Holy smokes, I knew this year was my fifth year running this blog, but on Wednesday 19th, it was officially the anniversary of the website. Hurrah! No, there’s no time for cake, as I thought that was a perfect excuse for me to chat about everything that’s happened with us. The good, the bad (although there’s not really a lot of ‘bad’) and of course, the outright amazing. All in all, it’s been five years of ups, so expect to see a lot of gushing about how excellent this has been… And hey – We’ll chat about the meetup and what that means to us, as well as future plans.
Here at GeekOut South-West, we are committed to bringing you the very best in geek culture. Whether you are a regular to our Bristol meetups, or if you are a fan of our writings, we are always looking to bring you something better than before. We have three dedicated writers at the moment – but this website is getting old pretty fast. We’re even running out of space on our servers!
Today is Christmas Day, which means that Santa must have come and given you all of the gifts you would have ever dreamed of getting. Or you might not have gotten anything at all – and that’s annoying, because Santa and his sat nav isn’t all that it’s made out to be. Whether you’re in camp receiving gifts, or camp not receiving gifts, it’s the holiday season and today is the biggest day of the year for some people. It’s a time to see your family and friends, a time for you to be with loved ones, in front of a warm fireplace. It’s a time to eat some delicious food, which will take an absolute age to wash up. Above all though, it’s a time to relax.
Most, if not all of us have heard the name WordPress, in fact if you’re here you may notice the words “Blog at WordPress” somewhere near the bottom. It’s been a long-standing tool for bloggers and keen writers to get their work out into the world, and with a bit of careful effort noticed there too. It’s also a fairly functional means of producing a quick and easy website for those of us with only rudimentary programming skills, with a wide selection of modifiable themes and plugins that can be put into play to make your WordPress site stand out from the many millions of other WordPress sites there are out there (about 74.6 million). (more…)
They say reflection is a form of mental processing, so when I think about it, it’s only logical that I would finally do an article on why I started to blog and why I think you might want to consider it too. After all, it’s not like I produce the highest quality of articles, but I’d like to think the topics I touch upon are at least vaguely interesting to someone out there. Except perhaps my personal cosplay posts, those are a whole different beast.
We’re going to go quickly into the history of this website, along with the future of the site and what I believe are some universal truths about blogging. Hopefully someone out there will benefit from this knowledge from an “insiders point of view”, so if you benefited from it in some way, just leave us a comment and let me know.
I know a lot of people actually start blogs with the intention of making a lot of money off of their free blogs. If you start with the intention of making money, let me tell you now: You may make a couple of quid, but you’re going to win no friends this way. I’m not sure about all of you out there, but I think the majority of you will agree with me that networking is one of the coolest things in the world.
If you don’t believe me, welcome to GeekOut South-West, a website built around the concept of having a geek social group. We exist: 450+ members of us. We have over 930 Twitter followers and rising. We have over 130 of you on Facebook too. We thank each and every one of you for every click, every like, every share you do of our little corner of the internet and don’t think that’s me just trying to appease our regular readers.
This is from the bottom of my heart – I honestly love seeing the, albeit small, sense of community we have here on this website… But more to the point, I love the community spirit of the greater blogosphere. Whilst all of this is great, it’s not why I started blogging, so now let’s go back and look into why I started blogging.
Ayacon Apocalypse 2013
Those of you who know the website well enough will be aware of the events of Ayacon, all the way back in 2013. This was when I first met Joel and this was actually a sort of prequel to the story of this website. Before this website… No, before Ayacon… I was really in a rut. There was nothing for geeks here in Bristol, not really. Now, suddenly, Bristol has exploded with geek activities and events… But let’s talk about this site.
When I begun, there was very little here in Bristol. The highly praised and much loved Bristol Video Game Social wasn’t a thing. Bristol Bad Film Club was still quite new, as they started around summer 2013 (to my knowledge). Other than this, we already had the amazing BristolCon… If I’m going to be brutally honest: Other than the Bath and Bristol RPG Meetup Group… There really wasn’t much else! I mean we had some cool shops, but that’s about it.
It was bleak, very bleak. So back in late 2013, I thought to myself that I would give myself a little bit of a run for my money. After Ayacon 2013, I needed to see more people so positive, so ready to allow themselves to be freely geeky and freely up for chatting to other geeky people. I attribute a lot of this to my fellow GeekOut writer, Joel… More on that shortly.
At Ayacon, I went with a costume that was so bad, I refuse to link to it. I say it was bad, but people somehow recognised it. So, clearly, something was right about it. The nicest thing was: People cared. They wanted to talk to me about the costume and the things I had made. They wanted to know how things were made. They wanted to know the cost. Everything. It wasn’t just one or two people: It was tens of people. A lot to me.
I knew these people had to exist in my home town of Bristol, so I thought to myself: How can I bring a convention feeling to the every day of Bristol, without running a full blown convention every single month? Simple: I had to form a social group.
Quotes from the Tabletop
Occasionally in life, you meet someone who far exceeds your expectations. Joel was this person and if he reads this, I hope you don’t feel so mushy about this post. Joel was a large part of why GeekOut South-West was even brought to life. I’ve told countless stories of this, but it bares repeating. One of our most important partner sites, Quotes from the Tabletop, is one of the pivotal points of this websites fledgling life.
When I met Joel, he was an incredibly enthusiastic individual who came literally rushing over to me and my friend Rob. I was wearing a shirt that I’m wearing as I write this post (don’t worry, I’ve washed it between then and now). It says: “I KNOW KARATE (And like 2 other Japanese words” I put a blonde wig in as my cosplay was completely destroyed… and I put a blue band around my head. Why? Because I was just having fun at the event and you know – it was funny to me.
When Joel rushed over to us, he wanted to chat to us about everything geeky and that to me was something I aspired to see more of. More positivity, more unification of a geekified world… So after I grabbed some details off of him, I bugged him day and night. No, really: I did. I bet he got fed up with having a little me bugging him whenever I felt like it. I set up the initial website of GeekOut… But never did I expect to get anywhere near the numbers that we received. The positivity of the scene alone was something I had always wanted to see.
I set the website up, I started to blog and when we got big enough: I asked Joel if he’d like to get involved. Interestingly, I think because of our friendship, he started to watch the website more and more. It was good to have a second pair of eyes, an ally, as it were, in my quest to bring a more geek front to the UK – Even if my initial reaction was to bring more of it to the south-west. Eventually, we’d like to expand and have more events happening across the UK… But this is a way off yet.
The point to take away from this is: You must always begin with a goal in mind. You need to have a reason to start a blog. Are you a gamer? Why not start a blog about your favourite video games and all of the really cool things you know about them that not everyone does? How about a writer? You need to have a blog about your upcoming releases! A blog can change someone for the better… So this begs the question:
How you can start blogging
This post focused on the life of GeekOut, which is more or less how I expected it to be, but I want to send you away with a positive lesson out of all of this. You’ll notice I’ve mentioned that I didn’t start this for money. I didn’t even think a site like this could make money (for the record, we’re currently not making money. A lot of expenses comes out of my own pocket!)
Don’t let costs of anything deter you. You don’t have to pay a penny to run a WordPress blog. In fact, it can even make you money for absolutely nothing if you really must earn money off of it. But what I want you to take away from this post is that you need to find a subject that not only are you passionate about, but you think others will be interested in too.
A writer doesn’t usually write just for themselves… Although I’ve known a few writers write just because they enjoy writing. If you’re one of these people, do it. If you’re not one of these people who writes because they like to write, you don’t need to matter yourself too much. I don’t write for the sake of being a writer, I’m afraid to tell you all. I write because I believe people will read it… and people will come together, even if my writing isn’t the most riveting of prose written.
I hope you feel that you’re passionate about a subject enough to start writing. If you’re already a writer: Why did you start? Let’s talk about what makes someone a blogger, or a writer, and let’s share it with the world. Are you new to blogging and looking to other blogs for the first time? Share your experiences in the comments below, over on Twitter and Facebook.
Look through your Steam library, or your XBLA account. Perhaps you opt for PSN, or an OUYA? How about Android or iOS? One thing that you’ll likely have started to dabble in at some point whilst on any of these platforms are indie titles. While I attended Rezzed, I was lucky enough to get my hands on some upcoming new titles – Indie titles which were great fun.
Something else happened whilst I was there; my latent interest for developing games has come back to me. It’s something I’ve not delved too deeply in for a while, but I decided I wanted to make a devlog of kinds… and I want you all to help me through this. I want to make a game and I want people to see the progress I make along the way. When it’s made, it’ll be hosted on GeekOut South-West, free to download and play. Criticise me as much as you want, this is why I want to indie dev for you all, a game I’ve made with your feedback.
We’re drawing ever closer to the next time I explore the weird and wonderful world of conventions – Only this time, I’m heading off to an expo!
EGX Rezzed is so close now, that I thought I’d let you all know what I’m going to be doing different for this expo. As well as having already explained I am working on a Mega Man costume (more on that shortly), I’m looking to interview people who attend the expo, as well as interviewing the wonderful devs. I’ve reached out to a few devs with hopes to find out a bit more about them all.
Welcome to the fourth episode in this new series of Cosplayer Highlight, where we have a sit down and a discussion with cosplayers around the world.
Today, we reached out to the blogging community itself. I found this awesome blog called Addaltmode, which featured a Cosplayer who took on a Cosplay project that would transform her life forever. Well perhaps it wouldn’t transform her life so immediately, but at least it was a transformer, so the transform part sticks, right?
Me and Joel discussed what we would do for our Happy New Year post, welcoming in 2015 and we decided we’d split up and do a separate post. Once you’ve finished reading my post, please do go check out Jaberwock Joel the Jemmy’s look at the year ahead of us. Yes, I just called Joel a nonsense crowbar because he’s great at bludgeoning the rubbish out of the best of us. Including me, it would seem. To think, I’ve not even begun my new years celebrations yet.
We could have done these posts on New Years Day itself, I mean you’d think that’d be a better way to welcome in the new year, right? But no… We figured we’d look at what was going to be a fantastic year coming up, offering what we’re most looking forward to and what we’re hoping to achieve this year.
My 2015 plans
Let’s begin with the thing that really made GeekOut South-West come into existence: Conventions.
So far, I’ve got 5 conventions in the works for 2015:
London Anime and Gaming Con this February – I’ll be on the reception team, so please do swing by if you’re going to that event and please say hello to me. I’d love to see you there and you should join the Shonen Heroes team, since heck – I am an awesome hero there. Not only this, some of the GeekOut South-West group will be there at London Anime and Gaming Con! Come make yourselves known to us.
After LAGC, I’ll be attending EGX Rezzed with the 1001-Up crew. I’ll be there as a member of press and I’ll make every effort to go and speak to anyone and everyone about upcoming games. Not only this though, I’ll be speaking to the cosplayers of EGX Rezzed and let’s see what I can throw together for my part of the deal. Hurrah for Rezzed!
Next up, I’ve got Kitacon, where I will be joining Joel and many others. Originally Kitacon was going to be available for registration as of January 1st at midday, but they have suffered a technical set-back. Nevermind, the team were diligent enough to tell us in advance that this has been pushed back to Thursday 8th at 18:00. So please do come join in and come meet up with me and
Joel! We’ll… Sign your… Things..? Wait, that’s the silliest idea ever! But do come and make yourselves known to us and chat geek with us!
Then there’s a combination of Cardiff Anime Convention in August and then Bristol Anime Convention in October. I believe I will be the head of the registrations team for the Bristol Anime Convention and I will be on the registrations team again for Cardiff, so please do come and say hello – Yes, GeekOut South-West are officially involved with conventions now! We’re super excited to be bringing some smaller, local conventions to the scene!
Last but certainly not least there’s BristolCon which I intend to take the group to once more. It’s a fantastic experience and I’m considering doing a panel on Sci-Fi and Cosplay. If you can make it to Bristol and this sounds interesting to you, please let me know in the comments below, or if you think there’s a topic I’d be better suited for that should be covered, let me know! I think the local Bristol conventions need to be made aware of the presence of cosplay, why we do it and more importantly: How it can help any/all geeky scenes out there.
What about GeekOut’s plans?
Some of these things I have been keeping close to my chest, so close that maybe even Joel doesn’t know of some of it… So here we go:
One thing about blogging is you have to pay close attention to the demand for your website. Whilst we’re not quite ready yet to be moving to self-hosting, it’s an option that’s ahead of GeekOut South-West. We’re looking towards a bright future, but this means we’ll need to move to our own hosting service. I’m keen to stick to WordPress, but moving away from the WordPress.com platform will be a big leap. We’ll see if we make it there in time next year.
You’d have noticed if you’re a regular reader of this website that we had an advent calendar which wasn’t so spectacular. The original idea was to have windows set up for each and every day, so that every day it would open automatically and show the post behind it. There was no way to do this via our current WordPress hosted server, so if we want to do anything as ambitious as that in future, we’ll seriously need to consider moving to the .org platform.
Anyone who has seen our mobile website will be aware it’s not the prettiest one in the world. It’s pretty ugly. So I’m working on making mobile more optimised and better looking for everyone, as well as looking at potential other avenues for mobile technologies to get involved, perhaps with integrated Meetup features.
I’ll keep everyone informed as to what’s happening, of course!
Yep, this one was a given, but it’s important to note that we’ll be keeping our posting schedule up as hard and as fast as we have been. We believe geek culture has so much to discuss, so we want to chat about it all! We also wouldn’t mind getting more people guest posting for us, much like our friend Kevin Kutlesa has. Please do get involved if you feel you have an article that you want a platform to launch off of!
Also, do note: I’ll be doing a return soon. More on that later in the week.
What are your plans for the new year? Any resolutions that you have made? Anything particularly geeky that you’re interested in this coming year? As always, please comment below and remember to check out Joel’s New Years post!