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. Pijama says:

    Kieron, you magnificent bastard, thank you for some of the best writing I have ever seen in this beloved medium and good luck in whatever endeavours you might take. =D

    BUT THIS NEEDS MORE EPIC:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmDoT1TXV3k

    Tennyson’s “Ulysses” performed by John Gielgud. With your soul now empowered by epic Victorian poetry, I say: GO FORTH AND GODSPEED!

  2. icupnimpn2 says:

    The succession is not yet complete. The time to strike is now, my brothers. Quinns is weak – drunk with his new powers and status, not realizing that our loyalty is to his station and not to his name. We must rise up, tear him from the fourth throne, and place our own man there. Gillen thinks he can abdicate and still hold sway, but he now worships the paper gods. His attention is elsewhere.

    • Man Raised By Puffins says:

      and at last the rightful Lord shall sit on the dread throne, whose blood chilling name will resound from the high black mesas to the deepest fortress of the dwarven folk, and they shall call him… Tim.

  3. SheffieldSteel says:

    Best of luck KG.
    I will miss
    (the opportunity to make jokes about Karen Gillan and)
    you .

    You listening, pig?

  4. Robert says:

    Thanks Kieron, for all the inspiration and frankly amazing writing. You were the first games journalist that showed me that quality writing exists in the field. (non-anglophone nativity). You even rekindled my love for comics. Thanks for the incredible and/or shitty music you’ve linked. I will be awaiting your music blog. ;-)

    This is a dark day for ‘New Games Journalism’. I wish you luck in your comics endeavors. (and life)

  5. theleif says:

    “Giving all the love I feel for you
    Couldn’t make you change your point of view
    You’re leavin’
    Now I’m sittin’ here, I’m wastin’ my time
    I just don’t know what I should do

    It’s a tragedy for me
    To see the dream is over
    And I never will forget the day we met
    Girl I’m gonna miss you”

    -Milli Vanilli

    On a serious note, when will your duet with Quinns be released? I can’t wait to hear you two singing “Hello Goodbye”

  6. Duffin says:

    Best of luck for the future Kieron, and thanks for helping make RPS what it is today, we are all indebted to you.

  7. perfectheat says:

    Thanks man for everything! Going to miss you in the podcasts too! By the way: You guys should do more of those! Even if it’s sometime over Skype.

    I had also no idea you guys were running advertising as I have been running Adblock for so long I forget. Is there a way one could donate and by doing so not feel to guilty for blocking?

    • Wulf says:

      Subscribe, it’s what I do. That way, you can help pay a little toward their site upkeep (more than viewing their ads would bring in) and block those atrocious, site-design killing, rogue process-carrying things. (The latter being added after The Elder Scrolls Nexus, a site I’d always considered trustworthy, ended up becoming a trojan provider thanks to ads, enough to be considered a malicious site by Google.)

      Really, anyone who reads regularly should subscribe so long as they have a job or some means of income, it’s a pittance.

  8. Kazz says:

    Thanks for all the years of great writing, we’ll miss ya! :)

  9. Tater Po says:

    All the best Kieron! Good luck wherever life takes you! It’s been a joy reading your articles.

    Tater Po

  10. JustOneWay says:

    This feels like the passing of one of the greats. I have enjoyed your writing so much. I am truly sorry to see you go.

    Still, I supose there are the comics to enjoy. I hope that one day Phonogram will return and you get the chance to write that Emily Aster story you once told me about.

    Your light has burned very bright indeed.

  11. JackShandy says:

    Keiron, you’re basically my hero. Good luck.

    And good luck to you, Quinns! Judging by Journey of Saga, you won’t have any trouble filling the shoes.

  12. Pinky G says:

    Good luck

  13. Bassism says:

    Kieron, it’ll be strange no longer having you around all the time. But it might just make it all the sweeter when you do pop up.

    I wish you the best with Marvel. It’s a pretty sweet gig, and if anything can follow up RPS, that would be it.

    And thank you for having a hand in shaping RPS. I’ve been reading the site for nearly two years now, and it’s really something special. I know you don’t need anybody to tell you this, but this is a really great thing you chaps have done here.

    I’m going to make sure to follow your words around regardless.

  14. Sinomatic says:

    Am I the only one who read “Time to die” and instantly thought of the paladin in diablo II…..? (I really must get out more).

    Anyway…

    Shall be sorry to see your regular gaming contributions coming to an end. I, like some of the others here have been a reader and fan for quite some time (and I still have at least 5 big snogs I’ve been saving up for you since that brilliant Deus Ex review), but I refuse to say goodbye….

    I’m too busy looking forward to you breaking down and pouring ranty goodness onto these here pages when you just can’t help yourself.

    I might actually think about buying a comic though.

    Maybe.

  15. Kadayi says:

    All the best Duffer. Despite the vehement disagreements on many things game related over the years, if I didn’t place a value your opinions I wouldn’t be here.

    Still one does wonder does this signal an end to The Sunday Papers? *sad face*

  16. Hobbes says:

    Happy birthday and good luck for the future, mister. You’ll be greatly missed (until you come back, natch)!

    Congratulations Quinns!

  17. Lukasz says:

    aww bollocks!

  18. laikapants says:

    I’m oh so glad you put those sections in the order you did. It quickly put my saddened mind at ease. Best of luck and thing stuffs! I might even have to buy my first Marvel comic book, but I’ll definitely finally okay fine whatever have to subscribe to RPS (even if I do it the way in which isn’t subscribing, ie lump sum).

    Now don’t mind me, the ceiling is just a bit leaky.

  19. Cyrenic says:

    So long and thanks for all the puns.

    Good luck with Marvel and any other endeavors.

  20. Urthman says:

    I have a hard time getting too upset at this, Kieron, given how fantastic your work at Marvel has been. I’m really looking forward to more great comics from you.

    And I can be nothing but grateful for your role in establishing the best gaming site on the net. Thank you.

    But I will definitely miss your games writing and reviews. And the Sunday Papers. And your voice on the podcast. I hope you play lots and lots of rant-inspiring games!

    Quinns is a fantastic addition to RPS, regardless of whether Kieron is leaving or not.

  21. EthZee says:

    You did good, Kieron. Real good.

    *sigh*

    Anyway. The King Is Dead! Long Live The Quinns!

  22. somnolentsurfer says:

    A sad day indeed. Not just that you’re leaving here, but an exclusive contract at Marvel presumably means more Phonogram is positively out of the question. And I got so excited when you tweeted yesterday about The Singles Club being in profit…

    But good luck. I guess I might have to try reading some of that dull looking superhero stuff.

    • Dean says:

      I think most exclusive comics contracts still allow indie stuff no? Plus if he breaks through in a big way with Uncanny there’s always Epic…

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Exclusives have exceptions for other stuff you can do in comics. But the problem with more Phonogram is a little more complicated than that, really.

      There will totally be more indie stuff from me.

      KG

  23. Allandaros says:

    Kieron, thank you so much for the stellar game journalism that you’ve done.

    I’ve only been following RPS for a short time, so I haven’t seen too much of your work, unfortunately – but this site made me realize that reporting on games didn’t have to suck abysmally, that it could be well-written, cogent, entertaining, and very, very worthwhile.

    Thank you.

  24. TooNu says:

    Good Luck and thanks for your games writing Kieron, go go deus-ex review:

    !http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/?page_id=16

    On a side note you share your birthday with my missus who is not 35 but is now 26, which also adds up to 8, all we need is one more 8 and the world gonna frikkin end.
    TooNu

  25. James Tao says:

    Well… huh. What a shame.

    I’ve been reading your work here at RPS since the site’s early days, Kieron, and over the years since it’s continually pushed me to put a little more critical thought into the way I look at the games I play and the industry they dwell within. Thanks for all your fine work in games journalism, and all the best from here on out.

    As a fond farewell and a show of (possibly little) respect, there’s this:

    http://imgur.com/Sc8Qw.png

  26. Pax says:

    You can go… for now. But I expect a special Kieron report once Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes out!

  27. Cat says:

    Good look for the future Kieron, please ask the guys to give us a heads up on any comic work you’re allowed to show the public.

    So a cerebrate is seperating from the Overmind? But a new cerebrate has been introduced so a evil Kerrigan doesn’t come along and take over the Swarm.

    Also well played MinecraftMan, made me laugh for a while!

  28. Graeme Strachan says:

    “Followed by the final gynophobal descent into the maw.” Thief 2: The Metal Age review

    My favourite Gillenism of all time.
    Anyone else got any gems they’d like to share?

  29. freepower says:

    Keeps it real, you’ve always been a little bit my hero, Kieron. :’)

  30. Jog says:

    Best wishes to you and your future journeys. Thank you for all news, entertainment and laughs over these years on RPS.

  31. nickylee says:

    *sigh* From C-Monster to now I’ve been reading you, man. Good bye and good luck. :)

  32. Lanster27 says:

    Fuck you Quinn.

    Just kidding.

  33. Soundofvictory says:

    For the last three years, RPS has been the single gaming website that I check daily. The reason is mostly because of ALL the awesome writers (including all the wonderful part-time contributors), and the quick-witted and intelligently written comments. Kieron, I know that RPS will go on without you, but you were an integral quarter (fifth? sixth?) of the hivemind, and it will not be quite the same.

    May Horace the endless watch over you in all your future endeavors. May he also maul every single one of your future oppressors.

    Good luck, and you will be missed.

  34. DXN says:

    Kieron is the new Quinns, Quinns is the new Kieron, money is the new power, sugar is the new money, indie is the new pro, pc is the new console, Muse are the new Queen (failed). We’ll miss you, Kieron. But you will continue to live on. In our crotches. And most importantly, in our brains. Our horrible, electronic brains. Good on ya.

  35. VexingVision says:

    I thank you for all your effort to single-handedly promote the growing Indie gaming scene. Also, much love for being a bastion of PC gaming in a country where I couldn’t even get the PC version for Transformers in a shop on launch day…

  36. vanarbulax says:

    Sad to see you leave, opinion on equestrian matters aside.

    Thank you so much for helping making RPS the absolutely wonderful thing it is today.

    All the best!

  37. Markoff Chaney says:

    Fare thee well, Good Sir. It was a pleasure and an honour. Thank You. :)

    Take Care

  38. stahlwerk says:

    Happy Birthday Kieron, Good Luck and Godspeed with all your future endeavors in Half-Life 2.

    I will miss sunday papers most, as they always were just the right amount of thought-provoking to my still-slightly-inebriated sunday-brain. And if my condition was too hopeless, I always had the song to give me comfort. You may have failed in your own high goals of not linking to remotely related pop songs,…

    …but you never failed me. *sniff*
    Thanks, Kieron.

    Thieron.

  39. Shadow Wulf says:

    I will miss seeing more of your writing. But I’m glad things are working out with you now that you have a job with Marvel. Good luck and you will be missed. ^^

  40. Theblazeuk says:

    Probably not going to read this but all the best Kieron, I’ll be following your comic book work closely.

    I started reading (seriously, I was 8 or 9) when you were on PCG and I still crack up at the memory of KIERON’S HAIR.

    I always expected it to come back and take its revenge.

    (Also: More like Beta-Ray Bill: Godslayer please! Less like S.W.O.R.D. I really didn’t like that)

  41. Will Tomas says:

    Following your games writing was what led me to find RPS, back in 2007. It was what made me think that writing about games was worth paying attention to, and worth reading consistently. Thank you, for the fine, fine work.

    Good luck, and you’ll be sorely missed.

  42. Gassalasca says:

    I still remember that rainy Eastern European afternoon, when I was sitting at my local pirate games shop run by an elderly couple, leafing through the first issue of PCG I had ever seen. The elderly couple was subsribed you see, a teenager such as myself could never afford such a pricey foreign magazine. And I remember reading a Devil’s Advocate written by some guy with a name full of Celtic mystique and awesomeness.

    Well, the name stuck with me, but I never could read the magazine properly, I felt embarassed coming to the store just to read it. Some years later, I listened to the PCG podcast, and finally got the quirky voice, hurried and self-conscious, to match the goofy face and the cool name. And through I heard of RPS, almost exacttly two years ago.

    And then I discovered the real Kieron, the one who wrote the Cradle article, the Shodan article, the almost legendary Deus Ex review, the Alone in the Dark piece… The angry, moody, cool, not-so-young-anymore man who managed to pen down his farewell to Bath so poignantly that it touched a person who had been to the city. Tha man who writes about things in a way that makes you care, even though you’ve just heard of them.

    Well, good luck, goodbye, and thanks for all the Sundays.
    It’s been emotional.

    o7

  43. Niko says:

    Happy bithday!

    And good luck with your new projects.

  44. DevilSShadoW says:

    Good luck in all your future endeavors and thank you for all the wonderful articles over the past 2 years. You will be missed.

  45. Tyra Banks says:

    Hope you still turn out for the Podcasts!

  46. Fraser Allison says:

    The great value of RPS, and Kieron’s work in particular, was best described in that mega-drunken-interview with Paul Barnett a couple of years ago. Re-reading it now, I realise it’s not such a bad thing you’re going out this way:

    KG: I expect [RPS will eventually] kill each other with knives. I dunno. I quite like the idea of being the Clash. Having a few years and then falling out. We’re quite argumentative fuckers and it’s a miracle we get along at all.

    Barnett: Someone will offer you money. That’ll be the end of you. What’ll happen is you’ll find a voice, you’ll find a rhythm, you’ll find some way of connecting with things… and before you know it, someone will go, “We should buy it and own it” and then one of the two natural cycles will happen. You’ll end up rejecting collapsing and exploding, or you’ll take the money and leave, feeding on yourself and it’ll all become a horror-show.

  47. Raum says:

    You’ll probably never read this, but hey, it’ll be here. Forever.

    One of the memories from childhood that stuck around is about you and PCG.

    More specifically, it’s about an issue where the running gag was that you had cut your hair. I remember I was completely stoked, as I had somehow managed to start subscribing to PCG (importing it, I have no idea how I got my mom to do any such thing). Needless to say, this was the beginning of my foray into actual journalism written in English. It was the first magazine I’ve read that I felt was something I needed to read. Something I would regret missing.

    Anyways, back to the hair.

    One of the things that tipped me off to you being awesome was the constant mention of you cutting your hair in that very issue, and that even though I had never met you, or read anything you had written before, I knew it meant you were alright. I fell in love with PCG, and it never went away (I’ll have to admit I haven’t read it the past few years, though — and for that I’m sorry).

    This also means you were basically a guiding force through a lot of my formative years as a gamer. I’d like to think that was a good thing.

    But I’m digressing.

    The actual point was: I never got to see a picture of you with a full head of long hair. I heard it looked ridiculous.

    I’m thinking you actually had that hair when you started PCG, so the thing to do is, obviously, putting together an image of your head anno entering PCG and an image of your head leaving RPS. I’m sure it will fit nicely right after the quote from that movie.

    Another possibility is that I’ve imagined this whole thing, this being a false memory from my childhood, or regarding some entirely other person. Which will make this post look really silly.

    Oh, and happy writing at Marvel. Good luck.

    • Sagan says:

      Someone posted a picture of him with long hair on the forums once, so it must still exist. Except it has been so long ago that I can’t find it. It might have even been on the old forums, which are no longer accessible.

    • Raum says:

      Someone should poke someone until the image is posted.

  48. Pani says:

    I think I’ll miss your game-diaries the most. Please, if you’re going to come back and do any pieces, let it be those!

    Good luck with the comics!

  49. jeremypeel says:

    Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. Kiernon, this isn’t just you flashing your famous British humour again is it?

    I don’t really want to bring up Tom ‘Bite-the-head-offa’ Chick at this point, but I feel like I should bring up the way you handled the fallout of Quinns’ Elemental piece a couple of months back. Following the related thread in Chick’s forum, I actually felt deeply proud of how you stayed focused, funny, and above all, resilient in defence of the integrity of your writers; all in the face of what was essentially a childish and overly personal attack, however well-formed.

    I mention this as one of many moments over the course of your career that have shown me what games journalism can be; not a series of buying guides or mere diversion, but stuff to seriously inspire and challenge debate. We have witnessed the birth of a new medium, and you have played a key (glittery pop) part in its soundtrack.

    I read the highlights of your first drunken high point in PCG in my early teens, and consider myself very lucky to have stumbled across RPS – a magical hub where all my favourite writers seem to live – last year.

    Thanks to you and this bunch of other PCG vets (and Quinns!), over the past months I’ve found myself in a transitionary state too, moving my efforts from music to games writing. At 20, that puts me at the same age you were when you entered the industry. I better get a taffin’ move on!

    It only seems right that we’re here to mark your passing from the field you helped sow, upsetting as it genuinely is. But as you would say in one of your fits of late ’90s pop punnery, Everything Must Go.

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