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. smac says:

    For me, it’s more a case that Kieron has been a major part of the discourse surrounding gaming; and not just professionally, but taking part in thoughtful (yet irreverent) discussions with us rabble online in the old Edge forums; on State; on rllmuk before all the industry types buggered off en masse and of course, via RPS.

    So, our loss, but you gotta know when to make an exit. And how.

    Anyway, when’s the first screenplay out? That’s where the money is, man.

  2. JohnnyMaverik says:

    …………………………………………………………………….. <3 :'(

  3. Ed says:

    I’ve been reading your stuff since you started at PCG. Good luck in your new venture, sir!

    Bless you, Kieron. Blieron.

  4. Komus says:

    Ditto, I’ve been enjoying your work for the past 10 years (jesus…). PCG and RPS are outstanding examples of why PC Gaming is such a great place to be. You can surely claim a sizeable chunk of each. Thank you for killing countless hours spent at work with your mighty rock, paper and shotgun <3

  5. Lorna says:

    The ‘expert in quite literally everything, ever’ leaves the building… Like others, I also grew up reading PC Gamer during the Gillen era, before slowly switching to console gaming, but yours is one of the few journo names that I’ve ever remembered :) All the best for the future.

  6. HYPERPOWERi says:

    What a shame.

  7. sinister agent says:

    You can’t not be a games journalist! I’ve met you, you’re a proper person and everything. You have to be a games journalist or I’ve no proof they exist! Damn it.

    I’ve enjoyed almost several things you have written over the years. All the best, Mr. KG.

  8. Surgeon says:

    What?
    You can’t be giving it up!
    Please, don’t leave.
    You’re the best thing to happen to Dr. Who for years.

  9. minipixel says:

    may the force be with you :)

  10. Adventurous Putty says:

    Kieron, your games journo writing has been among the best I’ve ever read and lent serious credence to the idea of video games as a legitimate artform worthy of in-depth criticism. I haven’t always agreed with your conclusions (though, surprisingly, I have with most), but they have always been fascinating and thought-provoking reads.

    Good luck to you, wherever you end up going — I can only hope you inadvertently write something that is a huge commercial as well as critical success so that you become the next Alan Moore, or something.

  11. Enshu says:

    I’ve suddenly realized that there’s so much to read. Need to catch up to all those 15 years.

    So, I’ll hunt you down and read you.

  12. SRendall says:

    Good luck mate.

  13. thesundaybest says:

    I’ll add my very late voice to the mix – sad to see you go, excited for your future, and hoping this means, although it almost certainly doesn’t, more Phonogram.

  14. wretcherd says:

    *climbs on desk*

    “O captain, my captain!”

    • BonusWavePilot says:

      “We don’t play and write games because they’re cute. We play and write games because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain gaming. But Minecraft, Spelunky, Darwinia, Love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the shooters… of RPGs filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that games exist, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

  15. GameOverMan says:

    From C-Monster to Karen Gillan, it has been a hell of a ride. Good luck and thanks for everything (Julie Newmar).

  16. Tom Camfield says:

    Sad times! I’ve been reading your work since AP, even lobbed your UFO review online, so it’s sad… but also kind of cool, since I’ve been following you for about 15 years, it’s nice to see EVERYTHING WORKED OUT, eh? Who’d have thunk you’d be here now, a full time writer for Marvel? Great times. Good luck, God Bless, and Happy Birthday!

  17. DrazharLn says:

    And so perhaps the finest writer of video games journalism that I have never met quits the stage.

    I wish you the greatest of luck with your future endeavours.

  18. Feste says:

    Cheerio and good luck Mr Gillen. Your articles and reviews are one of the reasons that I’m still gaming let alone playing them on the PC. At least this means that I have a reason to carry on reading comics now.

  19. Papa Voodoo says:

    Sorry to see you go.
    May you find wealth and happiness in all your future endeavours.

  20. ManaTree says:

    It was fantastic reading your works, albeit I came very, very late in your span. I’m sad you’re leaving, but I’m glad you’ve had that…breakpoint of knowing when it’s time.

    Salutations, KG, good luck, and amen.

  21. gnodab says:

    Yapma Lan!

    Don’t go! You brought me back to PC gaming after almost a ten year hiatus. Now I jump to RPS on a daily basis to look for the much needed NewGameJournalist’s Sexy-Talk and hencefort I’ll have to go into could turkey?! Oh, you cruel bastard. At least gimme a proper book not those flashy-coloury stuff…

    And what about the RPS-Podcast? After all this training to learn to comprehend your rapid, british ramblings with my poor non-nativ listener’s ears… All for nought?
    Well I’ll have to travel to the UK and start to pick random fights in your pubs, eh?

  22. mizipzor says:

    Best of luck! You will be missed.

  23. Chris says:

    I go on holiday, then come back to find this!

    Good luck Kieron. There is a time for everything under the sun… (Batty was a plagiarist :)

  24. BonusWavePilot says:

    Thanks KG. It’s been awesome. Catch you in comics land.

  25. Tim says:

    Thanks for the good times Kieron – your articles on this site were one of the major inspirations for me to get into the games journo gig myself, and I’m loving every minute of it. Good luck with Marvel and look forward to seeing what you get up to next!

  26. Cunzy1 1 says:

    Which one was Kieron?

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