Newbie Blogger Initiative 2015: Anecdotal Feedback from a Newbie Blogger


Today is June 1st and marks the official conclusion of the Newbie Blogger Initiative. I’ve been wanting to provide some feedback about my experience with the NBI, as I was one of the Newbie bloggers participating, and I think now is a good time to do so. However before I begin I want to clarify that this a critique of both the NBI event and of the way I personally interacted with it. Some of my criticism may reflect on how the event can be improved while other aspects of it may reflect on how I could have better engaged the NBI. (And to be honest, I may be too close to tell the difference!) Regardless, I think this is a fairly accurate view of my experience with this year’s NBI— what I liked, and what I think could be better next year.

When I signed up for the NBI I wasn’t sure what to expect. I learned of the event through Syp’s blog, Bio Break and from there went to the official website. There was a sign up for new bloggers and one for sponsors but when I went to announcements and information almost everything there was from last year. I was expecting a breakdown of what would happen over the course of the month or a schedule of writing prompts, something to tell me what I should do as a participant but if it was there, I couldn’t find it. Without those things I had no idea what I had just signed up to participate in.

Murf’s Safari was the first “official” writing prompt I saw and I stuck with it every week. On that note, I’d like to take a moment and thank Murf for initiating this challenge and for every show of support he offered all month long. Were it not for Murf and his Safari challenge, his regular interactions with my blog, and retweets of my posts, I don’t think I would have really felt like a participant in the NBI. Just giving my posts a “like” was awesome. It let me know he was supporting my writing efforts and it encouraged me to do the same for other writers.

That’s one of the biggest positives I’ve taken away from the event, how important it is not only to read other blogs but to let other writers know I am reading their work through comments, likes, and retweets. All of these things provide bloggers the encouragement needed to keep on writing, and isn’t that why we all blog in the first place, to be read and interact with our readers? My stats page records the number of unique visitors and average pages viewed and a bunch of other numbers but what it doesn’t give me is the sense that another human being has actually engaged with my work. Because of the NBI (and especially Murf’s participation) I am more determined to interact with and encourage other writers.

After the Safari, I eventually came across the first talkback prompt. This was the kind of thing I was looking for with the NBI but Gamergate was (in my opinion) too heavy a topic to start off with and I chose not to write on it for a number of reasons. I wasn’t even aware of Gamergate until long after the hullabaloo had died down and as such I didn’t know much about it. Gamergate also wasn’t the kind of thing I wanted to write about with my blog, so I opted out. However when I chose to skip the topic I assumed I would hop back in with the next writing prompt but that did not end up being the case. I probably could have written on Kickstarter and early access despite the fact that it was another topic I had little experience with but in the end I passed on it as well.

That proved to be a terrible idea because by the time it was all said and done May was over and I had not written on a single talkback topic. I take a lot of responsibility there, I should have written that first week regardless of the topic just to set a precedent, but I also think some changes to the topics themselves and the way they were presented would have helped. First of all, I would recommend lobbing a softball as the initial NBI writing prompt. Let it be something simple and non-threatening to ease in new writers. For example, you could ask writers to reflect on a memorable gaming event, favorite game, or how they first discovered MMOs.

Secondly, I would suggest providing several prompts each week so that writers can still participate if one of the topics doesn’t “click” or is simply a subject they have no experience with. I would also recommend that a calendar of these prompts be provided at the start of the event. Give participants a roadmap of what to expect over the course of the month. And if other bloggers like Murf plan on hosting a weekly challenge of their own, include these on a centralized event page or calendar as well. Perhaps you could even reach out to the veteran writers in the months leading up to the event to solicit talkback topics and a list of planned peripheral events to be hosted by individual bloggers. The biggest problem I found with the NBI was that I went into it excited but without a clear understanding of what was expected of me or how I would be participating and so I sort of lost steam early on. I think that’s why I latched onto Murf’s Safari, it was the first signpost I found along the way.

Finally, let me say that the NBI is only as good as the veterans who function as its sponsors (which is to say, it is quite good!) I’ve already mentioned how important Murf’s participation was and for me that’s what made the NBI so special; here I found seasoned pros coming alongside new bloggers who were willing to show us the ropes. And there were many others who helped out as well, Braxwolf, Syp, Aywren, and Belghast were a few that I interacted with but I’m sure there were many others as well that I’m forgetting. I would recommend adding some formal structure to these interactions if at all possible. For example, if you have 15 newbie participants and 5 sponsors, assign each sponsor 3 newbies to invest heavily in with likes, comments, and maybe even an email of encouragement and constructive criticism once or twice during the event. It’s understandably hard for one person to interact with all the newbie bloggers in a meaningful way, but if organized each veteran could easily engage with a handful of writers. And if a sponsor has time for more, that’s even better!

All in all I’m glad I took part in the Newbie Blogger Initiative this year. The folks who put it on and the ones that support it are such a great community of bloggers. As a participant, I’ve found a bunch of new blogs to follow and a renewed interest in supporting other bloggers myself. Are there areas to be improved? Absolutely, both in the event itself and in how I engage with it. However I would strongly urge those who run the event to continue doing so, and God willing if I am still blogging next year I will plan on helping out as a sponsor myself.

Cheers, NBI, it was a good month of reading and blogging. May you continue to grow a supportive, blogging community for years to come!

#NBI2015Safari: Hunting Werewolves

There are rumors of werewolves hidden among the people of Aldcroft. Fahd’ali approaches the town with caution, the full moon hidden by fog rolling in from the west. Bow drawn, arrow notched, and daedric companion at the ready he takes a deep, steadying breath before pressing forward. The town is quiet; although it’s several hours until midnight, even the local tavern is lifeless. The only sound is that of the sorcerer’s leather boots padding across the vacant, cobbled street.


Nearby a door shuts swiftly, startling Fahd’ali. He hears the turning of a lock then all is quiet once more. Before pressing deeper into the town square Fahd’ali closes his eyes, listening for predatory sounds but hearing nothing; only stillness. The air is stale, warm. He slips further into an awareness of his environment, allowing his senses to wander through the palpable tension in the atmosphere.

Suddenly, the howl of a werewolf cuts through the rigid void. The moon, no longer hidden by the fog bathes Fahd’ali in a morose light, plainly marking him as the only living soul foolish enough to be out in the open. Off in the distance the creature howls once more, this time with an eagerness for the hunt. Fahd’ali raises his bow and whispers incantations of wind and lightning.

He is ready; he is afraid.

State of the Rez: Blogging, the NBI, SWTOR, and Trove

It’s been a busy writing week for me despite my lack of posts here on Waiting For Rez. In addition to the article I published on Thursday— the latest installment in the Dual Wielding series— I have also had to work on a piece for a church newsletter. The topic was on applying biblical principles in the workplace and it turned out well after several drafts and a lot of feedback. However writing the article took quite a few hours over several days and I didn’t have time for much else until it was finished. I hope to publish it at least in part on this blog in the next week.


That’s not the only thing I’m looking to publish either, I have quite a few ideas I’m eager to write about. To begin with, I would like to participate more in the Newbie Blogger Initiative. I didn’t have anything worth saying on the first talk back challenge on gamer gate and I fear that the topic for this second week— kickstarter and early access— is not of interest to me either. However I would like to contribute another screen shot for Murf’s #NBI2015Safari. I have no idea which prompt or screenshot I will share but I love the idea and I’m really glad he initiated it. I What I will be contributing to the NBI is a piece with suggestions on how to edit content for clarity. Although I’m participating as a newbie this is something that I would like to write and I feel I have enough experience on the subject that I can be helpful to other new bloggers like myself.


As for my gaming sessions, I haven’t written about them much as of late and there’s a lot that I would like to share. For starters, Star Wars: The Old Republic is still my MMO of choice and has been taking up the bulk of my time over the last two weeks. With the 12x XP buff I have gained eleven levels—my Sawbones Scoundrel is now 46—and I would like to comment on the whole experience but that will have to wait for the next Dual Wielding installment on May 28th. What I can say is that the boost has had both positive and negative effects on my enjoyment of the game. I like the accelerated pace because it fits well with my play schedule however it has inadvertently decreased content variety while leveling because at 12x XP I keep playing class story quests and neglecting all the other types of gameplay I enjoy like Warzones and Flashpoints and Galactic Starfighter. As a result I find myself less motivated to log in. However my decreased interest in SWTOR may simply stem from the fact that I have reached that 6-8 week mark when the honeymoon phase with an MMO ends and I have to decide whether I’m going to stick with it or come back later. For SWTOR the plan is to stay but to take little mini-vacations by playing Marvel Heroes and Trove.

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While SWTOR is still at the top of my MMO list, this past week I have also spent a lot of time leveling a Dracolyte (now level 16) and a few other classes in Trove. On that note, another article I plan on writing soon will cover the reasons why I’m playing it (and why I think you should be too!) All in all, there’s something relaxing about Trove. I log on and immediately begin to roam around exploring, gathering, stumbling upon random lairs and dungeons, and learning the various crafting and progression systems. With the release of the golden thread patch on Tuesday which added several quests that provide new players with a little more direction I ended up with an abundance of Cubits with which I purchased a couple of new classes. Trove is one of the most generous free to play games when it comes to purchasing classes with in-game currency. Everyone raves about Marvel Heroes (including me) but in this regard Trove wins. By the time I complete all the quests I should be able to purchase at least one more.

Basically I have the desirable problem of too many great writing ideas and too many great games to play. The hard part is having the self-discipline to forego both when there are more important things going on in my life, which there almost always is. That said, things are quieting down a little and I should have some extra time to write and game this week. I look forward to doing both and sharing the outcome here.