Media that’s shaped my worldview

Prompta2020

2020’s version of Blaugust is in full swing, and it’s my turn already. Thank you Dragonray for handing over the baton, I hope I’ll be able to meet the high expectations you’ve set for me. πŸ™‚

Here goes.

Blaugust Promptapalooza – Prompt 3

What are some key sources of media (games/movies/etc) that have shaped your worldview?

As I’m writing a blog that mainly focuses on video games in general and MMORPGs in particular it shouldn’t come as a surprise that those will get a mention here. I was born in 1976 though, so I’ll have to start off with some earlier types of media.

Radio
Not ours, but we had the exact same model in our kitchen

You know, it’s funny. I’ve been working in radio broadcasting for almost 20 years now, and during that time I’ve often said that I enjoy it despite not being and never having been a radio listener myself. While thinking thoroughly about today’s prompt I’ve realized that it’s actually not true at all.

I couldn’t for the life of me tell you the stations’ names, but back when I was little the radio was always on at home. My mom also played vinyl (and shellac) records, of which I mainly remember The Beatles and ABBA, but mostly it was the radio playing.

I liked it a lot, and it didn’t take long until I begged for my own one with a built-in cassette recorder so I could record my favourite songs. Once I’d got it I would sit on my bed for hours on end, listen to the music and record the songs that I liked the most. To this day Depeche Mode’s Everything Counts is one of my all-time favourites, for example.

I guess radio shaped my worldview insofar that it taught me early on how beautiful, heart-warming and life-enriching music can be. I can’t imagine a life without it.

TV
Ok, I’m not actually THAT old, but you get the picture

Growing up during the eighties in an urban environment also meant watching a lot of TV. Until about 1985 we still had a black-and-white set and a grand total of three programs to watch, but around my 9th birthday we got a color set, a VHS recorder and cable TV. From then on there was no stopping me.

I soaked up everthing a boy of that age ought to like (at the time): shows like The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, reruns of The three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy; a bit later I was really into The A-Team, Knight Rider, Airwolf and so on. I even got my first taste of Anime (without knowing it) with Captain Future and Saber Rider.

I wouldn’t call any of that life-changing experiences, but the things I watched have undoubtedly shaped me in some way or other.

At the age of twelve or so a true landmark event happened though: I got to watch Return of the Jedi – and thus a Star Wars movie – for the first time. I believe I’d never been so enthralled by anything in my life. Other stuff I’d just watched, but that movie took me to a galaxy far, far away indeed, and I think it really changed the way I watch movies. Nowadays I get totally absorbed by the story – usually even if said story isn’t all that great – and forget about everything else until it’s over.

I have to admit that it can be somewhat demanding to watch movies with me as I don’t tolerate talking, cell phone usage or anything else that might distract me (chips are okay though as long as I can have some too), but that’s just the way it is now and the price, I feel, for being able to immerse oneself completely.

Great movies and shows take me to places and let me experience adventures I would never see and have in real life, and I’m extremely grateful for that.

Reading

You probably wouldn’t be reading this now if I hadn’t been a huge fan of reading all my life.

It started, unsurprisingly, with comics, mainly Mickey Mouse, Asterix and Clever & Smart. I tried to like Marvel and stuff, but those were just too ‘loud’ for me, if that makes sense.

At age 13 or so I shifted away from comics and started to read ‘real’ literature – if you’re willing to call penny dreadfuls literature, that is. John Sinclair is written by a German author and tells the stories of a Scotland Yard inspector specialized in paranormal investigations. I used to read those every week for a couple of years straight, and that’s what kicked off my turning into a serious bookworm. I assume it’s also where my penchant for horror movies came from, to boot.

For the next ten, fifteen years I read a hell of a lot, mostly science fiction and fantasy, but also thrillers, historical fiction and even non-fiction (the latter especially about ancient Egypt).

These days I’m not reading as much as I’d like, but I still do of course.

If you’re reading this I don’t need to lecture you about the power of the written word, do I?Β  Suffice it to say, without reading so much I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I’ll never stop enjoying it.

Games

Playing video games is pretty much the earliest memory of consuming any type of media that I have, and it has always been my main hobby, if you will. It’s much more to me than a hobby though.

A really great game can, in a way, be the culmination of everything I talked about above. Experiencing adventures I could never have in real life? Check. Music that evokes strong emotions and makes the ride all the more enjoyable? Absolutely. Thrilling, touching or funny stories with heroes to root for and villains to despise? Sure thing. Well, sometimes anyway.

Add to that the ability to play an active part in all of it instead of just consuming passively, and in some cases to even fundamentally affect the outcome, and you get something truly marvelous.

Unfortunately playing video games has also helped to shape my worldview in a negative way though, as it has taught me that even amongst ‘normal’ human beings (i.e. not counting scum like terrorists, rapists and so on) there’s a frighteningly large number of dickheads out there. I’ve had stretches where I outright refused to play online-multiplayer games because I just wasn’t willing to take it anymore.

Apart from that though, what can I say, I just love playing video games. They’re inextricably a part of me.

And there you have it.

Tomorrow the wonderful Roger Edwards (thanks for all the great movie reviews by the way!) will be there for you with the fourth installment of Blaugust Promptapalooza 2020, so head on over to Contains Moderate Peril and have a look. I sure will.

Blaugust Promptapalooza incoming

In light of the rather trying cirmumstances we all find ourselves in this year the regular Blaugust event was rescheduled to April, which was great, but left us with the question of what to do come August.

Belghast, reliable as ever, had another great idea though. As being asked to post for thirty-one days straight is quite trying for many – even if it’s voluntary, the pressure to deliver is kinda there once you’ve signed up – we’ll not do that a second time within half a year. This time around we’ll pass the torch on a day by day basis. Enter Blaugust Promptapalooza.

Prompta2020

On July 31st Bel himself will start the event by offering a prompt to write about a certain topic to the blogging community, and he’ll also present his own thoughts about said topic to us. Towards the end of his post the next day’s participant will be revealed by him, who in turn will give us his own prompt on August 1st, and so on.

If the suspense of who’s gonna post when is killing you already, fret not, for it ain’t a secret at all:

I think this is a really great idea, maybe even better than ‘normal’ Blaugust, because it creates more interaction between us, more cross-linking and -promoting, and it also gives us all a plethora of, well, prompts for topics to write about.

Can’t wait to read it all and to chime in!

If you’d like to hear from the man himself about his idea behind the event, here’s the original post.

Time flies when you’re having fun

CakeThree
As per tradition: moar cake!

Hard to believe, but today marks this here blog’s third birthday.

Had you asked me back then whether I thought I’d still be writing blog posts three years down the road…I really don’t know what my answer would have been.

One thing I do know for sure though. Had you told me at the time that I would publish 187 posts with a total of 156 thousand words, and still no end in sight, I’d called you crazy. But here we are.

The main reason, of course, is that it is a lot of fun. Much more so than I would have imagined. It’s also an ongoing learning experience. When I compare my first couple dozen posts with more recent ones it’s almost as if someone else had written the former. It’s remarkable how quickly human beings can learn stuff that’s rather alien to them and become at least somewhat proficient just by doing it over and over.

Along the way I’ve even learned a bit of HTML-code – I didn’t want to, but WordPress made me – which may come in handy…or not.

What didn’t happen was blogging becoming my true love and/or main driving force. Towards the end of Blapril Bhagpuss said that he’d rather write about games than actually play them, at least at the moment. To me actually playing the games is still much more important, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all the desire to chronicle my gaming adventures was and remains far and away the main purpose of this blog.

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Speaking of which, this third year has indeed been quite an adventurous one, not least due to the release of ArcheAge Unchained in October. Sucker for sandboxes that I am I’ve been deep-sea fishing, building a family empire with friends, trading, making music and generally goofing around quite a lot since then.

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Warframe was last year’s new addition to my gaming library, and a really great one. While it’s obviously neither an MMORPG nor a sandbox it has a surprising number of gameplay elements on offer that aren’t just about killing stuff. I’ve built a custom gun, went mining and fishing, composed deadly tunes, played Guitar Hero In Space and tried myself at parcours.

3rdBirthday2

The third game I’ve spent a lot of time with was EVE Online. I went back to nullsec, experienced my first Keepstar-kill, saw a faction Fortizar blow up and went to fight inside wormhole space. In April we would have finally made a trip to Iceland and attended the EVE fanfest too, but of course that didn’t happen. Maybe next year.

Finally, about a week ago Lakisa asked me, quite unexpectedly, about an MMORPG we hadn’t been playing for a couple of years. Honestly, I’d had heavy-heartedly made my peace with the fact that I’d never play it again some time ago, what with the reboot it got in 2017 that, in my opinion, was totally uncalled-for and ‘improved’ an outstanding game very much for the worse. Turns out, though, that the original version can still be played and even has a couple handful of players.

So yeah, we’re back.

3rdBirthday4
Looking stylish as ever…

Don’t be surprised to read some stories about a supposedly dead game around here in the near future. Year number four, here I come.

Wrapping up Blapril 2020

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Today’s officially the last day of Blapril, so it’s time to look back upon this out-of-season festival of blogging intended to make us all feel a bit better during these trying times.

I’ve posted more and also read more than usual, so from my point of view the event absolutely succeeded – as usual.

I didn’t come even close to publish 31 posts, but then I knew from the start that I wouldn’t, and that’s ok. This isn’t a competition after all. A competition makes only a select few people feel better whereas, again, this thing is for all of us.

Just like during the last two rounds of Blaugust I’ve also learned something new and did a couple of things I’d never done before.

I had, for example, never thought a lot about tagging my posts properly. When I wrote a piece about EVE I tagged it EVE Online and MMORPGs, and that was it. While there probably isn’t an inherently wrong or right way to do it I guess this was a bit too general and not really helping all that much – unless you specifically wanted to only read stuff about EVE of course.

So I went back to many of my posts and added some new tags. Luckily I don’t have a backlog of thousands of posts yet like some fellow bloggers do. As a result there’s now an Opinion tag that’s got you covered should you for some reason ever feel the urge to only read my highly subjective rants about various topics, and an About me tag for posts where I don’t just talk about the games I’ve played, but also, well, about myself in one way or another.

That there even is a need for the latter is also due to Blapril, as I’d never done the various personality tests that made the rounds before, and probably still wouldn’t have if not for the event.

Lastly I published my first real guide on this blog. I was big into writing guides and generally helping folks out back when being active on forums still was a thing, but I hadn’t done so in quite a while. So there’s a Guides tag now, too. Maybe it’ll even lead to more than one post someday.

So this was Blapril 2020. Big shout-out to Belghast who hosted us again in his cool, calm and collected way, and to all participants who made our days a bit brighter with their many posts and comments. Looking forward to the next one!

Blapril 2020 post count: 15

Blogger recognition, neat!

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It’s Getting To Know You Week in Blaprilverse, and while I’m way late to the party I guess now’s the perfect time to address the Blogger Recognition Award, which both Naithin and Bhagpuss tagged me for.

The rules are simple:

  1. Thank the wonderful person(s) who nominated you and leave a link back to their blogs.
  2. Explain your blog’s origin story or its history.
  3. Hand out two or more pieces of advice for new bloggers.
  4. Nominate 5 other bloggers and hook us up with links to their blogs.

Here goes.

Amiga500
Pictured: my history of writing, part one (ca. 1989)

If you’re reading this chances are you already know Bhagpuss and his blog, Inventory Full. He’s been around for a long time, posts very regularly and is always entertaining to read. When I discovered that there are such wonderful things as gaming blogs some seven or eight years ago, his was one of the first that I stumbled upon, and I’ve been a regular ever since. As a bonus he has the most extensive, auto-updating blogroll I’ve ever seen, which is very handy.

Naithin’s Time to Loot is relatively new in comparison. It isn’t his first blog though, and he’s a very active and thoughtful blogger too. Highly recommended.

Thank you both for nominating me, it’s an honor (not being ironic here)!

KeyboardOld
Ca. 1995; probably not exactly like mine, but close enough

As for my own blog, I think it came into being mainly for two reasons.

One, I’ve always been a big fan of language in general and the written word in particular. I love to read, and ever since I had a keyboard I’ve also been fond of writing (I hate writing by hand, it’s pretty much the most uncomfortable- and unnatural-feeling thing you could force me to do, and nobody would be able to read any of it either).

I’m not a terribly creative person though, so making up and writing stories or something like that was never even a consideration. I believe the first things I wrote were hints and walkthroughs for adventure games I’d beaten. I distributed those on 3.5 inch disks on our schoolyard. Once the internet had taken off I became a sucker for gaming forums. I read absolutely everything there was to read about the games that interested me, and I also added to the discussions and the knowledge base. Sometimes a lot. I wrote close to a thousand posts each in some forums I was active in, for example SWG.de, the biggest German Star Wars Galaxies community at the time, or our SWTOR-guild’s internal forum years later.

Websites and forums come and go though, and I’ve written a huge amount of stuff over the years that’s now lost forever. The majority of it wasn’t really worth preserving, obviously, but I clearly remember some guides I’ve written and conversations that I’ve had which I would really like to be able to read one more time, if only for nostalgia’s sake. So I guess at some point I started to feel that I needed my own, permanent place to stow away my ramblings.

Reason number two is that video games, especially MMORPGs, sometimes let me experience great adventures that I a) don’t want to forget, and b) would like to share with others. I remember vividly that one such adventure in specific triggered the actual, tangible wish to sit down a write about it. It took another couple of years however, but in the end I finally did.

So here we are, almost three years down the road from my first blog post. I’m really glad that I took the plunge when I did, and I’m grateful for the advice and inspiration all the great bloggers out there gave me beforehand and since, knowingly and unknowingly, because without that I’d probably not dared to.

LogitechG15
Ca. 2003; I had this for about 13 or 14 years, great piece of hardware

Now, as there’s already so much great advice out there, what could I tell you about blogging that’s not already been said countless times?

I guess that’s advice number one right there: it doesn’t matter if someone else has already written about a certain topic.

Firstly, no one reads all the blogs. It might not seem likely from your perspective, but it’s absolutely possible that someone comes to your blog and reads about that topic for the very first time.

And even if not, everyone’s viewpoint is unique, so your take on the subject can still give new insights and perspectives that others might find useful or at least entertaining. Whatever it is you want to say, knock yourself out!

My second advice is to only publish blog posts that you are pleased with, otherwise don’t publish.

This one might just be me though as I set pretty high standards for myself, and it bugs me – probably more that it should – when I reread a post of mine after I’ve published it and think it could have been better. What really does not matter is what anyone else thinks about your writings though. Unless you’re getting paid for it you do this for yourself after all, so if you are happy with your creation you’ve done a good job, period.

RoccatVulcan
This is what I’m typing these here words with, it’s really good too

At this point I’m supposed to tag some more folks for the award/challenge/whatever this actually is, and I’d really love to. By now most if not all bloggers I read have already been tagged at least once though, and I have completely lost track of who has or hasn’t been.

So please, if you read this and haven’t been tagged yet, consider yourself tagged now and chime in. It’s fun and doesn’t hurt at all!

Blapril 2020 post count: 7

And thus Blaugust becomes Blapril

With many of us glued to our seats (or at least our homes) due to the impending end of the world that little sucker of a virus that surely won’t manage to do what bubonic plague, cholera and Nickelback couldn’t, Tales of the Aggronaut‘s Belghast, host of the annual blogging initiative known as Blaugust, had a great idea: push this year’s event forward to April so we all have something to do and to look forward to.

Of course it wouldn’t make much sense to still call it Blaugust, so we get…

blapril-2020-800

The logo says it all, really. It’s a great idea, and of course I’ve signed up to participate again. Thanks for having us, Bel!

While the event’s premise is to post every day for a full month I don’t think I’ll aim quite that high though. I managed to do it in 2018, but it was pretty stressful at times and I’d rather write when I feel like it, not because I ‘have’ to do it. On the other hand, I have been a bit lazy of late, so I guess a little extra incentive won’t hurt.

If you’d like to participate or just know more about it, you can find everything you need here.

And let’s always remember:

Wrapping up Blaugust 2019

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And just like that another month of August is almost over again. Time flies if you’re having fun, as the saying goes.

Counting this one I made it to 15 posts this time around. Quite a step backwards from last year’s 31, but since I wasn’t sure if I’d even manage to pen this many I’m pretty happy nonetheless.

From the second week onwards all I’ve been talking about is Warframe, and I expect that trend to continue for a while because I’m still having loads of fun. Since we’ve just returned from our vacation I didn’t have time to check out my new frames yet, which I’ll do right after finishing this post.

Or maybe not. Turns out I was wrong when I predicted it might take the folks at Digital Extremes a good while to introduce a playable version of the shawzin. In fact they’ve just released a meaty content update that already delivered it to us, alongside other goodies like a brand new frame, new weapons etc.

I’ve only tested it for like two minutes, but I dig it a lot. It sounds like a shamisen, which of course fits the game’s space-ninja theme perfectly. You can either strum about freely or try to record whole songs. There are also some pre-built songs you can play along to.

WarframeHero
It’s basically Guitar Hero in space, what’s not to like?

It’s activated via an emote, which I had at my disposal right away since I’d already bought the decoration before. Nice! They’ve also released some colour variations, according to its description one of them even sounds differently. I’ll wait for a video of it to pop up before buying though.

Apart from playing Warframe I also look forward to reading all those posts my fellow bloggers have undoubtedly written during the final stretch of Blaugust. I guess there are at least a hundred new pieces that I very much want to read, not counting the catching up I have to do over at Massively OP.

First I’d like to once more say thank you to all mentors and participants of Blaugust, and of course to our host Belghast. It’s been a blast just like last year, and I hope I’ll be reading all your blogs for a long time to come. Also a big welcome to everyone who’s started just now. I think you’ll find that this is a great community all year round. I know I’m happy to be a part of it. Cheers!

The curious consequences of a header

Blaugust 2019 is in full swing, and according to Belghast’s schedule it’s Topic Brainstorming Week right now.

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I’ve not signed up to Blaugust as a mentor since I don’t feel experienced enough yet to give advice to other bloggers. There is one thing I have put some thought into lately though, and that is the art of choosing a good header for your posts. That’s what I’ll talk about today, and maybe it’s an interesting topic for you too.

To be honest, I’ve never put much thought into choosing a title for my blog posts other than what’s a servicable header for the post’s contents and also suits my overall style of writing?

In my opinion that’s a good approach, but it has its drawbacks, as I’ve had to realize. More on that later.

The first of those two intents is a no-brainer. A post’s header should give readers at least a broad idea of what the post is about. It doesn’t need to outline its whole contents though, after all it shouldn’t be too long. If the post is about one specific game, for example, I often exclude its name from the title and introduce it in the post’s first paragraph instead.

It’s also totally ok when a header doesn’t give away too much and instead tries to provoke curiosity, as long as the post itself does actually satisfy that curiosity.

The second bit, infusing the header with your personal style, is also an approach I highly recommend, at least if it’s your personal blog and you’re not writing for a site where your style might not be appropriate for some reason.

Pretty much all bloggers I follow do exactly that. Bhagpuss, for example, likes to use musical references in his headers, which I really like (although I admittedly don’t get many of them).

Personally, I like alliterations. I don’t forcibly try to think of one every time, as that would most likely get old pretty soon, but if one comes to mind naturally I’ll gladly use it.

Header1
In hindsight this one might have been a bit too much

However little or much thought you put into a post’s header, it can have entirely unforseen consequences. One of my own posts made me realize this, which is why I’ve started to think about the topic at all.

Moon mining for fun and profit

This post of mine, published on January 22nd, 2018, has had by far the most views of all my posts, more than twice the amount of the next highest. I’d noticed its appearance in daily statistics every now and then, but didn’t think much of it. Only when I had a look at my overall statistics a while back I grasped the scope of it.

The thing is, the post is nothing special. Just a little recap of my first experience with moon mining in EVE Online. Hence I didn’t understand why it had so many klicks at first.

Thinking about it I then realized that the reason for the unusually high amount of views is without a doubt the post’s header. Not because it’s particularly witty or anything, but because it contains a combination of words that I’m sure many an EVE player has googled at some point: “moon mining” and “profit”.

To all EVE players who came here in hopes to find specific instructions for making lots of ISK by mining moon goo: I apologize.

Now, I have to admit that I still don’t always scrutinize my headers for Google-misunderstanding-safety – Is that a thing? I think it should be – but if I intend to use words like profit, money, rich or something along those lines I’ll at the very least think it through one more time before actually using it from now on.

So yeah, a post’s header can have more to it than meets the eye on first glance, more even than the author themselves realizes. One more reason to put some thought into it before hitting the publish-button, isn’t it?

Blaugust 2019 kicks off

The game, as Sherlock Holmes likes to say, is on.

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This year’s festival of blogging is now officially underway. I’m pretty excited to be a part of it even though it’s my second time already. Time flies.

Fortunately it’s not mandatory for participants to publish a post each and every day because I’m not sure if I’ll be able to this time around.

We’ll be on vacation from 20th to 30th and have no internet connection most of the time, so there’s that.

What’s more though, writing feels…kinda hard at the moment. There’s no particular reason for it – at least none that I’m consciously aware of – but for the last couple of months I’ve needed substantially more time to finish each piece. Some I’ve tinkered with for a whole week until I was finally satisfied enough to publish them.

On the occasion of this blog’s first birthday I talked about my rather high threshold for topics I deem ‘worthy’ to write about, which hasn’t really changed. After many a fleet op in EVE or playing any other game I wonder if I want or should write a post about it, and very often I’m like nah, too boring.

Right now there’s something else though. Even if I have a topic that I really want to talk about I can’t just sit down, start to type whatever comes to mind, and boom, a couple hundred or even a thousand words have appeared just like that. For a while it worked like this, at the moment not so much.

Writersblock

I don’t really think it’s something serious like writer’s block, I guess sometimes my mind is just too occupied with other stuff lately.

Anyhow, until we board the train to offline-land I’ll at least try to indulge you all with something new to read every day.

Should you find yourself wondering what is this Blaugust everyone’s talking about anyway, here’s everything you need to know. You can still sign up, too. The more the merrier.

Another round of Blaugust incoming

It’s that time of the year…

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Once again we gather to celebrate our hobby and show the world that blogging is not, in fact, dead.

The challenge Belghast, the event’s inventor and host, has laid out before us is the same as last year: to post at least once every single day during the month of August. I we feel like it, that is.Β Nobody is forced to do anything.

I’ve already signed up as a participant, meaning that I don’t quite feel like a newbie anymore, but not experienced enough to perform the role of a mentor either.

Last year I was up to the task and published a total of 31 posts, exactly one per day. I’m not sure if I will be able to hit that target this time around though, as we’ll be on an internet-free vacation from August 20th to 30th. Some timing, huh?

Anyway, Bel has all the info you might need and the application formΒ here. If you’ve everΒ thought about starting a blog but never did, now’s the time. You can also join the Discord channel and ask any questions you might have about blogs or blogging, we don’t bite (usually).

I had much fun and also learned a lot last time around, so I’m looking forward to what this year will bring. At the very least there will be many, many great posts to read, and for that alone the event is a blessing for our community as well as every reading- and gaming-enthusiast out there.