The Support Role: there when you need it

New year, new blog. January is a month of change here on WordPress. New bloggers decide it’s time to start a site and are busy thinking about what their first post should be, while those who have been around for a while consider redesigns and a possible change in direction.

Whether you’ve just started your blogging journey or have a few years’ experience under your belt, both situations can feel a little daunting. It can be more work than you realise and come with a steeper learning curve than expected. For new writers, there may be additional pressure from feeling as though you’re entering into a community where everybody already knows each other; and for established bloggers, there’s the battle to keep things fresh and avoid the dreaded writers’ block.

Luke from Hundstrasse and I were chatting about these things late last year after we got into a conversation about how difficult it can be to get good blogging advice. The internet searches I’d run in the past pulled back plenty of responses to my questions – but seemed to be written by ‘SEO experts’ or gurus who could show you how to make money from your site. Neither were the kind of people we wanted to take guidance from. Where were the answers from people who were actually blogging – and not for profit, but for enjoyment?

The Support Role, Discord, logo, icon, cross, healing, circle

A month or so later and we decided to create The Support Role, a new Discord server where bloggers can come together to learn from each other. We want it to be a place where new bloggers could be introduced to other members of the community and those who have been here a while could possibly make new blogging friends. But not only that: we’re working on making it a group where questions can be asked, advice sought and opinions requested, and real answers are received from peers who know where you’re coming from.

The server has only been active since the beginning of the year and so is still in its starting phase, but already we’ve had some very useful discussions. We’ve also added dedicated channels for streaming, video and podcasting advice for anyone who wants to dip their toes into other areas of content creation. There’s a place to share collaboration ideas if you’re looking for people who would be interested in getting involved in a joint-project, and somewhere for video game press releases if we come across anything interesting.

It may seem strange that I decided to go in this direction with Luke after writing in October 2018 about finding the social aspect of blogging pretty difficult. Although I’m usually fine and can join in if I’m in a chat with a handful of friends, the anxiety starts to creep in when it gets to more than five people or so. But I said in my resolutions post that I wanted to more to get bloggers taking and share our experience, and the server – along with the weekly #BloggerTalk events – feel like a great place to start.

This invitation to is open to everyone so please do stop by and make yourself at home. There are channels for chatting if you feel like talking about the games you’re playing at the moment or sharing your pet photographs; but if you’re more the quiet type, then the group is there wherever you need to ask a blogging question or get some advice. Use it how you see fit and however it’s going to help you make the most of your site.

Thanks so much to Luke from Hundstrasse for being my partner-in-crime and getting the group off the ground. We look forward to seeing you over on The Support Role!

We’re taking part in GameBlast20 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Under the weather: gaming when you’re ill

Although spring is on the horizon, we’re still in that time of year where bugs are lurking everywhere. There are people sniffing on the train during the commute to work; colleagues sneezing all over the office; and snotty children to deal with when you get back home. It’s therefore no surprise when we end up surrounded by medicines and feeling sorry for ourselves.

Last month I ended up catching a horrible cold which hit me for a week and left me unable to do anything but wrap myself up in a blanket and drink copious amounts of tea. The biggest annoyance at the time wasn’t so much my bright red nose and tissue shortage – it was the fact that I didn’t feel up to playing video games. I’d cancelled all weekend plans so as not to pass on my germs to friends and family and therefore had plenty of free hours, but sadly no energy to pick up a controller.

Hands, video game, controller, gamepad

Between melodramatically declaring this to be the worst sickness ever and reaching for another round of paracetamol, I got to thinking: do other gamers still play games when they’re feeling under the weather? I guess as long as you have the brain-power to follow what’s happening onscreen and aren’t flailing your arms around in virtual reality (VR), they can’t do any harm. And it’s probably best not to go for any titles which could encourage motion sickness, especially if your stomach is already feeling a little delicate.

I think the issue for me is that when I’m feeling down emotionally, I’ll often reach for an adventure. You’d think the genre would be great in times of physical illness too, with simple mechanics such as pointing-and-clicking which don’t require fast reflexes, but that brain-fog you get when you’re not feeling great doesn’t do much to help with puzzle-solving. Others such as Kevin from The Mental Attic may still turn to adventures when they’re feeling sick but for me, my go-to genre us out. I need to find something else for when I’m next stuck on the sofa with a cold

A few other bloggers suggested trying something relaxing that requires less focus. Will from geeksleeprinserepeat usually goes for Football Manager because ‘you can take it all so slowly’ and ‘it’s basically a fancy spreadsheet so no bright flashing lights’. Unfortunately though sport isn’t my thing so I’ll leave that one to him. Jonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog does ‘brainless things like grinding or farming’; and TriformTrinity turns to RPGs. While using sickness time to gather more runes in The Elder Scrolls Online could work, there’s a good chance I’ll end up running into a rogue Bone Colossus.

Luna from GamersUnitedGG Blog told me she goes for titles where she doesn’t have to think too much, such as Tetris or Bejeweled. Athena from AmbiGaming seconded this and revealed that she chooses games which are either replays or not too complex in terms of their story. Both of these opinions tap into nostalgia, something mentioned by Megan from A Geeky Gal: in times of distress we often opt for things which bring back fond memories as we find comfort in their warm, rosy glow.

However, a number of bloggers I spoke to said they’d rather save the video games for when they’re feeling better. Omar from Drakulus and Brandon from That Green Dude are just a couple who told me they’d rather opt for a film, television or Netflix when they’re under the weather as these can be forms of entertainment that require less focus and concentration than gaming. An added bonus is that they can be easily paused when you feel like you’re drowning in your own mucus or if it’s time for a healing nap.

I think Khinjarsi from Upon Completion may have the right idea: she shared that she chooses YouTube. And Pix 1001 from Shoot the Rookie said: “Lately when I’ve been ill I’ve played demos or watched let’s plays. This feels less demanding than delving into a game I’m already playing. It seems like less of a commitment whilst still giving me something to concentrate on to take my mind off being ill.” It’s a nice combination of relaxation and gaming for when you’re confined to the sofa with a blanket.

What about you: do you play video games when you’re feeling? If so, do you have any recommendations? Thankfully that horrible cold is well in the past now and I’m back on my hobby, but it would be great to pick up some tips for next time!

Question of the Month: February 2019 edition

2019’s Question of the Month series will see bloggers come together in a virtual development studio. Every month we’ll be asking brave volunteers to come forward and share their ideas for a single element of a title, so all the winning answers from the community can be blended together at the end of the year to create a title to overshadow all others: The Ultimate Video Game! Read on to find out more along with how you can take part.


The development team so far:

  • Ian from Adventure Rules
  • Chris from OverThinker Y
  • Luke from Hundstrasse (winner of settings and themes)
  • Kim from Later Levels

  • The game so far:

  • January 2019:   settings and themes
  • February 2019:   announced below
  • March 2019:   to be revealed
  • April 2019:   to be revealed
  • May 2019:   to be revealed
  • June 2019:   to be revealed
  • July 2019:   to be revealed
  • August 2019:   to be revealed
  • September 2019:   to be revealed
  • October 2019:   to be revealed
  • November 2019:   to be revealed
  • December 2019:   press release for The Ultimate Video Game

  • This month’s game element:

    February’s game element is: the protagonist.

    Tell us about the star of The Ultimate Video Game and how they fit into January’s setting. If you’re thinking we should take our release in an RPG or action direction, you’ll probably need a main player-character: possibly a leader-of-the-party type or perhaps an unassuming everyman or woman. But if a puzzler or something abstract is more your thing, maybe there won’t be a character as such but you might have some sort of avatar. Or is the protagonist the player themselves?

    We want to know who this character is, what they look like, their preferences, strengths, weaknesses – anything to help us get to know them. Make sure your answer refers back to the setting chosen in January and explains how the protagonist fits into the environment. Be careful though: we’ll be covering story elements in a later month so stay focused on the subject for February and don’t stray too much into the plot.

    The rules:

  • You can join in with the competition by coming up with an idea for a protagonist who fits into the world defined in last month’s winning entry, to help create a collaborative version of The Ultimate Video Game. February’s winner will be picked from these entries and Chris wonderfully explains how this will work in his recent post.
  • Alternatively, if you’d like to join in just for fun then tell us about the protagonist for your own ultimate video game. Use the setting you came up with for January or start afresh if this is your first month! You won’t be eligible to win but you may receive a special mention if we like your idea.

  • Whether you’re joining in for competition or fun, try to focus on the single element for the current month in your answer and not cover other areas. Concentrate on the protagonist only for now!
  • There are no guidelines on word-limit or format so you can be as creative as you like: write a post, record a video, create a drawing, or impress us with another unique style.
  • Publish your idea for this month’s element on your blog or social media channels by 25 February 2019 and leave us a link in the comments below.
  • Submittals will then be discussed by the development team above, and the winner announced in a commentary post over on OverThinker Y on 28 Feburary 2019.
  • The winning blogger will be invited to join our development team on Discord so they can help select future winners – and they’ll receive an exclusive badge to display on their site.

  • Good luck to everybody who’d like to take part this month. We’re looking forward to hearing your ideas for The Ultimate Video Game!

    Question of the month: January 2019 edition

    Following on from Monday’s announcement, it’s time to kick off a new Question of the Month series for 2019 which will see the community come together in a virtual development studio. Every month we’ll be asking brave volunteers to come forward and share their ideas for a single element of a title so they can be blended together at the end of the year to create The Ultimate Video Game. Read on to find out more and how you can take part.


    The development team so far:

  • Ian from Adventure Rules
  • Chris from OverThinker Y
  • Kim from Later Levels

  • The game so far:

  • January 2019:   announced below
  • February 2019:   to be revealed
  • March 2019:   to be revealed
  • April 2019:   to be revealed
  • May 2019:   to be revealed
  • June 2019:   to be revealed
  • July 2019:   to be revealed
  • August 2019:   to be revealed
  • September 2019:   to be revealed
  • October 2019:   to be revealed
  • November 2019:   to be revealed
  • December 2019:   press release for The Ultimate Video Game

  • This month’s game element:

    January’s game element is: setting and themes.

    Your ideas this month should be focused on the world that The Ultimate Video Game is going to take place in. It could be a huge, sprawling fantasy landscape full of imaginative wildlife; a gritty urban slum where everything is grey and hard; a garden in your own home town where plenty of adventures could take place. Or perhaps even a black rectangle where nothing but different-shaped blocks exist!

    If your setting doesn’t take much describing, feel free to also tell us about the themes you’d like to explore. Will you look at love, friendship, cultural or social issues? The nature of gaming itself? Or do you just want The Ultimate Video Game to be something fun? The only thing we ask is that you bear in mind the first point in the following section and stay focused on January’s element.

    The rules:

  • There’s plenty of freedom this month. The only thing we ask is that those participating are careful not to include any plot details in their answers – concentrate on only the setting and themes for now!
  • For coming elements, we’ll be asking you to ensure your answer incorporates the ideas chosen in previous months so we end up with a cohesive game.
  • There are no guidelines on word-limit or format so you can be as creative as you like: write a post, record a video, create a drawing, or impress us with another unique style.
  • Publish your idea for this month’s element on your blog or social media channels by 28 January 2019 and leave us a link in the comments below.
  • Submittals will then be discussed by the development team above, and the winner announced in a commentary post over on OverThinker Y on 31 January 2019.
  • The winning blogger will be invited to join our development team on Discord so they can help select future winners – and they’ll receive an exclusive badge to display on their site.

  • Good luck to everybody who’d like to take part this month. We’re looking forward to hearing your ideas for The Ultimate Video Game!

    On the twelfth day of Blogmas

    Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her twelfth answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

    Yesterday we looked at two games we’d like to improve. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background one last time, let’s see what the subject the final verse is:

    On the twelfth day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
    What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
    Tell us 11 games you love!
    What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
    Give us nine games on your to-play list!
    Who are eight characters you love?
    Share seven of your favorite posts!
    What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?
    What are five games you’ve played more than once?
    Share four dramatic or memorable game moments!
    What are three things you want gamers to know about games for the new year?
    List two games you’d improve!
    Tell us the one best reason to play video games!

    Sometimes the best thing about video games isn’t the game itself. Sure, they’re an excellent form of entertainment and have the ability to keep us occupied during a spare hour after work. They can also teach us valuable lessons and provide us with a place to escape to for a short time when we need a mental break. And they can encourage independence, confidence, rehabilitation and therapy when the playing field is levelled so everybody can join in.

    Those all are great positives that come from playing video games, but perhaps the best one is the people we get to meet through our hobby. If I didn’t play, then it’s likely I wouldn’t blog; and if I didn’t blog, I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet a bunch of truly amazing people. I’m proud to be able to call the following bloggers friends and would like to take this opportunity to thank them for everything over the past year. You lot are simply awesome.

    ⭐   Athena from AmbiGaming: much love to her for arranging a fantastic Blogmas collaboration. She’s a talented writer, an interesting conversationalist and all-round amazing person – and I wish her nothing but the best for 2019.

    ⭐   Ian from Adventure Rules: our Blogger Blitz hero! This guy does so much for the community and it’s time to give a little something back to him for all his hard work. Watch out for a little surprise tomorrow…

    ⭐   Tim from GeekOut South-West: my cosplay partner-in-crime! Keep an eye out for our Thundercats-themed costumes if we can fit into the lycra, along with our plans for GameBlast19 on 23 February 2019.

    ⭐   Luke from Hundstrasse: always on hand with a squid emoji and a haiku when you need one. It was great to see him at Rezzed last year; hopefully we’ll get to do the same again in 2019 and sneak into another developer session.

    ⭐   Nathan from Hurricane thought process: it’s been an eventful year for Nathan, and I’m so pleased he’s happy and settled. He welcomed his baby son in November and I can’t wait to meet the little fella this year!

    ⭐   LightningEllen from Livid Lightning: I love this lady’s sense of humour and she always says something that makes me laugh! She’s also way more talented than she realises. I have a feeling that 2019 is going to hold lots of special things for her.

    ⭐   Jonez from NekoJonez’s Game Blog: a fellow cat lover who exchanges pet pictures with me! This man can cram more into a day than I can in an entire year but regardless of how busy he is, he always has time for the community.

    ⭐   Pix 1001 from Shoot the Rookie: Pix’s blog has gone from strength to strength this year and I can’t wat to see what she manages to achieve in the next twelve months! She’s also one of the most fashionable bloggers around.

    ⭐   Chris from OverThinker Y: I’ve had so many chats with this man over the past year, which usually end up descending into GIF exchanges. I finally got to meet him last year and can honestly say he’s just as awesome in real life.

    ⭐   Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate: we’ve had some really interesting conversations recently, not only about video games but about politics too. She also makes the best carrot cake and I can’t wait to try out her cinnamon rolls.

    ⭐   Katie from The Gaming Diaries: I got to know Katie more during 2018 and it’s been so nice chatting to her regularly. I have no doubt our conversations will continue this year and hopefully we’ll be able to meet in person.

    ⭐   Everybody I’ve met here: I wish I had a post long enough to thank everyone individually because you’re all amazing. I’d like to send a big hug to every person mentioned on the high scores page for making 2018 as brilliant as it was, and I wish you all lots of wonderful things (and video games) for 2019.

    And that’s a wrap! It’s time for the choir to rest their voices and have a well-deserved drink after all that singing. Thank you so much to Athena from AmbiGaming for leading us all in this collaboration, and a huge well done to everyone who joined in!

    On the eleventh day of Blogmas

    Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her eleventh answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

    Yesterday we looked at three things we want gamers to know about games for the new year. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:

    On the eleventh day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
    What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
    Tell us 11 games you love!
    What are ten reasons you’d play a game?
    Give us nine games on your to-play list!
    Who are eight characters you love?
    Share seven of your favorite posts!
    What are your six gaming or blogging resolutions?
    What are five games you’ve played more than once?
    Share four dramatic or memorable game moments!
    What are three things you want gamers to know about games for the new year?
    List two games you’d improve!

    2009: Tales from Monkey Island

    When Tales from Monkey Island was released almost a decade after Escape from Monkey Island, I was both excited and apprehensive. On one hand here was a sequel to my most beloved series but on the other it had been created by Telltale Games, a developer I wasn’t overly fond of (I can imagine many shocked expressions after reading that last statement). I gave the game a go regardless but I have to confess: I didn’t even make it through the first episode.

    The control system was awful – and that was when it actually decided to respond. If you were clicking to move in one direction and the camera changed when you went into the next screen, everything would reorientate and you’d find yourself going back in the direction you came from. On top of that, Guybrush looked terrible and Elaine was unrecognisable; it’s like the pirate got himself a new wife between the fourth game and Telltale’s attempt.

    I’ve said several times now that I’d like to do a Monkey Island marathon on Twitch and when that day comes, I’ll finally have to deal with Tales from Monkey Island and actually complete it. In the meantime however, I’d like to send a message to Disney: please sell the rights back to Ron Gilbert. Let the original artist have back his proverbial paintbrush and give us the game we deserve, because we all really want to be a pirate.

    2010: Fable III

    Fable II is one of my favourite games. When it was released in 2008, I took some time off work so I could buy it as soon as possible and spend all day playing it. It turned out to be everything the first game was and way more: silly humour, enjoyable quests, fairytale feelings and excellent characters (including with Theresa, who made it into my list for a previous Blogmas post). Here was a sequel which surpassed the original and I fell in love with it instantly.

    You can imagine my excitement when Fable III was released two years later; I couldn’t wait to jump straight back into the land of Albion all over again. But what was this: a plot to overview the King by forming alliances and building support for a revolution? And a Road to Rule to replace the previous levelling-up system, a path in an alternative realm blocked by a number of gates? New features that didn’t feel like previous Fable content but I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and continue.

    I’m afraid to say however that it went downhill from there and I was left disappointed. Unlike Fable II which adhered to the previous title while implementing positive changes that redefined the game system, the third instalment took the formula and screwed with it. With the last year’s news that Playground Games are working on a new Fable IV perhaps this new developer will be able to take what made the series so special and recapture the magic of Albion.

    It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the twelfth and final day of Blogmas tomorrow, with two titles we’d like to improve. In the meantime, why not tell us about the games you’d change in the comments below?