Obituary : Kieron Gillen's career, 1995 – 2010 :)

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Obituary : Kieron Gillen's career, 1995 – 2010 :)

Postby Chris » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:49 am

This is a blog response to this.

Introversion owes a lot to Kieron Gillen. It was 2001 and nobody had heard of Introversion Software, and Kieron was working as a fulltime writer at Pc Gamer UK. On his desk sat a copy of Uplink in a brown padded envelope, one of the first copies of Uplink sent out to journalists as part of our attempt to get noticed. The Indie Games scene as it is now just didn’t exist – there was no Steam, nobody was doing digital distribution in a serious way, and games were still launched primarily as boxed units sold in shops. And against all the odds, Introversion Software caught its first break when Kieron decided to actually install this game and take a look, despite it arriving on a home-made gold disk from a Company he’d never heard of.

If you believe the legend, Kieron also handed the disk around the Pc Gamer office and told everyone else to play it. The Editor of the magazine at the time was so scared by the dodgy gold disk and the fake connecting to unknown internet servers that he yanked his Ethernet cable when the game booted up, just to be sure.

"Perverse and brilliant, precisely the sort of work thing that should be coming from the underground, and a game which will be just as compulsive in three years time when the graphical rush of today's blockbusters has faded into obsolescence” Pc Gamer UK 80%

Kieron Gillen’s review was our first big success, and was more than we’d dare hope for. This was one of our favourite journalists at a mainstream games magazine shining a spotlight on our tiny British game. And since digital distribution was still just a twinkle in Gabe’s eye, we were in the process of trying to get Uplink into shops so we could actually sell it. Kieron’s review of Uplink in Pc Gamer gave us legitimacy, and was a key factor in clinching the deal.

For a long while, he was top of our list of journalists to contact whenever we had anything to show. By the time we brought Darwinia into Pc Gamer he’d already gone freelance, but we made sure he was included. Later he wrote the single best review of Darwinia for Eurogamer – getting away with writing such classic nonsense as “Time for a Monday morning neologism: Post-genre.” and “Forget games with real-time physics. This is one has real-time metaphysics.”, and scoring us a 9. It was a review that was as up its own arse as the game itself, and we admired that.

We demo’d DEFCON to all of Future Publishing in 2006, dressed as airforce generals. Everyone was playing everyone, we had Edge playing in one room, PC Format in another, PC Gamer in another. I don’t remember much about that demo, some sort of post-traumatic stress I think, since I was absolutely terrified these (crucially important) long games were going to sync error or crash on us. I do remember Kieron unloading most of his nukes into Manchester for absolutely no strategic reason.

And then Kieron Gillen himself went Indie, teaming up with some mates from the British games journalist world and founding a new online games magazine, brilliantly named Rock Paper Shotgun. Ignoring my advice to use the tagline “The last of the print journalists”, they turned the site from a curious startup worth watching into the definitive source for Indie games news in just a couple of years. RPS was perfectly timed with the explosion of the Indie Games scene, and perfectly formed : all of the immediacy of an Online gaming news and reviews site, but with the quality of journalists that you’d find in print mags, and without the rigid format of two page reviews with a score at the end. The whole process went full circle as we became fans of Kieron and this Indie startup games mag – here was a professionally written games magazine, delivered several times a day, giving as much attention to Indie games as to the mainstream. RPS has continued the tradition of shining a spotlight on tiny Indie games, now bringing massive audiences to games that otherwise wouldn’t get noticed.

And just as our early retail deals were gradually replaced with digital distribution, so have print magazines been slowly replaced by their online counterparts. In an era when major magazines such as PC Zone are closing down, and legends like PC Gamer and Edge are losing readers every month, Online magazines and news sites are gaining in strength – this is the future of games journalism, immediate and well written, with the journalists personalities part of the writing, able to adapt and flex with the times. With the ability to cover a game from alpha to years after launch – because how many games are finished on their launch day and ready for the final word on their score? Print magazines refuse to review unfinished or Alpha builds – sensible with mainstream releases, but ignoring upcoming Indie games like Minecraft – one of the most exciting games I’ve played all year, and a game that enjoyed lavish coverage on RPS. Print magazines that boast a “world exclusive” on Portal 2 are already weeks out of date by the time they arrive, and don’t come with the videos that I’ve already seen on RPS.

And now the era of Kieron at Rock Paper Shotgun has itself come to an end. Anyone who’s followed Kieron or known him will know he lives a dual life. By day a respected games journalist, by night he dresses in a pinstriped suit and writes dialog for comic book villains. It’s no great surprise to us that he’s finally made the leap into comics as a fulltime thing. Kieron is now the indie creator, and his personal blog is full of the same awe at the reviews he’s now receiving for his new work, from the journalists he respects in the comic book world. Presumably somebody somewhere received a brown envelope with one of the first Kieron Gillen written comics, and took a chance on an unknown writer.

We’d like to thank Kieron for all the great things he’s written about Introversion over the last decade, and we wish him all the best of luck in his new career. We’ll buy you a beer any day!
Last edited by Chris on Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby jelco » Fri Oct 01, 2010 9:59 am

I'm sure Introversion is one of the many companies that will thank him for his interest in indie games. He's brought a lot of previously unknown games into the big spotlight and I'm sure many others have profited from this in a similar fashion to IV. Not just the developers, but also the gamers are thankful to him for his contributions. Personally I'm happy to see that he's going to keep poking his nose in gamey places even when uncalled for. :)

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Postby xander » Fri Oct 01, 2010 4:14 pm

Damn it, Chris, you almost gave me a heart attack! It took me a moment to realize that the dates you provided gave Kieron a life span far shorter than reality, and that he was, in fact, not dead (and so soon after announcing his change of status at RPS). Don't do that!

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Postby Taedal » Fri Oct 01, 2010 6:52 pm

same! Glad he isn't dead!
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Postby prophile » Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:57 am

xander wrote:Damn it, Chris, you almost gave me a heart attack! It took me a moment to realize that the dates you provided gave Kieron a life span far shorter than reality, and that he was, in fact, not dead (and so soon after announcing his change of status at RPS). Don't do that!


Ditto.
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Postby naufrago » Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:02 am

Misleading title is misleading, made me think someone actually died. Still, interesting to read how he's pretty much solely responsible for your initial success.
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Postby KingAl » Sun Oct 03, 2010 12:52 pm

Coincidentally, John Walker of RPS has just done an Uplink retrospective. Three cheers for Kieron!
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Postby Cooper42 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:25 pm

Gillen's been a long favourite of mine, I even have vague memories of him on Amige Power way back in the day.

You should try to entice him out for a Subversion review when it gets released...
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Postby AlbeyAmakiir » Thu Oct 07, 2010 5:36 am

You know, not all print gaming magazines are going to die. Just the ones that can't adapt to provide something a little different from the more immediate media. Well, that's my prediction, anyway.
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Postby Flamekebab » Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:32 pm

Keiron's review was what spurred me to spend a painful hour or two downloading the the Uplink demo (Dial-up. Ouch.).
I hope things go well for him, he was always one of my favourite PC Gamer writers.
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Postby AaronLee » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:57 am

+1, never new Keiron existed, but if he was a helmsman for RPS, I consider him pretty much made of win.

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