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CTX Retro: A Retrospective on Retro Game Collecting

Details on my experiences in our "Participant in the Internet" project
by

Sammy Alvanipour

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of CTX Retro: A Retrospective on Retro Game Collecting

Questions? Comments? The purpose of this project was to take an infatuation of mine and filter it down into a blog. Many of my friends know that I tend to become "over-enthusiastic" with my hobbies and go into immense detail with them, so this was a good opportunity to reflect on this through the process of writing and photo taking. More importantly the purpose of this blog was to document the experiences of one specific individual who has to juggle many other responsibilities as they engage in a time-consuming hobby. Do you have any interests that you are truly passionate about? How much time do you spend participating in these interests? How much more could you accomplish in that hobby with more time if you didn't have any obligations? Purpose For the hosting/design of this blog I opted to use Blogger, as I've had tremendous success in the past with getting a blog quickly set up. I wanted to keep the blog very simple and linear in nature since many of our experiences, including collecting, happen in a linear fashion. If users come to a blog and find it to be overwhelming they have one more reason to not give your blog a chance. I decided to theme the blog "retro" with a background that I found online and a custom banner I created in Photoshop. I tweaked the layout to remove many of Blogger's extraneous features while making sharing prominent. Design Challenges There were not too many challenges that I encountered while developing the blog itself, but there were several challenges in terms of generating the content. The first challenge I experienced was being able to keep up with posting regularly. I would get so caught up in the hobby of collecting and brainstorming and sharing the photos on Facebook that I was mostly "socialed-out" and didn't have the time or energy to write regularly. Often times I would post the photo(s) to my blog with dummy text in place, which I found to be a mistake as it didn't hold me accountable and probably hurt my SEO (search engine optimization). The other challenge I faced was with post length. To keep an active audience I wanted to post as often as possible, but with my busy schedule I wasn't able to make my posts as long as I would have liked. Feedback from my friends suggested that the content was very relevant and entertaining, but ended right as they were hooked in the post Learnings Developing this blog left me with several valuable takeaways on multiple levels. On the development front I learned that even with something as basic as a blog I should take SEO seriously and implement a search box on the site, use tags for the posts, and get Google Analytics set up and configured properly right away. On the content front I learned that content needs to not only be posted frequently, but must be complete (not promised) and of reasonable length (quality AND quantity). From a social point of view I learned that family and friends are eager to provide feedback, but posting content to Facebook first reduces your odds at having your content viewed again. Promoting your site on other discussion boards and sites such as Reddit is generally frowned upon, but having a link in your profile or signature increases your odds at getting
more views from other sources. Check out the site at
http://ctxretro.blogspot.com My experiences in participating in the Internet CTX Retro: A Retrospective on Retro Game Collecting Rational Development Development of the site was very swift due to my past experience in web development and developing Blogger sites for other school projects. I chose a pre-existing layout and modified the CSS to meet my needs and requirements. I wanted to remove many of the elements that identified the page as a Blogger-hosted blog because I felt that it would take away from the content of the blog itself. The Blogger toolbar at the top of the screen was hidden and several pieces of information were hidden from each individual post (to better mimic Wordpress' cleanliness). Widgets were added to the right side of the blog to show users the total number of views, an updated count of the number of games in my collection (updated manually by me), and a list of blogs available for reading.

The writing of blog posts was done through Blogger's built in post editor, while photo hosting was managed outside of the Blogger system. Photos were taken with an iPhone 5 and posted over wifi or cellular connection to Facebook. From there the image URL was copied and entered into Blogger, effectively making Facebook the host for my images. Site Stats For the purposes of keeping up with site statistics I turned to Google Analytics, as it was easy to set up independent of the fact that it is another Google product (thus making integration very straightforward). Using Google Analytics turns the process of blogging into an obsessive science. What I learned early on is to set up Google Analytics right away to get the most accurate statistics and to also add your own location to the blocked list for monitoring. When developing a blog you will visit it many, many times, logging hits that don't necessarily "count." Now without further adieu, here are stats from the blog:

First Post: 10/24/2012
Total Posts: 51 (and counting)
Visits: 56
Pageviews: 465 (977 per Blogger)
Pages / Visit: 8.30
Avg. Visit Duration: 00:07:20
Bounce Rate: 35.71%
% New Visits: 26.79%
73.21% of traffic comes from returning visitors
26.79% of traffic comes from new visitor Future Implementation As mentioned in the previous slide I would like to implement (and will implement) several changes in response to my learnings. I will be adding a search box to the right side of the blog with the other widgets and will retroactively update tags on all blog posts. I would like to get a schedule going of when I will post blogs so that viewers can count on content being updated on a specific day of the week. With that in mind I would also like to reduce the number of posts and instead combine them, so that each post features more than one video game pickup and supporting photo. On the social front I will be going through all of my social media accounts and profiles on discussion boards and will add the URL of my blog to my profile and signature. Related to the URL I was considering paying for a dedicated domain so that users can easily access my site and also to add credibility to the product. Aside from that I think the biggest change I can implement is being more proactive in interacting with others, getting suggestions, facing rejection (which is painfully harsh on the internet), and making new online friends to add to my increased following. I feel that with these changes this blog can flourish into something more than just a month-long project and can give me motivation when I feel that I am losing vision in my hobby. Many discussion boards and sites such as Reddit exist to provide users with a forum to discuss the topic of retro game collecting, but these environments are very "revolving door" in nature. People put so much effort into their collections and post their progress, yet there is no way to really keep track of everyone and follow along for the ride; in other words, they get lost in the noise of it all, and that was really disappointing to me.

People post on Reddit to get "upvotes" and "karma," and for that brief moment they are in the spotlight as their post stays at the top of the page, then their posts just fade to the bottom and are forgotten about. I felt that my blog would be one person documenting their story in great detail, from the perspective of what I consider to be a "normal" person (working, school, house, family life, etc.).
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