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. gulag says:

    There goes our Lester Bangs.

  2. Graeme Strachan says:

    It’s not going to be quite the same without Kieron around. I’ve been listening to his insightful rantery with more keen interest than in any Games Journalist since Roger Frames (a joke for the oldies)

    Can’t say it’s a surprise since the comic work took off properly but Marvel’s gain is certainly our loss. I’m sure Quinns will be great but this really is the end of an era.

    salut mon capitain.

  3. tomeoftom says:

    Nooo! Mr. Gillen: thank you so, so much for your writing. You’ve led me to enjoy music I thought I’d always hate, given epiphany after epiphany on the nature of games, opened my mind to enjoying so many new things – but most of all you’ve always made for excellent, brilliant reading. Your lively, harsh, cuttingly intelligent and open prose is a style that will be sorely missed. Happy birthday!

  4. James G says:

    Damnit, you will be missed. Where else will we get links to varied music in the Sunday Papers?

    But Thank You. RPS has been fantastic, and while despite the “Kieron Gillen’s blog” jokes from PCG, it has been a product of all members of the hivemind, the distinct voices of all of you means that this will be a different place with you gone. As a major part of RPS, you have been responsible for the general increase in spending on games I have made in the past couple of years, not to mention by embracing of the Indie games scene.

    But of course, it would be selfish of me to lock you up in a little cage, with a computer and high speed internet connection, forcing you to write RPS articles for me. However, I can be a selfish guy, so you might want to watch out for suspicious looking folk standing outside your door, cage in hand. If you do manage to evade journalism slavery though, I wish you all the best for the future.

    Now SURELY Quinns needs to be added to the hivemind list at the bottom.

  5. misterk says:

    goodbye, and good luck in your future endevaours. You had rather hinted at this in other places, so this isn’t a total surprise, although it is still a little sad. I probably wouldn’t have found this site if you hadn’t written for it, becoming aware of you because were a Kieron who lived in Bath, even if you spelt your name wrong.

    I’m trying to come up with some kind of “the king is dead” joke, but I’m not feeling it…

  6. brog says:

    goodbye, it’s been awesome.
    when i started reading RPS, i didn’t pay much attention to who wrote each piece. but eventually i noticed more and more the strong correlation between me really enjoying a piece and “Kieron Gillen” sitting in the writer tag. you’ve done good, and will be missed. i look forward to the continued big rants.
    quinns seems a good replacement, i think he will make an acceptable kieron gillen.

  7. Chris Evans says:

    Best of luck for everything in the future Kieron, I have been a keen fan of your work since I started reading PCG and your pieces. You have done the world of PC gaming and games journalism proud :)

  8. groovychainsaw says:

    Good luck in your comics writing Kieron, I’ve always enjoyed your games writing and it will be sadly missed, having grown up alongside your articles (I used to read amiga power myself, and stumbled across a preview of halo for the PC, written by yourself, back when it was going to be a PC RTS the other day…!). I followed you (and the other chaps, natch) here the day RPS launched where I’ve gained a rediscovered enthusiasm for PC games that had been lost through my console years.

    Without RPS, I’d be missing all the indie experiences I’ve had since your site started, too numerous to mention and I wouldn’t have spent half as much money on my PC getting it up to spec to enjoy these games. So you can be confident RPS has left PC gaming in a better state through your words and created a solid foundation here at RPS to enable that to continue.

    I’ll definitely miss your opinion pieces so I’ll bookmark your workblog just in case one turns up over there. Again, good luck with your future writings. As you say, many of the top games journos have gone on to greater (? More mainstream?) things and their quality has shone through. I’m sure you’ll be no different.

    Thanks for all the fish.

  9. Headache says:

    Good luck and fortune for all your future endeavours Kieron. I collected PC GAMER (and ZONE) for years and I can still remember reading as you first joined and then moved up the PCG hierarchy. Your thoughts and opinions on gaming and the industry have been a pleasure to read over the years.

    A toast – To Kieron, top chap and gentleman!

  10. Interstella84 says:

    Having followed Kieron’s game writing since he first joined PC Gamer, all I can say is this – thank you for 12 years of wonderful, insightful, often angry, frequently hilarious and always well-written articles. Both myself and my younger brother have spent many drunken hours debating the world of games journalism, and RPS and yourself have been excellent over the 3 years of existence (long may RPS continue!). Best of luck for the future, I’m sure you will excel in the comics-world!
    Ciao man.

  11. Ben Abraham says:

    What can I say that isn’t trite and stupidly saccharine? I’ll just say, I hope you know how much you’ve meant to me over the years, Kieron.

  12. Matt says:

    Time for a New-New Games Journalism Manifesto?

    Best of luck at Marvel.

  13. Will says:

    Very best of luck in your new travels sir. Although I always felt slightly guilty reading this site, coming from the nearby dirty, smelly city of Gloucester, I have loved every single word written by all 5 of you. Many congratulations on the Marvel contract, too.

    -Will

  14. The Colonel says:

    You’d better come along to the next Thinkposium!

  15. Jake says:

    So long, Kieron.

    I have a lot to thank you for – your Hostile Waters review got me reading Warren Ellis back when I was wee, which in itself was a catalyst for my expanding cultural intake as a teenager. I went from an 11 year old who bought PC Gamer because I had played Age of Empires at a friends house, to reading William Gibson based on KG’s Deus Ex review, to doing a degree focussing on new journalism.

    So thanks, Brem.

    Kenickie are still shit, though.

  16. Eire says:

    Good luck.

  17. Sardaukar says:

    Marvel comic writing? I can see it now, a new website: http://www.rockpapersnikt.com!

  18. Malagate says:

    If 35 is his Half Life, does that mean Kieron knows exactly how and when he will die? Is that his superpower? Little wonder he works for Marvel now…

    • Rich says:

      That’s an ability wizards have. Witches too.

    • Cooper says:

      Half lives are based on probability. i.e: During a half life, any one nucleus has a 50% chance of decaying. That chance remains at 50%, no matter how many half lives the nucleus has lived through. Which means that for every half life, half the quantity of radionucleids decay.

      Basically, this means Kieron is eternal (dividing by half will never reach zero). He will, however, decay to the point where the trace left of him is so miniscule as to be undetectable.

    • sfury says:

      Let’s see if when he reaches 40 he’ll declare he’s now a magician and worships the ancient Roman snake god Glycon. Then we’ll know he’s conquered comics too. ;)

  19. MrSafin says:

    Good luck, Kieron.

    I really loved your writing style.

  20. Piispa says:

    So long and thanks for all the fish!

  21. Schaulustiger says:

    Thanks for all your work on the site, Kieron, I enjoyed reading all the smart stuff you wrote in the last three years.

    Good luck at Marvel, sir!

  22. Rich says:

    …and thanks for all the fish.

  23. myros says:

    All the best in whatever way this crazy little thing called life takes you. Been a pleasure reading your stuff and look forward to whatever contribution you make in the future.

    And of course congrats to RPS on the continued growth and sucess, dont let it go to your head now mm k.

  24. Deepo says:

    Thank you for everything Kieron, you will be missed. I’ve enjoyed following your career from long haired new guy in PC Gamer to slightly-less long haired gaming oracle. Good luck with the comics!

  25. Ian says:

    It’s been a treat reading all your stuff here, Kieron: thanks for all the splendid words cajoled and coerced into sentences that repaid careful reading and consideration; thanks for the terrible puns; the occasional link to an unknown or forgotten piece of pop wizardry; and for reinforcing the fact that games writing could actually be good writing on its own merits.

    To borrow the closing line from your workblog, I can’t wait to see what you do next.

  26. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Well, I do hope the focus on your comics works out for you. Good luck, have fun and thanks for all the posts.

    I do admit I was a bit disappointed by you comparing yourself to Quinns here. It’s only true when considering the number of RPS members. I dunno, it seems to do a disservice to the specific talents of the both of you.

  27. RagingLion says:

    My Spotify playlist has just ticked over onto Senior Living by Rokysopp as I write this. Poignant given the start of the post if not exactly accurate or representative.

    I’d never heard the name Kieron Gillen before starting to read RPS regularly about 2 or so years ago, but it’s clear from what I’ve read over that time that there are very few other people on this planet who have left such a great impression on the field of games journalism and related fields than yourself. It’s been great to have someone with such a wealth of experience, knowledge and writing ability to comment on the most significant game-related stories of the day and offer some unique and valuable insight that I feel I can actually trust or at least attach worth to. Have really enjoyed the numerous features you’ve contributed to that offer commentary on wider themes within the game-making world – has always been interesting.

    Good luck with your future endeavours, but it’s nice to know you’ll still show your face here from time to time.

  28. mandrill says:

    o7. Happy trails cowboy.

    You do realise that you’re living my dream and I’m incredibly jealous right?

  29. Spacewalk says:

    Oh it’s not so bad, he’ll still be out there riding on the old mine road whenever Quinns needs direction. Or locating a hover device.

  30. teo says:

    Sad panda =( you will be missed
    I grew up reading your stuff in PCG. When I was 12 years old, reading the H&D review, I barely understood half the words! I learned English reading the Deus Ex review 50 times :) You’ve always been my favourite games writer.

    Now the only thing that remains is an admission of the IW review being off! It wasn’t fair to take it outside the conext of the first one.

  31. Optimaximal says:

    How much does everyone want to be this is simply a hoax ‘leaving’ post, drawn up to get around a restricted budget? All it’s going to do is deprive us of Kieron Gillen for 3-4 days before RPS all appear in a grindhouse-style YouTube video, dressed as components of Horace the Endless Bear, proclaiming we all just ‘didn’t get it’ before revealing a new, refreshed and rejigged Kieron Gillen* for us all to enjoy.

    * – the rejigged Gillen may or may not just be Quintin in a skullcap & comedy glasses.

    Good luck Kieron with your comic books for grown ups. I’ve always liked your work, even though you wrote for that stinking Gamer rag and didn’t put your lot in with the Zone crew.

  32. Brumisator says:

    *stands at attention*

    Sir, it’s been an honour reading your prose.
    You will be missed.

  33. Jarmo says:

    Thanks for all the journalism! I’ll buy you a round or three should we ever meet.

  34. mcw says:

    Best of luck and thanks for creating RPS !!

  35. Matthew says:

    Good luck with the exclusivity deal at Marvel, Kieron. You were the first games journo I ever interacted with directly (via email), along with being one of the writers whose work I’ve followed from the 16-bit days.

    I’m glad to hear you’ll still be casting your metaphorical shadow over RPS and look forward to reading more diatribes.

    I know you’ve really made quite a splash in the comics world with Phonogram’s critical success and with the excellent reception to your Thor run, so I have no doubt that you will prod buttock on Uncanny X-Men with Matt Fraction. Who knows, you might even get me back into reading floppies!

    So long, and thanks for all the Los Campesinos.

  36. The Tupper says:

    Thanks for the site and all. The best of British to ye.

  37. Tusque d'Ivoire says:

    sadface.

    But i like Quinns, and Kieron Gillen’s Workblog is now in my RSS-reader obviously.

  38. ClownBaby says:

    Thanks and goodbye then.

    I still remember reading your Deus Ex review in PCG and realising just how much better you were than the reviewers in other mags (and Jim and John and the others too). You always seemed to keep one eye on the big picture of gaming and I always hoped developers were reading your reviews before anyone else’s.

    Good luck

  39. Norskov says:

    Best of luck, Kieron. This site has been a part of my daily routine for about 2½ years now, and it will continue to be. I’ve never been very active in the comments, but I’ve enjoyed it nonetheless. You guys have really made something splendid.

    Oh and a welcome to Quinns since it’s official now.

    Here’s hoping you’ll make enough money at Marvel to do a new series of Phonogram

  40. Nero says:

    So long Kieron. I have always enjoyed your writing here and having noticed quite a few game from it. Good luck with whatever you do and thanks for your time at RPS. I’m not sure I would even be interested in gaming anymore but from the day I discovered that there was a PC only blog my interest returned. Thank you!

  41. Auspex says:

    Cheers KG.

    You were good at this lark.

  42. meeper says:

    Thank you, Kieron.

  43. Ben says:

    Onwards and upwards, Kieron! Best of luck with Marvel.

  44. deejayem says:

    So long, Mr G! I’ve been reading and enjoying your reviews, theorising and bad jokes since your early pony-tailed appearances in PCG, and will be very sorry not to see any more.

    On the other hand – exclusive contract with Marvel? Sheee-it! :) Congratulations, happy birthday, and good luck!

  45. SeanybabeS says:

    As Edward R Murrow would say.

    Good night, and good luck.

  46. Tony M says:

    Sorry to see you go. You’re the reason I came to RPS.

    Yay to Quinns joining fulltime. For me, the excellent Minecraft series was the moment when Quinns was promoted from “RPS sometimes-contributor” up to full “Optimus thumbs-up hive minder”.

  47. Crescend says:

    Really enjoyed reading all of your posts, I’ll be checking your blog every now and then. Best of luck out there!

  48. Danny says:

    Enjoy, and thanks for all the Amiga references.

    For what it’s worth, you’re the only games journalist that I can remember by name. I suppose that’s a good thing.

  49. ran93r says:

    Bugger, I was 35 fifteen days ago, I should have done something profound instead of going to work.
    All the best fella and if you are not musing on here make sure you carry on twufting.

  50. The Sombrero Kid says:

    i think this will work out quite nicely tbh, kierons brilliant but i think he wants/needs to focus more on his comic books & Quinns is on a roll lately!