I usually check my phone for notifications from WordPress on my way out of work. As I left the building and headed into the cold, I saw I had a message I wasn’t expecting.
It was the WordPress Anniversary notification, confirming that Retro Redress had begun a year ago today. I was surprised to see the notification as I genuinely couldn’t remember what date I started Retro Redress on. I know it was in March at some point and it was before my first post on March 25th, but I couldn’t remember the exact date.
As I’ve alluded to previously, I’d taken time off my then job suffering from stress. That was March 14th. Looking back, I can’t remember when I decided to start my own blog. It must have been a few days after the 14th, but I can’t remember the exact point I said “Let’s do this!”
What I do remember is the awkward phase of trying to start a blog. Firstly, I had to think about what I could write about. I originally thought about game reviews, but I knew I had no experience in writing reviews…or even playing games really. When I analysed that point deeper, that’s where my inspiration came from – I couldn’t review games as I lacked the expertise of playing a wide range of games, classics or garbage. So I would go back and play the games I had missed out on, correct my mistakes and gain that gaming knowledge the hard way!
Then I had to think of a name. I’ve always said that naming anything is one of the hardest things you can do. Kids, bands, pets…naming something is tough. It’s your responsibility to give a name to someone or something that people will associate them with. The name has got to stand out yet fit their identity. For example, there are no heavy metal bands called ‘Cuddles and Biscuits’ as it just doesn’t work.
I knew I wanted to write about old games, so ‘Retro’ was an obvious choice for a name. I had no idea what to put with ‘Retro’ though. I really wanted Retrobution, a play on Retribution, but there was a shop with that name and I have to be 100% original. If I know that something else out there has the same name as my blog, then that would frustrate me – originality is crucial! I also considered Retro Revenge, a name that would have been a perfect fit, but alas there was a Dead Island spin off with the same name.
So I spent a night scanning Google and looking through the thesaurus. I really wanted a name that had the right alliteration with ‘Retro’. Retro Regrets, Retro Rabbit, Retro Rice…along those lines. It wasn’t until I searched through the thesaurus that I saw the word ‘Redress.’ At first (and sometimes, now) it sounded a bit pretentious…but I soon realized that it was mine and mine alone. I had wanted a name that was unique and as awkward as ‘Redress’ sounds, I had found it.
With the name picked, I needed to design the blog. I had no design experience outside of an ‘E’ in GCSE Graphics and designing basic logos for wrestling companies on Total Extreme Wrestling games. I did struggle with this a bit – I wasted a whole afternoon trying to design the blog’s logo around a ‘red dress.’ It took me two hours to try and design (finding a free cartoon image of someone in a red dress is surprisingly hard) and two seconds to realize that this would be the worst idea since pineapple on pizza.
So I went back to my roots – I stole the Sega font and never looked back. Everything felt into place after that. I chose a simple white background as 1) I think simple looks best and 2) I didn’t want to over complicate things given my lack of experience. The red, black and white colour scheme was chosen as I always felt black writing on white background was easiest to read and red is a colour that catches peoples’ attention, like traffic lights or red rings of death.
I then finished with some basic details. An About page that’s clumsier than a blindfolded giraffe on roller skates, a Contact page that has less details than Atari 2600 graphics and a first post that was short and to the point. However, if you look in the comments section, that’s how I first got talking to a certain Mage…it’s incredible when you look back to see how the building blocks of this blog has become were formed.
My memory after that is playing Dynamite Dux and panicking. Intensely. I rewrote that blog entry about four times, it probably took me longer to write each attempt than to complete the game! However, it was eventually deemed good enough to post (I’m not reading it again…I’m scared I will end up hating it and want to edit it again!)
That’s how Retro Redress began. One year ago today, by a confused and anxious office job burnout with no experience of the internet. In the year since, I’ve chatted to lots of cool people via the WordPress community and Twitter, played and blogged about lots of games, become a mage, did a radio interview (I have never sounded so nervous in my life), been nominated for awards, set myself some crazy goals and fought a dragon. OK, the last one is a lie…
Looking back on the past year, I’ve got lots of great memories. Whether it’s posting that first post and thinking “Yes, I’ve started!” or trying to get 4G working in the car on the way to Cornwall so I could see my Super Mario Land review posted on The Well-Red Mage, even checking in on Retro Redress in Vegas, I’ve had a great time.
So, really, I just wanted to say thanks. To all the cool people who I’ve spoken to over the past year who have made me realize the internet isn’t the scary place I thought it was. To all the bloggers whose great posts I’ve read during lunch breaks and in other idle moments. To all the people who read my ramblings.
As Retro Redress evolves and changes, I’m excited for the future. I wouldn’t have said that a year ago. As I head into another stage of designing my blog, I can’t help but smile thinking back a year ago…
Who would have though that trying to correct past mistakes would be one of the best ideas I’d ever had?