Older readers (and writers) may recall that, in the dim and distant days before Rock, Paper, Shotgun, our hallowed co-founder and now acclaimed comics writer Kieron Gillen proposed a profound change to games journalism: leave the pretence of objectivity behind, step away from the dry scores, the thinly-disguised marketing and the focus on facts and technicality, and embrace subjectivity, anecdote and emotion. His angry, passionate, devised-down-the-pub New Games Journalism manifesto attracted both reverence and hatred, and, one might say, lasting change – both good and ill.
That was ten years ago. He’s tried not to mention the war since. But next week, in a different pub, he relives it all – with an audience, with the journalists he’d supped with at the time, and with The Guardian. You can be there, if you can be in London next Wednesday.
Kieron will be joined by former PC Gamer writer/editor (and now PC Games N editor) Tim Edwards and former PCG contributor (and now Official Xbox Magazine editor) Jonty Hicks, as well as The Guardian’s Keith Stuart, to talk about what happened then, what’s happened since, and what games journalism is today. The event will take place at The Yorkshire Grey pub in London, on 26 March, starting 7pm. Tickets are a fiver, including a free drink. Book here.
I was surprised at the news. For years, Kieron’s mantra when questioned about New Games Journalism was “don’t mention the war.” So why, I asked him, is that changing now?
“As the Year of Luigi comes to its end, it’s time,” he observed, while brushing toast crumbs off his white suit and with his other hand idly sketching a perfect recreation of a ZangbandTK dungeon he last saw in 2003. He pauses, fingers aloft, gazing at a place I can’t see. Looks me straight in the eye with an expression that speaks of a hundred thousand fallen Chaos wizards and says, thunderously, “Basically, following RPS’ motto of only when it’s funny, a historical re-enactment of Tim, Jon and my evening of horror struck me as funny.”
He gestures for me to bow, while he stands to polish his eighty-foot bronze statue of his City of Heroes character, Warwych. “Also, it’s in a pub, which is an easy thing to talk me into. Also, I’m excited about joining the list of things which makes people our age feel old when hearing.”
The room itself seems to tremble as he turns his mighty face to something that was, perhaps, once a smile. “’10 years since I sent Kieron death threats for high level poncitude? Where do all the years go!’ And so on.”
I can feel reality itself tearing asunder now, but I gasp another question into the fractured, disintegrating scene before me. “What does NGJ stand for again?”
The creator of games journalism rips the sky away, plucks my shattered body from the ground with a massive hand and hurls me into the void beyond.
“Don’t mention the war, Alec,” he calls after me, softly but with an eternal power.
Whatever psychic residue is left of me shrugs and offers, “So basically you’ll do anything to get the Guardian to pay for your booze.”
“People say I don’t understand how journalism works any more,” The Father replies. “Clearly, I do.”
Next Wednesday, then. Whatever psychic residue is left of me hopes to be there too.