Naja B. is a blogger and gaming enthusiast behind The Blerdy Otome which is a Gaming Blog, that dabbles in other nerd related topics. Anime, Manga Reviews, Web Comics, interviews, and pretty much whatever else she likes to talk about. Notable series include Thrifty Gaming: Games That Won’t Blow Your Budget, Melanin Friendly Games, and Melanin Monday series. Naja is also a member of the blogging community OWLS (Otaku Warriors for Liberty and Self-Respect and contributor at Manga Toyko.
I reached out so we can chop it up and here is what she had to say.
My name is Naja B., I'm a black girl nerd who loves games and I run the gaming blog Blerdy Otome! I am looking Black game devs, Black artists, Black bloggers, and Black nerdy creatives to add to my tribe and spotlight. Drop your deets and plug your works! pic.twitter.com/GtGnC4MFdn
— Naja B. (BlerdyOtome) (@BeckNaja) June 3, 2020
1. What is your earliest gaming memory?
Naja: At first, I was going to say it was getting Pokemon Crystal version for Christmas when I was eleven. But, then I thought about more and my actual earliest gaming memory has to be from when I was maybe 6 or 7, maybe 8. I remember my uncle had an old school Game Boy that he’d let me play when we visited his place. He had Metroid II, Donkey Kong Country, this cool Batman game, but my favorite game was Tetris. I would spend hours playing that game—I guess I had a thing for puzzles even back then—and a few years ago he actually gave me his old Game Boy games and the first thing I did was dig up my Game Boy Color so I could play Tetris.
2. My preferred method of gaming is via console. Do you have a preference?
Naja: Despite the fact that I own a lot of digital PC games my preferred gaming method is definitely handheld. Because I like being able to take my games with me wherever I go. I started with the Game Boy Color and just kind of worked my way through all the handheld consoles.
3. What’s your favorite genre of visual novels? And what was the title that solidified that for you?
Naja: Adventure, mystery, anything detective themed—where you have to investigate a crime or a mystery, those are my jam. I want to say that the title that solidified my love of mystery adventure games was Time Hollow—this time travel adventure game for the Nintendo DS. You play as this kid named Ethan who is given a mysterious pen that lets him open up portals in the past, which he uses to manipulate events and people to change the present. It’s one of the first games I played where your choices directly affect the outcome of the story. There are all these alternate endings and twists and turns and it was just so cool! I wish they’d port the game for PC or the Nintendo Switch, I’d buy the hell out of it!
4. When picking out a new game/manga/anime, etc.? What is one of the first things you look for?
Naja: Discounts. I will go out of my way to find a deal and if I find a game that I like that isn’t on sale, I’ll wait until the next sale comes around to get it.
But, when it comes to content, it really depends on what I’m buying. Like for otome games, I’m looking for something that balances the story and the romance. I like romance games with a bit more substance. For anime, it’s the same, it has to have a good story, not too much fanservice, and likable characters. And the only requirement I have for manga is that it has to be complete or at the very least have a few volumes completed.
5. If you were the star of your very own visual novel. What would it be about, and what would you call it?
Naja: Mmm, good question. Maybe detective or a mystery, where I’d have to investigate a crime or like a disappearance, and the love interests would be guys I met as I did my investigation.
I suck at names, so I don’t know what I’d call it.
6. List 3 Manga/Web Comics/Manhwa that holds a very special place in your heart.
Naja: I have four—Fullmetal Alchemist because it was the first print manga I ever got; The Finder series, because it was the “first” BL manga I got into; From Far Away, which is my favorite shojo manga ever; and Banana Fish, I LOVE this manga it is my FAVORITE series and the first to actually make me cry.
7. Name an anime that people who be surprised that you love.
Naja: I guess Blood Blockade Battlefront and the sequel Blood Blockade Battlefront and Beyond.
8. Playlist time: Name 5 Songs that are always in the rotation?
Naja: So, I don’t really like music questions, because what I listen to changes depending on my mood and I go long stretches without listening to any music. So, here are some ani-songs that I liked:
“Mashi Mashi” by Nico Touches the Walls (Ending theme to Haikyuu season 3)
“Heart Signal” by Wataru Hatano (Opening theme to Hitorijime My Hero)
“Sugar Song to Bitter Step” by Unison Square Garden (Ending theme Blood Blockade Battlefront)
“Nagareboshi~Shooting Star” by Home Made Kazoku (Ending theme Naruto Shippuden)
“Kiss ~ Kaerimichi no Love Song~” by Tegomass (Ending theme Lovely Complex)
9. What has been your most popular post? And why do you think it resonated with people?
Naja: This is actually one of the most mind-boggling things about my site, but my most viewed post is a review I did about the boy’s love game Camp Buddy. I guess my readers really like boy’s love. In fact, all of my Black Monkey Pro game reviews get a lot of hits… which I find a smidge frustrating because I have better reviews.
Though, “I Date Hot Guys on My iPad: A Love Affair with Virtual Bishies”—which is just a personal essay about my feelings about otome games is the post with the most comments on it.
10. Running a blog is tiring. What do you find the most challenging, and how do you stay motivated?
Naja: The most challenging part of blogging is staying motivated, there are times when I don’t feel like playing games or doing much of anything—and when that happens I don’t force myself to write. I used to keep up with every new game/release and it seriously burned me out. So, now I am mindful of my limits and I only pick games that I WANT to play as opposed to the newest games.
11. We’re very community-oriented over at SDE. What are three tips you would give to a new (any) blogger?
Naja: These are some of the things I wish someone had told me when I started out:
- Don’t box yourself into a corner, write about things that interest you, even if it’s “off-brand”.
- Network with other bloggers, build a community, and make friends. Blogging shouldn’t be a solitary hobby.
- Whenever you start to doubt yourself look back on your old works—it’s a humbling experience—and you’ll see just how far you’ve come as a writer.
12. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Naja: If you don’t have money for it, don’t buy it.