Happy Birthday, Ombra Gaming.

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A year ago today, Ombra Gaming was introduced to the world. That’s a bit strong, actually. It was introduced to about 20 people, mostly family and close friends.

When I launched Ombra with Steve and Matt, it was a wildly unorganized vision that was born out of a sense of creative boredom, and the thought that we could create high-quality content that maybe some people could relate to and enjoy. Having little knowledge of how saturated the podcasting “market” was, we recorded our first episode in late September 2017, drafted a few inaugural articles for the website, and added our voices to the ocean of people talking about video games on the internet. Unsure of what the long-term plan was, we just let it ride.

 We didn’t really know what we were doing early on. Still kinda don’t.

We didn’t really know what we were doing early on. Still kinda don’t.

Early on, the “wins” were few and far in between: our listener count was consistently low, and our reader count wasn’t any better. We struggled with our brand identity, wondering what our voice was “supposed” to sound like. How could we set ourselves apart? Are listeners coming to us for news and industry insight, or just for laughs? Where did we fit in the video game content creation space?

With the help of a few close friends who read every article and listened to every episode (you know who you are), the answers started to take shape. The early feedback we received, on everything from audio quality to topic suggestions, helped us frame our long-term goals in a way that we hadn’t considered before. For the first time, a community was building around our content, and it gave us the inspiration and focus to drive forward. We brought on two new team members at the start of 2018, and doubled down on our new vision: growing our community.

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A lot happened between the start of 2018 and now: we switched to a new podcast publisher, grew to a team of six, changed the format of our weekly episodes, produced new video content and developer interviews, and more. However, even with all the growth we’ve experienced since the start of the year, the heart of Ombra is our community. With 73 members, our Discord server is filled with thoughtful, kind, sarcastic, hilarious, fiercely passionate people, with whom I absolutely love connecting with every day. One of my favorite occurrences is when a new community member joins our Discord server, and like clockwork, 10-15 people personally welcome them to the group. This is usually followed by a rigorous round of questioning—everything from favorite platforms and games, to whether or not they consider hot dogs to be sandwiches—but it’s the same warmth and kindness every single time. A few weeks ago, we had a newcomer join the server, and within a day, she described our community in a way that I hadn’t heard before: she said it felt like home.

Hearing the excitement of our Discord members when a new episode drops, the voicemails we receive and play on the podcast, the viewership we get on our Twitch streams, the amazing Patreon support—it is because of these reasons we keep building Ombra. Without our community pushing us to produce the best content we can, why bother?

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It is impossible to look back on the year of growth we’ve experienced without recognizing the herculean efforts this team puts into our journey. The late night video editing, the Discord management, the constant hustle to get weekly content out…they are the machine that keeps Ombra moving in the right direction. When I interviewed Thierry Boulanger of Sabotage Studio last month, he credited the success of The Messenger to surrounding himself with people that are “better than him,” which served as motivation to work harder and be the best version of himself he could be. I cannot think of a better way to describe how I feel about my team. Matt, Steve, Kristine, Matt O., and Kate—thank you for letting me surround myself with people that are better than I am, and allowing me to grow alongside our brand. Thank you for loving this journey as much as I do, and thank you for helping it take shape in a positive way.

I wake up everyday genuinely excited. Excited to continue building Ombra, learning from our work, and creating better content. To our community, supporters, and partners—I am eternally grateful. Thank you for joining us on this journey. There is so much more to come.

+1 Love,

Manny