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Thursday, September 24, 2015

An Inward Journey in Gaming


D.S. Devereaux, Destiny Soultamer, or just Sonja... However you know her, this talented blogger is more than qualified to share her unique journey and self-discovery in gaming. With a variety of experiences beyond what many KI-only gamers have and personal recommendations on additional titles, there's something to learn for everyone in this third portion of the September Guest Post Series.


Two years ago, I had the honor and opportunity of interviewing a fellow for my little blog at the time, Travels of the Thaumaturge. Little did I know, that fellow would soon become a close friend and gaming buddy as the years went on. Though our gaming focuses changed a few times, along with the name of my own website, we remained allies in bloggery. But those two or three years ago, when I created the little interview, I had no idea that I would be here today, writing about so many games and being presented with so many exciting opportunities...and at last, writing up a post to help out that fellow himself.

Hey, there. My name is Sonja, but I’ve also been D.S. Devereaux, and for even longer than that, Destiny Soultamer (whose surname lives on in my gamertags). I blogged about Wizard101 and Pirate101 for three and a half years before expanding my topics and opening my site up to whatever I was playing or working on, changing the name to Soultamer Gaming. Know that I say that it’s been a journey without any lightness to it; The transition and what I learned (and am still learning) from it are lessons that I’ll be carrying for many years of blogging to come.

A few months inspire plenty of design changes

"No Struggle, No Progress"

Looking back on how I've progressed in the past few months, I have few words for how I've grown and changed. As with any span of time in the blogosphere, one can notice their own, or - if they're observant enough - another's style and writing preference change little by little as they continually adapt and adjust to the constantly-changing atmosphere of the internet. This in and of itself is a fundamental of blogging: The world is always changing, and so should you. But yet, you are always changing at the same time. Sometimes faster than how you perceive other things are. Sometimes slower. But there is always change. It is natural, and it will happen in its own way if it can at all escape perceived forms of molding it in a certain otherwise direction.

In October 2014, I was changing. I mean, sure I was - didn't I just say that things always are? But within the fall and into the winter of that year, my writing began to speed up in style implementation rate and general difference from what was going on outside of me in the rest of the blogosphere. Certain types of posts attracted more readers than others. My go-to fan-fiction-based posts? Sure, they worked. They got a fair number of readers who all had similar interests as I and left nice comments. Guides and news releases would bring in even more readers, and to this day, I still have drafts upon drafts of them, some almost completely written. For a good amount of time before the leaves turned brown and blanketed my backyard, I'd go ahead and put these out. News release here. Theorycrafting there. I loved some and hated others. Then liked some and despised writing others. Then tolerated writing a few and put off writing others until I broke from having too long of a lapse between posts. I wanted to write what I wanted to write.

So I did. Out came this post. My old readers, do you remember that? If your answer was "no" (bar the two wonderful comments I got and their easily pinpointable views), I'm really not surprised. But then again, I remember sitting on a grass hill, excitedly typing out what I supposed was going to be a hit. I loved writing it, and I loved writing others like it as my pageviews and interaction declined into scary depths that were alleviated time and time again by news releases written hastily over the course of an early morning. One of those early mornings, I stopped. I just stopped. I looked at the post I was trying to write - about snakes and their connections to Ancient Greek mythology, a post I'd been writing on and off since March of that year - and realized that this wasn't any fun. I closed the tab for the very last time on that post. What was I doing? I spiraled into existential thought, sitting on the couch with a neck-ache, my cat, and a plate of quickly cooling leftover chicken. Existentialism, huh? At that very moment, it reminded me of a game.... 

Please get parental permission before playing Dear Esther

Fast forward a few weeks and a few days. Welcome to November 2014, a month of chilly air and unpleasant rain pelting the convergent Greater-Seattle area that locals call "The East Side." Droplets plunked on my front porch from the hanging begonia hung outside at the end of that summer. The sky was murky, threatening even more rain. It was perfect. I was sitting on a particular chair in my living room, one that I, for no reason, tended to finish books on. And on this day, I was finishing a game: Dear Esther, a title I could write novels about the esteem of. Just as I did as a player, the character I ran around as through the haunted island of the game discovered his place in the world, and who he was. Did I find much out about myself? No, not really, besides that I really liked these Steam games. I went ahead and bought a few more in the winter sale in December, playing Bastion until three in the morning one night in southwestern Florida just after Christmas. I'd been blogging about Pirate101 on and off, greater and greater lapses between posts starting to get on my nerves. But, I never wanted to post about them. No content had been released in Pirate101. I didn't play Wizard101 as often. I was just sitting here, marveling in strings of five DMS at a time, about these Steam games...

New Direction

That night, I made my decision. In fact, I was talking to Swordroll himself when I made my consensus. In short, I said that I was going to change the entire focus of the site around to the games I was actually playing, which meant the indie and atmospheric games I was playing currently. I won't go through the big design overhaul in January, mainly because that's just a paragraph about me complaining (and then playing with using several devices at a time to test screen resolutions). I put out new posts, made new friends as fast I could, built a PC, and played/bought more games all in the course of the month following.


A Flying Ship to New Realms

At one point, I put down my controller and scrolled through my KI bloggers' feed. I didn't really catch onto a whole lot of what was going on, but I knew all the names on the list like they were those of my family. And the KI community still definitely is a huge part of my life and my social circles. And yet, I was so far from them in another sense, putting so many new Twitter nicks on their feeds and talking about games they hadn't ever heard of. I heard very often on my survey from long-time readers that my posts were no longer familiar to them and that I had lost their attentiveness as an audience member. For a moment, I considered going back. There was still room. I could turn this all around. But no. I couldn't do that to myself. Since January, blogging had become for me something that I had really liked doing, instead of something I had really liked seeing the results of. I was happy. And to be honest, nothing to me has ever felt more priceless than loving what I do.


As I write this post, I sit on a lot of excitement. This includes: Two full lanyards of pins from PAX Prime 2015, a press badge to Geek Girl Con in October, and lots of memories from over the summer, including cosplaying and even meeting some of my new blogger friends in person for lunch during PAX. How did I get here? I asked myself. How in the world did I ever get to a point where I had a site known enough to have a recognizable name, and to have a familiar presence among twelve nerds (myself included!) at a lunch table? My thoughts drifted back to talking with bloggers in the KI community, chatting about blogging and recent events. Or attending parties in Avery's Court or the Commons, or somebody's PvP house, or somebody's podcast. If it weren't for the KI community, I wouldn't have ever gained the skills and courage to not only explore opportunities, but to explore myself. I've seen faces come and go in the KI community, blogs start and thrive and wither, including mine. Everyone is open to one another, and the grounds there provided me an open space to find out who I was as I, over time, learned to change and embrace change.

Brissta (bottom) compliments of Chrissy the Blesser

One Small Step

So here we are. If you've stuck around with me for this much of the post, I'm pretty surprised. I remember that when my posts got longer, it would result in fewer pageviews, and I hope that this new habit of mine doesn't injure any stats coming into this post. (I, like any blogger, look forward to getting read. I suppose the reason for it is the part that changes.) These days, I post whatever I want, on whatever I want, whenever I want. I try not to let entire weeks go by without a post, but I'm more relaxed about it, and I know that I'll be accepted for whatever I write. I've branched out into other fun games like Bastion and Eidolon, and from those have gained experiences and connections that I would never have expected from just blogging about W/P101. And even though I never thought that I'd make it here (or know of "here" as a destination in the first place), I have to say that I could not be happier with what I'm up to. This is my place. This is my story. This is my adventure - one I'll share with all of you.

A big thank you to Sonja for sharing. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. Don't forget to check out Soultamer Gaming.

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