Sunday 15 October 2017

10 years of blogging

I have been doing this for 10 years, since July 2007. In the early days of getting into the boardgame hobby, I hungrily devoured all sorts of boardgame-related content I could find on the internet. I regularly read blogs maintained by others, like Mikko Saari, Bruno Faidutti. I enjoyed The Games Journal, and I fondly remember that Greg Aleknevicus wrote great articles. My motivation for starting a boardgame blog myself was boring. Put simply, it was just for record-keeping. I wanted a place where I could organise my boardgame experiences - the photos I took, the stories I lived, the friends I played with, what I thought about the games. Till now this hasn't changed. I enjoy record-keeping. This blog is still very much a personal journey. Nothing ambitious or profound.

Blogging is, in my opinion, out of style. My blog readership is declining. Boardgame hobbyists prefer to consume content in the form of videos. Some bloggers successfully switched to become vloggers. There are vloggers who never were bloggers. Some people do a mix of video and text content, e.g. the folks at Shut Up & Sit Down. I have never considered vlogging. Too much work. Blogging is something I can do at a leisurely pace. I write using Google Docs. I write when I have free time and when I feel like it. I don't need any elaborate preparation. There is some work in taking photos, transferring them to my laptop, editing them, organising them, uploading them. However I enjoy taking photos anyway (again, also because of how I like record-keeping), so I don't mind the effort. The other reason I never considered vlogging is I don't like the format myself. I don't watch many vlogs. I prefer reading text because I can skim text quickly. I can jump to sections which interest me. With videos, the vlogger dictates the pace.

Sometimes it feels like blogging about boardgames is a bigger pastime for me than playing boardgames is. Sometimes I spend more time blogging than playing. I play less in recent years. I still have ongoing Ascension and Star Realms games on my phone, but sometimes it can be weeks between joining boardgame sessions at Recently when I had a long list of boardgames to blog about, I felt there was no hurry to play more new games because of that glut of content. The five-years-ago me would be alarmed at such blasphemy. Something is not right! Boardgames is supposed to be about playing, and not about writing. Sometimes when I almost run out of new boardgames to write about, I feel a higher sense of urgency to join the next game session, so that I will have new content. This is so upside down. This is actually what made me think of writing this article; not the fact that it has been 10 years.

Eventually I conclude that this is not wrong. It is my pastime. I am free to decide how to spend my leisure time as long as I am not hurting anyone.

I have once tried to make money from this blog. I signed up for the referral program at Noble Knight Games. If I successfully referred a customer who then made a purchase within one week, I would get a small fee. I did make some referrals which led to sales. OK, maybe not "some". It might have been just one. The total fee never reached a threshold which would justify the trouble and cost of sending it to me. After a while I stopped inserting links and ads. I tried setting up Google Ads, but Google's bots automatically rejected my application, likely because I had too many links at my blog (I create a label for every game I play). So, my blog went back to serving just my original purpose - a scrapbook of my fond memories.

I started a boardgame blog in Chinese in 2010. My mother tongue is Mandarin. There are some expressions in Chinese which I can't find equivalents of in English. I decided to write in Chinese too because I enjoy expressing myself in my native language. It meant double work. My content is mostly the same between the two blogs. Now my process is I write in Chinese, and then I write in English while referring to the structure and the content already written in Chinese, and finally I publish both posts simultaneously. I don't read blogs in Chinese nor do I follow any boardgame websites in Chinese. I am too used to reading boardgame content in English. I make up my own Chinese words for concepts and terms which are originally in English. The Chinese language boardgame community probably has different terms. Avid readers of Chinese boardgame content will find my Chinese blog queer.

I can probably proclaim myself the #1 boardgame blogger in Malaysia, but only because people don't really blog anymore nowadays. My boardgame kakis Jeff and Heng used to blog, but are not very active now. One interesting side effect of having this blog is this - occasionally newspaper journalists contact me to interview me. I think it's simply because when they google for boardgame experts or authorities in Malaysia, there is little to find other than my little blog. This sounds sad, but I think boardgames is growing in Malaysia. Else there wouldn't be journalists bothering to write about it. There are more boardgame cafes now. Boardgames is not mainstream, but it is not as niche as before. It's just that people just play and don't worry about writing about it.

Auto-posting to Facebook is important, I feel. I use My volume is small, so it's free. I just need to set it up once, and after that it's worry-free. Sometimes I get questions from Facebook. I think I get more there than on Blogspot, where the blog actually resides.

One thing that still annoys me is spam posts. Blogspot does try to help, but some still get through. Once in a while a legitimate post gets held up. I don't monitor comments held up as possible spam. Because of this, there was once I approved a legitimate comment more than a year after the poor guy posted it. Sorry. I do receive notifications for posted comments, and when I see a spam post being auto-approved by the bots, I cannot resist coming personally to exterminate the spam post.

What's next for this blog? I expect it will be more of the same.

What do you like or not like about my blog? Do you find it useful? Informative? Entertaining?


bgeorge77 said...

I've been reading your blog for many years, maybe not ten, but many. I like that your reviews have always been thoughtful, and you don't shy away from heavier games, while still covering light games as well. Thank you for the many years of writing!

Isamoor said...

I too have been reading for years sir. Thank you for all the memories. As long as you keep writing, I'll keep reading. But only do it if it's something you want to do.

I also have kids a few years younger than yours. I totally started reading your blog before they were born, which is just weird to think about. I've enjoyed the occasional kid flavored post, as sort of a preview of my own time with my kids.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I started blogging about boardgames when my older daughter was 2 years old. It was fun for me to look back at how the games I play with my children have evolved as they grew older.

Unknown said...

keep on blogging!!!

Justin Oei said...

I started reading your blog when you & your wife, Michelle, were actively playing RFTG & TTA. Many of the games you blog about influenced my initial game purchases. Your blog was the first place that I heard about "fives & dimes" which has prompted me to do my own recording as well. Because of you, I got to know Jeff & Wai Yan indirectly. It may not have been your intention to influence others through your blog but I blame you for my addiction and thank you for it at the same time as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I've been subscribing via feedly for i dunno how long. a few years maybe? i watch a lot of vids on games, but like a mix of media, so your blog is still right on target for me. bgeorge hits the nail on the head for me too, so pretend i was as insightful and eloquent as him. i also love kid-centered posts.

i'll keep reading! thanks a ton.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Hey hey! I'm a Feedly user too! :-)

Thank you all for the encouragement and support!

Aik Yong said...

Yah, not sure if my reading thru Feedly counts towards the readership numbers but am still reading every blog. However I do skip towards the ‘thoughts’ as I find it most interesting.

My blogging style is also more of less geared towards people, story and situations so if something interesting occurs only I will blog about it.

Lately I found a revival of ‘blogging’ among my other friends on as they do some monetizing structure thru community votes. You might want to check it out. In the future where robots automate our work, creative writing might be one of ways to ‘work’.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Thanks Heng. I have not heard of before.

Yes, I too am to type who "jumps to Conclusions". :-P

Gou er said...

Don't stop bro. Keep Blogging. Compare with others around this region especially whether from Singapore or Malaysia. Yours is much more meaty and a good reference when looking out for good boardgame feedbacks/review.

TeOoh! said...

Great work Hiew!
I "fell" on your blog years ago and I found reaaally interesting because you write about gaming and not only games.
There are many blog who want to be the bible of games, but none of them is capable of showing which feelings are involved.

I'm one of those who started as vlogger (Italy) and usually I add written content on an italian blog, because many people here read about games during work hours and... cannot listen to a video in office!

Keep on with your personal diary! That's what made me fell in love with your work!

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Ha ha ha... that is a good point! Can't be watching boardgame videos when in the office! :-D

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the milestone! I love your blog, thanks for doing it. It's a very personal blog and I love reading about you and the games you play. Sometimes it's a game not available on this hemisphere of the planet, sometime it's a nice story about your friends or family. I enjoy them a lot, thanks for doing this.

Greets from Chile

Dee W said...

Congrats on the 10 year anniversary! I've read your blog for years and it's still my favorite place to get board game reviews. A lot of vloggers are great for explaining how a game plays, but not how it feels. Shut Up Sit Down is better for explaining how a game feels but I disagree with them on almost all matters of taste. I like your blog for explaining how a game feels and what you are thinking about when playing it. Also the (many!) pictures are of a good quality and with good lighting, which is (annoyingly) rare with board game blogs.

More of the same would be great! Keep it up :)

dubs said...

I really enjoy your blog and the thought and detail you put into your posts. I hope you continue to blog as I really enjoy your analysis and take on different games.

Keep it up!

Ash said...

Congratulations on your first decade anniversary! I first came upon your blog when I was searching for reviews of Historia. It's not a popular game that gets many reviews, and your blog came up on the first page of Google search result. Anyway, I hope you get to have more time playing all the board games that you like. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Hello Hiew,

Congratulations! I love your posts. They are well-written, meaty, funny and well-structured. I love The game, the play and the thoughts. Your English is perfect! I like that you play everything, small games to big games. I love that you play a lot of boardgames with your family and I hope that I can inspire my kids as well as you can one day. So please continu in this format. I like the videos of SUSD, but as said before video is not always the best medium. Text is great!


Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Thank you Rene! Glad that you like my posts. Am very happy to hear the words of encouragement. Happy gaming!

Cody E. Donner said...

Amazing! Great Thought.