Secret Valentine: An Outpouring of Appreciation

Happy Valentine’s Day, adventurers! Today is a day with a bit of a bad reputation – for many of you reading this, Valentine’s can be downright unpleasant. That’s why I wanted to take an opportunity to rejuvenate this holiday with a bit of Adventure Rules fun. I got that process started last week by announcing the Secret Valentine event. Twenty bloggers signed up to be randomly assigned another blogger, read up on their blog, and then post an article showing some appreciation for that blogger’s art. Those folks have been hard at work at their articles and you may have even seen some of them already. But there’s more to Secret Valentine than justย oneย appreciation post from another blogger. You see, everyone participating in the event had one blogger to write about, but by signing up they also became the Secret Valentine of another person, someone who would then write an appreciation post for all of the amazing people participating in the event.

That person, of course, is me.

January 2018 was the best month ever of Adventure Rules in terms of views and traffic. That is due primarily to the efforts of adventurers like you to read articles, leave insightful comments, and spread posts around by sharing them on social media or linking them in your own articles. I wanted to find a way to say thank you to all the amazing people who have made this blog a success, and Valentine’s Day seemed like a great time to begin that initiative. However, just suggesting a few of someone’s posts in one of my articles wouldn’t necessarily gather a fellow blogger the attention I feel they deserve. By making a community event out of the whole thing, lots of bloggers who perhaps run in the same circles but somehow missed each other get the opportunity to check out each other’s content. It’s a way not just for me to say thank you, but for all of us to show each other some appreciation for making the WordPress blogging community an amazing one.

So with the backstory out of the way, let’s get right to the good stuff – appreciating all of the great bloggers participating in the event! The blogs are in a very particular order: the order they signed up for the event. For each one I’ll share their main page, a couple of articles by them that I have enjoyed, and why you should check out their blog!

First off on our list of folks to appreciation is Jay of the blog Nerd Speaker. He’s a cool guy that I’ve had a lot of fun interacting with on Twitter. Anytime Nintendo shows off a Direct or makes a big announcement I can count on Jay having some insightful thoughts to share. Perhaps this comes from his admiration of the monk character type in video games, teaching him to be mindful and express his thoughts in a wise and impactful way. Or it could come from his love of dwarves, which are the best race in traditional fantasy outings such as Dungeons and Dragons. If you want to see more of Jay’s insightfulness than what you can find on his own blog, you can also catch him at Rogue’s Portal.

Her name may be Shoot the Rookie, but I doubt anyone would ever want to shoot our next blogger! Pix1001 is a lot of fun to talk to and is very involved in a number of community events, from the Gamer’s United blogging competition to the Later Levels Creative Christmas. She’s particularly good at Top 5 posts and has covered a number of topics from heroic characters to in-game shops to the most important topic of all: sweet, sweet goggles. If that’s not enough to convince you, then here’s the ultimate sell: she uses the same theme for her blog as me. BAM! Go check it out.

Have you ever wanted to read a blog where the writer simply chronicled their personal thoughts on gaming, almost as if writing in their diary? Well look no further, because The Gaming Diaries have you covered. The bread and butter here are reviews, which are score-free (my personal review preference) and cover multiple platforms. Games reviewed recently include Katrielle and the Millionaire’s Conspiracy, The Turing Test, and Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy. I also particularly enjoy the Overheard in a Game Shop series, funny anecdotes about conversations overheard while checking out new games. The Gaming Diaries are down-to-earth in a relateable way that help the blog to feel like your own diary!

Imagine my surprise when this particular Adventure Rules community event brought in a blogger I’d never met before, and one not even blogging about video games! Debi was quite brave to jump into this event and it was cool to see a different type of content being shared with the game blogging community. As a parent, her content is certainly relevant to my experience – I hadn’t heard of many of her hotel hacks but may be using them soon as I’ll be traveling for work next week, and one of my City of Mist RPG Crew members could probably benefit from some of Debi’s pregnancy advice.

No adventurer should be reluctant to go check out Thero’s blog! Thero not only covers video game content but also books and television as well. I appreciate Thero because she keeps her readers informed about what’s going on with regular update posts, so you always know what’s going on at A Reluctant Hero. In the game category, Thero does excellent articles covering the seasonal events in MMOs she plays, sharing what the rewards are as well as how to participate in the event, not to mention scoreless reviews (I’m sensing a pattern here). Thero’s television show reviews are also excellent – she covers X-Men: The Animated Series on a weekly basis and recently covered The Ancient Magus’ Bride as well.

I met Willtendo only recently when he left some insightful comments on a few of my posts. This event gave me a great opportunity to check out his content, and I’m always happy to meet a fellow Nintendo fan! We’ve gotta stick together, you know? After checking out Willtendo’s blog once he signed up for the event, I quickly found that I really enjoy his direct style and simple-and-effective segments. He rants, he ranks, and he reviews, and that’s all that any good game blog really needs. I personally had the most fun reading the rants, such as Willtendo’s thoughts on Odyssey’s collectibles or why Smash 5 should have a single-player story mode.

Video games may need more strong female protagonists, but game bloggers are good to go thanks to ladies like Lightning Ellen. Ellen is one of my most interactive adventurers and is even the standing Blogger Blitz Champion (spoilers for a six month old community event). On her own blog, Ellen shares her experiences with various games, and they’re fun to read whether or not you have any experience with the game yourself. I know nothing about Dragon Age but always looked forward to her tales of her character’s exploits in the game. Ellen is quite involved in community events, like the Well-Red Mage’s Asking Big Questions and Later Levels Creative Christmas, and I highly recommend you check out the content she creates with other bloggers as well as her own material!

If you’re instinct here is to say “is paved with good intentions,” then you’ll be happy to know that Elle already beat you to the pun. Our second blogger whose articles are not focused on gaming, Elle shares poetry, book reviews, and anecdotes from her life. I’m terrible at poetry but I enjoy reading the poems that others come up with. I particularly enjoyed Escape, as I love poems that play with structure, but I also really liked Tiritiri Matangi dawn chorus as well as Creative ignorance. In particular, the latter resonated with me because I feel like I too often miss out on great scenery when driving because I am so focused on the road instead of the surrounding nature.

Shelby of Falcon Game Reviews is a strong personality with an excellent selection of posts from reviews to opinion pieces on issues in the gaming world. I particular enjoy reading his stances on various topics such as loot boxes, the ending of games, and how the world doesn’t end when you don’t enjoy a game. Shelby is well-spoken and I think his perspective is easy to understand regardless of whether or not you agree with it – though it probably helps that I second a lot of his views. One of my favorites by him is this article on tactical combat in games, as I’m a huge fan of tactical RPGs – if you like games in that style you should definitely give it a read!

I first saw Jennifer’s writing as a guest on Falcon Game Reviews. She and Shelby write excellent companion articles, whether working together on the same post or when covering opposite perspectives on a particular topic. She doesn’t just cover video games – although her game content is nothing to sneeze at – but also subjects such as mental health and social media safety.ย  Jennifer is quite versatile and has a little something for everybody, so whether you’re on the gaming end of Secret Valentine or more of a lifestyle blogger, there’s something for you on Nerd Thoughts Blog!

Reaper Interactive is one of many blogs that I met as a result of the Charming and Open community event here on Adventure Rules, and since then it’s been fun to see their perspective on different games. Reaper Interactive is very much a blog about video games in the sense that most articles cover a specific game – no tangents or off-topic posts here! They’ve covered games all over the spectrum, from indie titles like Screen Cheat to mainstream games like Destiny 2. However, fellow bloggers can find more valuable content here in the form of the Blogging 101 series. Reaper Interactive covers typical issues bloggers may be curious about such as networking with other bloggers and copyright laws, so for those just getting started this can be a great place to start getting educated!

What’s a Goriya, you said? Well if this one is any indication, it’s a great blogger who posts about the ongoing hunt for retro games! I met Hungry Goriya fairly recently but have enjoyed seeing their comments on my posts and more recently checking out all of their cool retro finds. Whether buying from friends or from sellers online, Hungry Goriya has all kinds of retro titles to show off and reading about them can bring back a lot of great memories when you see a game you grew up playing. Whether or not you’re a collector, Hungry Goriya is super friendly and has a great writing style that’s quite engaging, so I suggest you go check out those retro collections!

Sometimes, you need to read a blog that’s as dark and bitter as the soul inside of you. Just like your coffee. Games With Coffee may not be as bitter as its mascot, but just like coffee it’s full of good stuff that keeps you going. Ryan is another blogger that I met fairly recently, but it’s been fun seeing his fatherhood journey on Twitter and seeing him actively participating in other community events. His Year of the RPG submission was quite funny – I particularly enjoyed the coffee-themed nicknames that also worked well for the character’s personalities. Then there was his favorite game for each year of life accompanied by some really fun remixes of his favorite song from each game – music is apparently something Ryan covers quite often and I’m excited to hear more songs on his blog in the future!

The last few folks may have been people I met rather recently, but I’ve been blogging with Later Levels for around a year now and it has been a pleasure the whole way. Kim is something of an inspiration for me – there are many bloggers I admire and aspire to emulate in my work, and Later Levels sets the bar for community events in the game blogging world. Whether attending an exciting blog party or answering each month’s burning question, you’ll always have a blast at a Later Levels event. Outside of that, Kim has a mature perspective tempered by experience that translates into posts full of wise advice, and I particularly love reading about her parenting experiences with her stepson Ethan.

Ugh, this guy? I’ve already appreciated him, we’re skipping this one.

I’m just kidding, we’re gonna appreciate Geddy! Nostalgia Trigger lives true to its name and is a great place to go to relive gaming’s glorious past, but it lives in the present as well. Geddy covers current announcements such as Nintendo Directs and talks about the games he’s been playing as of late, and he does so in a down-to-earth style that makes you feel like two dudes talking about games over a greasy burger. Don’t let that relateability fool you, though – Geddy has some serious chops as a writer and his work as a criticย of games is well-crafted. So whether you want to relive the past or think critically about the present, Nostalgia Trigger is the place to be!

Great blog names are either puns or they reference a specific element of a good video game. Sheikah Plate does both, and she backs up her great name with fun content to read! Teri Mae’s main jam (that’s right, I’ve got puns too) is crafting recipes based on the various menu items from Breath of the Wild. Each post has a step-by-step guide, detailed instructions with advice based on her personal experience, and excellent photographs of the work in progress. Combine the level of detail with Teri Mae’s excellent plating and every meal on Sheikah Plate looks good whether you like all of the ingredients or not! She’s talked recently about the possibility of streaming herself cooking so you can see the practical application of each step, and if my blasted internet works you can bet I’ll be there to cook my family a nice Zelda-themed meal.

I just recently received a follow from The Keeper and thought it interesting I hadn’t heard of him before. Turns out that was for good reason – The Codex Online just joined the game-blogging ranks in January! In that time The Keeper has shared much wisdom with us, whether discussing which Zelda has the best sales or excitement about Mario Kart Tour. The Keeper has also organized in his Codex a list of different blogging events going on, so this’ll be a good place to learn about what’s happening in the community. If you, like me, hadn’t heard of The Codex Online yet, this is a great opportunity to go show him some support – let’s welcome our new blogging buddy with open arms!

Yet another blogger I met through Charming and Open, Retro Redress has a solid theme: righting the gaming wrongs they’ve committed over the years. You can check out their record of games they have successfully redressed so far and read articles about the outcome of each one. I particularly enjoyed reading about Mario Kart 8, a game which I have also struggled to beat at the highest levels and so identified strongly with the post. I think what’s awesome about Retro Redress is that the blog is goal-oriented – each redress has a goal associated with it, and each month the blog is working towards a list of goals. That kind of drive is a great example for the rest of us bloggers, so we could stand to learn a lot from Retro Redress!

Perhaps one of the most accessible types of game content for writers of all sorts is the review. Gamegato specializes in reviews, covering titles both recent and retro. The thing that makes the reviews at Gamegato stand out are the details, particularly those about game mechanics. Not every reviewer looks at specific gameplay elements like how health and damage work, but Gamegato factors in these details when reviewing a game. If you’re looking for reviews that delve into the nitty-gritty of game mechanics, then Gamegato is the place to go!

Last but most certainly not least, AmbiGaming is another blog on my list of blogs that I aspire to emulate. Athena delivers high-quality articles that are meticulously researched and quite relevant, dealing with topics that just recently came into the limelight or those that have haunted the gaming world for a long time. She brings in her training as a psychologist to bear in her articles to create pieces that are intellectually engaging and fun to read. You’d think someone so smart might be aloof or unpleasant, but Athena is easy to get along with and is very engaged with the community. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone else as respected by the game bloggers at large, and for good reason. If you don’t know AmbiGaming yet, you should take this chance to check out Athena’s work!

I truly appreciate these twenty amazing folks for taking part in this event and for helping Adventure Rules to be a successful blog. I hope this event has been enjoyable for all involved and that you’ve had the opportunity to meet some new bloggers that you never knew before – keep your eyes open throughout the day for other Secret Valentine posts by the participants in the event, and thanks for reading, adventurers!

30 thoughts on “Secret Valentine: An Outpouring of Appreciation

Add yours

  1. Ian! This post is amazing. You are seriously one of the nicest bloggers to work with and this must have taken you a lot of time to write. Thank you for the wonderful words and for pointing out all the amazing bloggers I, for some reason, am not following. I loved reading about your favorite parts of their blogs and can’t wait to delve into some of them myself! Happy Valentine’s Day to you, Ian, the guy who brings this community together like none other. Your posts are always thrilling and your humor is exactly spot on with mine. I always love coming here and reading what you have to say. As always, you’re the best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Teri! It has been a pleasure hosting this event and like you, I found a lot of new blogs to follow through it. I hope you had a pleasant Valentine’s Day and I’m sure I’ll see you again before long for the next big event!


  2. Thank you for organising this and giving us all a bit of appreciation here as well. You are amazing and oh so kind! Thanks for managing to highlight some other blogs that I hadn’t heard of before now so I can go check them out too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking part! I’m glad you met some new folks through this – I did as well, and my list of people to follow and read has definitely expanded as a result.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for letting me take part! I really enjoy your community events. This has been fantastic finding some more blogs to follow through something like this and I’m glad that even you have met some new people.


    1. Thank you! I’m glad folks are enjoying it – I kind of thought of it on a whim so I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but for the event that I personally put the least effort in to I have had the most participation from other bloggers. Simple is best sometimes, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post Ian – events like this have been the highlight of blogging for me. It’s great to meet so many cool people and read such a variety of awesome posts!

    Thanks for all your effort in organising this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And thank you for being a part of it! These events are the big highlight for me too, not just mine but the ones hosted by other bloggers as well. There’s something special about when we all come together that makes the hobby truly sing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so lovely! I love that you took the time to write each of us a short note ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve found a few more great blogs to check out, too! haha

    And I really do appreciate the kind things you had to say about AmbiGaming, and I’m especially happy I don’t come off as standoffish! haha

    Thank you, thank you, 1000 times, thank you for hosting another fabulous event!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And thank you for being a part of it! I’m glad you met more blogs through this – that’s honestly been my favorite part of hosting this one. It seems like a lot of folks hadn’t met their Secret Valentine, so plenty of us have new bloggers to follow – me included!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m sure I’ll have another one down the pipeline at some point. You’re always welcome to join, and I appreciate you taking part in this one!


  5. Thank you Ian, that is so nice, I can’t imagine the moaunt of work you put into this! The event seemed to go super-well, so thank you so much for organising it! You really inspire me to have a go at creating a community event, but I’m entirely rubbish oat thinking up a good idea, so until I do I’ll just keep taking part in yours if that’s ok ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. For the first time ever, I smiled on Valentine’s Day, haha. It’s so nice to see how wonderful and welcoming this WordPress community is. Thanks for hosting this lovely event! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say every two to three months I run some kind of event. This has been my biggest so far as far as how many people signed up but the smallest as far as scale – my last event before this one lasted a month and the one before that was two months. I may try to do more small ones moving forward, as I feel that this one went very well and it seems like everybody had a good time with it.

      Liked by 1 person

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