After completely such a remarkable journey, I didn’t want to just end the project with my final post and just be done with it all, wiping my hands clean of the blood, sweat and tears that went into it over the year. Sure, I could have easily done so, and after a year of writing, the thought of riding off into the sunset without another word sounded terrific. But in the end, this blog project ended up meaning so much to so many different people, that I deemed it selfish and unfair for me to just pick up my ball and go home. No, I owed it to you, dear readers, to write up a reflection piece and chronicle my experience over the year. I felt it was important to fully explain how this entire project got started, write about the ins and outs of daily operation of the blog project and everything I encountered throughout the year (even the behind the scenes stuff that I tried to not talk about too much on the blog itself), and finally just reflect on the entire year after completion and try to dissect everything I learned, experienced and felt. Basically, I’m going to try and cram an entire year’s worth of memories into a condensed tell-all reflection article about The Noyse: My Year of Gaming.
So, without further adieu…
First, let’s talk about why I started this crazy project in the first place. I actually had the idea a couple of years ago, as I proposed the project to a friend of mine as a joint venture together. We had a brief run podcasting together, and a failed video game website together, but I couldn’t keep his interest level long enough to keep him around and turn our love of video games into something more than a hobby. I figured that a daily project would be enough motivation to do something on a consistent basis while trying to grow and establish us in the every growing industry.
Well, he wasn’t too keen on the idea, so I left it alone to churn around inside my mind for a while. I never forgot about the idea, but never saw any real reason to start it. Eventually, after a long time of wishing I was doing something in the video game journalism industry instead of just doing something about it, I concocted the plan to put my idea for a year-long blog project in motion. I was looking ahead at the year 2013, and it struck me as the most opportune time to finally pull the trigger on this crazy idea of mine. You see, 2013 was projecting to be an amazing year for gaming, as not only would we see a countless number of big name, triple-A titles coming to consoles at the end of their cycles, but we would see the growth of the new Nintendo Wii U console, but the release of both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles presumably, as neither had officially been announced, but were heavily speculated to be coming out sometime during the year. It was shaping up to be not only one of the biggest years for the video game industry, but potentially the best as well. I wanted to fully experience everything the year would provide, and I figured the best way to do so was to finally attempt my long thought about project.
There is another reason why I decided to start this project, though. My entire life, I’ve been a dreamer. I’ve had dreams of grandeur since I was a kid, always thinking and coming up with ways to better my life, to make a difference in the world in some way, shape or form, and to be remembered for something in the grand scheme of things in life. The problem is, all the great ideas I ever had and projects I always started, I never ended up following through with any of them. I would always quit, giving up on all the dreams and schemes I ever came up with, and quickly moving on to something else. I never had any driving force or motivation to see something to the end. This part about me has always irritated me, as I see myself as a quitter and someone who can’t close the deal or finish what I start.
So this blog project was a way to prove to myself that I could finish something, that I could see something from the start all the way to the end, and that I am not destined to always be a quitter. I had to prove this to myself in order to move forward with my life and start branching out to new and different avenues instead of being complacent with the status quo, and just taking what I’ve been given instead of going out and taking what I think I deserve. Finishing this project with 100% would mean that I could do things others thought were impossible, I could fight through the struggles and I could do whatever was necessary to win. Failure was not an option, and if I did, I knew that my dreams would never become more than just dreams, and that was a tough pill to swallow.
Before I decide to take the plunge and jump head first into this year long project, I had to do a lot of soul searching first. I knew why I wanted to do it, and what completing or failing at it would mean, but I had to brace myself for the challenges I might encounter throughout the year that I could foresee ahead of time. The biggest hurdle that I had to leap over before I was ready to start was convincing myself that this blog would be about me and my personal journey through a year of video games. I wasn’t doing this for anyone else, to please anyone else or to prove anything to anyone else. The project and the end result was all for me. Sure, it sounds selfish, but that was the point. I have always been a people pleaser and always gone out of my way to make others happy, which usually meant making sacrifices in my own life in order to make that happen. I didn’t want this to be another case study of that in my life, and I was determined to make sure I didn’t ever turn it into something for others.
Going in, I knew I wouldn’t have any readers. I wasn’t using Twitter or any other social media platforms at the time, so aside from the handful of true friends and co-workers I had, I didn’t really have many people in my life, especially ones that would help create a readership base for my blog. I have always been somewhat of a social introvert, and tend to push people out of my life instead of branching out and welcoming tons of people inside my small, personal circle. So like I said, I didn’t have any real way of getting the word out about my project or gaining readers, and couple that with my horrible inability to self-promote and I was looking at a very lonely journey through my year of gaming. But I had to get past that fact mentality, and something like this was going to be extremely difficult after a while to not only push through, but justify continuing if I had nobody ready my work. That was actually one of my biggest fears, that I would go as far as I could and eventually would just give up due to a feeling of failure and rejection because I had no audience or anyone caring about what I was doing.
Of course, that all led back to this project being about me, for me, and I finally was able to ease my mind of the worries about no one reading my words. I finally accepted the fact that I could potentially write a blog every day for an entire year and not have more than a handful of people ever read it, or know about it for that matter. Once I got past that, I was ready to go. I went in not caring who and if anyone would read, instead only caring about the goal at hand (to complete the project) and taking every measure to ensure that failure was option.
Let’s be real here, though. While I was finally in the mindset of not worrying about anyone reading my work, I wasn’t dumb to the potential of what I was setting out to accomplish. I searched high and low for any sort of equivalent to this Year of Gaming I was embarking on, and I couldn’t find anything. Not one instance or reference of any sort of comparable feat, and that of course got me excited. Not only was I doing something really cool that I thought people would like if they ever stumbled upon on, but I was pretty positive that my project was unique to the point of possibly being one of a kind. Not only did that add a bunch of excitement, but also a lot of unforeseen pressure to complete it, because the project would only be unique and impressive if I accomplished it, or so I determined. Simply trying this feat wasn’t impressive. I had to finish. I wanted the bragging rights and credentials that went along with finishing the whole thing.
Would this lead to a future in professional video game journalism? Would I be world-renowned on the Internet for completing the impossible? Would it lead to my insanity or at least a mental break down? Would it lead to my second full-fledged video game hiatus from an over exposure to the thing I love? I had no clue where the adventure would leave me at the end, but I was ready to go and see where it would lead. I didn’t know how the year would play out, and couldn’t predict all the challenges I would encounter, but for the most part, I had pre-planned a lot of things. I wanted to let the blog evolve organically and just let the writing flow, as I figured that being flexible would help me persevere past any obstacles in my way.
Mentally, I had prepared for the year several weeks before I started it. A couple of days before the New Year, I started building the site and bracing it. And on January 1, 2013, I played my first game and wrote my first blog. And that was the first time anyone knew what I was doing. My family, my friends – all oblivious to my forthcoming adventure. The way I saw it, once I started it, I couldn’t be talked out of it. So with that first post, about Super Mario Bros. 3, My Year of Gaming was underway. And I didn’t look back … until now.