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.

__________________

« | »

, , .

611 Comments »

  1. Land says:

    I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.

    Take care.

  2. Ricc says:

    Thank you for making RPS into what it is today. You will be sorely missed. The Sunday Papers are infinitely valuable.

    Time to shine, Quinns.

  3. Alex Bakke says:

    I remember seeing you in the PS1 mag’s journo gallery, and feeling all proud when I graduated to PC Gamer and noticed you. I was at home.

    <3

  4. Vanderdecken says:

    Hmm, Rutger Hauer.

    Oh, and nooooooooooo! Thanks for all the fish Kieron.

  5. Hazza says:

    Bon voyage! And, best of luck in your future endeavours.

  6. Diziet says:

    You’ll be missed. On the plus side if you post occasionally they’ll be special treats and no doubt quite epic screeds about gaming. Having just bought Phonogram on comixology I’m really looking forward to more of your output in that medium. I’ll be keeping my eye out for it. Good luck!

  7. chokoladenudlen says:

    Losing KG is a formidable loss, but gaining Quinns for full-time is an awesome way to console us! Best of luck to the both of you with your new endeavour and positions. All you RPS guys are bat-shit crazy awesome and the reason I started being interested in who wrote the various gaming-related articles, seeing as how the quality of your work usually eclipses that of other sites.

    Long live Rock,Paper, Shotgun! :)

  8. The Hammer says:

    Stay vigilant, Kieron, you curious son of a gun.

  9. KingCathcart says:

    Back in 2001 I started university in Bath and started reading PC Gamer (use to be a Zone man but until Future bought Zone it was rarer than pickled marmosets in Bath). From the off Kieron’s writing stood out. There was clearly something special about his words and when I would occasionally spot him lording it about Moles nightclub there was an unmistakable air around him that you sometimes sense in the truly gifted.

    Fast forward 8 years and I finally stumbled onto RPS. John, Jim and Alec are all writers I know and love but I guess Kieron has always been the charismatic front man of the team. Since that day RPS has become my favourite gaming blog and not only gives me great pleasure but also finally gave me the kick up the bum to try a bit of games writing myself.

    I’ll miss you Kieron. Comics gain is games Journalisms loss.

    That said, glad to finally have Quinns officially onboard – the hole Kieron leaves is big but I’m confidant Quinns can fill it with his own unique style.

    John, Jim and Alec – look forward to the continuation of you excellent work and hopefully will see all of you tomorrow.

  10. randomnine says:

    Damn it, Kieron. You’ve been my favourite games journalist these past seven or eight years and it’s a shame to see you go.

    I understand wanting to move on and having to leave behind people who care. Good luck with the comics, and here’s to an unlikely future where everyone doing anything games-related professionally can be proud and well compensated.

  11. Fomorian says:

    For two years, I had the unspoken pleasure of reading one of Internet’s best game journalists (the others being John, Jim, Alec and, more recently in comparison, Quinns) on the greatest PC gaming’s site, which made me more a gamer I am, got me into indie gaming and taught of better game journalism than I had experienced before. Thanks for the memory, Kieron. Thanks for the great articles.

    And looking forward to more Quinns.

  12. Eamo says:

    Thank you Mr. Gillen. You write about being a gamer as opposed to so many who are just there to describe games. You let me know that playing games is every bit as important as I always felt – nay hoped – it was. It is odd but as a man of almost your own age I was always secretly ashamed of my love for games. It felt like a dirty shameful thing. Through your writings here and those others on this site I now feel proud of my gaming. Instead of making some lame excuse over why I am busy of an evening I can now proclaim loudly “I am raiding, sorry” and oddly people respect me all the more for it.

    I wish you all the best in your new endeavours, I am sure with the same passion and spirit as you have brought to this site your success is assured. Good luck and thank you.

  13. tapanister says:

    Kieron, while I’ll never forgive you for telling us that John Romero was not a rockstar game developer back in Animex 2004 (or 2005, who can remember), I’ve always enjoyed RPS and it has almost redeemed you for that indiscretion.

    You’re alright. Good luck with the comics thing!

  14. Frozenbyte says:

    Godspeed, you magnificent bastard.

  15. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    Vale, Kieron! You must be proud of the monster that your hivemind-lovechild has become.

  16. David says:

    Maybe some of his ieron?

  17. Mattress says:

    Kieron,
    I was an avid PC Gamer reader between 2000-2005ish, when you were a staff writer/deputy editor/frequent freelancer. Back in 2007, it was great to see the group of writers who I had so enjoyed reading from that period of the magazine, set up a website like RockPaperShotgun. It’s been an absolute joy to read your intelligent and insightful commentary on this slowly maturing medium for the last ten years.
    Hope you have every success with Marvel, but that you also find the spare time to indulge the pursuit of a hobbyist videogames writer, as you will be sorely missed.

  18. Haplo says:

    I knew the moment that new Doctor Who series came up he’d leave us for showbiz ._.

    But no, really, goodbye, Kieron.

    Goodbye my dear~
    Although you are far away you’ll always be near~
    For here in RPS there’s always a little bit~
    of that witty git~
    For us to hear~
    We’ll remember you~
    For the writing you do~
    Unlike this poem~
    Which is pretty awful really~

    Good luck in the future! I hope it goes well.

  19. Unaco says:

    I’ll probably miss some of your puns, and the occasional musical allusion in your headlines. I bid you a fond adieu.

  20. jaheira says:

    Goodbye Kieron. Come back often.
    :(

  21. Nallen says:

    Hey! other RPSers, obviously you all know Kieron personally and have known his opinions on this subject for some time, but how do you feel about him calling games journalism ‘pissing away talent’ and ‘wasting years of your life’?

  22. David says:

    Oh. Of course my first comment here would be a reply fail. 4 pages from where I intended it.

  23. Ben says:

    Reading your games coverage has really helped me think more deeply about games and helped me think how to be better at writing about them. It is a terrible thing that we wait to say stuff like this until a person leaves but I guess it sometimes takes that to elicit it. Well, this is going in a depressing direction.

    You werk gud. Thank you. That’s better.

    And it is wonderful that Quinns will be full time on RPS. The Journey of Saga stories have been my favorite pieces of games writing this year. Hopefully this won’t change the release of those, though.

  24. mickiscoole says:

    5 pages of comments and not a single “what a shame” comment.

    What a shame.

    Also, sad to see Kieron go. His Deus Ex review alone made me buy the game.

  25. Drexer says:

    God damnit Kieron. God damnit.

    This now made it all so much more symbolic that I still haven’t gone through to reading last week’s Sunday Papers.

    What’s gonna happen to the Sunday Paper now?

    Happy to know you’re still gonna rant though. We need you Kieron.

  26. skinlo says:

    Take care!

  27. Vitamin Powered says:

    I already said so on twitter, but I’ll say it again. Happy birthday dude, and you’ll be missed.

    Catch you around, man. Your stay here has been amazing and inspirational.

  28. EaterOfCheese says:

    boycott

  29. espy says:

    All the best, Kieron, and thanks for some great reads!

  30. Atrocious says:

    Godspeed!

  31. mihor_fego says:

    Happy birthday and have a bright future in Marvel, Kieron! As many have said you’ll be missed and remembered.

    I didn’t have the chance to follow your writing from the beginning, since I discovered rps 2 years ago. I never really felt like it was anything but a hivemind behind this site, as I found most articles ranging from interesting to brilliant no matter the writer.
    What made the difference, though, was Sunday Papers and the music references!

    As for Quinns, it was about time to be acknowledged as a full member of the hivemind. I don’t think anyone views him as a replacement anyway; he’s been writing some of the best stuff here over the last month.

  32. Debaser says:

    Sucks you’re leaving, but the best of luck to you, mate.

  33. Himself says:

    Best of luck!

  34. Chris D says:

    Later we will learn
    Change is needed, even good
    But today is “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

  35. Andrew Farrell says:

    Can I be the first to say – you bastard, you’re younger than me?

    Also happy birthday, also see you in the funny pages.

  36. T says:

    when io saw the picture thought a Bladerruner game was coming!

    Time to die

    one of the greatest “The End” of all times… and a perfect match for K. words. nice piece

  37. Haywire says:

    Although I didn’t always agree with what you said Kieron, I always appreciated that it was well thought out, challenged my gravelly preconceptions and was masterfully communicated. I always especially appreciated the journalistic ripples you created on other sites, all the way to my third favourite site at the moment – escapist magazine (For the record giantbomb.com is the first for their humour, variety and truly special commentary, then yours (or should i say theirs) for the intelligent and honest pc content).

    Forced nested brackets

  38. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    First of all, happy b-day, Kieron.

    Second… In a way, I could see this coming. In another way, I couldn’t.

    Whatever the case, one of the main reasons that got me interested in games journalism was Kieron. That and the games, but on my way to the second year in the field, the games are almost a minor part. They’re important even when the pay is lousy, they’re important even when you feel no one else sees the medium as you do, they’re important even when the larger parts of the industry, of gaming communities and journos don’t even get games atl, happy to say they’re good because they’re movie-like. Fuck those tools.

    Thinking more about it, it was probably british gaming journalism that kick started my desire, with the likes of Kieron, Campbell and J. Nash. It was totally far out. You don’t get that kind of gaming journalism in Portugal, on mostly anywhere else, where it’s just a bunch of typing robots and reading robots. It’s largely boring, dry, unwilling to engage the audience who is also unwilling to think outside marketing and bullet point features in the back of a box. For some reason, the more I got to know their work, the more I found myself thinking about doing the same. Of course, it was never a question of being at their level – I’m sure some fleeting arrogance might have tried to convince me of that, but it didn’t work. It wasn’t about being a copycat, it was about carrying the same spirit.

    Kieron leaving RPS and gaming journalism in general is a blow, but it’s also not a doomsday device. His body of work still remains a reference (probably much like Amiga Power still remains a reference to him), and his influence is also seen on this generation of writers. For that undeniable reach, for the way he influenced many (including me), he’ll always have my gratitude (a trivial thing to him, perhaps, but important to me). For what it’s worth, I won’t let the influence die on me.

    Farewell Kieron, it feels like even after everything you gave us I hardly knew you.

    (The only thing that’s bugging me is, well, I stopped reading comics a long time ago and don’t see myself returning to them to catch up on his work, but I’m hoping he’ll pop up every now and then and talk shop about games).

  39. Durkonkell says:

    Ack! Nooooooo!

    I’m really pleased to hear about your exclusive contract to put words and pictures in sequential order, it sounds like a magnificent opportunity for you. I am equally-and-oppositely (uh…) disappointed that we’ll no longer get to read your games-thinks here at RPS.

    I shall now go and purchase Planescape: Torment in your honour.

    Good luck and fair weather!

  40. Ben says:

    Thanks Kieron. Happy birthday and good luck.

  41. DMJ says:

    Farewell KG.

    I lit a candle for you. I put it in the window. The curtains caught fire and my house burnt down.

    KG, you owe me a new house.

  42. Hippo says:

    Sad to hear this. You’ve been important not only for the games press, but for the industry itself. The games industry is full of shitty people, shitty companies and shitty games, and you’ve been good at finding & highlighting the exceptions. It’ll be tougher to be an indie when you’re not around. There are others like you, of course, but they’re not exactly plentiful. Except perhaps on RPS.

  43. Derek Smart says:

    Wait! Wot! He’s leaving…but yet he’s still the Director?

    Don’t fall for this ploy folks!! I think they’re trying to pull a GoG!!

  44. Hedge says:

    Wear sunscreen.

  45. zak canard says:

    All the best for the future Kieron, and if that new fangled “offline webcomics” thing doesn’t take off we will welcome you back with open arms. There’s also the option of doing TV and getting hitched to a Blue Peter presenter. I hear that’s been a pretty successful move for some.

  46. tomwaitsfornoman says:

    Sandman, anyone?

    Anyone?

  47. Wulf says:

    Ahahhahahaha… hahaha… wait, it’s not April 1st.

    Shit.

    Be excellent out there, Kieron. I expect to hear of your vast success in the field of comics (specifically Marvel), or I will be most disappointed.

  48. GHudston says:

    Well, that’s a bit of a blow. I’m never any good with this sort of thing, but I’ll greatly miss reading your articles here. Best of luck in whatever you do and don’t be a stranger!

    Also, long live Iron Quinns!

  49. airtekh says:

    Well fuck it anyway. Totally didn’t see this coming.

    Good luck man.

    I still have my copy of PCG with the Deus Ex review in it, buried in dust in the recesses of the attic.

    It was the first review where I actually bothered to check the name of the person who wrote it; because it was brilliant.

    Games journalism’s loss will be comic books’ gain.

    o7

  50. Berzee says:

    I thought this was going to be about Half-Life, but this is okay too. =P

    Glad you are not 100%-leaving-leaving-never-see-Kieron-again. Keep your chin up and your eyes trim!

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>