On Leaving RPS

I’ve just put this up over on RPS. Go over there, read it, and come back.

Short version:
1) I’m leaving RPS as a full time member.
2) I will remain a director.
3) I’ll do the occasional piece for them, because just like the four tops, I can’t help myself. (i.e. I’m the new Quinns, Quinns is the new me).
4) But, basically, that’s it for games journalism as anything other than a dilettante. I’m games journalism’s Paul Morley, me.

One obvious change should be that this place will be a lot busier. One of the more obvious casualties of the RPS workload that the workblog reduced to plugging comics. While I doubt I’ll do anything as extravagant as the site used to be, I hope the time opening up gives me more time to hammer stuff here.

But that’s in the future. I actually have one more thing to say about games journalism before I head out the door.

****

This is a rant that a few of you will have experienced while drinking, so bear with me if you’ve heard it before.

If you’re on staff at a mag, eventually, your publisher or — in the worst cases — your editor will tell you something along these lines:

“You don’t matter. People are dying to be games journalists, which is why we pay so badly. We could replace you in seconds.”

The subtext being, don’t get ideas above your station, word-scum.

They’re not wrong.

Games Journalism pays badly because masses of people want to do the job. And the very best candidates will do the job — at least for a while – for that money. You are entirely disposable. So why pay more?

This is entirely beside the point and will only drive you mad if you think about it. It is beyond your control.

What they don’t tell you is that they don’t pick the writers randomly. From that mob of people who want to be games journalists, they can pick. And, because these are not stupid people, they pick the best available. They’re not going to pay for better writing, but since it doesn’t cost them any more, they may as well have it.

In other words, don’t think about the fact you’re replaceable. Think about the fact that out of the enormous mob of people who wanted your job, you’re the one who got it. No matter how much they treat you with disdain, they actually think you’re the best.

In other words, have some pride.

And be aware that you’re almost certainly pretty talented and could have done anything with this ball of nerves and words in your head. Instead, you’re wasting years of your life because you’re stupid enough to care about something no-one else does. If you didn’t have this strange compulsion, you could be doing anything. And afterwards — because games journalism isn’t a career for life yet — you probably will.

There’s enough case-studies of What Games Journalists Did Next to find inspiration from. The fact that — to choose the most obvious example — Charlie Brooker became what he is while basically doing what he’s always done for a bigger audience says everything. People complain a lot about the level of games writing, but the success of these people retroactively shows how much talent there was in their work. I could list games journalist developers, novelists, critics, theorists, screenwriters and so on and on. If they were such incompetent fuckwits, how on earth did they go on to excel in enormously competitive fields? Because they weren’t. They were brilliant and they were choosing to piss away their talent because they couldn’t help it. Even the routes out of games journalism which tend to get some eye-rolling — like, say, going to become a PR… well, for my money, the best PR in the country is Simon Byron. Simon Byron ex-games journalist.

You could even end up in cold, financial terms better off than the Capitalism-uber-alles wannabe-publishers. I look at the generation of writers directly before me, and the richest one isn’t the one who fell entirely in with the corporate line. It’s a brilliant, insightful writer who was minority shareholder at a games-company who sold for about one-hundred million quid.

As I said, have some pride. You’ve got talent. You’re using it in a stupid way. And when you smarten up, you’ll go on to do great things.

Do not listen to your bosses. They will infect and ruin your brain. They don’t have your best interests in heart. Who profits from making you hate yourself? They do. The less you realise how good you are, the more they can profit from you. And they do and they will.

In the RPS piece, I’ve said how lucky I feel. One of the many ways was that I’ve spent the majority of my adult life surrounded by smart, passionate, talented people. And I cherish every argument or agreement I’ve had with you. And as I step out the door, I’d like to say that.

You’re talented. Don’t let them ever make you forget it.

I can’t wait to see what you do next.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY.

CUZ WORDS DON’T BRING ME DOWN.

Sorry, got a bit carried away there. Great post.

That was a great rant, I always like it when humans tell other humans to respect themselves (even if they think what they do is ultimately stupid). You’ve been a good games journalist, Kieron Gillen.

A great read for aspiring game journalists. Sometimes it seems like all the best folks eventually move on, while the naff ones stick around forever… but I guess that’s true of most every field.

I’ll drink to that.

That sounds like a similar attitude to what people encounter in games testing, except that in too many places they don’t really bother to find the best. Or, at least, make much effort to retain them.

Anyway, in brighter and jollier news, congratulations Kieron! I’m sure this is as significant a change for you as it is for your many readers. I look forward to seeing what you do in the future, even if I’m not the biggest fan of sequential punching. (I could be, but there comes a point when one must pick and choose his obsessions.)

I think your argument could be applied to game development in general. Ah, the beautiful symbiosis of dev and journo! We love you! You love us! We’re all much the same, dedicating our lives to something our parents think is totally pointless.

But fuck it, as you would say.

You’re a good man, Charlie Brown. I found this weirdly moving, so now I’m going to go and get drunk at a wedding. Which seems like the Kieron Gillen thing to do, no?

Thanks Kieron, I needed to read that right now.

(Also, happy birthday! Old men running the world. A new age!)

Good luck man

Your game reviews were the first one where I thought: ‘now this is actually a well written piece’.

About bosses and colleagues => so true mate. so true!

“If they were such incompetent fuckwits,”… nice jab at certain peoples and practices.

Good piece, dude.

Beautiful. Thanks for everything, Kieron. We can’t wait to see what you do next, either.

Wow! How do things change quickly and unexpectedly. I didn’t see any of this coming at all.

I’ve read RPS regularly for about a year and for me this was the first proper contact with your work and the first time I heard of “New Games Journalism” (ok, maybe a bit earlier). I found it really impressive and cool that one can concurrently write lots of exhaustive and passionate articles about games, write comic books (both indie and Marvel), write The Curfew, and all that while (obviously) still playing lots of games and reading other people’s stuff.

I wish you best of luck now that you’re almost fully in the comic book world. I’m not sure about Marvel, but I’ll definitely follow the indie projects you do.

Best of luck! :(

You were the first games journo I knew by name, from your early PC Gamer days. You’ll be missed.

Although I look forward to more of your comic work; I only wish you hadn’t just been signed to Marvel and super-heroes. ;)

STANDING IN A V-FORMATION! etc

Congratulations sir, and godspeed.

Congratulations, Kieron.

So, what you’re saying is that never mind the rubbish pay, you too could one day marry an ex-Blue Peter presesnter? Gotcha.

It’s rainy in Washington, DC today, Kieron. For you!

I grew up reading PCG, and the words written by a small minority, including yourself, have driven what was once just a hobby into a real passion of mine.

Hope the future works out well for you, and I look forward to reading any more rants on gaming and Warhammer.

Thanks Kieron, you’ll be missed.

You are a better man than I. I all but walked away from games writing recently and bitched loudly about it, admitting the things you admit but giving an opposite message. Afterward I tried to think what upshot there could be, and couldn’t figure out what it would be, though I admitted quietly to myself it probably existed.

This though, is the truth of all truth. Congrats on transcending a peril-ridden field. Do not be a stranger. Thanks for the advice and friendliness you give, even to random nobodies who want to Skype from 1,700 miles away.

Kieron, I would like to thank your for your games writing. Your work and that of your peers has greatly enhanced the enjoyment I get from my gaming hobby over the yeas even if you were never properly rewarded for it.

I am disappointed that you are moving on but I do understand. I have long regarded you as the best of the best of games journalists.

Best of luck man. You’ll be missed. And thanks for the rant. Seriously.

I realise it’s not “so long”, you’re not dying or going away completely, but fuck it: I want to say thanks for all the fish.

Kieron, you’ve been an inspiration. As a critic, you set the bar – really fucking high – and made me want to jump high enough to at least touch it. I was always struck by your ability to see to the heart of things without falling into cynicism. The more I’ve read your work, at RPS or elsewhere, the more I’ve felt an undercurrent, a subtext running through it all:

“You can do better. You can be better. You don’t have to settle for what comes easily.”

By the way, this is the second time in two months you’ve broken my heart. The first time was right after I bought The Singles Club; within a week of reading it I came across an interview where you talked about all the reasons Phonogram would never get another volume. Still, you’ve made me want to read more comics, and I doubt I’m the only one among your games audience. So you get some kind of leg-up in your new career, for all the years you spent “choosing to piss away your talent because you couldn’t help it.”

Thanks for everything. Onward to glory.

Thank you, Kieron.

Wonderful Piece Mr. Gillen. Can’t say much more than that.

cheers.

Hi Kieron,

I have always enjoyed your writing and your idiosyncratic approach to games reviewing and you’ll be a loss to games journalism.

Best of luck for the future and thanks for some fantastic articles over the years.

I had all but given up on my games journalism aspirations until I discovered RPS and, through it and investigating that “Kieron guy” whose posts were always so awesome, your ‘New Games Journalism’ pieces.

Immediately, I erased the outline I used for all my reviews from the dry-erase board by my desk and replaced it with one sentence: “What happened and how did it make me feel?”

That was a year ago, at least. And two weeks ago, Chris Dahlen commented on my blog. In June, I attended and covered my first E3. I’m still working for free; I’m still, for the most part, merely an “aspiring” games writer. But there’s more to say for my past year than all the time I spent doing this as a hobby in college.

Kieron, you’ve been an inspiration. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that your work has played a pivotal role in the last couple years of my life.

Thanks for everything. May you enjoy continued success and be showered with riches, fame and power, the likes of which no mortal was ever meant to possess!

Dude! Kieron man, it’s been good times. I know it’s not goodbye forever, but I feel like now is an appropriate time to thank you for a bunch of things.

PCG spoiled me. At 12-13 years old, PCG was the first gaming mag I ever bought, and it served me well for a good 5 years or so. Your work was magic. I remember reading your Shogun: Total War review again and again as I saved up to finally buy the damn game. Everyone brings up the Deus Ex review, and it was one of your finest, but your review for the Mongol Invasion add-on was golden. It was the one where you rambled on about growing up in Stafford for too long, interspersed with “[Get on with it Gillen -Ed]” gags throughout. By the end of the review it was all clear, the idea of talking to your mates about the crazy things that happen in emergent games (Syndicate back then) and why it was important. That review crystallized why games (PC games in particular) are so important.

Of similar importance, as I’m a “creative type”, you’re ideology of “work hard, put out good work, and success will follow” has been incredibly inspirational. It’s assuring to know the simple “do good work” approach really does work.

Other fun facts:
You got me into a bunch of bands I really love now, such as Los Campesinos! (and told Gareth as much), Camera Obscura and The Go! Team. Phonogram got me listening to Britpop again, where I gained a new appreciation for Oasis.

You reviewed one of my games on RPS (Smiley), Gillen-isms intact. A younger me would have never believed that would happen. :)

We met at the Emerald City Comic Con earlier this year. Much of what I’ve said above, I’ve already said to you in person, with added hand-flailing bonus! You may recall this, the flailing in particular.

In short: Cheers for the good times, Mr. Gillen. If you’re ever in Seattle, I’d love to hang out. I’ll even buy you a drink or three. :)

Oh, and Happy Birthday to us. I’m a Sept 30th too. :)

Feeling sad in part about this, but happy at the same time knowing you will land in a place where your talent will be appreciated it deserve. No more “videogame journalism lol” from retards that wouldn’t know what a good piece of journalism is in first place (much less pay). No more overzealous posters demanding you spent 100 hours to review whatever crappy game you are commissioned and no more of a industry that doesn’t give a shit about our work. Some people will like your work at Marvel, other won’t, but nobody will attack the idea of your job itself, and you will get a job condition and a paycheck according to that.

What can I say? You are Kieron Guillen, you are the first name I started to remember (perhaps because it’s a cool name that I am still unsure how to pronounce). My introduction to the magnificent UK press was expensive and painful, my English sucked even more than now and getting mags or subs from Spain was terribly expensive (and still is), but I persevered because I found a new type of videogames coverage, one that didn’t limit to be informative about the super ultra cool games ahead, but one that was interesting for itself, with a great personality that was different in each magazine. I remember who that ignited my love for being a videogame journalist, not to be “all day playing games”, but because videogames were a great topic to talk, the new rock’n roll, a topic of untapped potential that was always evolving, only limited by imagination and will to push forward.

Heh, I fulfilled my dream, I worked at PC Gamer Spain among others dead mags, I pushed hard, changed my priorities, argued with my family… You know, I had a very stupid daydream that, someday, I would be “like Kieron” in the sense that I would hear my name and I would get a prize for my hard job. Of course things don’t work that way, daydreaming is nice, but reality is what it is. There was no utopia, the magazine sector in my country was dying and, while I don’t know the real deal, my experience travelling showed me that there was not any utopia, you know how it is, you are in a table with alcohol and other colleagues and then you listen some story that shatters your idea about certain things (here is one that you will love: I really thought that Edge journalists would be the better paid in the sector, you can laugh at me.) However, you and others fought hard with your own talent to build something that others doing the same could feel proud of, and after all the shortcomings, I’m glad I tried to follow that legacy. Perhaps it was an illusion but it was damn good one and it was worth fighting for it. By the way, I’m not sure about your actual position toward the manifesto, but I still think it was a beautiful thing that had to be said, from someone who loved the idea of what he was doing, or what he was supposed to do.

In any case, the “sad part” is seeing you go, I always thought that this industry needed more people like you in higher positions, people with enough vision, passion and talent acting as the safe-keepers of a way to see videogames journalism. Of course, you have not “left”, but now your passion, vision and talent will be enjoyed in another sector. That’s their gain, and that’s our lose. And I curse this fucking industry for letting go one of his brightest members this way.

But beyond Kieron the journalist, and Kieron the reference, thereps Kieron the person, and I’m happy to see you doing well in your life. The few times I saw you in some event (last one was the infamous “nothing like Starcraft 2″ Relic event) I refrained to tell you how much I liked your work because the whole thing would look a bit ridicule and infantile, and didn’t want to annoy you. But I’m really thankful of the hours of excellent, revealing, funny and interesting writing and I’ll keep following your work and hoping for the best. And to celebrate this, I just went and bought the two volumes of Phonogram (it was in my to do list, so I just did), I think it’s fitting for this moment.

Just try to not forget us when travelling on Silver Surfer’s table with Stan Lee. Ok?

Dudes! Thank you.

KG

I’ve said my goodbyes on RPS, but here I just want to mention I’m looking forward to any Phonogram you manage to squeeze out in the future.

Also S.W.O.R.D. if they let you. That was fun.

It makes me melancholy at the same time as it inspires. It is a shame when passion and talent don’t translate into something that can sustain a life and sanity for a reasonable period of time before something has to give. Kudos for riding off into the sunset, Shane.

Much like Acosta, I’ve pretty much been paying attention to your writing since you got hired by PC Gamer.

(In other words, all of your games journalism, excluding the Amiga Power stuff. 15 years? Man! Suddenly I feel very, very old.)

That heart-on-your-sleeve, openly displaying your influences writing really made an impression — all according to plan, I’m sure — and pointed the way to countless of other things for an impressionable teenager to investigate, many of which ended up being my favouritest in the whole world.

Your glorious stupidity left an indelible stamp on my tastes and outlook on the world. It was 15 years well spent in my book. Anyone who says otherwise is tragically wrong.

Best of luck with the comics work.

Great job! Sad you’ll be leaving, happy that you’re staying. Happy Birthday! :)

A bad week to be behind on my RPS…

As long as you become the Paul Morley and not the Alan Moore of games journalism, this is okay. Ish.

Almost wish it’d been a week earlier so I could’ve made it into the final Sunday Papers. ;)

RPS remains.

A bad week to be behind on my RPS…

As long as you become the Paul Morley and not the Alan Moore of games journalism, this is okay. Ish.

Almost wish it’d been a week earlier so I could’ve made it into the final Sunday Papers. ;)

I read you as a kid, you’re one of the reasons I’m now doing this for a living, and what you’ve said is extremely timely for me. Thanks Kieron. Good luck.

Well congratulations on moving on to something a little more like a proper job. I’ve just about forgiven you for making me flunk out of uni with that crazy DE mod-making shit. Alarmingly it was nearly ten years ago we started that.

Let’s not think about that. Your tiny human must be a not tiny human now, yes?

KG

Thank you for writing this. I’m not a games journalist or aspiring one. However, there are managers in every profession that try to oppress you. Like you said, if you weren’t good they wouldn’t have hired you. Great words! Thank you!