Ten years ago yesterday, four of Britain’s loveliest, most adorable games hacks got together and said, “YES! Our time has come! Our hour is nigh! Our moment is born!” In a ritual that violates all decency, the giant meat-lever was pulled, and Rock Paper Shotgun Dot Com went live. The internet finally had purpose, PC gaming was about to have its day. Happy Birthday To Us.
T’was the 20th August 2007 when, after a secret month of writing the site without telling anyone we were, Jim Rossignol, John Walker, Alec Meer and Kieron Gillen pronounced to the world the site was a thing. A hideous, scraggly thing we’d haphazardly cobbled together in WordPress, but our thing. There was, at the time, somehow no dedicated PC gaming site with a broad remit, and it was that gap we were to prove as fertile soil. We wanted to bring back the style of writing we’d loved since we were wee creatures snickering over a copy of Your Sinclair or Amiga Power, and we wanted to do it about the format we all loved, in a world that was increasingly console-focused.
PC gaming was in something of a doldrum at the time, but we knew, we had faith, and boy were we ever proved right. It’s hard to even remember PC gaming as it was in 2007, where a non-Valve going up onto Steam was big news, when the shops had started reducing shelf space for anything that didn’t play on a plastic box, but online distribution hadn’t quite caught up. But we could smell it. The air was charged with the pre-storm electrical excitement of the imminent indie revolution, Steam was about to explode with the announcement of the Orange Box, and in direct defiance of the naysayers predicting PC doom in the face of the freshly released PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, we knew PC was going to be the place to be once more.
All four of us had a decade or more of experience writing about games for magazines like Edge, PC Gamer, PC Format, Official Playstation, NGamer, and far too many more, but now we wanted to be in charge of something, to create something from scratch and do it right. From the start we set out to be the site that pissed off publishers just as easily as delight them, to write from our hearts instead of our wallets, and after a couple of years when we started making a little bit of money, to pay our contributors better than our competitors. RPS never took on any debt, never had any investment, but instead was built up slowly and steadily by determination and damned good writing. And with a good deal of good luck thrown in, we built something that worked, and in a volatile world, something that has really lasted.
Over the years we’ve made some mistakes, got a lot of stuff right, lost tens of thousands in ad revenue from grumpy publishers, seen some of the best writers in the industry come, go, and stay, and we hope been a voice in gaming different from any other.
Along the way we’ve gathered some of the most amazing writers you’ll find in the industry. We had the enormous pleasure of Quintin Smith joining us full time, now of Shut Up & Sit Down and Cool Ghosts. And then the wonderful Nathan Grayson joined us, now storming it at Kotaku. Next came our current roster, with Adam Smith, Graham Smith, Alice O’Connor, Pip Warr and Brendan Caldwell, each hand-selected to bring their incredible talents and personalities to push RPS in new directions.
Never mind the extraordinary list of freelancers, with the likes of Tim Stone with us from the start. Too many to mention, without forgetting vital names and offending. We love you all.
First to leave from the original Big Four was Kieron Gillen, who is now perhaps a teensier bit more famous for writing comics for a publisher called Marvel. He’s gone on to write some of their more obscure characters, like Iron Man, Thor, X-Men and more recently Darth Vadar and only the bloody Star Wars book. And he does some piffle about teenagers eating magic music or something. We all get to say that we know him when talking to people. (And how did we ever cope without insightful news stories like this?)
More recently Jim Rossignol packed up all his joysticks and crossed the rubicon to development, running Big Robot and making amazing games like Sir, You Are Being Hunted, and just recently, The Signal From Tölva.
And of course earlier this year we announced the rather enormous news that the original four owners had sold RPS to evil megacorp Gamer Network, who as you can tell have dramatically ruined everything that was ever great abo… oh, it’s exactly the same! Hurrah!
It’s been quite the decade, from a scrappy blog four of us wrote in our spare time, to a proper grown up business staffed by the best in the business, hopefully keeping the constant theme of a unique voice and a sly grin. And we’re not going anywhere, with PC gaming bigger than it’s ever been, presumably entirely thanks to RPS.
So yes, we’re simultaneously 10 and 144 years old, but you can do that when you’ve got an infinite bear as a deity.
Thanks to everyone who’s read us at any point over the last decade (apart from you, Steve) – it’d have been a pointless endeavour if you’d not come along. Here’s to the next ten years!