Liebstering Away

A couple days ago, Wilhelm over at The Ancient Gaming Noob was kind enough to nominate me for a Liebster Award! What’s a Liebster Award, you ask? I had no idea until I read Wilhelm’s post. It seems to be some kind of pay it forward thing, maybe started as an attempt to cross promote blogs or something. It has rules and stuff which I’ll do my best to follow.


Here I have to tell you 11 random facts about myself. I’m not real sure if these have to be obscure or not, but whatever, you’re not my boss:

  1. I’ve loved Ancient Roman history since I was a boy. When I was 11 or 12 I picked up one of my mother’s college textbooks about history and immediately clicked with the Romans on some fundamental level. That connection has lasted all the way to today – I have a Roman history podcast called Roman Lives and am working on a history of the Roman kingdom in what spare time I have these days.
  2. Also as a boy, slightly older (but not by much) I voraciously tore through every Stephen King novel written up until that point – except It. To this day, I have not read It, as it scared the hell out of me then and still terrifies me today.
  3. I never seriously played Everquest or Everquest 2. Or Vanguard. Or Clone Wars, Star Wars Galaxies, Free Realms, or pretty much any of the titles SOE put out – either before or after I worked there (I did, in my defense, put in easily a hundred hours on Planetside 2 though).
  4. My first car was a blue and silver ’87 Chevy Blazer that I picked up for cheap at my first duty station in the Air Force – up in Alaska. I taught myself to drive on a Ford pickup truck when I was deployed in 2004/5 and didn’t have a license until I was 22.
  5. The first computer game I ever played was Where in the World is Carmen San Diego – on the first computer I ever owned, which I got when I was 13.
  6. I can drink beer forever – but hard liquor does me in within 2 drinks. It isn’t pretty. Don’t give me real booze please.
  7. I’ve circumnavigated the globe and don’t have a passport.
  8. My grandmother was from Northern Ireland and raised me until I was about five together with my deaf aunt. We didn’t get out much, so when I went to school I had a bit of an accent – a combination of Irish and that odd, dissonant voice common to many deaf people. When they trained the deaf-accent out of me, I also lost the Irish.
  9. Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell are in a dead heat for ‘most hated actor/comedian’ in my mind. I can’t stand anything they’ve ever been in.
  10. The Gunslinger by Stephen King is easily, by a few miles, my favorite book of all time.
  11. I’m about to be a dad for the third time on May 25th – a little girl to compliment my two boys.

That was surprisingly difficult to manage – let’s see what else we have in store.


Wilhelm was kind enough to come up with some questions to keep the headscratching going on my part.

1. Why blog?  In this age of Facebook and Instagram and Twitch and what not, why do you work in a medium that is still mostly about words as opposed to video or connections or other things?

Blogging, for me, is a way for me to maintain my writing skills. I got away from writing very often when I was at TMC, which is ironic considering it was my writing that gave me the foot in the door there in the first place. While I have often contemplated writing a novel and am even now working – slowly, but surely – towards a history book, I find the constant need for content on a blog is a great way to ensure I write regularly. It may not necessarily improve my writing skills the way a book would, but it keeps the tools from getting rusty.

2. Why MMOs? (Or, why not MMOs?)  What is it about this never ending genre that pulls you in, relative to single player or even multi-player co-op games?

You know, I’m not really sure. I still really enjoy single player games, but MMOs have been a mainstay for me for about a decade now, and I don’t see that changing. I’ve tried most MMOs that have debuted in that time and will almost certainly continue to do so. I think for me, MMOs represent a wonderful mix of regular ole video game and social interaction that I otherwise wouldn’t get. Multiplayer online games (like Call of Duty, Halo, etc) have no appeal, because the interactions there are so much less meaningful, so much more restricted. I’m not an especially social person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t crave that human interaction.

3. Science Fiction or Fantasy?  Which way do you lean when it comes to games, literature, movies, or whatever?

When it comes to reading, I tend to gravitate towards fantasy, or sci-fi so far down the path that it might as well be fantasy. Particularly in the last five years or so, the fantasy genre has made some wonderful advances, and I much prefer the likes of Abercrombie, Brett, Weeks, and Lawrence to anything on offer over in the sci-fi section these days. However, I’m the opposite when it comes to movies – sci-fi is vastly preferable.

4. What of Steam?  Do you feel like you’re missing something by not browsing the shelves looking at boxes when shopping for video games?  Digital distribution is here, on the PC at least (consoles still depend on a lot of physical boxes), do you miss the old way?  Are you old enough to even remember the old way?

I can dimly recall the old days of boxes on shelves, but honestly if it weren’t for Steam I would’ve missed out on a ton of great games. There’s something restraining about having to actually check out at a cash register, handing them the box to a game, that usually prevents me from spending money. This is, of course, complete with the downside that it is entirely too easy to spend money in Steam, but you gotta take the good with the bad.

5. What gaming relics to you hang on to, if any?  Chat logs? Screen shots? Physical boxes? Just memories?

I hold on to every game box ever and have some collectibles – two EVE Online physical models (a Tempest and an Armageddon), a Pip Boy bobblehead and lunch pail, a few other things. I’ve also held on to all my convention passes accrued over the years. Digital stuff like chat logs, screen shots, and the like – they tend to disappear into the void.

6. Name three (or more if you like) video games that shaped the gamer you are today.

EVE Online (obviously), Morrowind, and Halo. Easily the most influential games upon my own experience.

7. You’re rolling up a new character in yet another fantasy title.  What race and class is always the first set you go with?

In the past, I tended to roll the heaviest hitting melee class (warrior/barbarian/etc) and the biggest, burliest looking race to go with it. Now, I’m all over the place, but I do tend towards ranged combat. I find it easier to come to grips with a new combat system with the benefit of range.

8. What video games, if any, did you play before you discovered MMOs?  Did you leave them behind?  Or have you left MMOs behind?

Tons, is the short answer. As mentioned above, Morrowind and Halo are what really got me started on video gaming, as well as Need for Speed and Gran Turismo. I have, by and large, left most of those behind – I no longer play racing games, or shooters, much at all. RPGs continue to be a mainstay for me, though, and hockey games.

9. By whatever definition you choose, what would you consider to be the Video Game Capital of the World?  LA? Austin? London? Elsewhere?  Maybe just the Video Game Capital of your world?

It wasn’t until I read this question that I realized there really isn’t a video game capital of the world. There are tons of great companies and they do tend to cluster together in spots – LA, Austin, Stockholm, Montreal, etc. If I had to pick one, though, I’d probably default to LA. It’s the entertainment capital of the world and there are tons of game companies with representation in the greater LA area – Riot, Blizzard, Sony, etc etc.

10. Which MMOs have you really invested yourself in?  There are a lot of them out there, but you can realistically only really get into so many.  Which were they for you?

Just World of Warcraft and EVE Online for me. I’ve rarely hit max level in any other MMO, or invested as much time.

11. How do you spend most of your MMO time with relation to other players?  Are you solo, in a partial group, in a full group, in a raid, in a coalition-wide fleet operation, or some other formation?  What is your default mode?

I like having just one or two people with me – enough to have company, not enough to get overwhelmed. I’m fairly introverted and prefer small group settings with people I know.


In just a little bit I’m gonna have to tag a handful of people to continue this scam – and as you can see above, they’re gonna have to answer some questions. Here they are:

1. Do you think you’ll still be playing MMOs as often as you do now in 10 years? 20?

2. Have you ever tried to get a job in the gaming industry – or do you have one now?

3. Have you ever hidden your gaming habits from close friends or family? How’d that go?

4. Ever consider going to conventions – or if you have already, how many/which ones/did you like the experience?

5. When did you realize that MMOs weren’t just a thing – they were your thing? Something you really liked to do?

6. If you could live as an NPC in any MMO universe, which universe would it be?

7. Are there any games you wish you had been a part of in their heyday?

8. Mobile games: devil, temptress, godsend, or the future of gaming?

9. What’s your preferred version of our dystopian future?

10. Have you ever met someone via a game that turned into a very close ‘RL’ friend, or a significant other?

11. Would you rather have a free lifetime subscription to a single MMO, or a free year of every MMO?


And now we bring this Liebster post to an end with some tags. Hopefully they haven’t been tagged yet, or if they have they’ll take my questions on as well. At any rate, here we go:




Mike Azariah

Psianh Auvyander

Good luck to those tagged, and a sincere thanks to Wilhelm for the nod – much appreciated!