Blogging awards: breaking the chain

Blogging awards usually involve sharing guidance for other bloggers. This is the case for one I was nominated for recently: the rules stated I’d need to give Later Levels’ origin story along with five pieces of advice before nominating five to 12 other bloggers to take a turn.

I was totally stumped and had no idea what to write. Drafting a response post to a separate award nomination just the week before meant I was all out of new advice and I’d already explained how the blog came to life in previous posts. Hoping it might give me some inspiration, I decided to stop staring at the blank screen on my laptop and instead figure out where this current award had originally come from because it wasn’t one I’d ever heard of in my seven years of blogging.

blogging, laptop, hands, keyboard

Tracing back through the chain didn’t take long at all because it had only been in existence for several weeks. In their originating post, the author explained how the award had been created to build links within the community and collate a pool of useful tips that everybody here could benefit from. I struggled to see how it was different from the other honours doing the rounds though; its rules sounded awfully like several other existing awards and I wasn’t sure what this new one added.

I then noticed that the creator had given their own guidance for new bloggers and had mentioned search engine optimisation (SEO) in one of their tips. Anyone who’s ever read a website or book about the subject will be familiar with the practice of improving your search rankings by getting a link back to your blog on as many good sites as possible. A blogging award where nominees are required to give up to 12 nominees of their own along with a link to this original post seemed very convenient right about now.

I realise just how cynical I sound. My negativity is in part brought on by what we’ve experienced over the past eight months because the ever-present risk of COVID-19 has done a wonderful job of sucking the motivation out of me. Combine this with recently looking at how blogging had changed over the years and the disappointing realisation that it’s far less community-orientated than it used to be, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that this award had an almost chain-letter smell about it.

I realise that such recognitions are meant to be a sincere way of celebrating our blogging efforts and I really am honoured each time Later Levels is included. But let’s be honest with ourselves: it’s time to finally admit that they’re a pain in the butt. As mentioned above, it can be difficult to give advice you haven’t already shared, provide different answers to questions you’ve been asked several times or tell your origin story in words you haven’t used before.

blog, award, awesome, epic, trophies

There’s also the fact that it becomes increasingly difficult to nominate someone who hasn’t already been recognised because we all have friends in the same blogging circles. And once you’ve finally managed to choose your people, it’s impossible not to put them under any pressure to accept an award no matter how much you try. Nominees usually feel obliged to publish a witty response post because they don’t want to be considered ungrateful, unfriendly, or unwilling to get involved.

I’m not sure I’m ready to do what others have done and put a badge up on the site declaring that it’s an award-free zone though. The truth is that it’s always nice to be recognised – everyone likes to receive a compliment occasionally and hear that their content is appreciated. I’ve also found that the more creative questions asked as part of some awards make for great writing prompts, like this one about explaining horror game storylines to children in a way that doesn’t scare them.

I just think that there’s got to be a better way of showing your admiration for your blogger-friends than giving them the Blogger Appreciation, Blogger Recognition, Liebster, Mystery Blogger, One Lovely Blog, Real Neat Blog, Sunshine Blogger, Unique Blogger, Versatile Blogger or any of the other awards out there. (I took up almost half a paragraph there just listing those I could remember off the top of my head, and I’m sure there are hundreds more out there.)

The best thing you can do to show your appreciation for someone’s content is to share it. If there’s a post you particularly enjoyed, don’t keep it to yourself: leave a comment to further the conversation and share the link with others. Write a post about the same subject if you’re feeling inspired to do so and get in touch with the author directly if you’d like to talk to them about it. There’s no need to wait until the next round of blog awards to give a deserving blogger a pat on the back for their hard work.

make kindness the norm, World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day is coming up again on Friday and drafting this post has given me an idea for a celebration: a way to give a shout-out to the bloggers we admire and the posts we’ve enjoyed. It’s just a small thing considering everything else going on in the world right now, but maybe a little bit of positivity may be just the thing we need to give ourselves a boost in time for the weekend. Check back later this week to find out what I’ve got planned and how you can get involved.

And I promise: you won’t need to give your origin story, several pieces of advice or nominate 20 bloggers.

Scary games: only kidding

Imagine you were playing a horror game and suddenly, a child walks into the room and asks what’s happening in the story. You hit the pause button and consider your answer. How would you explain it you them without lying, but without frightening the hell out of them either?

This was posed to bloggers by the awesome Quietschisto from RNG as part of his Sunshine Blogger Award nominations at the end of September (sorry for taking so long to respond). It’s just the sort of question that suits me because I’m happy to watch someone else play a horror but I’m too easily scared to be able to do so myself. I’ve got some experience in this area too: when my stepson was seven-years old, he walked in on us playing BioShock and it gave him nightmares for a week.

Because I don’t search out titles from the genre regularly, most of those included on today’s list are releases my other-half completed while I was sat next to him on the sofa, bravely peeking out from behind a cushion. Let’s see how well I do at trying to describe their narratives in a way which would make sense to a child – and pretend we’d actually realised Ethan was standing in the doorway and had been quicker to press the pause button during that BioShock incident (I still feel bad).

There are spoilers in the following paragraphs. So if you haven’t yet played the games listed and intend to at some point, you may wish to consider navigating away from this post now and coming back later.

Alien: Isolation

A lady goes looking for her mummy after she went missing on a space station. She flies all the way up to the stars and there’s a big, bad alien waiting for her! She tries to get it off the space station but the robot workers there turn nasty and want to stop her. Then she finds out that an evil company wants to buy the alien and its babies, but there’s a big explosion when she gets into a fight with one of their people. She tries to escape on a smaller spaceship but one of the aliens makes it out with her so she has to push them both out into space! Someone eventually finds the lady and she makes it back home, but she doesn’t find her missing mummy. So it’s actually a very sad story.

Blair Witch

A man who used to be a policeman goes into the forest with his brave dog Bullet to search for a missing boy. He feels very guilty because he shot the boy’s brother when he was trying to steal something, so the man wants to find the boy more than anything in the world. But he can hear things whispering in the trees and so he gets very scared, then monsters made from leaves appear and the witch makes him go down into the basement of her old house. Bullet tries to stop him because he’s such a good boy, and what happens to the man depends on what he does. But all you need to know is that the brave dog doesn’t get hurt and he makes it home, where his warm basket and plenty of treats are waiting.

Project Zero

A girl has to go to an abandoned mansion after her brother goes missing there. So she explores all the rooms and finds out that someone has cast a spell to keep horrible ghosts from another world from coming into our world. But the spell went wrong and now all the ghosts have escaped! It’s ok though, because the girl has her magic camera with her and the ghosts don’t like having their picture taken at all – they’re so scared of it that they run away when she tries to take a selfie with them. She manages to find her brother and together they cast the spell properly, so the mansion is made safe once again and the ghosts are all sent back home. So it has a happy ending and it isn’t that scary at all.

Shivers

A crazy professor decided to build a strange museum in America so he could show off all the weird things he found in countries across the world to people who wanted to buy tickets to see them. But he disappeared before it was finished and nobody knows where he went! So you go to the museum because you really want to know what happened. You find out that many years before you got there, two teenagers managed to get into the building and opened a set of pots that contained ghosts. Because you’re so big and brave, you manage to put all the ghosts back into their prisons, and you cause a big explosion before you leave so you know the horrible ghosts can never leave again.

SOMA

A man needs to have a brain scan after he is hurt in a bad car accident. But when he wakes up, he has travelled back in time to a place that’s like a space station but underwater and the world has been hit by an asteroid! There are lots of computers there that think they’re human, and they ask the man to help them upload their brains onto a hard-disk and fire it into space so they can escape. He tells them he will do this and he finds a huge cannon that will do the trick. Just before he pushes the button to send it out of the water and up into the stars though, the man decides that he would like to join the computers so he puts his brain on the hard-disk too. When he wakes up again, he is in a world that looks like paradise so he has a big party with all the computers.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

A man goes into an old house because he’s looking for his missing wife, but the family that live there have been turned into zombies! It’s ok though, because a lady calls him on his mobile phone and says they’re going to make a special medicine together which can turn them back into people. While they look for the medicine, the man finds out that it’s a little girl who has been making the zombies because she’s lonely and wants the man and his wife to be her mummy and daddy. The man tries to save her because he feels sorry for her, but then she reveals that she is actually a bad monster who’s trying to trick him! So he contacts the army and they capture the monster, and the man escapes with his wife and the lady that called him.

Rhiannon: Curse of the Four Branches

When your friends want to take their daughter on holiday to cheer her up, you go to their home in Wales to look after their farm while they’re away. A strange voice tells you about something that happened there a very long time ago: a heroic king and evil wizard got into an argument and fought a huge battle. The wizard’s ghost still lives at the farm and is very angry bout losing, so it’s up to you to calm him down again. You take his shopping list – which is full of weird stuff like a piggybank and chocolate fountain – and search the farm until you find them all. Once you deliver his shopping, the wizard decides that he can now go to sleep so the house is safe enough for your friends and their daughter to come back.

Until Dawn

A group of selfish teenagers decide to have a big party at a lodge on top of a snowy mountain. The person who actually lives there isn’t happy about this at all because he just wants some peace so he can forget about all the sad things that have happened to him. He decides to teach the kids a lesson and asks some friendly creatures who live on the mountain to help him scare them away so they leave. But one of the teenagers has done a very stupid thing: they left the gas oven on so it causes a massive explosion! Police come in helicopters to rescue everybody but it’s import to remember the moral of this story: never have big parties that disturb an adult’s peace, and never leave the oven on.



How did I do? Hopefully I managed to convince you that these horror games aren’t really that scary and some of them even contain useful life lessons – such as not going into abandoned mansions to search for missing family members. If you fancy attempting to explain video game plots to a child, give it a go!

Blogging: looking back, and looking forward

Realising this morning that I’ve now written over 700 posts for the blog came as quite a surprise. I didn’t think the number would be so high; Later Levels might have been going for almost four years but it doesn’t feel that long at all.

A lot of things have changed for my hobbies during that time and many for the better. Most gamers now accept that women pick up controllers; we’re more likely to see female protagonists in new releases; and the importance of narrative and the ability of video games to share experiences is understood. And as for blogging, it’s still something I’m enjoying and I don’t see that stopping, but it’s interesting to take a step back and see how the community has shifted over the past year.

MoeGamer, title, website, blog, homepage

Someone who I bet has seen a few changes in his blogging history too is Pete from MoeGamer. Since his first post in April 2014 where he said he was hoping his site would be ‘a safe haven for those who enjoy and are passionate about Japanese interactive entertainment’, he has become well-known for his interesting conversations and good advice. After his very kind nomination for a Blogger Recognition Award last month, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some thoughts on what’s happened in the last four years.

Later Levels was started in December 2016 after a previous blog ended several months before when it didn’t work out as planned. Ben and I decided that we wanted to create a place online where we could share our opinions on video games and no longer feel as though we had to fight to stay current or review every single release. He eventually had to step away from blogging due to family and work commitments but remains a good friend, and I’ve been plodding along here on my own since early 2019.

I’m obviously talking about my own experiences from inside my individual bubble, but back at the beginning it felt as though the hobby was very community-orientated. It was common for bloggers to reach out to one another with suggestions for collaborations, but it wasn’t just done to increase their followers: it was more about increasing conversations and possibly even making some new friends. It was generally accepted that if you went it completely alone, you were more likely to fail.

This then started to change and the difference has become particularly noticeable in 2020. If I had to put my finger on why, I’d say it was because we all felt overwhelmed or exhausted by such projects. They’d grown in number, length and effort, and it was impossible to take part in all of them even though there was an unspoken pressure to do so. There are far fewer collaborations happening this year and those I’m aware of are being run by smaller groups, such as the game-swaps I’ve enjoyed with individual bloggers recently.

WordPress, reading, blogging, posts, articles, titles

There seems to be less conversation happening in comment sections now too. I’m guilty of this myself, as I’ll often bookmark blog posts with the intention of coming back to them later in the day but I never seem to get around to it. I’ve had more available time since the start of the UK lockdown in March but it still feels as though it’s a struggle to fit everything in. Perhaps it’s a case of being digitally-drained though: it’s tough to work up the motivation to return to my laptop when I’ve been in conference calls all day.

Moving on to trends in the subjects covered by gaming blogs, new sites are more likely to focus on covering the latest news rather than taking a personal tone and I think this could be the cause of their shorter lifespans. The trouble with staying on top of everything is that it’s impossible – plus it’s not fun for you or your audience. Potential readers are highly likely to have already heard about the latest developments in the industry from the major gaming websites, and regurgitating press releases doesn’t fulfil a desire to be creative.

Many long-running blogs have shifted away from covering only video games to now talking about other media such as films, books, comics and board games too. For some bloggers, this may be because their hobbies have broadened during the extra free hours brought by the lockdown; but for others, it’s to do with increasing their views and followers. Logic says that the more subjects you write about, the wider your audience will be and it’s a method if you’re looking to attract more readers and generate revenue.

Speaking of other media, bloggers are branching out of WordPress too. You’ll find them streaming on Twitch, publishing videos on YouTube and recording podcasts. Those who are willing to put in the time are finding new ways to express their creativity – but others expect their readers to follow them over to their new channels and it simply doesn’t work like that. I’ve also noticed established streamers set up blogs, and then abandon them just as quickly when they realise their viewers just aren’t reading.

blogging, laptop, hands, keyboard

I’m required to give some advice for new bloggers as part of the Blogger Recognition Award nomination from Pete so I’m going to base it on the observations I’ve made above. Quite simply: all that blogging guidance you find online is a load of rubbish. You’re better off totally ignoring it and simply focusing on having fun with your site and doing what suits you. Write about things you’re genuinely interested in and get to know other bloggers in the community, and blogging end up being one of the most rewarding things you do.

The lockdown has affected us in so many ways, some of which we’re not even aware of right now, but I think a few can be seen within the blogging community at the present time. The feeling of isolation has caused us to turn in on ourselves and focus on what’s happening inside our immediate circles, while many individuals are turning away from their laptops at the end of the day after being stuck in front of a screen for work. We’re finding it hard to concentrate, stay motivated and remain positive.

Although I’m not saying that blogging in 2016 was better than the present, I do miss the level of collaboration and conversation within the community from back then. Maybe these are elements of the hobby which will slowly return once we’re all in a better place and the world isn’t so chaotic. But that’s not to say there isn’t support here for those who need it: all you need to do is reach out and you’ll find plenty of bloggers who are willing to talk, answer questions and tell you all about their favourite video games.

The only thing we can do is take it one day at a time. Things will get better eventually.

Frosti-writes: honesty in your posts

One of the hardest things you can do as a gaming blogger is write a review. On one hand, you want to give your readers an honest opinion and let them know if a game is worth their time and money. Then on the other, you want to give the developer credit for their effort.

These sides don’t always play nicely together and can conflict if the release is a bad one. It’s especially difficult if the review is for a game you received via a free key because you might feel a bad critique could damage your relationship with the developer or publisher. Come across a critique which absolutely gushes about a title but doesn’t specifically explain why it’s so good and is extremely far removed from most other opinions on it, and you’ve likely found a blogger who’s experiencing this kind of struggle.

It can be a balancing act, and a lesson I’ve had to learn myself since starting blogging. I now only accept keys for games which are the sort of thing I usually enjoy – point-and-clicks or narrative-based adventures – and I know which public relations (PR) contacts are likely to promote those sort of experiences. Accepting a free code comes with the obligation of publishing a review, and life is too short to spend playing video games you’re not enjoying and then having to write about them.

That being said though, it’s important to never shy away from expressing your opinion even if it’s a negative one. It is your blog after all. But it’s just as vital to make sure you’re able to explain why you feel the way you do. The reason ‘I just didn’t like it’ can sometimes be valid and the only one you can give, but it isn’t enough if you’re trying to give a well-rounded critique to your audience. It also doesn’t give the developer much to go on: if you’re able to provide more details, they then have opportunity to improve their work in the future.

Someone who I admire in this regard is Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes. His honesty (along with his awesome artwork) is one of the reasons I enjoy his posts and streams as much as I do. If he has a view on a video game or genre that many others are unlikely to agree with, he doesn’t shy away from it. Instead he’s happy to talk about it and always strives to explain his opinion so you can see where he’s coming from, and you can be certain when reading one of his reviews that it’s really what he thinks.

I first realised this when watching him on a Frosti Fridays evening as he began streaming Hollow Knight to his Twitch channel a few months ago. My other-half had attempted to play Ori and the Blind Forest for our GameBlast20 challenge earlier this year, and made a comment in chat about the coordination to play these kind of Metroidvania titles. This moved us on to a conversation about our thoughts on Moon Studios’ release and Frosti wasn’t scared to give an opinion that was quite different to most I’ve heard before.

His honesty during this situation, along with his very kind nomination for the Super Happy Love Award last month, made me think about the way I express my own opinions. Do I ever ‘adapt’ them so as not to be so far removed from general consensus or seem like I’m just trying to be different from the majority? I already know that I don’t like writing negative reviews, because if I’ve not enjoyed playing a game then I’m not going to enjoy writing about it either; is this a part of it too?

Twitch, stream, chat, Frostilyte, Frostilyte Writes

It’s possible that I hold back in my posts without even realising I’m doing it sometimes. This could come in part from not wanting to share my blog with many people in my real life and concern about what they might think if they stumble across it. It can also be hard to say what you truly think about a game or a company when you know so many others around you feel completely differently. For example, I’ve had an idea for a post about Nintendo for a while now but I’ve always been too scared to write it.

Perhaps it’s time to start letting go of the doubts we feel about sharing our thoughts as bloggers and the worry we feel when expressing a different view. Everyone here in our community has different backgrounds and experiences which make us each react to the video games we play in a way which is unique to us. It’s this which keeps our conversations interesting: there’s something to be learned from everyone we speak to and every discussion is a chance to open your eyes to something you might not have considered before.

Talking to Frostilyte during his streams has made me want to be more open in my writing. The thing he has taught me over the past few months is that it’s ok to have your own opinion, even if it’s totally unlike that conveyed by everybody else. But you’ve got to be able to explain it so others can understand why you’ve arrived at this view, even if they don’t necessarily agree with you. It’s certainly something I’m going to try to stick to – as well as tuning in for more Frosti Fridays.

I know what I’m doing this afternoon now. It’s time to finally start writing that post explaining why I don’t like Nintendo.

Real Neat Blog Award: video games and bendy thumbs

At the time of writing, 630 of my posts have been published here at Later Levels. I wasn’t sure where or how long the blog would go for when I started it in December 2016 so that’s kind of crazy; and I’m happy to have had the chance to discuss all sorts of gaming-related subjects.

Sometimes it’s important to take a step back to see how far you’ve come, as it’s a great way of finding out how much you’ve learned and provides motivation for the future. This is just what blogging awards do and I’m grateful to Hylian-Hobbit from Hobbits of Hyrule for nominating Later Levels for a Real Neat Blog Award last month. The seven questions he posed to his nominees reminded me of past articles I’ve written, so this seems like the perfect opportunity to revisit some of them.

What is your favourite video game franchise?

Most readers would expect me to answer this question with Monkey Island because it was The Secret of Monkey Island that got me into gaming as a kid. But there are several other games which define me and out of these, I’d probably say Fable is my favourite series. I’ve been tuning into TheAmbiGamer’s streams because Athena is playing it for the first time and I can’t wait for the release of the fourth instalment. The Longest Journey games are also high on my list, so much so that I still haven’t been able to finish Dreamfall Chapters because I don’t want the story to end.

What was the last video game to really tug at your heartstrings?

To The Moon, video game, dancing, sky, lighthouse, starsHere’s another game on the list of those which define me: To The Moon. The gameplay may be incredibly light and won’t be to everybody’s taste, but I love the touching story this title tells and the way its sequel Finding Paradise continues the emotion. The third instalment is due to be released this year and I can’t wait. I’m currently streaming sections of it for a play-along hosted by Time to Loot so there will most certainly be Twitch tears at some point; and I’m having fun answering the weekly set of questions set by Naithin, along with reading the community’s answers.

Is there a hobby you wish you could get more into?

Gamer Nouveau, cross-stitch, sewing, needleAlthough the lockdown here in the UK has been tough for many reasons, there have also been some silver-linings and I’ve enjoyed the extra time I’ve had to devote to hobbies. I’ve even picked up a few new ones which don’t involve a screen over the past couple of months. Thanks to some useful advice from Teri-Mae from Sheikah Plate, I’ve started making bread by hand every week; and the Gamer Nouveau cross-stitch I’m working on is coming along nicely. Hopefully these will be hobbies I manage to keep up once the period of isolation is over.

Would you say you are more introvert or extrovert?

I’m definitely an introvert. In fact, it’s the social aspect of blogging I find the most difficult: I’m not great when it comes to speaking in large groups, either in person or online, and social media is a minefield I frequently prefer not to navigate. I admire those bloggers who can just jump straight in and get involved without any hesitation. But it’s the perfect way to push myself outside of my comfort zone. The hobby has taught me a lot about myself and my anxieties over the years, and Later Levels is now something that reminds me it’s not healthy to always retreat into my shell.

What’s your guilty gaming pleasure?

The Typing of the Dead, Overkill, video game, boss, cow, Meat Katie, cleaver, food preparationBack in May 2017, I nominated The Typing of the Dead: Overkill as my guilty pleasure game. I love it because it’s just so damn camp. The B-movie grindhouse style and vintage soundtrack encourage players not to take it too seriously, and I can never seem to stop myself laughing at the parade of scantily-clad mutants and F-bombs. More recently, I spent far too many hours using the photograph mode in Horizon Zero Dawn rather than killing machines, and way too much time clicking on squares to create images in Coloring Pixels.

If you made your own video game, what genre would it be?

Cognition, An Erica Reed Thriller, Erica Reed, FBI, face, gunI’m sure many readers will be able to guess my answer to this question straight away: it would be a point-and-click. Take a strong female protagonist like Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn, a storyline featuring time-travel or rogue artificial intelligence (AI) and a visual style similar to Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, and you’d end up with my perfect video game. In the past I’ve also considered my dream development team to make it happen, and I’m sure together we’d create a release to appeal to adventure genre fans the world over.

Do you have any surprising or useless talents?

When my stepson was a lot younger, I used to freak him out by showing him how far back I could bend the thumb on my left-hand. I found out while writing this post that it’s a trait called ‘Hitchhiker’s Thumb’. Sadly Ethan is now too old to be scared by a bendy digit; having turned thirteen recently, he’s much more concerned about important teenage things. Such as whether his friends are online at the same time as him, how long he’s got left to play a video game before bedtime and what’s for dinner.

Thank you once again to Hylian-Hobbit for the nomination and letting me reminisce for a while! I’d like to extend the Real Neat Blog Award to everyone reading this, and the one question I’m going to ask you is: which releases would you steal elements from to create your own perfect video game?

Super Happy Love Award: positivity and video games

Each blogging award is truly valued. To show my appreciation, I’ll usually devote an entire post to one of the questions posed by the nominator rather than answer the entire set. This gives me the chance to write a unique article and dedicate it to them to properly thank them.

But every now and again, an award comes along where it feels right to not do this and instead follow the rules to the letter. This is the case with the Super Happy Love Award received from Emily at Monsterlady’s Diary recently (thanks so much!). Following the nomination track backwards reveals it was a tag created to heal the internet: as shared by Pinkie from Pinkie’s Paradise, we should give love to those who deserve it and praise the individuals who have done something important for us.

There’s so much going on in the world right now and we could all use a little more positivity. It’s an important message so that’s why I’m going to stick to the guidelines and not be a rebel for once. Here we go…

The rules

Super Happy Love Award

  • Thank the person who tagged you
  • Share the original post
  • Display the logo in your response post and share the rules
  • Answer at least two of the following six prompts
  • Tag six bloggers for the Super Happy Love Award
  • In addition, everyone who leaves a lovely comment on your response post is also nominated to help keep the positivity going

  • Prompt 1: tell us about a person you love

    Zelda, cat, laptop, cuteThere’s only one person who has my heart completely. They make me smile whenever they walk into a room; we have interesting conversations every day; and they show me affection to let me know they want me around. You know who it is: our cat Zelda. She’s never far away and is usually trying to sit on my keyboard while I blog, when she’s not appearing in our streams and stealing the show. I guess my husband Pete and stepson Ethan are alright too, because they make me laugh with their stupid songs and give me chocolate.

    Prompt 2: write something about a fandom or a franchise you love

    Video games, bozes, shelf, row, adventuresThere’s nothing else I could write about for this answer other than the adventure genre of video games. I guess you could say that Later Levels is one big love-letter to them; I’ve been playing since discovering The Secret of Monkey Island as a kid and point-and-clicks will always have a special place in my heart. I know that many will say the genre is on its way out, but storytelling is such an important part of being ‘human’ that it won’t ever die completely and will simply continue to evolve. Long live the adventure game!

    Prompt 3: tell us something about a character you love

    Tales from Monkey Island, video game, skull, MurrayMurray from the Monkey Island series may have had his body blown to pieces by a cannon but did he let it hold him back? No. Many would have been crushed by this tragic accident but my favourite skull turned it into the opportunity he’d been waiting for: to become a demonic overlord and conquer the land of the living. Despite his reduced state, he still considers himself to be an object of pure evil and dreams of spreading chaos throughout the Caribbean – showing that sometimes all you need to get you places is a positive mental attitude.

    Prompt 4: tell us something about a piece of music you love

    To The Moon, video game, dancing, sky, lighthouse, starsI adore the To The Moon series and get tears in my eyes whenever I hear Everything’s Alright by Laura Shigihara. The words beautifully encapsulate how difficult it can be to explain to someone just how much you love them, and how if you have that special person next to you then everything is going to be ok. The third instalment in the series, The Imposter Factory, is due to be released later this year and I can’t wait to play it; expect a marathon stream of all the titles (and a few Twitch tears) when that happens.

    Prompt 5: show us why you love a piece of media so much

    Eastshade, video game, countryside, mountains, hot-air balloon, easel, canvas, paintingI played Eastshade a year ago and it’s now one of my favourite games, thanks to the way it tackles the RPG genre. When you look at the individual parts of a painting in real life, it’s easy to notice some tiny imperfections but look at that piece of art from afar to take in its entirety, and it’s amazing; that’s just how I feel about this release. I’m not sure I’ve ever had such a peaceful and relaxing gaming experience which lasted over 15 hours, and would highly recommend it to anyone who needs to escape for a little while.

    Prompt 6: write something about yourself that you love

    Later Levels, Kim, Pete, faces, smiling, GameBlast19, SpecialEffect, streamThis prompt is the hardest because it’s far easier to write something positive about those you love than yourself. I thought long and hard about an answer, but still couldn’t come up with one. It turns out I’m still figuring ‘me’ out and you know what? That’s ok. It shows that there’s still room to grow and improve regardless where you are in your life, and there are always new things to discover at any age. That means there’s more to look forward to in the future – including many video games.

    The tags

    These six awesome people have kept me sane during the UK lockdown over the past month. I’d like to thank them for the conversations, streams and memes, and for putting up with Pete’s singing!

  • Solarayo from Ace Asunder
  • Luke from Hundstrasse
  • Jett from In Third Person
  • Dan from nowisgames.com
  • Teri-Mae from Sheikah Plate
  • The Gaming Diaries

  • And that’s the Super Happy Love Award done! Thanks once again to Emily from Monsterlady’s Diary for the nomination, and to everyone in the WordPress community for supporting each other during these difficult times. Let’s continue that positivity and get through this together.