog performance and games played in a review of 2022. I’ve decided to include view and visitor statistics in the graphs below, despite being nervous about this initially, as this information might help me grow as a blogger and could be useful to some others out there too. Hopefully this is the start of a new tradition, and I’ll be able to look back on this post in January 2024 to see how much progress I’ve made.

Progress report

graph, bar chart, video games, hours played

graph, pie chart, hours spent on games

graph, pie chart, hours spent on games

graph, pie chart, hours spent on games

Posts of the year

The weirdest finding for me in this review is discovering which post was the most viewed of 2022. I’ve no idea why Murder Most Puzzling: putting the pieces together was as popular as it was and why it’s still getting hits now, and the blog dashboard isn’t very helpful in figuring out where these are coming from. The only thing I’ve been able to deduce is that someone from either the UK or America must really like jigsaws or photographs of Zelda laying on top of my copy of The Clairvoyants’ Convention.

The most liked post of last year was What’s wrong with WordPress? and this is no surprise. Articles about blogging itself are always popular and get attention from communities outside of gaming bloggers (including dodgy SEO companies). The most commented post was still about video games though. My natural attraction to the adventure genre was inspired by Elise from Game Praisers and shared an analysis of the types of games I tend to be drawn to based on those in my library.

The Clairvoyants’ Convention, Murder Most Puzzling, jigsaw, puzzle, cat, Zelda

It’s hard to pick a personal favourite from those published in 2022 but there are a couple I’d like to highlight for different reasons. Feeling the squeeze: video games and the recession was fun because I really enjoy the research that goes into articles on more ‘serious’ subjects. And Cosy blankets and controllers: games for nostalgia was nice to write as it inspired by another blogger, this time Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes. I’ve got a few ideas for events to promote this community aspect of blogging next year.

Games of the year

Although 2022 was better than the previous COVID-19 years for video games, it still feels as though there wasn’t much which really grabbed me. My favourite title played was actually released in September 2021. I’m not usually a fan of visual novels but Placebo Love totally surprised me, and it’s one of the only games I’ve dived back into immediately after completing. Go into it with an open mind and commit to more than one playthrough if you can, and I guarantee you’ll learn something about love.

If I had to pick a favourite 2022 release, I’d go for either IMMORTALITY or Return to Monkey Island – neither of which I’ve written about much here on the blog. The former is better if you go into it without much knowledge and I don’t want to spoil it for future players, while the latter is something I wanted to experience just for myself due to my history with the Monkey Island series. The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) ended up being my most played game of the year and I can see that continuing in 2023.

Placebo Love, video game, screenshot, Brenda, woman, conversation, trees, Lorne, love

I’m a little addicted to backing Kickstarter campaigns and found myself making 17 pledges during 2022. Of the rewards received in the past two months, there are two I’d like to highlight here. Unusual Findings was wonderful thanks to its heavy dose of 80s nostalgia and excellent soundtrack, which was included in a post about my favourite gaming music. And I loved Lucy Dreaming for its dark humour, a must for point-and-click fans who are looking for something with a strong retro vibe.

Events of the year

The biggest surprise of the year was our first trip to the UK Games Expo in June. Pete and I have always preferred video games over board games, but this event changed our minds and encouraged us to start our own small collection. We’ve found that we prefer cooperative over competitive titles and my favourite purchase from 2022 was Zombicide. Several hours were spent with the family on New Year’s Eve fighting the undead and wondering how on earth we were going to get out of the situation we found ourselves in.

After being bitten by the escape-room-bug in 2019, we’ve been on the lookout for similar experiences since and Phantom Peak answered the call in September. It’s hard to put into words just how much I love this place. For an adventure fan like me, solving mysteries in a real-world steampunk setting is a dream. Pete and I enjoyed our first trip so much that we returned for the Hallowed Peak event in late October, and then again last month for the festive Wintermas edition. Expect to see us there in 2023.

UK Games Expo, 2022, board games

In October, I volunteered for SpecialEffect for the first time in several years and had an amazing day. EGX itself was a bit of a let-down as it felt lacklustre and disorganised but being back on the charity’s stand at such an event and raising awareness of their work made being at the event worthwhile. It was just what I needed to get me thinking about our plans for the GameBlast23. From Friday, 17 to Sunday, 26 February 2023, you can expect ten days of gaming on Twitch as we celebrate the marathon’s tenth anniversary.

Photos of the year

  • MCM Comic Con, London, cosplay, Stranger Things, Joyce, Hopper, Demogorgon
  • The Secret of Monkey Island, video game, physical, box, Dial-A-Pirate
  • The Deserted Lighthouse, EXIT The Puzzle, jigsaw, Zelda, cat
  • SpecialEffect
  • board games, collection, jigsaws, puzzles, games, Detective, Zombicide, Black Dahlia, The Night Cage, Fallout, Beasts of Balance, EXIT, Alice is Missing, Calling Card, The Marcy Case, Hack Forward
  • London Gaming Market, Little Computer People, video game, Commodore 64, box, cassette, tape
  • Amelia's Secret, escape room, augmented reality, hand, tutorial, Rock-Paper-Scissors

Plans for next year

Although the first several months of the year will be focused on completing my apprenticeship, there are a few things I’d love to implement on the blog during 2023. We might see the return of the quarterly gamers’ blog parties along with the #LoveYourBacklog and #MaybeInMarch community events. There’ll be more news about these things coming in a post later this week when I figure out some new goals for Later Levels and try to get myself organised for the 12 months ahead.

I hope 2022 was a good year for you and that 2023 will be even better. What are your favourite games, posts and achievements from the past year?

About Author /

Spreadsheet lover, video gamer and SpecialEffect volunteer. Goes by the name 'kissingthepixel' online. Lifelong fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

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