State of the Site, March 2015:
Twas the Night before PAX.

Mar 06, 2015
State of the Blog 4

PAX East 2015 is only a few hours away from opening, and I can't help but laugh as I sit here, carefully gathering my notes for interviews and must-see games. Just over two years ago, Zoë and I were watching concerts at PAX East when the idea for Sprites and Dice dawned on us. We were swept up in the rush, in the energy that a convention could give. Here we were, with thousands and thousands of like-minded people, all cheering and laughing together. We had just spent days talking excitedly, gathering around game boards and television screens with complete strangers in good spirit. Even standing in line had been fun, sharing stories about your favorite handheld games with those around you, spontaneously starting duels with Japanese pocket monsters, or swapping Steam names to play a round of your favorite game with someone later.

The question we found ourselves asking that night was, why couldn't things be more like this all the time?

To be able to consider yourself a gamer - someone that thoroughly enjoys any sort of game - is a luxury, an escape, an opportunity to let go of the regular stresses of life and appreciate something different. Here we were, as a community, a sub-culture, coming together and celebrating the fact that we had a chance to not just trapped in the day-in and day-out of modern life. Connected, and happier for it.

Too often, me and Zoë agreed, we found that instead of enjoying the moment, gamers as a community could often tear down. Criticize, rather than celebrate. Assigning scores and numbers to individual games instead of appreciating what they were trying to offer in terms of content and design and innovation. One of the best things about the medium of games is it's ability to tackle subjects in new and interesting ways: why were wonderful new takes on genres like Banished easily given a number and moved on from? Why was it considered odd to talk about the deeper themes behind your favorite video games? One of the greatest things about a game like Transistor was the level of emotional depth that crept over you while you played through it.

The website was an idea that grew into a side project. Zoë and I talked out some ideas, and slowly, cautiously, started Sprites and Dice as a simple blog with a hopeful purpose; to be a place filled with positive thoughts and aspirations towards our favorite hobby. To write personal feelings about some of the games we appreciated the most. We had no idea if this would work. We had no idea if anyone was going to care.


We don't always have the best ideas.

Now, nearly two years later, I guess some people do like to read our thoughts. I guess some people like the idea of a website that's built around raising up the positive things that come out of this collective hobby of ours. Zoë and I have been spending the last few months looking at each other with a bit of surprise: this has gone from a small side project to something we've been investing hours into each week this year.

We've gone from just a couple of guys that were excited to have a new post every month to having three posts a week. We've gone from praying that we might get any page-views, to high-fiving as the numbers start to hit three digits a day. How this project has gone from being just our little pipe dream into something we're sharing with a cadre of volunteer writers. For all of us, Sprites and Dice is the thing we invest time and energy into between jobs, between college classes; As we grow bigger and better, we all are just more happy to do it.

Before setting off for the convention this year, I asked everyone that was a part of our website why they wanted to be a part of Sprites and Dice:

Eric: "I like getting my voice out there, and stimulating discussion about the things I'm passionate about. I like to feel I'm giving something back to a community that's given me so much joy over the years."

Dana: "Writing about games combines my two favorite activities: Lying to people, and having people listen to me. Tabletop role-playing games are all about cooperative storytelling, cooperative lying to each other for fun. If I get a chance to share those stories, to help people lie better for more fun, then I'll consider my writings here a success."

Ben: "Some of the best nights of my life have been playing a game with friends. I met Wyatt, and by extension most of my other college friends because of gaming. I learned a long time ago to never doubt Wyatt's ability to get other people excited for whatever he's excited for, and that he never jumps into a project without big plans and big dreams. When he asked me to join him, of course I said yes. To me, writing for Sprites and Dice is an avenue to achieve two goals: to become a better storyteller, and to give back to the community that's given me so much, even if in just some small way."

Brandon: "The internet is a game, and working on Sprites and Dice has given me the opportunity to learn how to play it. The trial and error process of figuring out how to effectively promote posts and the wonderfully broad conglomeration of ideas we produce has been satisfying and engaging."


At the end of PAX East 2014

And of course, Zoë: "As my fourth PAX approaches this weekend, so does the second anniversary of this site. We've grown from two writers to having a sizable staff of six, and I finally have some air to dedicate to making this site what it was always intended to be. Now that I've been working as a web developer for some time, I can start dumping what I've learned back into making this site prettier, more functional, and well, awesome.

PAX is changing a lot for me. It used to be a magical place where I could buy things from my favorite people in the community, and now it has limitless potential. I can't help but think back to all of the inspiring people I've met at PAX over the years, and how they've helped me get more involved. Thanks to the encouragement of so many of my peers, and of so many developers in the indie scene of the industry, making a game for myself's gone from something daunting to just another thing on my to-do list. Games journalism has long been a dream of mine, and a way to hopefully reach for greater goals. Now that I've settled into my niche as a web developer, and work on strengthening my voice, those impossible dreams are looking a lot less daunting."

We plan on picking up speed, not slowing down. There are just too many good ideas, too many great possibilities to enjoy life more because of our collective love of games. We hope to develop our own website from scratch soon, as well as add a webcomic. We were blown away when we had the chance to interview developers like we were real press at last year's event, and now we're back and ready to go all out. Doing this is an effort, but it's something that's energizing, not exhausting. I think I speak for all the members of Sprites and Dice when I say that working this project is fun and exciting, and we have no intention of stopping.

If you're reading this, thanks. Thanks for being a part of the gaming community as a whole, and thanks for making our lives a lot more interesting and fun. We hope that you enjoy games as much as we do, and that they're inspirational, not just a way to pass the time. We hope you'll read more of our stuff, and even reach out to tell us how we're doing in our goals to make the internet a bit more of a positive place where we can. Games are meant to be something enjoyed, to share mirth with rather than cause frustration and pain.


It's the night before another PAX. A back pocket filled with business cards, a notepad filled with questions to ask. A stupid grin on my face, as myself and most of the members of this website have another excuse to drive out to Boston, pick up dice and controllers alike, and celebrate.

We hope to see as many of you as we can while we're there.

Wyatt Krause

Editor-in-chief, Co-founder