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. SH4RKY says:

    Happy Birthday.

  2. Taillefer says:

    The monster’s name was Marvel.

  3. Kazang says:

    An exquisite exit in many ways.
    All good things must come to an end and games journalism was lucky to have to have you.

    *doffs cap*

  4. theunshaven says:

    We’ve got ten pages of people saying things, so I doubt this will be anything other than a repeat:

    a) Happy birthday,
    b) Thank you!
    c) Best of luck.

    I thought at this point being concise was the order of the day. And again, thank you.

    - The Unshaven.

  5. mpk says:

    Dude, have a good one. Haven’t read an X-book since Grant Morrison’s term, you’ve got me tempted to head back to Forbidden Planet :)

    15 years yeah? That makes it, christ, ten years since State started. I feel old.

  6. amishmonster says:

    You’ll be missed, Kieron. Glad you’ll still pop in sometimes!

    Oh, and if you’re the new Quinns, remember to eat lots of spinach. You’ll be needing the iron. Take care.

  7. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    When I first visited London, I bought myself an issue of PC Gamer. It could be 12 years now. And yes, you had articles in it., KG Even back then, with my piss poor (elementary school’ish) English and all, I could see your potential and talent.
    I’ve read some other issues of PCG later on (+ I still have got some of the few Czech PCG’s – it’s a shame it didn’t work out) and most importantly, I’ve grown really grateful for you belonging in the RPS hivemind.
    Thanks, man. And if you happen to re-visit Prague in future, lemme know…I’ll gather your Czech fans and you’re in for a looot of free “whatever you’d like to drink” and chat. I sincerely hope you’ll be in a ranting mood frequently :) Nope, I’m afraid you are too big of a tear to get lost in rain..even the heaviest.

    -Frankie

  8. Davee says:

    I’ll miss you, KG – and the 532 other commenters too I bet!

    I wish you good luck in your future endeavours!

  9. Langman says:

    Tanks for the memories.

    I think you’re ‘getting out’ at a good time tbh (or at least as good a time as any). You were a major player in the games journalism world back when PC gaming was at its zenith, and will be revered. Well done for being one of the best at what you did, I hope you can transfer that to your new venture.

  10. Will Morris says:

    I grew up with your games journalism, Kieron. It’s peculiar how I don’t remember so much the reviews, but the asides, the variations of your mugshot with comedy glasses positioning. Or am I just inventing these memories of PCG circa issue 100?

    In any case, your brilliance shined on at RPS, and it’s been great. Interesting how I find myself admiring strongly-held opinions, when I typically abhor self-certainty. Must be that you’re just damn right so often.

    However, I am optimistic for the future of RPS. Quinns’ Journey of Saga is a marvel, and his entries in your communal gaming diaries rival that of even Tom Francis. And Jim will still be there, with his lovely book and his lovely love of J G Ballard. And John, with his hilarity / crying. And Alec, with his firm stances. I do enjoy a good stance.

    Thank you.

    Onwards.

  11. Shadram says:

    First! …ish. Longest comments ever?

    Anyway, best of luck for the future, Kieron. Been reading your stuff for most of the 15 years you’ve been writing it, and always thoroughly enjoyed your words. I hope your career in comics is as notable as your career in games journalism.

  12. Soobe says:

    Yeah, at some point you have to look at your life and say I’m a really part if this culture anymore. I only say this because at 33 I’m nearing the wrong side of that 18-35 demographic line, and I need to figure out if playing games and being art of their social scene is right for me moving forward.

    Now add two more years to that, along with lifeless sequel after lifeless sequel and well, I may just hang up my game playing hat at that age as well. Not to say that’s what your doing, but hey, it’s what I may do.

  13. matte_k says:

    Sad to see you go KG, but your reasons are solid and true. It’s been a pleasure to read your material over the years, you’re one of the earliest names and faces i can remember peering out at me from PC Gamer with any degree of frequency, and the articles were always warmly written and of the highest quality. Your music taste was bordering obscure, but at times you would throw a reference in that made me go “Man!”, as I realised you and me are the same age, thus remembering the same music (and some similar places, as you’re a Stafford boy If I recall- I’m just down the road in bleak Wolverhampton!)
    And you’re not completely disappearing into the ether, you’ll keep reappearing like that drunk Uncle at Christmas :)
    Godspeed old comrade, fly safe in whatever you do- and don’t be a stranger!

  14. Saul says:

    Thanks for all the fish, Kieron. RPS has inspired me to get into games journalism, and you most of all. I’m just taking my first wobbly baby steps and you, sir, are responsible.

  15. ghostwork says:

    Ah. I thought I sent a message praising your greatness and influence in my gaming sense already, but alas, no such luck since I guess I closed the tab wherein I had written up an ode to Rock Paper Shotgun. I might not have been involved in the respectable social community this Internet Website has created around it, but alongside Blackle and my regular online discussion forum, RPS is one of the three tabs that open up by default whenever I boot up my Firefox. This whatchamacallit blog-webzine-thing is a perfect bouillabaisse of what’s fun (ongoing DF story) and what’s informative and criticism-wise close to my heart (Wot I thinks fx.) to read on whatever comes to PC gaming. Personal Computers are where it’s at.

    I love your humour, taste, storytelling and, well, your writing altogether, and it goes without saying I’ll take a close look at your work at Marvel as soon as I get the chance. Before that, I’m hoping you type up a twelve thousand word (preferably 12k paragraph) essay on an obscure PC board game-like none of us have heard as much as word one about. RPS, and you, are to thank for what comes to my undying love of Cryptic Comet’s Armageddon Empires & Solium Infernum, Recettear, World of Goo and countless others.

    I’ll be watching you. Be afraid, Kieron Gillen but also, be proud. Thank you for your work on the site, and good luck in your future endeavours.

    tl;dr: gtfo, never liked that guy anyway. Quinns was and is miles better!!

  16. LionsPhil says:

    Biggest comments thread on the site so far?

  17. Tetragrammaton says:

    R.I.Perodically posting. Shall be missed *sob

  18. Fred Wester, CEO of Paradox says:

    *salute*

    I stumbled upon RPS just under three years ago and have been enjoying it very much since. Best of luck with the rest of your endeavours!

  19. Zwebbie says:

    Whoops, forgot to change my name there. Sorry, Fred!

  20. Anon says:

    Godspeed you, good Sir. I’ve enjoyed your writing for many a year now and hope you enjoy your long, painful descent into crippling senility and incontinence. The final frontier!

  21. Zerrick says:

    Just incrementing the comment-count here to let you know how much we will miss you.

    I’ve been reading RPS for almost the full three years now and it has made me think more about games then anything else. I’ve also bought most of the games in that time on recommendation of the fine articles posted here, and thoroughly enjoyed them, never being let down.

    This site is at the top of my RSS feed because of the excellent articles, the humour, the camaraderie of you writers and its regular commenters. I always have some time to read it. These qualities aren’t mentioned enough.

    I did fear this day would come. That change would happen and Rock Paper Shotgun wouldn’t exist any more as we knew it. But I’m really glad that it keeps continuing and that there is a worthy successor for you. And that you don’t have to stop because of monitory problems or internal arguing, but because you choose to.

    So yes: Thank You for all your work, and good luck.
    Farewell, and I hope to read you soon again.

  22. Loopy says:

    Thanks for everything Kieron, and good luck in comic book land (or is that graphic novel land?)!. It’s been fun, and hopefully we’ll still be graced with your presence from time to time here anyway. :)

  23. Samfisher says:

    All the best Kieron, and have fun on your new adventure! I remember your first review, Medieval Total War in PCG, and ever since then have been a fan of your work. Will you be leaving games journalism permanently until the contract with Marvel expires? (assuming there’s an expiration date or a set number of issues that you’re working on)

    It’d be sad to lose a great writer and journo like you :’(

  24. Hyoscine says:

    All the best!

  25. Deoden says:

    Goodbye Kieron, and thank you.

    You showed us that games journalism could be highbrow (I still remember your intro to PC Gamer’s Thief II review, ‘gynaphobic descent into the Maw’ and all), funny (I’ll never be able to look at Jim without being reminded of his stunning orgamsic prowess) and, most of all,l that the two didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. I know John Walker’s already pointed it out as a source of inspiration, but your love letter to Descent III should be compulsory reading for all budding games journalists. Intelligent, witty and deeply personal, in hindsight it was a blueprint for everything New Games Journalism could, and should, have accomplished.

    Oh, and the passion involved in seriously creating a manifesto to improve the industry you’d already given so much to? That megaphone-mouthed, burning heart, hotter-than-a-thousand-suns passion for the medium you gave 15 years of your life to? That’s what I’ll cherish most of all.

  26. Justin says:

    Thank you for helping to make RPS the bastion of internet greatness it is today – I will gladly have your opinions forced upon me for many years to come, in a less-regular manner. Or something. And happy birthday for yesterday.

    Good luck with Marvel and whatever else you choose to do in the future…

  27. Pijama says:

    You know, the credits below the page actually are TRUE now… “Rock Paper Shotgun was…”

  28. Hybrid says:

    Best of luck Kieron. Thanks for all your writing and inspiring me to give games journalism a shot even though I never considered myself a writer. I look forward to your future posts on RPS.

  29. Wasbrough23 says:

    Good luck out there sir. I’d say something about missing you, but as a comic book fan, I’ll still be reading your words.
    Long live RPS!

  30. DerangedStoat says:

    Just adding my voice to the already enormous crowd, all the best, and thanks for helping bring us RPS as it is today!

  31. Sunk_Ridge says:

    GL & Happy Birthday

  32. Melf_Himself says:

    Will definitely be sad to see KG go, he is my fav of the hivemind (my gaming likes/dislikes seem to align most closely with his). Hope to see as much of this “occasional” writing as possible.

    Who will do the Sunday Papers??

    Sad face.

  33. Johnny Go-Time says:

    It was dark in one particular corner of the world, and a cruel, cutting cold knifed through everything. In a dismal corner of a creaking hotel, a forgotten vodka martini slalomed condensation half-heartedly down to the counter.

    Johnny Go-Time stared into the mirror, willing his jaw muscle to unclench. Once again, a comrade was gone, and – somehow – Go-Time was not. Somehow he had survived, where another good man had been lost. It wasn’t through any unique skill on his part – far from it. It was nothing more than a roll of the dice by a careless god that had decided — and yet again, Go-Time’s number had not come up.

    The feeling now wasn’t sadness, not quite. The lifestyle didn’t allow for friends, after all – only a handful of trusted acquaintances. Those dependable, loyal connections that can only be forged in the fire of a burning world.

    But now another Bond had been cut. One less name to hunt for in those moments – those terrible, shrieking moments – where the riot of lies had become too much to handle alone.

    Johnny Go-Time swore once, loudly, then strode sharply from the room. There was a job to do. And the man who had been lost – like the martini – was forgotten, and all that remained was the mission.

  34. Hybrid says:

    Even Marcin is shocked. http://i52.tinypic.com/14e54jm.jpg

  35. lethu says:

    “J’ai vu tant de choses que vous humains ne pourriez pas croire, de grands navires en feu surgissant de l’épaule d’Orion. J’ai vu des rayons fabuleux, des rayons C, briller dans l’ombre de la porte de Tanhauser. Tout ces moments se perdront dans l’oubli comme les larmes dans la pluie. Il est temps de mourir.

    Dying Batty picture makes up for a good career outro reference. Above, out of my own memory, in French, because it’s the only language I have learned it in, the matching quote from that same scene of Batty, perhaps as a farewell hymn or tribute. Good luck Kieron Gillen in your future life, it’s a sad day, it has been a journey reading you.

    -
    An admirer.

  36. Grey_Ghost says:

    Well, good luck and all that. You will be missed.

  37. Alan says:

    We shall always have the Shalebridge Cradle, Mr Gillen.

  38. Andthensobecause says:

    Aww, Kieron. Felt like this day has been coming for a while. You have been such a wonderful blessing to games writing and games thinking. Found you during the manifesto days and brought me here to this best games site on the internet. So thank you for all your writing, in all forms. I look forward to your future work.

    Congratulations, though, on generally just doing it in life. You continue to be inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable.

  39. SanguineAngel says:

    Well first and foremost Happy Birthday My Gillen!!!

    It is a sad day for RPS to be losing one of the Hivemind. Thanks for everything you’ve done here Kieron you have been an inspiration. I have thoroughly enjoyed both your words and your thinkings on Things. In fact you have created what is, in my opinion, the most credible and entertaining games site on the net. This is down entirely to the Hivemind, your collective personalities and the sense of community you’ve built up by being so involved.

    Congratulations, though, on landing your awesome new job! judging by the last 10 pages and the most comments i have seen on anything here I am sure we are all very happy that you have moved on to something you truely want to be doing. I am personally very impressed and pleased for you. You are a lucky chap – not everyone gets to work in what I presume is several of their dream industries. It must have taken a stellar amount of work.

    Lastly, congratulations on your new title of Qiunns! And Congratulations to Quinns on your new status of Kieron!

    Happiness and flowers and stuff for everyone! yaay

  40. leeder_krenon says:

    it’s like when duncan mcdonald stopped writing for your sinclair :(

  41. CTRL-ALT-DESTROY says:

    Kieron quitting RPS = Grammar on RPS + 10. But also sadness :(

  42. Hodge says:

    Man! I hope they get you so boozed up at the RPS meet that you get all remorseful and change your mind.

    Nah, that would be selfish. All the best KG.

  43. Mister Yuck says:

    Quinns can’t replace you, but I’m glad it’s Quinns who’s replacing you. Thanks for raising the bar about 2 notches.

  44. cypher says:

    Good luck in comics and anything else you turn your hand too, the selfish part of me is going to miss the like of your bloodbowl diaries and the sunday paper, but honestly you’ve given far more than your fair share to games journalism already. So really I’m just looking forward to seeing what you do next!

  45. KillahMate says:

    A belated Happy Birthday, Kieron, and best wishes on your new journey. I’ve been following your work ever since that damn NGJ manifesto, and you’re a big part of the reason RPS became my go-to games site. It’s good to know you’ll still be lurking around.

    On the other hand, where will I get my daily dose of terrible mid-nineties zine-kid glitterpop puns now? On the other other hand, yay! You’re working on fixing the comments! On the… other leg, hi Quinns! You’ve been seriously stepping up your game lately, it’s nice having you around more. Check with the hive mind about the Sunday Papers, would you?

    Kieron, I hope you have a good life doing the thing you love. See you around.

  46. Dean says:

    Have to love that this is the most commented on story ever in RPS. Shows just how unusual and wonderful a site it is. How many other gaming sites would attract more comments on a piece about staff changes than one on piracy or microtransactions. Awesome.

  47. Tomski says:

    Happy Birthday Kieron, good luck with all the comics business. You will be missed.

  48. Rane2k says:

    Good luck with the comics business, Kieron, and thanks for RPS!
    Will we get your Sunday Paper´s from somewhere else now? Or will one of the other 4 step up to the task?

    Also:
    Quinns gains 47 XP.
    Quinns is now level 14!
    +1 Str
    +1 Int
    +2 Wis
    +5 Workload :-)

  49. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’ve just read as much of these ten pages as I could – because to read closely would just get me all sniffly – and I wanted to thank you all. Having the audience that RPS does is one of the many reasons I’m so proud to have been here.

    ONWARDS!

    KG

  50. asdf says:

    But… who will talk about himself in every article, all article long now? Who will write articles about Kieron Gillen now that Kieron Gillen has stepped away from writing articles about Kieron Gillen?