Gillen Vs GRITtv

Despite our best efforts, the Gillenbeast is not dead. He simply swaddled himself in a cocoon and then later emerged, covered in red wine, in his next phase. We believe this might be a “mature” phase Gillen, as he he’s been debating issues raised by Medal Of Honor and Hey Baby with independent current affairs folks GRITtv, as well as making a large nest our of pulped comic books. I’ve embedded his segment of the GRITtv show below. Relevant arguments are posed.

Next stop: Newsnight!


  1. AndrewC says:

    Serious Gillen is sooo cute. Awww!

    • El_MUERkO says:

      he has a wobbly head when he talks, aweee

    • Quasar says:

      It’s nice to see a TV show host that actually listens to what people who KNOW things about games are saying, and doesn’t just jerk their knee like everybody else.

      Is this a step towards gaming actually being accepted by society at last? I think the sheer mass of the intelligent arguments is beginning to outweigh the idiotic ones.

      All we need is a champion.

      Kieron Gillen – Minister for Gaming.

      It could happen.

    • Jerricho says:

      And Quinns as Minister of Iron and Natural Resources?

  2. Brian Manahan says:

    Two words: stupid baby.

    • James says:

      I have no idea why, but I can’t seem to stop chuckling at this statement. It should clearly win something, regardless of validity or relevance.

    • Brian Manahan says:

      This is because stupid baby is the ultimate insult. There is no possible response or comeback that will allow you to save face or regain the upper hand.

    • Chris D says:


      Takes one to know one?

    • Brian Manahan says:

      @Chris D

      No. If you know enough to call someone a stupid baby, then you are most definitely not a stupid baby.

  3. netsukemonkey says:

    I don’t know why but I watched the Medal of Honour preview and I thought ’10’. Is there some subliminal message in there?

    • Drug Crazed Dropkick says:

      You know, I had something like that as well.

      OT: The points get made on every single game website or similar. Its nice to see this in the mainstream without some retired gardener who has no idea what the hell he’s talking about.

    • Eagle0600 says:

      At about 0:46, a red ’10’ pops up. It looks like an in-game score thingy, but it could be your subliminal message.

    • blah says:

      It’s a ‘preferred’ game score that reviewers are supposed to award the game, although I think it might get more than 10/100… :D

  4. James says:

    The screen looks like they mad him sad!

    • James says:

      mad = made, or maybe not…whatever you prefer.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I always thought he looked vaguely concerned, vaguely disappointed, and vaguely sad all at the same time.

      Because he seems to always look this way to me.

    • MadMatty says:

      he listens to Indie-pop. go figure.

  5. Mr Chug says:

    Was that filmed in Laura Flanders’ basement?

    • Michael says:

      I thought it looked quite professional until they pulled out to reveal that everyone was sitting on cheap folding chairs. After that it looked like they’d just found a quiet corner of IKEA and got on with it.

  6. Pijama says:


    Also, is it just me or he aimed for a very JC Denton look?

  7. Lewie Procter says:

    Kieron, you’ve got a white triangle on your face.

  8. Corrall says:

    Everytime you call it a “video game”… I die a little inside.

  9. Luke says:

    Dominic Sandbrook and Kieron look rather alike just now

    link to

  10. adonf says:

    Which one is he, left middle or right ?

  11. Tom O'Bedlam says:


  12. SpinalJack says:

    Ah, Kieron, still can’t look at the person you’re talking to

  13. Mike says:

    “…director of Rock, Paper, Shotgun”

    *nods sagely*

    C’mon, Gillen. If they asked you for your title, go big. Commander. Executive Overseer.

  14. M says:

    Possibly the best discussion of games in non-games TV I’ve seen! Very interesting, thanks.

  15. Skusey says:

    Are there any game websites that don’t sound stupid when said aloud by a serious lady?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Certainly not ours. I was thinking “Man, we really didn’t think we’d be on political TV shows when we called ourselves RPS, did we?” as that bit happened.


    • Pijama says:

      Always be prepared for the worst, I guess… hehe

    • Renzatic says:

      I’d rather call my future videogame website Lavafucker and risk looking stupid while getting tons of hits, than prepare for the worst and be stuck with a website called “A Frank Discussion of Modern Entertainment, And Other Serious Topics Worthy of Our Attention”.

      Because the latter will not get me laid. Will. Not. Well, maybe it will. But only by NPR chicks. And they don’t shave.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Lavafucker? You are planning on creating a Minecraft porn site? ^^
      On second thought, rule 34 states, that such a site already exists. Then again, it does not contain what you would expect. But this pic does it. ;)

  16. NukeLord says:

    This is clearly faked, no television programme would ever allow such a serious and mature discussion of video games.

    • Urael says:

      This wins the thread. Sorry, people. It’s all over now.

      Well played, sir.

  17. Valient says:

    I’m surprise, rarely do you get an actual intelligent chat like this without interviewer constantly trying to stir conversation against video games.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, this is what stood out for me, too. There was actually a debate going on, and people were allowed to say things without being interrupted, and present FACTS, and weren’t jumped on immediately by a booing, hissing crowd.

      It was downright civil and mature.

      Clearly, this will never be aired on TV.

    • Huggster says:

      Correction – its not controversial – therefore it won’t make the headlines.

      People don’t like reasoned and balanced news, they like outrage.

      How exciting is people taking sensibly about something? BORING!

      Its like an episode of Horizon! Who cares how the universe was created?! BORING!

      Video games are evil!

  18. Alex Jacobson says:

    I’m really interested in Keiron’s idea of finding meaning in computer games through analysing the laws of the simulation. It reminds me a lot of stuff Warren Spector rambles about and I was wondering if there’s a name of this kind of theoretical approach to games.

    • AndrewC says:

      Ludunarrativism! Simulosemantics! Communosystemics!

    • James says:

      Those sound like fancy city-words, city boy.

    • Oozo says:

      @alex jacobson
      In all seriousness, there is a name for it. Well, dozens, I guess. (It’s the core of the whole “art-games” discussion, you know.)
      Pretty popular was Jonathan Blow’s “dynamical meaning”, for example. Go hear him explain it in that speech: link to

      But the leader of the pack would be Ian Bogost, I figure (yes, the guy referred to TWICE by Jim last week). He called it “Procedural Rhetorics”. Heck, he has even written a whole book about it, “Persuasive Games”! It’s actually pretty legible, should you want to give it a try.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      The overarching theoretical approach to art is aesthetics, but in the case of video games you might be looking at the metaphysics of the game: how the game works, who created it and the possibilities within it etc etc.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Uumm, art is just a part of a game. Remember: Games are a superset of all art forms, kinds of entertainment, sports, and good forms of learning.

      I actually did a complete theoretical analysis of what a game is, before even starting my very first project. It’s a quirk of mine: I can’t work with stuff I can’t explain down to what’s still unanswered by physics.
      In a (really tiny) atom shell: As far as I understand it, games are just learning as it was meant to be by nature. And since learning is such a huge advantage in winning natural selection, which itself is always there when resources are scarce (So always in meatspace, but not in necessarily in bitspace), they are a pretty integral part of higher life in all of the universe.
      I have a graph of what a game is here. It says (forgive my probably crude translation from a weird German sentence that probably only I can understand):

      Game = Manipulation of a object (=toy) – which is generating idea/biomass/… existence expansion/improvement/preservation with surprises –, to understand the non-understood.

      For art I have another simple explanation: Art is something which communicates information that resonates with the inner model of the world of those who call it art. ;)
      (Oh, and more often than not people call something “art”, because they think they are supposed to, because someone who acts like an “expert” [which is an absurd title for something that is completely relative to the personal point of view] states that it is.)
      Resonance also means relevance. As you may know, the brain can only store things relative to what it knows. So to be of importance, it has to resonate. But that alone would only make it interesting. To be art, it has to deliver one more thing. I’m not clear about what that is right now, but I know it when my head is fully awake. I think it was that it gives you a personally very useful insight, that allows you to see things from a different perspective. Which also is a kind of evolutionary advantage. Although an abstract and indirect one. But it always triggers a lot. Usually that means emotions. Which are themselves trigger-all fire storms.
      That’s why art allows you, to get out of those catch-22 problems, where your mental model does not allow you out of something, that you want out of. Those that, in their worst case scenarios, are called “schizophrenia”. I’m pretty sure that, if it’s the right resonance, art can help a person get out of a known-to-be-delusional mental model, while still keeping their self-respect and consistency. (Losing those is the same as death to the primitive parts of our brain.)

      There you have it. I think with a solid understanding in physics, social dynamics and psychology, one can work out all details from this.

  19. subedii says:

    Is it just me, or is Keiron continuously staring down and to the right?

    It’s one of those things where once you see it you can’t UN-see it.

    • Huggster says:

      Probably not used to TV appearances? I did notice but I doubt most people would fare better.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I figured there was a monitor there on the floor, and he had to check for something. Judging by the sweat in his face (esp. on the upper lip), I’d say he must have been in some kind of constant panic about something being visible. No idea what though. As the looking and sweating were the only unusual things I noticed. I hope he can get over it. Because in everything else he did well. Maybe he just needs someone telling him that he’s a cool dude or something. I’d definitely say it. Even if only for the self-fulfilling prophecy. ;)

  20. anonymous17 says:

    Relevant, but about seven years out of date in terms of contemporary discussion and thought.

    Mr. Gillen came across excellently, despite being treated somewhat like a oddity for simply trying to engage critically with something that the presenter clearly has no interest in and disdains.


    • Luke says:

      Don’t think that’s very fair.

      She seemed uninformed and unaware about computer games maybe, but not disdainful. I actually thought you could see her interest grow as the discussion went on.

    • Jeremy says:

      Yeah, she seemed to have an honest approach to not knowing much about the field, which I always respect. The worst is when certain people (Ebert) make critical and definitive statements about something of which they know nothing about. However, and I don’t know if this is true for brits, most of us Americans are taught (directly or indirectly) to have an opinion about anything and everything, and defend that opinion to the death, even if you only just made that opinion up about 3 seconds ago. It could simply be a product of our culture here in the states.

  21. Jurpen says:

    Looking good Kieron link to .

  22. sonofsanta says:

    Staring Eyes tag?

    Will watch video later. Will probably not have anything meaningful to contribute at that time so will leave this as my sole contribution to the discussion.

  23. Dawngreeter says:

    Every time I see Kieron not wearing a white suit and not sporting a handlebar mustache, I feel weird.

    Kieron, you should totally grow it back. And then audition for a role in Sons of Anarchy. Every MC needs a dedicated games and comics bootlegger.

  24. Helm says:

    These games are not war simulations, I get it. They are Hollywood presentations, I realize.

    It is worth taking the next step in the public discourse about this thing and answering the begged question: do consumers of this type of entertainment know much about real war? Yes there are famously, military FPS players who are actually in the military, but for the public at large, being exposed to this Hollywood war (and not just through videogames) more often than real war would lead to them having skewed ideas about military conflict and the realities of it. It’s therefore not scary for me if these games *were* realistic war simulations with all that comes with that, it’s scary that they *aren’t*. The morbid thing about them is that they inform a largely distanced-from-actual-war public on what war could be. These people (us people) then are called to decide on how we feel about war on an ontological and existential level, almost daily. Our governments are often involved in wars and we’re asked to have a statement of either condemnation or critique on the subject, as if we have any real experience of what it is to kill or be killed. The level of discourse is cheapened as a result, and this is very useful to those that actually engage in reality.

    The issue isn’t ‘these games teach us how to kill’, it’s trivialization of large scale conflict in the name of spectacle and consumption.

    • Huggster says:

      There is a big disconnect between people who remember WW2 and lived at that time and the younger generation today.
      People really, really, do not appreciate how massive and terrible the loss of life was and is.

      Still, humans are morbidly obsessed with violence, so it will just continue. (games like this I mean)

    • Helm says:

      Yeah. It seems the recent US conflicts are videogameized for a reason.

      Fantasies of violence serve real functions, psychologically. Can’t discount that at any way. But if it’s going to be a fantasy, it should be a fantasy. If it’s going to be a realistic depiction, it should come with the horror of it as well. Can’t have the dressing of reality and then have the wish-fulfillment core of rambo dude that kills 2,000 people and conquers a country single-handedly in a 6 hour videogame thrill ride. There’s something problematic in tapping in a real conflict like this in every spectacular way but keeping away from anything inconvenient about the situation.

      I can take fantasy space marines that get shot and wait it out behind a boulder and regain their health, let’s call it nanobots or cyberorganisms or whatever patching them up, something that coheres with the verisimilitude of the setting, the overall narrative of the work besides serving the fantasy and gameplay function. But real soldiers in a real war that get their limbs shot off and who sometimes are dead before they realize what hit them in their first frontline duty… taking inspiration from that but making them walk off dozens of bullet wounds in the name of entertainment? Something’s fucked up there.

    • Slaphead says:

      The reality of war being invisible to people isn’t a new thing at all. All media tends to glorify war to some degree. People went to WW1 mostly blissfully unaware of the realities in the front. Newspapers talked about glory and patriotism, and women, expecting chivalry, shamed men into enlisting by giving them flowers if they didn’t. In WW2, Superman & Donald Duck smacked the Jerries & Japs in the chin, and the media gave upbeat accounts of life on the battlefield. The 80s had Rambo, who you already mentioned.
      War tends to get glorified, so that people will engage in it more easily. Times and cultural mediums change, but that has always been a constant.

  25. Berzee says:

    Hey Baby?
    Inb4 Kieron returns to his old stomping grounds for another round of “lock the comments”!

    • Slaphead says:

      At least he has done some thinking on the subject.

      I used to work at a hospital, where, it being a female-dominated workplace, I got targeted with my share of grab-ass and unwanted backrubs. By women. Were I to make a game about killing old nurses and cleaning ladies after getting “compliments” from them, there’d be a shitstorm of several different colours. You can talk about “male privilege” all you want, but I had just as much power over these people as a woman would have in the opposite situation. I had to grin and bear it, or complain and be thought of as “less of a man”, or laughed at. Of course I could have chosen violence, the option of which my “male privilege” apparently offers me, but apparently, polite society frowns upon that kind of thing…

  26. fearian says:

    Thats not the Gillen I know.

    The Gillen I know was drunk.


    • fearian says:

      Actually watched the video now. what a sane and reasonable debate. Are you sure this aired on american TV?

  27. The Hammer says:

    Kieron, Louis Theorux-style.

    That’s a compliment, by the by!

  28. colinmarc says:

    This is an american talk show? I’ve never heard of it. Unfortunately, you couldn’t have this sort of real discussion on any major network show.

  29. Zwebbie says:

    I can only imagine someone who watched that show going to RPS to get some more insight in how its readers handle the serious discussion on real life events and entertainment – only to find out that all RPS cares about is Kieron Gillen.

  30. _Nocturnal says:

    Weren’t our guys supposed to discuss the implications of the (multiplayer only) name change and the (multiplayer only) possibility for one to play as a Taliban, though?
    Because what I heard was more akin to general talk on the topics of “what exactly are (mostly singleplayer) video games” and “do they turn our kids into soldiers”. A nice, reasonable and smart talk, yes. But worryingly, for me at least, all talk that was off topic.
    Could it be that even when we get the chance to participate in a level-minded debate, our previous bad experience automatically makes us become defensive? Both participants did say things that need saying, yeah, but with the question actually being about something else their words could end up confusing people and even doing harm to the topic. I’m not saying that’s the case here, I’m just sharing a point I think is worth thinking about. Good job, overall!

  31. Navagon says:

    Whose basement was that filmed in? Those are collapsible garden chairs they’re sitting in right? Add that to the fact that the other two looked like they were dragged in from the early 1980s and you’ve got a classy current affairs show.

    Oh and needs moar Staring Eyes tag.

  32. Collic says:

    Great interview. I have a problem though. Throughout there is a small droplet of moisture/spittle/sweat on Mr Gillen’s upper-lip. I just couldn’t stop looking at it. I need to know. Is it still there? What was it? Have you wiped your mouth Mr Gillen? Have you wiped your mouth so it’s gone now???

  33. coldwave says:


    I understand like 20 percent of Gillen’s speech.

  34. Cat says:

    Very nice interview – she has a nice interview manner and actually seems well informed.

  35. Chaz says:

    Can’t say I’ve ever heard of GRITtv, although being in the UK that’s probably not surprising.

    • Chaz says:

      Oh yeah also not quite sure if the Tony Montana look suits you that well KG. Get a tie like the other bloke.

  36. Wulf says:

    The high point of this was how Kieron did an affirmative Kyle Hyde sort of nod when he was named as the Director of Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Of course, no one’s going to get anything out of that if they haven’t played Last Window.

    Interestingly, Kieron seems to be rather wobbly on camera, too. As though he’s camera shy and this is incredibly uncomfortable for him on many levels.

    Finally, the topic was quite interesting. But ultimately it boils down to there being a whole lot of ‘stuff’ out there, sometimes it has meaning, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes the only meaning things have are those that you allow them to have, or those that you project onto them. Sometimes a game can be art, it can have a message, and sometimes a game is just a game. This is a complicated topic, and each game is but a drop in an ocean, and even dealt with on a case-by-case basis, with each game you could say has meaning, does it, or is it simply the meaning you found in it?

  37. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I think Kieron did well. The setting probably helped lots. WHat with the lady being receptive and the other lad being informed on games himself.

  38. Araxiel says:

    Was this filmed in her basement?

  39. FunkyBadger says:

    Paul Kaye with a haircut?

  40. anonymous17 says:

    Written in response to Jeremy’s comment to my original post (in case of reply failure).

    Connecting gaming with dressing up as a Nazi, considering the American perspective of the Second World War or even the global perspective, is disdainful. Gillen’s response was masterful.
    They are indeed unconnected issues.

    To continue on to the point of suggesting both sides playing as the dominant forces see the opposition as dressed as terrorists, places this discussion into context – that it is totally ridiculous.

    ‘A game like Medal of Honour, isn’t really simulating war, it is simulating a very cinematic idea…’
    Spot on.
    What is being tacitly suggested by the interviewer in not attempting to clarify Gillen’s point is that it is fine to present movies in which certain ideas dominate others. but the moment you play a game it is different. As Gillen indicates, movies and games are in fact extremely similar experiences – these games are cinematic presentations – to which no response is explored because the interview does not connect the lines to what Gillen is himself, perhaps unconsciously, is suggesting:
    How can blockbuster movies celebrating war from a certain perspective not face this kind of criticism and debate when games are?

    By cinematic here we can imply the connection of a produced and streamlined presentation of a idea – but this is not how it is presented in the interview. Here the idea is that a game allowing the perspective of the enemy is fundamentally questionable – (it does not deal with why, except with some vague unexplored reference to the problems facing parents and the violence their kids see in video games, (again movies go unmentioned)), this changes a cinematic presentation from putting forward an idea to putting forward an ideology – something as either right or wrong.

    Would there be a similar amount of fuss if an Afghan movie was made portraying American forces as against goals of the Taliban that are themselves portrayed as good?
    Of course not. People from different places have different views, see things in different ways – everyone can understand that.

    So cinematic ideologies are fine, so why the issue with games in particular? The only differential element here is the (subjective) level of interactivity presented by this games that some how increases the effect it has upon the ‘minds’ of people.

    So what is really at issue here? – the fact that an American game exists which allows someone to entertain the viewpoint of opposition found in reality and that due to the interactivity there is a problem.

    ‘It is a game, this is a game. I have said this before, but the problem here is that giving something like a video game the kind of weight and saying that this is an inherently a bad thing.’
    Correct. But why?

    ‘You do want someone to say that it is not the game that is a problem, it is the actual sending guys to war that is a problem. I hope that someone has been saying that.’
    Emphasing that last sentence, why on earth would gamers need to declare that war itself is bad. War can be justified, war is sometimes necessary. The interviewer is again connecting two distantly related issues to portray gaming negatively. Gamers, it seems, need to say war is bad because otherwise they have been warped by video games.

    ‘…you have got war looking more and more like a video game’.
    So what? Are you suggesting that people are going to start mixing the two together? Why on earth would they do that… – oh, because they play computer games.

    In reponse to your comments above, I accept that the interviewer is asking questions anyone with these concerns would raise. My point is she herself is not neutral.

    This is being disdainful.
    ‘Does it sell?’

    ‘As a public we can’t seem to switch our minds to thinking of it in this way.’
    That’s an interesting but fine line your walking along there.

  41. Auspex says:

    I adore the fact that the Kieron-Gillen-is-Not-Paul-Morley tag has been used before.

    Though if I ever turn on BBC2 and KG and PM are talking about how music was really only cool when they were really cool I’m going to kill everyone.

  42. a says:

    KG has such a square head. I want to make love to it. Also, smart bit, good job.

  43. dragon_hunter21 says:

    I love the headline on that faux-TV at 3:30.

    “Medal of Honor just a game?”

    Yes. Yes it is just a game.

  44. MadMatty says:

    i was thinking- 10 bucks – 20 bucks – there: a crate of beer!

  45. MadMatty says:

    I feel hollywood has been getting weaker since the 80´s with “indiana jones” and “robocop” and the same for these FPS wargames- plots are generally laughable, and gameplay are Rambo style.

    Myself? i got Arma 2 a while back, but unfortunately it won´t run untill i upgrade my rig-
    Had massive fun with Operation Flashpoint tho, Bohemias first sim-style shooter-
    Their games got that *BLAMO* you´re dead! -out of nowhere- , if you arent careful and vigilant in your approach, which gives it the visceral edge, and the paranoia i also think wargames often lack.
    uhm yeah, and Friendly Fire options i like a lot- i definetly see how that stuff could happen real easily.

    I don´t really appreciate the games being based on current conflict tho, as i deem that in poor taste, when handled in these Hollywood style shooters.It´s basically war propaganda, and i´m basically to smart to fall for it.
    Not much gratification gained from blasting some brainwashed Afghan farmers, under control of their local greedmonger warlord, i´m afraid.

    I think the Burmese garrison in Rambo 4 kindof made it to the waste-worthy list tho…. hmm?

    “what it would be like if these games had friendly fire in them” fail!

  46. Sanguine says:

    Don’t you love how the trailer goes from serious gritty voice and totally real conflict to HAI GUIS IMA HEADSHOOTIN WIMMA LAZ0R AN GETTIN MAD SCORE POP UPS OVERHEAD HYUCKHYUCKHYUCK ALL TO TOTALL AWSUMS MUSICS HAW SHEA!

    God I hate this industry for failing to walk a straight line and always trying to market to everyone at once, master to moron, gramps to grandchild.

  47. Disenchanted says:

    To everyone who has not yet understood this: This is a channel that airs on essentially “free tv” and some cable oddities.

    It’s about the same as your local mandated free channel offering, i.e. that thing that about 0.5% of viewers can receive and about 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000001% actually watch.

    That is your explanation of why it is actually done in a sensible way that we wish all interviews were done like.

    Because if you are on “real” TV, you have to follow the douche-it-up mandate of “If we blame videogames, politicians have a platform to run on, tv has a last shred of smugness left and all our viewers can have another helping of daily double standard outrage”.

    That’s just how it is, and it should make us all wanna Guy Fawke their ass, because, after all, playing killerrapepedophile games makes us violent evilthings.

    • Wilson says:

      @Disenchanted – Ah, I did wonder. It’s a shame, because I found it interesting. If all TV was like this I might watch it more.