By Nathan Grayson on July 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm.
There was a time when I thought I’d never write this post. I still kind of can’t believe I am, to be honest.
I’ve spent the past week and a half fielding questions from people asking about the new RPS job listing. Well, here’s why: I’m leaving. It’s really strange, though not necessarily in a bad way. I’m glad to see so many people eager to give up their consciousnesses to the hivemind. I’m glad this site has made an impact and inspired all these folks to take up the pen for the most glorious crusade of all: writing silly words about videogames. You may not always agree with the stuff we run here, but goodness knows we try. We want games to better in so many ways, and few things make me smile bigger than the knowledge that a bunch of you have said, “Yeah, you know what? I want to be part of that.”
It’s just kind of… surreal. I’m moving on from RPS. I never thought I’d see the day.
I’m doing it for a lot of reasons. I’ve loved serving you beautiful/handsome/one-million-tentacled readers, but it’s time for me to move on. I want a change of pace, a different (even if only ever so slightly) challenge. It’s time for someone to take my place, someone who’s burning to do it right.
That is not to say Jim, John, Alec, and co haven’t taken incredible care of me. I have never worked with better, kinder, more compassionate people. Never. During every low point – every dumb life crisis I’ve bumbled my way through, every time a publisher has taken aim at me for, er, doing my job – they’ve had my back 100 percent. These are people who trusted me implicitly every step of the way, spent ample time and effort to ensure that I was ok in countless situations. They did their absolute damndest to make sure I was cared for, physically and mentally. They never felt like bosses. They were – and still are – friends. Family. Some of the best I’ve ever had.
While working at RPS, I’ve had relationships end catastrophically, developed scary health problems, watched friends who were way too young pass away. I am not good at asking for help, but I never had to. Usually it was just a simple IM from John. “Hey, do you need to talk or anything? We’re here for you.”
This is getting hard to write.
I’m gonna miss the hell out of your comments and responses to my articles. Yeah, some of my more… controversial pieces brought serious nastiness out of the woodwork, but by and large writing for the lot of you has been a pleasure. I remembered when I first started at RPS, I was so intimidated. I thought to myself, “How am I supposed to pen anything useful for an audience that is, near as I can tell, smarter and more clever than I am?” You all accepted me with open arms, even when my writing style was rough and about a thousand times more overwrought than it needed to be, when I got too goofy or idiotic, when I was flat-out wrong, and when I tried my hand at – DUN DUN DUN – video.
I can’t even count the amount of time I’ve spent laughing like a total nutcase at comments you fine folks have written. RPS has amassed an army of geniuses. If we wanted to start some kind of dystopian future war using telekinetic cyber mages, I have no doubt we could do it by forcefully conscripting you.
We wouldn’t. (We might.)
I learned a ton by writing for you all. I know I wasn’t the most active commenter, but I was always listening. When you criticized me, I took it to heart. Sometimes I obsessed over it, even. But that made me better. Thank you. I really, really, really dislike vitriolic shouty-ness, but I understand that even that comes from a place of passion. You care. I care. We may not always care the same way, but we’re united in that feeling.
Being here taught me to care about new things, too. I never thought myself openly sexist or racist or homophobic or anything like that before, but I also didn’t understand how systemically ingrained many of those mentalities are. Writing about them helped me learn how to be less shitty, helped me become better at caring about other people no matter how different we are. And anway, we’re all human. In the grand scheme of things, we’re not very different at all. I promise that no matter what I do with the rest of my life, I will carry those values with me, wield them like a sword. These things matter, they make games better, they make people better. If you don’t like that, too bad.
I am going to keep writing about games. At least, for now. These are strange times. Writing about games – you know, with words – is in a big transition. I don’t think the career will die entirely, but I also recognize that YouTubers and Twitch streamers are having a big impact on the field. I’m trying to adapt as best I can, but I still feel like a fish out of water with it all. I will probably always be a writer first and foremost, for better or worse.
Writing is too important to give up on, though, and I still think real, hard-hitting reporting is needed in this world – perhaps now more than ever. There’s so much deception, whether it’s publishers giving fans the silent treatment on important issues (quit it, Ubisoft) or, well, publishers straight out paying YouTubers sans explicit disclosure. Moreover, honest, from-the-heart stories about life and experience and humanity (and, yes, games) – the kind of stuff Cara and Jenn Frank and Mattie Brice write, a lot of things collected on sites like Critical Distance or in The Sunday Papers – are incredibly powerful in writing. We need more of that. I hope we get more of it. Truly good games writing still matters. I believe that from the bottom of my heart. I hope RPS continues to be a bastion of that. I believe it will.
Prospective RPS writers, pay attention to that stuff. At one point Cara told me to be aggressively vulnerable in writing, to wear my flaws and my fears on the outside of my heart, to bleed and not care who sees. Do that. The most powerful thing you can bring to writing – about games or otherwise – is who you are. And don’t be afraid. If you see an injustice or something about a game that really bothers you, talk about it. Be loud. Shout until your fucking lungs burst, and then stuff them back in your chest and do it again until all that’s left is oblivion. If it pisses someone off, well, important thoughts rarely please everyone. Do what you do and mean it.
And if people say you fucked up, consider why. Maybe they’re wrong (and sometimes they are very right), but there’s always something real to what they’re saying. Otherwise they wouldn’t say it. Consider where it’s coming from, if nothing else. You may not need to change anything about yourself (and often you will), but always seek to understand. That is how you grow. And mark my words: you should never stop growing. You’re a child. You will never stop being a child. You will die a child.
And for god’s sake, be good to each other. I’ve watched so much of the discourse surrounding games become more and more about inclusivity and understanding – at least, in our more idealistic moments – but I’ve only seen communities grow more vitriolic. I won’t lie: I’m worried. I’ve seen some amazing friends straight up get chased out of caring about this stuff. It might be easy to say they’re quitters or something, but that is absolutely not the case. It’s just, like, how much energy does any one person really have to expend? How much of it can they put into enjoying something despite ceaseless torrents of anger, unpleasantness, hatred, and cynicism? It is important to call out bad things, but if you’re not doing it with the hope that things will get better – if you just want to be angry for anger’s sake – you are hurting everyone, yourself most of all.
I see so many online conversations about games that are predicated on this notion of negativity by default. An idle observation is immediately interpreted as a complaint. A nascent larva of a discussion is stomped into a million argumentative pieces. These aren’t conversations. They’re arguments in which everyone wants to shout over each other, contests in which we hurl words to wound rather than explain and enrich.
You know what I hate? Hate.
Be awesome to someone today. Be awesome to someone every day. Someone you don’t know. Anyone. Even if they’re an absolute shithead to you. I guess this post is where I’m supposed to list my “greatest hits” or something, but fuck that. If you take away one thing from me, let it be that: be good. Do good. In games, in life, in whatever. Respect people. Be excellent. Love even if you get burned over and over and over for it.
I love you all. And I believe you all have the capacity to be great. Some of you already are. I’m leaving, but I’m not really going anywhere, so I’ll see you around. I’m going back to being a reader and a viewer and a commenter, just like you. I can’t wait to see what we make together.
Hello, John here. I wanted to add something to Nathan’s post to thank him from the bottom of Horace’s infinite heart for his amazing work for RPS. Nathan joined RPS in 2012, and has had such a massive impact on the site. While we were trying to hire a news writer, we accidentally got one of the best journalists in the business. Nathan’s instinct for finding a story, speaking to the people involved, and exposing the truth, is remarkable. He’s also just a completely lovely person.
We’re going to miss him hugely, both in terms of what he has brought to the site, and as one of the nicest guys you could hope to work with. We wish him enormous good fortune as he moves on, and can’t wait to see what he’s going to do in his new job. And if his new employers are ever mean to him, we’re going to kick their asses.
Nathan is truly one of the Good Ones, and unquestionably has the best curly mop of hair in the business. We love what he’s brought to RPS, and his mark on the site is permanent. We love you, Nathan!