Satisfaction of the Year

The Birth of a Community

I think this year more than any other we say what was previously an island of disconnected city states merge into a real community.  Last January I posted a rather grumpy piece lamenting the lack of community, and throughout the year you all have strived to prove me wrong.  I am not sure what exactly it was about this year in particular that seemed to draw everyone together, in part I think it was because this year was the year of multiple events, that I hope will repeat themselves this coming year.  Since we have reached the end of a pretty epic year of community, I thought it was a good time to reflect back upon what we have achieved.  There were individuals who say that blogging is dead, but I think wholeheartedly we have proved them wrong.

February – Birth of Alliance of Awesome

While not really an event in the truest sense, it was still a pretty significant event in the year for me.  In February of this year some events happened that ended up in the forming of a much larger gaming community to be known as the Alliance of Awesome.  With the launch of the Landmark alpha… we quickly realized that each of us needed to be in as many as seven different “guild” based server channels to be able to keep in contact with everyone playing the game… especially since friends lists simply did not exist at that point.  It was proposed that we found a much larger community made up of all of different parts.  This alliance of guilds would pool resources and eventually even a chat server.  While at the end of the year I realize that maybe some of the ideas didn’t work as well as we had hoped…  there are still more of us in almost daily contact than there are not.

The idea that there would always be a friendly Alliance of Awesome guild in whatever game we happened to be playing was something that has for the most part stayed true to the original intent.  The only part that didn’t quite work was trying to create an actual Alliance of Awesome branded guild in Wildstar.  I feel it is still best if we stay separate guilds, just ones collaborating in a larger sense.  The biggest change in this direction was moving to using the same Teamspeak server graciously hosted for us by the ever amazing Saia.  Some things have worked well, others not so much…. and other groups have faded away from the core.  At the end of the day I think this was a really positive move for the community as a whole, and anyone that wants to participate is still more than welcome.

May – Newbie Blogger Initiative 2014

This may we saw a return of the seminal blogging event that at least to some extent started all of the momentum.  Several years ago Sypster started this contest and last year I believe was the third year.  Essentially it is a month for the elder bloggers in our community to encourage folks to start their own new blog and join our community proper.  For this year the catalyst was Doone as has been for a coupe of years, but he was joined by an excellent cast of helpers in the forms of Izlain, J3w3l, ModeratePeril, and Joseph Skyrim.  It was a bit hard for me to find numbers this morning when I was pulling together this post but based on my best guestimates and this list, it seems like we had 45 new bloggers join the fray during the month of May.

I did a quick run through of all of those blogs and as close as I can tell out of that initial group of 45, at least 30 are still active…  and I judged activity by having any posts within November or December.  That gives us right at 66% of the participating blogs still alive and kicking today.  When you add to this that there are still a large percentage of blogs from past years up and running as well that graduate from being a newbie to a mentor…  this really is one of the best events to grow our community each year.  I am extremely proud to be a participant each year, and I am excited to see a new crop of bloggers arrive on my “Class of” blog roll.

August – Blaugust 2014

The idea behind Blaugust started on an absolute whim.  I did not want to lose the momentum we build each year with the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  While that event is going on, folks are posting hard and heavy… and then as it finished the posts start to taper off again.  The idea was simple enough, get some of the most seasoned veterans in our community to take up the challenge of posting something new each and every day like I do.  When I proposed this idea I thought maybe at most I would get five or six people that were willing to take up the banner.  However this absolutely developed a life of its own, and before I knew it I had 52 people signed up to participate. I have to say I was completely overwhelmed with the support I got from the community on this one… and for the most part my entire August became about nothing but keeping track of Blaugust.

What I was even more impressed by was the level of participation.  At the end of the month I had 50 that actually participated, and of those 28 actually had “won” the challenge and managed to post something each and every day.  The biggest frustration with the whole event was that I had not really planned very well, and keeping track of who posted when became a very manual process.  As a result this coming year I am going to have to engineer a different solution to make it less intensive on my part, and allow me to make the daily recap posts a bit easier.  I never intended for this process to be something that “new” bloggers partook of, and as a result we saw a marked decrease in posts after it… since most folks needed a break after running that marathon.

October – Bragtoberfest 2014


Bragtoberfest was the brainchild of Izlain from Me vs Myself and I and the Couch Podtatoes podcast.  During September there was the beginning of some pretty horrible stuff happening in the gaming community as a whole.  Bragtoberfest was Izlain’s way of combating that by trying to get back to the roots of gaming… playing to have fun.  The mission statement was simple:  Bragtoberfest aims to make it fun to be a gamer again. We all game, and most of us also either blog, stream, vlog or podcast about games as well. Why not combine the two into a month-long event? 

During the month of October there were several competitions bringing folks together for the purpose of competing in a game.  These ranged from Strife to Team Fortress 2 and everything in between.  Not being a super competitive gamer myself, I did not join in as much as I would have liked.  That said I felt like I supported the mission by helping to provide a few logos here and there. Additionally many of us gave exposure to the event with recap threads and announcements on our own blogs.  This morning as I was trying to pull together numbers for all of these things, I struggled to find firm numbers of participants.  That said I know it was well over 20 bloggers who joined in during the month of October.  Hopefully this one will happen again next year and like everything, we can grow upon it.  The Bragtoberfest tag on Izlain’s blog seems to be the best summary of the event as a whole.

October – Alliance of Awesome Extra Life Marathon

One of the best things to come out of Alliance of Awesome this year…  is the fact that we participated as a team in the Extra Life marathon.  This all started with a random conversation between Zelibeli and myself about how we had always wanted to participate in the Extra Life 25 hour of gaming event.  Both of us had not done so yet for the same reason… we questioned if we could actually manage to stream all 25 hours given our family lives.  With the birth of AofA we kicked around the idea of having a Relay style stream, where each of us took a 2-3 hour block and then tagged off to another stream.  This became a logistical problem since we were all using Twitch at the time, and you could not create a “team” unless you were at the partner level… and quite frankly none of us were popular enough to actually have that.

Thankfully along came Hitbox which offers the ability to create a team at the most basic membership… and we were off and running.  We created an Extra Life team… and not having a clue what kind of participation we would get, I set a very sober goal of $200 as a team.  We blew that goal completely out of the water, with a participation of 9 gamers…  we managed to reach $1728 which to me is an absolutely staggering amount.  My hope is this year we can be a bit more organized and maybe raise more by getting the awareness of what we are doing out there a bit more.  Additionally my hope is to find someone who is a twitch partner that is willing to get an Alliance of Awesome twitch team created for us.. since that will open the door for folks to stream from the current generation of consoles as well.

December – Bloggy Xmas

Finally we had one last event that wrapped up last week with Christmas.  My good friend Syl game to me with the idea of doing a sort of blogging advent calendar.  It seems there is a local tradition in her area where folks in the villages decorate the windows of homes and stores to represent a day of the advent calendar.  I started work on a logo, and she spruced it up by adding in the d-pad snowflakes and bam we had another event ready to run.  I think she originally intended to have one blogger per day, but just like with Blaugust she was a bit overwhelmed by the folks wanting to participate.  I tried to pull together some numbers this morning but it seems like for the 25 days of the event she had 45 participants, meaning most of the days had two different bloggers posting.

The overarching theme of the event was to write something about community, and I personally wrote a post about my need to keep growing my own communities by adopting awesome people.  For the full effect of the event you have to check out the Bloggy Xmas website that gave us a really awesome advent calendar layout for the months post.  My hope is that we will grow this to be an even bigger event next year.  The community focus seems fitting since this was a year of so many awesome events bringing the community together, all the while existing in a climate where there was so much negative being caused by other gamers.  I feel like our little community stood as a beacon for the fact that gamers could in fact get along, and not just get along but thrive.  I want to thank all of you out in the community who participated in any of the events, or just kept your own personal blog active throughout the year.  I feel we represent the best values our community has to offer, and I hope we can make next year even more amazing.

Bel’s Magical Van

A Very Bloggy Xmas Day 9

xmasred2 Roughly a month ago my good friend Syl came to me with the idea of her Bloggy Xmas event.  I took a stab at a logo, and she finished it off to what we have above.  From there I was essentially drafted into the process, and was certain I would be slotted for one of the days.  It seems that fate determined that mine would be today.  The idea behind the countdown was to have an advent calendar of sorts leading up to Christmas, and apparently in her country it is tradition for all of the little villages to decorate their windows taking on one of the days.  I have struggled with what exactly to do for this, but it seems like most of the other participants have decorated their blog with a somewhat personal story.  As such I am guessing that is the direction I am taking as well.

Bel’s Magical Van

freecandy For quite literally over a decade now, I have had friends that have joked about me and my white panel van full of candy.  Because how else could I seem to keep recruiting people into whatever mad adventure I have planned.  In fact the guild that I founded is based upon this concept of never openly recruiting… but always recruiting.  I have always had this irrational desire to try and collect as many awesome people around me as I can, and as I play games or socialize online… I am always looking for more people to stuff in my van and whisk away into my extended family.  That is ultimately what I am building, a big network of extended family for me to play games with, and all joking aside it really isn’t something that I do intentionally.  I have this overriding sense that everyone deserves a good home, and when I see someone without one…  I tend to try and adopt the strays.  I mean there is a reason why until this weekend we had four rescue cats and two rescue ferrets…  I have a hard time saying no when any thing needs a good home.

relaxinginourpond If you want to find the reasons behind why I am the way I am you have to scroll back through my history to my childhood.  I was the single child of two very loving parents, or as we in the united states call it an “only child”.  To make matters worse we lived out in the country, or at least too far from city to make meeting up with friends a practical occasion.  I didn’t have the normal cadre of neighbor kids to run around with, and being a sickly child I spend most of afternoons with Mr Rogers, Electric Company and the Sesame Street gang.  I got exceptionally good at entertaining myself a trait that I am thankful for today, but I also longed to have other people to play with.  I was more or less raised by my grandmother, as she was my babysitter and companion during my formative years.  While she was awesome, she was also busy with the chores around the farm.  I can pretty much guarantee however that it is her that taught me to love games.  Her default “Idle animation” was sitting at the table playing solitaire, and we also played together absolutely insane amounts of trouble and candy land.

Wanting a Tribe

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-14-16-200 I remember the most exciting times for me were the times when my cousins would come to visit and I was suddenly surrounded by other kids my age.  I remember wanting a baby brother or sister so bad, so I could have someone to play with whenever.  I would have been an awesome brother…  well pending they were willing to submit to playing whatever game I wanted to play.  During my elementary and middle school years, I pretty much spent my weekends “grouped up” with friends at either their house or mine.  Instead of one best friend I had two, and it pretty much stayed that way until high school.  I’ve always had this strange dichotomy inside of me… I want to be surrounded by people… but when I have them I never quite know what to do with them.  I’ve used the term “alone in a crowd” before to describe how it feels.  Engaging at the level that I want to engage takes a lot out of me, so I have to take these periods to essentially hibernate and draw strength to engage again.

WoWScrnShot_103012_184909 I’ve always built “tribes” for as long as I can remember.  I never just played with one other person… I tried to assemble groups of people to play with.  I had an unusual upbringing for being a pretty hardcore geek.  The traditional American experience for a 30-40 year old geek is that of being the misfit and being picked on.  Since my parents friends kids ended up growing up to become the popular kids, and also as a side effect of growing up in a very small town… I was given a lot more acceptance that I likely would have gotten anywhere else in the world.  Folks took my quirks as just “me being me” and pretty much left me alone, and I guess it doesn’t hurt that I am 6’4” and no one really seemed to want to mess with me.  In High School I kinda gathered up misfits that needed a home around me, the folks that WERE picked on mercilessly.  By my association with them it extended them a small bubble of protection… and I guess I became a tank for the first time.  It taught me that I actually liked protecting people, I liked feeling like I was helping my friends.

A Digital Family

Wow-64 2014-01-24 21-51-38-07 When I entered the internet age, all of these instincts and traits that I picked up along the way followed me as well.  I found it hard to think of the people I was interacting with as “just pixels”, and in fact I am fundamentally opposed to that line of thinking.  When you encounter another person, they have hopes, dreams and aspirations… and we have all arrived online for different reasons.  I started sifting through the folks I encountered and trying to keep “the good ones”.  When I found someone that needed a home, and wanted to participate in a larger community… I started trying to stuff them in my pocket and carry them with me from that point on.  It wasn’t long before I had amassed this large network of people that I wanted to stay in touch with for as long as I could.  In my own family, I have never really felt like they understood me.  They are extremely loving and nurturing, but I have never fit the mold that they seemed to want to press me into.  What I realized years ago is that online I was assembling my own family, the one that does fully understand me… and appreciates the nuance of my character. ffxiv 2014-09-14 22-10-19-484 At this point I have encountered quite literally multiple thousands of other players… and from those I have adopted a fraction… but still a large enough group that this community of contacts is also literally thousands of players.  With the transient nature of the internet, folks come and go, but the memories they leave behind is nonetheless important.  I feel like it is my job to act as the glue, to try and bind this digital family together.  The problem is I am never quite satisfied, and keep meeting awesome and interesting people along the way.  I will continue trying to stuff these people into my van and adopt them into my family.  I’ve been called many things in my pursuit…  the Cruise Director, a Bus Driver, an Ombudsman, I even had one former guildie refer to me as the “Prom Queen” because everyone seemed to know me.  At the end of the day I just want to surround myself in a blanket of awesome people to share my game time with, and I feel like that job will never be finished.  If you need a good home, and are community minded…  chances are I will try and adopt you too.