Fuck 2020.

I am not presently, nor will I ever be intelligent enough to summarize 2020 in a way that does anyone negatively impacted by the year any level of justice. Despite the past twelve months being a roller coaster shitstorm, I have had the fortunate position of being able to work from home and, in fact, had more work to do as my company’s digital portfolio accelerated forward five years. On top of that, I also had my most successful year blogging on numerous fronts, drastically improved my artistic abilities, and got involved in content creation avenues I never thought I would. This is a post mortem on my 2020.

I started 2020 with a single goal: have fun. That’s a rather abstract goal and leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but in a lot of ways I think I managed to achieve it. I spent the first two months of the year reclaiming my motivation for writing while pouring a lot of time into Slay the Spire, Fantasy Strike, Monster Hunter: World, and Yakuza 0. This gave me a lot of time to think, which I later put to good use.

During this time I conceived the idea for my month in review series, which is responsible for solving a number of my blogging problems. These posts afford me the ability to write content about a variety of games regardless of length, thus preventing the frustrating writers block I’d feel when I couldn’t come up with enough to say for a full post. They also helped keep me writing and are relatively low impact content taking only a few hours to write and edit, which is a far smaller investment than writing a review or one of my more in-depth editorials.

I really can’t stress enough how helpful those posts have been for me. They singlehandedly dealt with all of the roadblocks I was regularly running into.

This also helped me to understand that I am capable of writing an entire article’s worth of content if I let the articles decide what they want to be. Instead of writing with a specific goal, I sit down and write about whatever I feel like. Generally, I pick a game I’m interested in and begin writing for a couple hours. The next day I’ll look through what I’ve written and create the article from there by weaving together my strongest points and fleshing out examples, or filling in contextual information. In this way, I’m able to avoid being blocked because I’m laser focused on writing about subjects I’m interested in even if I don’t consciously know what those subjects are.

I know that probably sounds insane, but I’ve had a lot of success sticking to that method. Were it not for the freeform nature of my month in review series (and some poking from Quietschisto if I’m being honest) I don’t know that I’d have been as successful with my writing. Regardless, I’ve managed to create a number of articles that I’m really proud of and were fun to write.

Moving on from blog related topics, we’re going to get a bit more personal.

From 2017 through to the beginning of 2020 I would go to the pub every single Friday and get plastered to blow off steam. The problem with drinking alcohol consistently like this is that you build up a tolerance to it. So while in 2017 I was sloshed after three or four drinks, by 2019 I had lost count of the pints and was going home when the pub closed. This led to a few problems.

Firstly, Miranda wasn’t exactly happy about the situation. Using alcohol as a coping mechanism isn’t recognized as being healthy by anyone. Further, she was always worried that I’d get injured during my drunken frozen 2AM stumble over to her place. And when I arrived unharmed but entirely intoxicated and immediately passed out she’d transition over to being furious because she’d been worried for however long and couldn’t sleep because of it.

Secondly, I was wasting a somewhat unreasonable amount of money on alcohol every week. I never ran into financial problems from this, but I wasn’t exactly doing myself any favours by spending as much money on booze as I was food every single week.

As a result, I started to dial things back and capped my time at the pub to between eight and nine, regardless of my intoxication level, so that I could trek over to Mir’s place before she would want to go to bed. I’d thought that it might have been better to stop going to the pub outright, but breaking a three year ingrained habit would be extremely difficult.

But suddenly COVID-19.

Once the coof started I stopped going to the pub. We weren’t even in lockdown yet, but my lungs aren’t exactly freshly minted anymore so I didn’t want to take any risks with a disease that might have the potential to kill me.

Suddenly I had a lot more time on Fridays. For the first few weeks I used the extra time to write or edit articles, but this would not last. I eventually discovered a number of fellow WordPress bloggers were live-streaming over on Twitch. Chief among them were Kim of Later Levels and The Gaming Diaries. I started dropping in on their streams, which allowed me to interact with them and several other folks from around the blogging community. This also inspired me to start streaming every Friday (FrostiFriday) as no other person from our group regularly took the time-slot that occupied when I’d be at the pub. Thus my Friday ritual of drinking while talking shit with a bunch of like-minded people was replaced with playing games or drawing while talking shit with a bunch of like-minded people.

Streaming is still not something I take very seriously. I don’t actually think I’m very good at it and feel like I could get exactly what I want out of it by way of setting up a discord call every week and chatting with the group who regularly shows up to my chat. I’m not much of a performer, but I really appreciate the company and streaming is a nice way to blow off steam at the end of the week. Plus, I’ve also been able to use that time to share games I enjoy and practice my art which has had huge dividends.

Speaking of things I never thought I’d get into, I am now a co-host a podcast. I have to give a lot of credit to Jason here because he does the overwhelming majority of the work for Frosty Canucks. All I do is show up and talk shit for a couple hours, write the episode descriptions, and help make some exec calls on what we are or aren’t doing. He’s done such an amazing job with the podcast and I gotta admit that it’s been fun chatting with him every other week, especially since we haven’t seen each other in person since last Christmas.

If you had told me at the start of 2020 that by the end of the year I’d have quit binge drinking every week, would start streaming, and would be a co-host on a podcast I’d have said you’re a very bad liar, but here we are.

The final aspect I wanted to touch on is gaming specifically. Without looming deadlines for writing or any attempt on my part to write relevant content I was able to take a step back and resume enjoying games. I could sit and play the same game for several weeks (or months) in a row if I continued to have fun with it. As a result Fantasy Strike has played an even bigger part of my year than it did in 2019.

I had so many opportunities to interact with and get to know the fantastic folks from within the Fantasy Strike community in 2020. I participated in a variety of online tournaments, co-commentated the secondary stream for the largest international tournament the game has ever had, and have semi-regularly invaded the commentary booth during Remy’s Monday Night Strike and Toronto Top Tier’s Cyber Stun City. There is a hint of irony to feeling like I became more connected with a community through a year where we all had to put ourselves into lockdown, but all the folks from that community helped to positively impact my 2020.

It’d also be remiss of me to not mention a personal gaming achievement from 2020. I stopped playing six games throughout the year as I wasn’t enjoying them. As someone who has a real problem with quitting games they aren’t enjoying I view this as a huge achievement. I’m prioritizing my own personal enjoyment over finishing a game just to say I did it.

If anyone besides my mom made it this far, who are you and why? 2020 has been quite a year. While the world has been going to shit I’ve managed to have a number of positive experiences in the last twelve months. I owe an extraordinary amount of that to fellow bloggers and members of the Fantasy Strike community. You may not know it, but you’ve had a huge positive impact on me this year. Thank you.

And thank YOU for reading.