Month: July 2020

Who’s my ideal reader?

I thought it would be interesting to look at my blog’s analytics, to see what kind of readers y’all are. That’s right, I’m goin’ to take that there toothpick and poke aroun’ in the recesses of your braiiins. (And promptly rid myself of this here fake and likely offensive Southern drawl.)

I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that at various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, ‘I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?

– Stephen King, On Writing

Of course this is a blog, not a story, but the concept is the same.

(The following is based on data from May 2020, otherwise I’d be forever chasing my tail.)

You prefer to read about Doom and monkey wrenches over anally-retentive observations about language

I started this blog in 2018. Since then, the most-read post is What happens when an adventure gamer plays a first-person shooter? and the least-read is Are you using these words correctly?


These stats are from WordPress’ native analytics data, because I’m too cheap to invest in a premium account with Google Analytics tracking (though I do use Google Search Console). So take it with a pinch of curry powder.

In the beginning, the blog was about language and my passion for words, gradually spiralling into more gaming-related posts. It seems the latter is much more popular – but I had fewer followers back then, so it’s no surprise the lowest ranking post is one from those early days when I was indulging my nitpicking side.

Screenshot 2020-07-25 at 17.05.15

What’s more, it doesn’t shock me that a post about Doom accounts for the most traffic, given its popularity on Twitter. It turns out Doom is an extremely widely appreciated game holding a timeless place in gaming culture, with one of the biggest online communities keeping it thriving. Who’d have thunk it?

Monkey Island 2 Special Edition_ LeChuck's Revenge 08_10_2018 18_11_17

Coming in third place is Can we talk about the monkey wrench puzzle? Again, not a huge surprise – a lot of traffic comes from web searches for ‘monkey wrench puzzle’ and similar terms. The puzzle is a pretty contentious and commonly debated topic, and crops up again and again on gaming forums and the like.

May referrals
Google Search Console, May 2020

It’s also quite telling that people are searching for information about Kid’s gender in 198X. I told you it was ambiguous!

You’re a lovely bunch of twits


WordPress referrals, May 2020

Unsurprising that the top referrer is Twitter, since that’s where I promote my posts. I’m ‘silently present’ on a few sites and forums, and as such get some traffic from those too – plus the occasional pingback or tag from other bloggers.

Flipboard is something I only learned about recently. It’s a content-aggregating site that pulls together blog posts, articles and news stories from all different sites and categorises them in a magazine format. There’s some debate over the integrity of these kinds of sites because they reproduce content without permission, but I’m happy for my stuff to be on there for now – they link out to the original post and it’s pretty clear who the author is.

You’re all insomniacs, from the States, and not very productive on a Thursday

Most popular day and hour

Interesting. I guess there are a lot of night owls visiting my blog, or… you’re all from the US.



That may be largely due to the fact that the USA makes up most of Twitter’s users. Or, perhaps adventure games are more popular in the States. Or you’re all using dodgy offshore VPNs. Or, you’re actually just one American dude obsessed with my blog. Or an American bot gone rogue, generating fake likes, comments and utterly misleading stats.

Moving on.

So, who’s my ideal reader?

My IR (Ideal Reader) is a Twitter user who enjoys playing and debating about old games, doesn’t enjoy nitpicking the finer points of English language, is up bleary-eyed at an ungodly hour, and is a Yank who skives off on a Thursday.

So that’s what I’m aiming for. Thank goodness for stats.

I’m crap at Battle Chess, but I don’t care

Battle Chess DOS

I’m not great at chess, but I needed a game to play in between looking after our newborn twins, you know, for a bit of sanity. I thought chess would be good because we could take moves in between feeding, burping and cuddling. And looking after the babies (ba-doom-TSH).

Then I thought, I’m a bit crap at chess though, so I could do with a practice before I go up against my husband who is significantly less crap at it. And what better way to do that than to revisit the delight that is Battle Chess (Interplay Productions, 1988).

Romancing the stoneman

I first played the MS-DOS version of Battle Chess on my PC when I was about 12. Suddenly, a game I’d always thought of as dull and difficult became fun and stimulating – not to mention deliciously dark, which is what made this version of the classic so enticing. The fight-to-the-death animations – and accompanying PC speaker sound effects – puts this version of computer chess way ahead of the others.

The different personalities of the character pieces show through in even the smallest movements; the castle (or rook) turning into a brick-formed brute is a stroke of genius.

I lost the first game. I blame my crush on the castleman.

Who gives a duck?

My favourite story behind Battle Chess, whether it’s true or not, is the one concerning the developer and the duck (Diane, note that title for my next children’s book). Wary of executive approval, he added a small illustration of a duck to the queen piece, to give his bosses something to critique instead of taking out something he actually liked and worked hard on. Sure enough, they removed the duck and approved everything else. A ‘duck’ is now a common term for including something superfluous as ‘bait’ to be taken out.

I lost the second game. I blame daydreaming about that duck.

The Thinker

One of my favourite things about Battle Chess is the idle animation, characterised by Rodin’s The Thinker sitting on a PC.

I lost the third game. I blame thinking about The Thinker.

Give it a few more knights*

*I’m sorry.

So it’s going to be a while before I’m ready to play an actual physical game of chess. But that’s okay as there are apparently 30,000+ opening sequences to play through. On the upside, maybe by that time someone would have made a version based on characters in The X-Files.