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    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    “Celebrity” Reaction: Kieron Gillen

    The nation’s 4th most famous games journalist won’t swap links with us, but he did take the time to send us his reaction to his Top 10 entry:

    What's your reaction to being the nation's officially 4th most famous "celebrity" games journalist?

    “I'd like to thank mom and dad and the little baby Jesus for helping me. I'd also like to... well, I smirked. No-one has been taking it seriously. Though clearly I'll be sticking my noise up on” [sic]

    We’re not sure what became of the end of that last sentence, but Word was probably to blame. We’ve seen him mention his fame being officially recognised on a few forums, so we’ll assume that was what he meant.

    Did we make any mistakes in your write-up, or is there anything you'd like to add? Do you think you should have held a higher or lower chart position?

    “Well, it took everyone a while - and I don't think everyone has realised it - that it's not a top ten of the celebrity status of the journalists in question, just your top 10 of games journalists who have a bit of a higher profile than most people who do it, for one reason or another. And, as I said, it helps that it has to be a playful parlour game.

    (You had me thinking of how I'd actually have done it. I wouldn't have called it "Celebrity" games journalists, so what would I have? The first urge is to go for "Influential", except if I did that the #1 position would probably end up with one of the Senior Editors at future for setting the template and voice which everyone has copied. Similarly, I wouldn't go for "Best Games Writers" either, as it'd be weighted in a certain way. Maybe I'd have gone with "Important" looking at people who weren't just good, but also pushed stuff in their own way, but with the name "Importance" it'd have come off as posturing pretention. I think it'd also have been the most useful - having a chance to point at the people who introduced certain things to the dialogue about games could be fun. And I'd have Campbell top that list too, if I did it.)

    Talking about me... nah, no real problems. Was expecting it - if you included me - to be far harsher. That you're going from a definition of NGJ entirely separate to what I laid out in the original document goes without saying, but I understand you're using the phrase for your own purposes. Also, the idea that I was anything other than terribly self-indulgent raised a smile. I was self-indulgent, pretentious and rambly from the very first things I ever did for Amiga Power.

    The only thing I really had a problem with is you calling Eurogamer "unreliable", which struck me as a little out of order. Unreliable compared to who? I'd put EG's record up at least as high as anyone else who's publishing videogame reviews. It's certainly more reliable than the vast majority of print mags. Fairly typically, I don't mind digs at me, but stuff at people around me grates.”

    Good old Gillen. Only he could poke fun at how unserious the Top 10 is, then rattle off the longest, most serious analysis we’ve received. To be fair, he does raise some good points. It took us nearly as long to come up with a title for the Top 10 as it did to compile it, and settled upon "celebrity" in the sense of notoriety in the UK games scene. As for Eurogamer, Gillen makes a good point that most print mags are unreliable too. That doesn’t mean we were wrong, though.

    Gillen signed off by answering his personal question:

    NGJ or OGJ?

    “The way you've defined it, they're both virtually the same thing. The autobiographical/fictional extended-intro elements you're so down on I stole shamelessly from Campbell and Nash's AP work.

    What a lot of writing.


    Have to disagree, there. While parallels between NGJ and OGJ undoubtedly exist, it all boils down to the style in which an article is written.

    Think of it like The Longest Journey. Stark was the world of science that took itself very seriously, while Arcadia was a parallel world where fantasy and magic existed, but was being threatened by the balance. Think of NGJ as Stark (clinical, joyless, overly existential and self referential) and OGJ as Arcadia (more basic and earthy, but tingling with magic and fantasy). Imagine there’s a King of Arcadia and a Queen of Stark. Both are arrogant, and have a belief that they are always correct (characteristics of every good critic), but the King of Arcadia’s style upholds the balance between arrogance and criticism, and self-referentialism and critique. The Queen of Stark, on the other hand, threatens the balance by forgetting the fantasy world of wonder exists, and focuses too much on reading between the lines like a sixth-form A-Level English Literature student until all traces of fun have been analysed out of the equation.

    The moral of the story? The balance has to be maintained. Forget the fact that you’re writing about games that are there to entertain and be fun, and you’ll end up with some bollocks about being raped in cyberspace.

    But anyway, thanks for your response, KG. The RAM Raider salutes you.


    1. Right now, I have no idea what I was going to say in that first comment. I was presumably distracted by a bird passing my window.

      Oh - may have been something about using it to look down my nose at the Triforce next time we hang out. That sounds credible. But as if I'd need an excuse anyway? Fucking Quiters.

      I'm hopeless without a sub, me.


    2. Anonymous12:40 pm

      Hey RAM,

      Can I make a request? I'd like to read a 'RAM Raider required reading list'. The 'tingling with magic and fantasy' stuff, if any of it is online, or if there are any mag pieces you can recommend.


      Jim Rossignol

    3. Eurogamer? I think surely it can be summed up simply by stating: Space Rangers 2.

    4. I like how you apply the same wilful misinterpretation of Kieron's suggestions for 'NGJ' to The Longest Journey.

      Arcadia doesn't represent some idealistic world, counter to the deathly Stark - they are utopia divided, the Balance separated from them both to become a dividing entity, rather than a uniting force. Arcadia is dying far more literally than Stark, because it has lost foundation and direction. Stark is far easier to dislike, because Stark is the world without imagination. But that doesn't make Stark the enemy. It makes the divide the enemy.

      Nevermind that it's completely daft to use it as an analogy. OGJ (for the sake of using these hideous terms) is far more akin to Stark - functional, reliable, recognisable, and without deviation. NGJ shows far more of Arcadia - imaginative, untethered, in danger of floating away. There's no correlation in your interpretation, beyond "I don't like NGJ and I don't like Stark, so they go together." Both are massively over-simplistic understandings.

      Obviously the answer is the same as that for TLJ's world - the divide to be reunited. These ridiculous titles forgotten, and the most appropriate form of writing adopted in each moment, whichever way it slants. Prejudice against a piece because someone has categorised it is pointless, and only gives credence to the title.

      John W

    5. Anonymous2:19 pm

      What a cunt.

    6. Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball 8/10, wasn't it, Taurus?


    7. DOAX is still one of the best videogames I’ve ever played, and if it had been developed in Russia with badly drawn schoolboy-art aliens and featured an interminably Byzantine menu system and broken volleyball mechanics on a development budget of a fiver, you'd have loved it too. In fact you'd probably have given it 9/10. So yeah, I guess Eurogamer IS reliable. I can't remember what my point is.

    8. Walker: My point was entirely about the balance - good writing can involve elements of NGJ, providing it doesn't go too far. The analogy was saying that OGJ in its most basic form is closer to what games are all about than pure NGJ, but the key is not taking it too far.

      Rossignol: Although I suspect you're trying to bait me into posting something you can take the piss out of, that's actually a good idea, and sort of ties in with "the next big thing" I've got planned. I'll look into it.

    9. Taurus: I think we may have actually proved each other's points in some kind of way.


    10. Anonymous12:05 am

      Some dude said...

      I think that the NGJ can portray the magick of games to a greater extent than OGJ (according to my appreciation of the foundation tenets of either). To me it seems that OGL focuses mainly upon the objective; the summing up of an entire game's worth, and presenting the reviewer's findings in an entertaining and informative text.

      NGJ, to me, represents a celebration of the subjective: an account of one player's defining experience within a game. It's almost like a piece of narrative compared with the elaborate stock-take that's involved within the contemporary review style.

      NGJ described a feeling, and the microcosm of a psyche that was immersed. OGL was more devoted to providing the consumer with a review of a product in a most entertaining way.

      NGJ explains why we got into gaming in the first place. A sense of imagination, fantasy and magic.

    11. Anonymous9:02 am

      For saying "magick", you die.

    12. Anonymous5:16 pm