Ian Stormstaff is an experienced bloggers who has worked on Wizards Unite and WatchHallow for many years following the release of Wizard101. However, this KingsIsle title was the not the beginning of his gaming days. In this post, Ian explores the interactions of blogging and gaming through his years of experience.
Why hello there! Most of you will recognize me as Ian StormStaff, or as The Ninja Bunny Lord; I'm a long-time KingsIsle community member as well as a blogger who doesn't blog much (more on that later). Jason so kindly asked me to lend my voice to his September Guest Posts and I couldn't say no to that, so here I am! Anyone with Google can search my name and find a sea of posts and tweets and interviews and even videos of my many, many tales from the games I've played and written about for the last six years. I don't shy away from the amount of content I've pushed out or my insane belief that I need to write about everything. However, those close to me know that behind my passionate writing is a truly love-hate relationship with games.
I first started gaming a long time ago, and my first addiction was probably Club Penguin. Then I moved to RuneScape and then of course everyone here is well aware of the power that is Wizard101. I got into games to escape from the real world and make friends, since friends were difficult in the real world for me. I relished playing and played for hours on end, building cities in The Sims and conquering enemies in Wizard101. With no reason to play games other than to play them, I had endless energy to fuel my antics. Yet it's exactly what I'm doing right now that ruined games for me: writing about them.
Starting a Fansite
In 2011 I really wanted a mount for my wizard. Like, really bad guys. I'm serious. They had just been released and most wizards were still walking everywhere (you guys have no clue how lucky you are now). I entered several contests on every official fansite that existed back then, and waited. I didn't win anything (boo it was rigged!) but I did discover a website called Diary of a Wizard, which had a social network for wizards. Finally I could talk to other people who liked Wizard101 as much as I did! I could also write blog posts about my adventures and other people could (potentially) read them! As a 12-year-old with nothing better to do, I got started on this right away. Soon after, I launched my own website and wrote my stories on there with my sister and a friend I met online. Of course this was all still relatively new to me so the novelty of writing about my adventures for internet strangers was still in effect. I wasn't good at writing or really good at playing Wizard101 either if we're being honest. But I sure did enjoy both.
I kept writing and playing and eventually people started actually reading my posts and responding to me on Twitter. My website, Wizards Unite, was becoming an actual thing and I was so excited for it. I "hired" other players to write for my website and pushed out as much content as I could, at one point having 12 people working on WU and posts coming out 5 days a week! I also started building my website into a place for information. I released a Crowns Shop Index with every item that was sold for Crowns in Wizard101, I had people write walkthroughs and tutorials for dungeons, I threw parties. Eventually I was doing so much work that I wasn't gaming to game I was gaming to have something to write about. Or sitting for hours in my house with the Crowns Shop open writing down prices. I was crazy. I didn't realize I was crazy until Wizard101 announced Fishing and I quietly started planning my largest project ever: an online database of every fishing location and fish and tactic found in the game. I spent two weeks fishing and building around 100 pages of information regarding digital fish. I wasn't gaming. I wasn't having fun. I cried twice during that project because my mom asked me why it was so serious and I had to explain to her that if I didn't publish this first, my website would fail. I had pushed beyond gaming so much that in my teenage head this wasn't a game anymore. This was my job. I broke.
The Journey Continues
A few months after the launch of my Fish Database, I announced I was closing Wizards Unite. In that time I had tried to play Wizard101 but it just wasn't fun anymore. I didn't know how to enjoy my games because my brain was hardwired to turn my adventures into blog posts. A month after closing WU I launched WatchHallow, the idea that if I restarted and focused on just telling my stories I could salvage both the games I loved and my love for blogging. This did work out for a while. However I let my ambition get the best of me again and I put content creation before gaming for fun. That may or may not be why you guys have heard quite little from me over the last few months. I quite literally drove myself away from gaming.
Right now I'm working a lot and in school so I have an excuse to not game. But I miss it a lot. I miss going to events with my friends and questing late at night and writing about how I really suck at questing by myself. But every time I sit down to actually play a game I just feel burnt out. I don't have an active subscription to any games, and don't play any that I have purchased. At first it was a relief to be free of the burden I put on myself through my games; but I'm starting to miss gaming more than I feel hurt by it. Perhaps it's time for me to try gaming again and see if those old boots still fit right. Perhaps the Ninja Bunny Lord isn't gone for good.
Guest post by Ian Stormstaff. Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!