Half-Life: On Turning 35 And Leaving RPS

By Kieron Gillen on September 30th, 2010 at 11:10 am.

Today I hit half my biblically allotted time on Earth. I’m also leaving RPS’ full-time staff. That’s my last regular commitment as a “real” games journalist. These fifteen years have been a pleasure.

For a little more of what it means for the pirate-ship that is RPS, read on.

In short: Don’t worry too much.

This hasn’t been a sudden thing. “Kieron Leaves On September 30th” has been on the RPS Calender for most of the year. As such, we’ve had plenty of time to bring Quinns in as the new regular writer. You’ll all have seen by now exactly how lightning-in-a-bottle he is and what he brings to the site. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do next.

Equally, while I’m not on the regular staff I’ll remain a Director of RPS, so be involved in shaping the site’s future. More importantly, I remain a gamer whose main response the medium is going on big rants. When I decide I want to write ten thousand words on an indie strategy game no-one else gives a toss about, there’s not a power in the world that can stop me. Unfortunately. My dilettante ass will be showing up whenever I have something worthwhile to say. In other words, I’ll basically be filling the position Quinns was before he came on full time.

Take-away message number 1: Quinns is the new me. I’m the new Quinns.

Those who follow my career may be wondering whether this actually has anything to do with me signing an exclusive contract with Marvel. Well… yes and no. Yes, it affected the timing. Not because it has anything to do with whether I can write games journalism or not, but because with the contract signed I felt it important to give my full, undivided and primary attention to the comic-writing.

However, no, it didn’t affect whether I was leaving or not. I’d be leaving around now anyway. When Jim floated the idea for RPS back in 2007, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to offer my oar for the Viking longship. I knew it’ll be a long haul to get it to a position to actually make money. I also knew that I was kind of half out the door anyway. If I was going to do a load of work for no money, I’d be much better off doing indie comics for no cash. That would feed into where I wanted to be heading.

On the other hand: how could I say no?

It was a site which needed to exist. Number one on my list of unfulfilled games journalist desires was “I’d like to launch a mag”. It took me a while to actually realise that’s what RPS was, but a chance to build something on our own terms, embodying what the four of us believed about writing was pretty much irresistible. If I was going to leave games journalism, I’d like to leave something like RPS behind.

The point being: to leave it behind. I knew that as soon as the site was commercially valid, I’d probably be out the door.

We had Eurogamer take over our ads early this year. You’ll have noticed that we’ve started having a more commercial class of adverts. While we’re resolutely anti-pop-up and multiple-pages and all that, some of you may have been a little annoyed by it. You’ll also hopefully have noticed the greater amount of content, from multiple feature posts per day to just a general amount of news churn. Soon, you’ll see improvements to the site infrastructure – starting with the comments threads. And there’s other special things which we’ve got lined up for the near future. The ads money has made all that possible.

The ads money and the readership, because ads without anyone to read them are worthless. Pulling up the stats for the last 30 days, and we had 770,959 unique visitors and 4,871,919 page impressions. These are not small figures. We’re the largest generalist PC games site in the anglophone sphere.

Readership + Ads = Money = A sustainable site.

Thank you for reading. Assuming you aren’t running adblock, just by doing so you’re helping to pay for us to make the site better. And, as always, a special shout out to the people who are paying us directly – the RPS subscribers.

Take-away message number 2: I’m not leaving RPS because it’s failed. I’m leaving RPS because it’s successful, and so no longer needs me.

But I am, in a real way, leaving RPS.

I won’t be sitting in the chat-room, posting sexy renders of the latest guns and making terrible puns based around bad pop music – and if you want the one real change from me leaving, it’d be a downturn in references to mid-nineties zine-kid glitterpop.

Of course, I’m sentimental – sentimental enough to fire off a last round from the games-journalism-journalism gun elsewhere. I’ve been a professional games journo for the last fifteen years. I’ve been doing this for longer than some of you have been alive. However, I’m aware of how lucky I’ve been. When I left PC Gamer back in 2003 to go freelance, I assumed that I’d basically done the big body of work which I felt which would have been my highpoint. Those five, drunken years on the mag would be basically as good as my games journalist experience would get. And despite some of the stuff I got up to after I left – don’t mention the war – all of that rested on those five years. And part of me was a little sad that it was as good as it got. I never really got to have my own Amiga Power.

Which is why I’m lucky. Against all expectations, when I thought I’d seen and done everything I could do in the field, the last three years have confounded those lessons. It could be better. It could be anything. RPS broke my heart and patched it back together on a daily basis. I consider it the absolute highpoint of my career. I’m very lucky.

Time to die.

__________________

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611 Comments »

  1. Choca says:

    For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble.

    Good luck dude.

  2. Rich says:

    “These fifteen years have been a pleasure.”
    Wow. I’ve only been aware of this site for two years.
    What did you call it back then; Rock Paper Spear?

    • Rich says:

      Oh right, 15 years of game journalism, not RPS.

      Anyway, thanks for a damn good site. Before finding this place I was left wallowing in the filth of Gamespot.

    • Lobiency says:

      Whew – another soul saved from that sucking hole I was stuck in, too.

      Thanks for all your contributions Kieron, your (regular) presence will be missed.

  3. cliffski says:

    Kieron you will be sorely missed. You were the first games journalist I ever actually nervously spoke to, and the first games journo (along with tim) who I ever actually physically met.
    Thanks for everything you have done for gaming, pc gaming, and indie pc gaming is particular.

    • James says:

      Well said.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      In the same vein:
      You were the first games journalist I actually took note of.

      You piece on Morrowind written for PC Gamer made me buy what turned out to be the best game i have ever played. You tale of getting Azzuras Star and throwing it away because it was too powerful was incredibly against what i thought games were, but it was an eye opener.

      Then i red your ZangbaTK piece, and from then on, would always check the magazine to read your stuff first.

      And congratulations, Quinns. We all knew youd make it.
      I hope Kieron lends you some of his iron.

    • Oddtwang says:

      I too hold Kieron and that Zangband articel responsible for my love of Roguelikes, with all the joy and frustration they bring. Curse you, Gillen, you talented bastard!

  4. CoyoteTheClever says:

    Wow. I’ll miss you a lot Kieron. I love the other guys here, but you were always my favorite writer, since you were the one they always called in to review the games I was interested in. I hope you have a long and successful career as a comic book writer though!

  5. Dan Lawrence says:

    You’ll be missed.

  6. Rinox says:

    Good luck and ‘farewell’ Kieron. Your memory won’t be lost like a tear in the rain. ;-) Thanks for the years.

  7. Thank you! says:

    Thanks KG for everything you did! RPS has become the greatest PC gaming blog ever. I’ll surely miss the sunday papers..

  8. Petethegoat says:

    Kieran, no!
    You and Quinns were always my favourite RPSers.

    Alec I have a slightly ingrained hatred for the things he said about Stalker: Clear Sky.

    Jim is okay, thinking about it. I don’t give Jim enough credit, really. Good job Jim.

    As for John, well he is usually crying in a corner.
    Poor John.

  9. Owen says:

    It’s been a pleasure Kieron. I’ve been reading your game-inspired writings for many, many years. I absolutely wish you all the best in all your future endeavors mate; also it was damn nice to actually meet you at the RPS Thinkosaurium,

    All the best sir
    Owen

  10. BooleanBob says:

    Aw, man. Bye Kieron.

  11. Feet says:

    Best of luck, cock. Thanks for all the words.

  12. James says:

    Sad to see you go (relatively speaking), but understandable. Best wishes in all that you do, and thanks for your role in this site. It is really very special and shiny.

  13. smokingkipper says:

    For some reason the only thing I can think of, was remembering a picture taken of Kieron back in the days when he was at E3 with Gamer, drunk as a newt with his arms around some booth ladies.

    Yes, that is how we should remember him.

    So long, comic man!

  14. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Mr Salinger, can I have an autograph please?

  15. Fede says:

    Thanks, Kieron. For all you wrote and for helping RPS start. And for everything you’ll delight us with in the future! :)

    It will be a little sad to see you post less.
    Good luck, and happy marriage!

  16. AndrewC says:

    So what sort of music does Quinns like?

    • user@example.com says:

      oh no

      what will happen to the sunday papers now :( they will be silent and depressing like a tomb

      BRING BACK KIERON

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I like Chaos Separator.

      (Is that a serious question? I like indie, rock, electro, uh, pitchforky stuff?)

    • AndrewC says:

      What is your favourite flower?

    • lhzr says:

      @quintin: good to know that the sunday papers music links will be worth clicking from now on (if they won’t be too hipsterish, that is)

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Seriously though: what will happen to the Papers now? It always seemed like the sort of thing only KG could be bothered to do. What will I do without my handy digest of things worth reading every week? Will I have to actually pay attention and read websites other than RPS, now? This saddens me.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      Alexander Norris: I presume The New Kieron Gillen (i.e. the old Quinns) or someone will continue them. whether or not the Sunday Papers continues, I can recommend Critical Distance‘s weekly roundup, as well as Nukezilla‘s Sunday-Papers-equivalent.

    • Huggster says:

      I vote for more film and book recommendations in the new Sunday papers.

      That is what Sundays are for, after all – kicking back with a good book or film, visiting castles, urbexing into missile silos.

      There is plenty of other media that “enriches the gamers experience” but is not gaming news.

  17. Memphis-Ahn says:

    Fuck you, Kieron.

  18. Web Cole says:

    <3 you Kieron.

    All the best in your future endeavors.

  19. Mooglepies says:

    You will be missed.

    Are you at least showing up for drinkies tomorrow night?

  20. unmightysten says:

    Gutted at Kieron’s exit but really pleased that Quinns is now a full time writer.

    I’ve always seen Kieron as being the basis for the personality of RPS, and Quinns has written most, if not all of my top favourite articles on here (starting with the Pathologic one and, more recently, getting me addicted to Minecraft, the bast).

    So, as long as Kieron’s still helping steer the ship it ain’t too bad at all.

    Good luck at Marvel KG.

    • user@example.com says:

      Quinns wrote the Pathologic stuff? Man. I have a terrible habit of not always realising who writes the cool things I’m reading until much later.

  21. Groove says:

    You’ll be missed.

  22. Skusey says:

    Fair enough. Thanks and good luck.

  23. user@example.com says:

    oh god no–

    “Equally, while I’m not on the regular staff I’ll remain a Director of RPS, so be involved in shaping the site’s future. More importantly, I remain a gamer whose main response the medium is going on big rants. When I decide I want to write ten thousand words on an indie strategy game no-one else gives a toss about, there’s not a power in the world that can stop me.”

    oh thank god.

    Here’s hoping for another 35 years of your dilettante ass.

    • user@example.com says:

      (This should not in any way be read as implying that Quinns is anything other than a wonderful person who RPS is lucky to have around, and congratulations to him on being promoted. Does he get a pay rise?)

  24. Nimic says:

    Well, this sucks!

  25. Archonsod says:

    Good luck with the comics, you will be missed.

  26. Samy says:

    good luck @ marvel. I’ve been following you since… 2008 i think, and you’ve been a little part of my daily routine. I wouldn’t be against some regular info about what/how you’re doing. I don’t like to keep track of people by stalking them online and would appreciate to know about your projects/ventures

    good wind in your sails, may the horizon be full of riches beyond your wildest dreams * waxes poetic *

  27. HexagonalBolts says:

    I love you Kieron. Thank you so very much for all of the fascinating articles you’ve fed my mind over the past years. You’ve developed my ideas and my own eloquence, and the gift of education is a priceless one. I wish you the very best of luck in all your future endeavours.

  28. Kast says:

    Well damn.

    Kieron, as gushing and frankly little creepy as this sounds you are the person I think of as defining what games journalism means to me. You have raised games analysis to an entirely new level, at least in my experience. The industry and our experience of it will be poorer for your absence.

    Best of luck with your continued comics career. Who knows, one day I might just buy one.

  29. The Rev Owen says:

    Happy birthday, good luck and thanks.

  30. mrmud says:

    Kieron make sure to stock up on Iron before its to late!

  31. Synoptase says:

    I’ve been following RPS since the beginning and just realize how fast you guys got known. Thanks to an incredible journalistic style and a very rich content.
    You made indie gaming trendy.

    Thank you Kieron and my buddy Damien, former content manager on Empire of Sport waves you goodbye too !

  32. Dean says:

    Really sad to see you go – your stuff was always great to read and you were brilliant in Doctor Who.

    On a more selfish note, will The Sunday Papers continue? Either being done here by someone else, or on your own blog and little less game-centric? You always picked out some of the most fascinating stuff and if not I’m going to have to re-arrange my entire Sunday schedule. Or in other words: your stuff was great but what I’ll really miss is the thing where you didn’t do most the writing thanks.

  33. Garg says:

    No more The Sunday Papers? Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.

    • sfury says:

      I hope not! Someone else will pick it up.

      It has become part of my routine, I really looked forward to Sundays and reading some thoughtful things compiled from the vast and chaotic internet-pc-gaming-land.

      Farewell and good luck, Kieron, you’ve written some brilliant stuff that was delight to read and I’ll be looking forward to finding here new thoughtful writings from you, when you have the time.

  34. Cooper says:

    I only come here for the mid-nineties glitter-pop references, no one else deigns to take 15 year old pop music as seriously as it deserves… Now I’ll feel all alone again, listening to “At the Club” on repeat…

  35. monk says:

    Sad to see you go! Good luck with everything.

    Also, happy birthday :)

  36. Matt says:

    Best of luck in everything you do. You’ve been an utter inspiration.

  37. Mr Pink says:

    I’ve been a fan since that first PCG Thief review. Sad to see you moving on, but excited to see what Quinns is going to do. Most exciting young writer since Tom Francis for my money.

  38. CMaster says:

    Hmm, has to be said it’s a real shame. Your work has often been a big part of the draw to the site. Also, one of the more frequent posters (although Quinns has indeed eclipsed you recently).

    Also, thankfully I’ve warmed to Quinns – didn’t like his early bit-part stuff on RPS, but now I’ve come to appreciate what he offers.

    Best of luck with all that comics malarky – I’ve got a friend who thinks you are pretty much the best writer out there at the moment.

  39. Jan Willem Nijman says:

    :’(

    you will be missed!

  40. lurker10945 says:

    what will become of the sunday papers?!? surely no one on staff can fail as exquisitely as you at not providing links to miserable pop tunes… can they?

  41. Okami says:

    Godspeed, Mr. Gillen! Godspeed!

  42. MrThingy says:

    Is 35 really considered the halfway point?? :(

    How existentially dispairingish…

    • Christian Otholm says:

      If I remember my Mountain Goats, the Bible claims the average age is “a full three score and ten”, or 70.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Genesis 6:3 states that 120 is the limit. Of course Bible was written by many people, pushing their own (or their sponsors) agendas, with different mindsets and temperaments, some of them weren’t really careful when reading others, so there are many discrepancies. The 120 yrs guy was probably playing safe.

  43. dartt says:

    Are you getting Alec on weekends? How are you dividing up the CD collection?

    I’m sorry to see you go, even if you’ll popping in now and then. I’ll miss looking at my RPS feed and spotting some awful pun based on a some Supergrass or Clash lyric.

    I worry for your internal organs as I expect there will be a lot of pint buying on Friday night.

  44. Steelfists says:

    Well, good luck with Marvel and everything.

    Goddamit I’ll miss the Sunday Papers. Can’t you just do one more RPS Criminal Act to go out with a bang? Break into the PCG offices this time?

  45. Aon says:

    You will be missed. Thank you for the NGJ and good writing.

  46. houseinrlyeh says:

    I’ll miss you – the bad puns, the drunken grammar, the pop music links, and the great writing with the style and insight I wish more games writers outside RPS would have.

    Glad to be able to read you in the comics. And happy birthday!

  47. standardman says:

    Always enjoyed reading your stuff on here and PCG before that. Now I’ll enjoy reading your comics and the occasional rant.

    All the best for the future, have fun in the Marvel universe.

    So, who here hasn’t read Phonogram yet? I have a stick, I am poking you with it.

  48. Nova says:

    Farewell.
    But I join the cry: What happens with the Sunday Papers?

  49. NukeLord says:

    Happy Birthday! Good luck with your future endeavors and thanks for everything you’ve done so far.

    Does this mean Quinns is finally going to get his name underneath “Rock, Paper, Shotgun was:”?

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