I wrapped up my project on December 31. After 365 straight days of playing games and blogging about them, I decided I needed a break. I have the next phase of TheNoyse.com planned out (relatively speaking, as we all know how well I plan things ahead of time), but before I jumped into Phase 2, I needed to recharge my batteries. I never would have thought it, but playing a video game every single and day and writing about each and every one, for an entire year, is actually quite exhausting.
Sure, there were times during the year when I thought I would just keeping going with the blog come January 1, or even start the next phase right away. Then, there were days where the end of the year couldn’t come soon enough, and I didn’t want to play games or write every again. By the end of the year, when I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, a sense of relief come over me and I felt like I could breathe. The last couple of weeks of the blog I was running on pure adrenaline and anxiety to finish. At the same time, however, I had an uncontrollable feeling of sadness. This blog was my baby that I raised and nurtured for an entire year, and to see it coming to end was devastating. I didn’t want to let go, I didn’t want it to stop.
But I had to. I was emotionally and mentally spent. I needed to rest and relax, and let it all sink in. I planned on these reflection pieces being written within a couple of days of completion of the blog, but low and behold, I think I started to enjoy the break and time away from it all a little too much. A month later, and here we are.
So this is the finale. The conclusion. My final thoughts and feelings about My Year of Gaming blog project. Instead of writing another 3000 words about everything I thought and felt about what I accomplished in a year, I’m going to do something different, more important to me. Besides, I don’t know if I can ever write enough words to fully describe everything I have felt over the course of the year, and that alone should tell you where I stand today.
This blog started out as a solo project to prove something to myself, about myself. One man, 365 days of video game playing and blogging. If I were to finish my journey, it would be because of me, and for me. That’s how I saw it, at least.
A funny thing happened though. The blog evolved, matured and developed organically, on its own. It changed, and for the best. It wasn’t about me anymore, it was about those reading it, enjoying it and relying on it to be updated on a daily basis. By the end, it wasn’t an accomplishment for me, it was a testament of how many good people I met throughout the year, and the great community out there who just like to play games and be good people.
I started My Year of Gaming blog project for me. I finished it not just for you all, but because of all you. So without further ado, I want to say thank you to all of those people who touched my life in one way or another this past year and helped make the completion of this project possible…
Mana Drake – for making my really cool banner that everyone got to see and enjoy every single day.
AIAS – for hosting that DICE Awards Twitter contest and setting everything in motion to give me the opportunity to say thank you to all these wonderful people.
Eric Bailey – for writing an awesome little article about my project, constantly showing love and having the guts and determination to write a review for every single NES game every released. Good luck bro!
That Damn Pixel – for conducting an interview with me about the blog for their own gaming blog over in the UK, and showing support from early on.
Mike Lynch – for bridging the gap between the sports world and video games with me, if only for a couple of hours a day. Also, your appreciation for “My Week Of Halo” was instrumental in reaffirming that was a nice addition to the blog.
James Carr – for inspiring me to do something greater, and to help me realize that it’s perfectly okay to dream big sometimes.
Seth Saltzman – for always being tied to TheNoyse.com, no matter how far removed you are from it.
Will Gray – for supporting me back when we were two young, dumb kids with dreams of the big time.
Robert Payne – for reminding me how inspirational music can be, on many different levels.
Scott Ellison – for not hesitating to let me pick your brain on the ins and outs of independent video game journalism. We’re all on the same team, and you taught me that.
Timothy Ronkainen – for literally retweeting just about every single automated tweet my blog sent out every time I updated it with a new posting.
Elaine – for being my spirit animal and usually the female version of me, specifically in game choices and opinions. More than that, though, for being there always as a friend when I needed an ear.
Ben Suri – for always being engaging and up for a discussion, especially for topics a little off the beaten path from the trending ones.
Edwin Acosta – for proving that independent video game websites can be important to the community, and for thinking of me for side projects.
‘N D O Tek No – for allowing me to utilize Twitter in every possible way and still not wavering in your support of all my projects.
Gamer Husbands Radio Podcast – for inviting me to join you guys for an episode, even though we couldn’t ever make our schedules sync up.
Geeks With Wives Podcast – for extending the olive branch and inviting me to jump on a podcast with you folks, even though I had to cancel due to my personal issues going down that week.
Video Game Hangover Podcast – for allowing me to challenge your opinions and inviting open discussion about them.
Jordan T & Boom Headshot Podcast – for having me as a guest on your show, and for just being the same geek every week.
AnnieDayNow – for having the best name on Twitter, ever. Oh, and for all your additional thoughts and reactions to my blog posts
E-Z Mode Unlocked Podcast – for playing my voice mail allowing me to talk about my blog, and further speculating what I would do after the year is over. Don’t worry friends, Phase 2 is coming.
Los – for being illusive, and your awesome blog projects for games that you’ve done this year.
Alex – for always having kind words and motivation.
Graduated Gamer – for reaching out and picking my brain about the ins and outs of blogging, and looking to me for inspiration. You’ve come a long way in a short amount of time, and I’m proud of what you have done so far.
Chelsea – for being truly inspirational in your own personal adventure. Your strength and perseverance is amazing, and I’m more than happy to call you a friend. Even if you do hate video games.
The entire Open Forum Radio crew:
Bill/Vladz – for being an amazing podcast producer and constantly showing love. Keep rockin’, brother.
TJ/TMO – for having the best transitions in the podcasting game, and dubbing me “the hardest working man on the internet.” No way I’ll ever be able to live up to the nickname, but thanks for the recognition.
Jimmy/AceBlack – for your comic relief on a weekly basis and backing me up on my assessment of the final boss of Metal Gear Rising Revengeance.
Henry Knox – for being someone that so many other people look up to. Respect to you and what you’ve done in this game, even though I’ve given you some Twitter grief over the year.
Larry/Blue – for taking a chance on a rookie podcaster and inviting me to join the OFR family. Your sheer intelligence is intimidating sometimes, but inspirational as well.
The entire OFR Community – for welcoming me as one of yours.
The entire 40 Cast Crew:
Keith – for never letting the friendly banter about what you’re playing effect you. And for being the silent assassin on the show, waiting for your chance to strike with a rant about something.
Eric – for keeping the streets safe, and for never being afraid to show love to someone when it’s deserved. Your friendship with Jay is remarkable.
Matt – for being true to yourself and your brothers, and for not holding grudges.
Denny – for instantly embracing me as a friend, and giving me a much needed pick-me up when I needed it the most.
Vic – for your constant support right off the bat, and giving me a chance to hang out with you and your friends a few different times.
The entire 40 Cast Community – for being awesome and dedicated to these guys who put out an awesome show every week. From the deepest part of my heart, I truly am sorry for certain things that happened that ultimately led to the current distance between myself and the show. I wish things hadn’t gone down the way they did, but lessons were learned and I think I am a better person for having to experience it all.
My Platform Junkies partners in crime:
Travis – for being an honorary member of our crew, and always filling in when we need you to.
Veronica – for being the spark that our podcast needed, always being humorous and entertaining (even when you are sleeping), and reconfirming my stance against ever getting into MMOs.
Tanner – for always being my devil’s advocate with true, honest, unfiltered opinions and points of view. Also, for being open to the idea of starting a stupid podcast with a guy you didn’t know at all. Despite our difference, it’s scary to think we are more alike than it seems, and I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate your support with everything.
Ben – for coming out of your shell long enough to reach out and shake hands and start an awesome friendship. We may both be introverts of sorts, but everything you have done for our podcast doesn’t get enough credit and I can’t express how much I appreciate it. You’ve been there for me when I’ve needed it, and for that, I owe you so much.
John D. – for being so full of awesome, it took seemingly forever to get us both together on the internet at the same time. Behind the scenes, you’ve been super supportive of decisions and choices.
Jay – for being the talent, and the epitome of what being a good person is all about. If there was any doubt at all about how strong an internet community can be, you are proof positive that good things happen to good people. If I can be half the man in life that you are, I’ll be set going forward.
Eric – for being a key component in helping me reach out and grow my blog, allowing so many different people to read and enjoy it. Your initial kindness in inviting me to your podcast helped put this whole thing in motion, and your continued support throughout the year led to The Noyse becoming an affiliate of Geek Media Network. And despite you always putting my project on a platform above your “30 Reviews in 30 Days” project you did a couple of years ago, I never looked at it as a competition or tried to make my blog better than anything anyone else had ever done. Regardless, I appreciate the admiration you had for what I accomplished and I look forward to working side by side with you going forward.
Chris – for being the man to kickstart this entire thing, essentially. Your immediate kindness helped me get to where I am now, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I know you don’t and would never accept all the credit you deserve for this, but just know it’s there for you regardless.
My ex – for helping me find true happiness in life, despite how unforgiveable your actions and methods were in getting me here.
My kids – for being so amazing, and the reason I always strive to be a better person. I’m doing everything I can to be the best dad I can for you three, and I hope you all will appreciate that one day when you are older. You keep me going every day, and I love you more than I can ever properly express.
James – for listening to me and my crazy ideas for years. Good or bad, you have always supported me since we’ve known each other, and while I’m still not entirely certain what you get from our friendship, I cherish it nonetheless. I don’t know how you sit there and listen to me spout off idea and idea on such a regular basis, but if it wasn’t for your willingness to listen and give feedback, this entire project might not have happened.
Valerie – for showing me what happiness is and can be, and for bringing out the real Josh to the world, the Josh that isn’t embarrassed or ashamed of who he is or what he likes. Crazy to think that I was going through life before you came along, thinking it was okay to hide who I was, and to think that I couldn’t have a significant other that not only supported my hobbies and encouraged them, but wanted to be part of them as well. I want to and try to give you the world, because you gave me so much more. Wherever our path takes us in life, I will always be grateful for what you did for me as a person.
Last but certainly not least…
My favorite pizza guy, Slaterific aka Bill – for being the best fan and supporter anyone could ever have asked for. Seriously, you have been relentless in your support for me and this project, I’m practically speechless thinking about it. There were days I thought about just quitting, but knowing the disappointment you would have in me prevented me from ever getting that close. You would subtly check in with me if something seemed off kilter with me or the blog, and never once hesitated to call me out for slacking or getting something wrong. You picked me up when I fell, and kept me grounded when my heads were in the clouds. You’re the Flavor Flav to my Chuck D, and I mean that in the best possible way. Despite the fact you live half way across the country, I still absolutely consider you a friend, and I look forward to our continuing friendship. Thank you. Thank you for everything. You’re a special person, and I hope you realize what your friendship and support has meant to me.
For all those people who say you can’t have real friends online from the Internet, I would like to point out this last year for me and all the friends I have made online because of this crazy project of mine. To anyone and everyone else I may have forgot or didn’t mention, I truly apologize. I did the best I could. I am proud to say you are all my friends, and I know if I never needed anything, I have an amazing community to turn to. You all deserve way more than I can give you with one final blog post for My Year of Gaming, but it truly is the best I have to offer. My project became part of each and every one of you. The Noyse may legally belong to me, but in every other aspect, it belongs to you all.
I hope you are all willing to support The Noyse going forward. It was built by you, and will fail without you. I honestly believe that. Thank you all.
Phase two, coming soon…
My year of gaming. I wrote about how it all got started already, and while I tried to sprinkle in updates about the progress of the blog throughout the year as I wrote each entry, I really tried my best to keep each blog post about the game I was playing and not focus too much on the inner-workings of the blog. Sure, I talked about it extensively on podcasts I was on, and on Twitter for sure, but for the most part, I kept my blog as just the project, as I didn’t want to bog it down with my personal life, challenges, struggles and everything else behind the scenes that went in to keeping the blog up and running every day for an entire year, but wasn’t directly relevant to any specific posts.
So with that, let me take you on a brief, yet in-depth look at my year in gaming from my point of view, as I peel back the curtain and let you experience what I did throughout the year.
I wanted to get this out of the way early, instead of dwelling on it too much and letting in linger longer than needed. When I started the blog, my personal life was all pretty steady and stable, and I wasn’t worried too much about it getting in the way of my project. As a father of three, I planned on incorporating my kids into the blog project as much as possible, as they like to play and watch video games as much as the next kids. Playing games with them wasn’t going to happen every single day, but it was definitely something I wanted to make sure happened. I didn’t want to be that guy to just shut out my family and play games, ignoring the world around me.
Also, my domestic partner (girlfriend, mother of my children, etc.) wasn’t bothered by the fact I started this blog, even if she wasn’t excited about it. She couldn’t care less about video games, but me playing games and writing about them wasn’t going to affect her or her life at all, as I would get most of the play time in while she worked at nights, and do my writing late at night after everyone was in bed. I can’t say she was supportive in any specific way, but she wasn’t not supportive, which in turn was enough for me.
Long story short, I was just a regular family man. I was gainfully employed and my job wasn’t going to get in the way of this project, so I had no worries there. Other than any unforeseen circumstances or challenges that would come up throughout the year that I had no control over, I couldn’t see any reason why my personal life would get in the way of this blog project. I was committed to not let it ever be more important than my family, and not get in the way of my obviously more important commitments in life, and because of that, I thought for sure nothing in my personal life was going to be a challenge or put my year of gaming blog project in danger.
I was wrong. So, so wrong.
I don’t want to go into details about the specifics, because I’m not here to trash anyone or their reputation, but long story short, I unexpectedly was forced to end my relationship and promptly move out of the house and away from my kids. I was blindsided more than I could ever truly explain, and was completely caught off guard. One day I was waking up at my house, dropping my daughter off at daycare and going to work, and by that night, I was packing a duffle bag to go crash on my cousin’s couch in his apartment. My home was no longer my home, as I was forced to start a new adventure in life, take a new path and try to forget about the course I was already traveling on.
Being a couch surfer for a month was tough mentally, emotionally and physically, and the entire ordeal truly did test my limits for what this blog meant for me. The day it happened – for the first time all year – video games meant absolutely nothing to me. They were the farthest thing from my mind, and quite frankly, it was almost the day I quit blog. I had zero motivation to continue the project, and sadly, it had nothing to do with the blog itself. That first night almost ended it before many of you got a chance to experience it.
So what prevented me from calling it quits that one fateful day? You have my PS Vita to thank for that. For some reason, I unconsciously grabbed the portable handheld gaming system on my way out the door that night and threw it in my bag. I discovered it in there a few hours later and turned it on, with no real intention to play anything specific. I realized I had a handful of recently downloaded titles on the thing and decided to try one out. I played it for about an hour or so, and while it wasn’t a great game, it turned out to be exactly what I needed at that moment – a distraction. The blog post about wasn’t superb by any means either, but it might have been one of the most important posts I ever made. I realized how meaningful video games were to me, in my life, on so many different levels. I also realized that if I could satisfy my daily requirement for the project on that day in particular, there wasn’t going to be a whole lot that could stop me the rest of the year.
That wasn’t the only struggle in my personal life I encountered, but it was the most significant one by far. Early in the year – like, the first week – I came down with the sickness of death. It had been a long time since I had been sick like that, and it took all the energy I had in me to play and write about games. Only a couple of days into the project, and knowing that no one was reading anyway, it would have been incredibly easy to pull the project on the project and start back over once I recovered and had the energy to give my best effort. But, I convinced myself that I might get sick at some other point in the year, and I wouldn’t be able to just scrap what I had done and start over then, so why should I a week into it? I forced myself to push through it, and it was that initial hurdle I cleared that help reaffirm to myself that I was in the right state of mind to complete this mission of mine.
Throughout the year, I took a handful of vacations and excursions away from the comfort of my home (wherever that was at various times of the year), and the ease of not only playing games, but also being able to make my posts. Somehow, someway I did my very best to still post about the games I managed to fit in to my vacations, because I wanted to stay dedicated to the cause. I even made posts from Disneyland, of all places.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep up that dedication throughout the entire year. Hear me out. While I did in fact play a new and different game every single day, later on in the year I got to the point where I wasn’t able to stay timely with my posts, occasionally letting a day or two pass before catching up on my posts. What happened that caused my writing to slack off just a bit, you might be wondering? Well, I jumped back into the dating pool, and once I found a certain special woman, my free time dramatically decreased. And not in a bad way, trust me.
Now I don’t want to make it seem like I am in any way, shape or form putting any blame on her. In fact, her coming into my life was an eye-opening experience, as I discovered for the first time that there are women out there who can and will accept guys like me. You know, the geeky and video game playing type of guy, who loves social media and writing blogs. Not only did I find someone who accepted me for me, but I found one who encouraged me to be proud of who I am and the hobbies I have, and let my full personality show at all times. Before she came along, I was always reserved about who I was, and never really cared to share my true self with others out of fear of rejection and persecution. So yeah, when the lovely lady in my life came along and set me free, I couldn’t help but cherish the time I spent with her, which every once in a while meant pushing my blog updates back.
After going on a handful of dates with other women before I found a keeper, I realized how miserable being with someone who didn’t like video games or looked down upon those who played them was and would be going forward. I even had a girl straight up make fun of me for being “so into games.” Needless to say, I tried to keep my gaming hobby down on the list of conversation topics, which was fine, but actually might have helped me weed out some before wasting time on them. In the end, however, the universe corrected itself and I found someone who liked, appreciated and played games, and encouraged my love for them as well as the project revolving around them that I dedicated myself to for an entire year.
It’s funny how things work out. And to think, I thought the year wouldn’t be impacted by my personal life at all when I started the whole thing.
Like I said when I was writing about the process of starting this blog project, I went in to this year with the mindset that while I wanted every set of eyes possible to see my work, I would be perfectly content if not a single soul were to read it, as long as I accomplished what I set out to do. At the start of the year, that’s about how it was too, as I was pretty certain that I was just writing for myself, and maybe a friend or two that I conned into reading it. And while there was a little sense of sadness that my words weren’t reaching anyone, I kept pushing forward, knowing that if I continued the project and did what I could to self-promote, eventually someone would catch wind of it. The only problem was, I am admittedly horrible at self-promotion, and thus put me in a Catch-22 of sorts. “If you build it, they will come,” I told myself. I just didn’t know how to build “it,” as in hype.
Fortunately, my luck would change. I was a runner up in a contest online through Twitter, and I actually won a package of free PS3 games because of it. Well, they announced the runner-up winners via Twitter, naturally, and congratulated all of us together in one cohesive tweet. Well, a guy named Chris from Everyday Gamers noticed my name and website via my Twitter profile, and I noticed he was part of a community himself. We exchanged pleasantries which soon led to a discussion about his community, and my blog project. Needless to say, he seemed thoroughly impressed by what I was attempting. Soon, he was tweeting about my blog, slowly building a groundswell of hype and attention towards my little project. I was honestly overwhelmed by the initial support, but everything that followed was just mind blowing. I had articles being written about me, invites onto podcasts to talk about my project and essentially a VIP pass into the great underground independent community of video games journalism and podcasting.
It was crazy, and felt like a whirlwind for a couple of months. I was proud of what I was doing, finally, and everything that was coming at me was so positive and supportive, I couldn’t help but feel like a kind of a big deal. Now, I know perfectly well that in the grand scheme of things, everything I was doing and trying to accomplish was fairly insignificant for the most part, but at the same time, I started to feel like a rock star of sorts. It was a cool feeling, I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t just happy about the positive attention, but I felt good knowing that my writing was reaching people and that people started to rely on my thoughts about games before making decisions on spending money or time on games I had played. I was earning a certain level of trust with my newfound readers, and I never took that lightly. For some, it would have been a heavy burden to have that kind of pressure while trying to accomplish a solo project, but for me, I thrived on it. It kept me motivated and pushed me to get better, improve my writing, keep it entertaining and try to stay as relevant as possible.
A project that started out being for just my own reasons, evolved into a project for everyone else driven by me. It felt weird, but good. And honestly, without the support from everyone, I wouldn’t have made it, especially when I hit rock bottom.
One thing that seemed to go overlooked throughout the year was the content I was providing. I made it a goal at the beginning to have a healthy mix of all types of content, covering games of old and new, and on as many platforms as possible. I wanted to keep things fresh and interesting, while doing my best to cover as many interests and genres that I feasible could, hoping to have something for everyone that dared venture to my website.
I started knowing that I had plenty of games to make the year possible, especially when considering how many games were coming out in 2013, but I didn’t quite have an idea of how the year would play out. I didn’t go in with a set plan of what games to play and when, I just let the process develop organically. Sure, I had specific games that I absolutely wanted to make sure I wrote about throughout the course of the year, but other than that, I just took it one day at a time. People seemed shocked to learn that, as such a big project would naturally need a lot of planning to ensure its completion, but that’s not how I work or operate.
One of my most popular things I did on the blog were the “Week Of…” posts, and that didn’t even start until February, when one day I decided I was going to play all the Halo games for a week straight and make a “thing” about it. The overwhelming support for that first “Week Of…” instantly made it a sure bet that I had to do one every month. And by the end of the year, I was up to a couple per month, for various reasons.
Another thing I tried to do was change up the styles of posts. Not every single blog post read like another, and I did my very best to keep my writing style different. Not only did I want to make it fresh and entertaining for the readers, but I wanted to prevent myself from getting bored as well. If I stuck with the same article structure day in and day out, I would have gone absolutely crazy in no time. So aside from changing my writing technique constantly, I also sprinkled in some off the wall posts for my own amusement, like photo essays, haikus and very short but bold statements. I incorporated YouTube videos into some posts, to spice things up. Heck, I even incorporated real world events and newsworthy discussions into some articles, just to remind people that there are a lot more serious things in the world to be concerned about than a simple video game. Most importantly, however, is that I never took myself too seriously and always tried to have fun and enjoy what I was writing, especially knowing I was creating content for other people to consume.
Many people mistook my posts for reviews, and while I see some validity in those assumptions, I never set out to fully critique games (especially the newly released games), and instead always wanted to talk about my thoughts and feelings about what I was playing, whether they were new opinions or memories from playing the game in the past. I always tried to relate to the games I was playing in some personal way, and also tried to see the best in each game. I understand that not every game is great, or good for that matter, but I honestly believe that without cynicism encroaching into your opinions, anyone can find something good and enjoyable in every game, despite how bad they might be. This blog was a celebration of games, not meant to be critical of the art form, and I wanted to extrapolate that sentiment with every post I made. Except for a few outliers, I think I did a decent job in keeping the blog mostly positive.
Video games should be fun, enjoyable forms of entertainment. I had fun playing so many throughout the course of the year, and I did my best to convey that. If I didn’t, then I didn’t do my job and “My Year of Gaming” should be deemed a failure.
Looking back, I think it was a success. Don’t you?
XBLA = The Noyse
PSN = the_noyse
NNID = The Noyse
3DS F.C. = 3007-8109-2329
STEAM = TheNoyse
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Games played for project : 365