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    Monday, May 14, 2007

    Q&A (Guest Starring… Kieron Gillen!)

    On our second Birthday, we made a promise to answer your questions. Actually, we promised to answer your questions if they arrived within an hour of posting with the obvious intention that nobody would notice until it was too late. Several of you asked questions, but missed the deadline. We’ll answer some of them anyway. However, one person managed to squeeze in an email full of questions within the hour, meaning we have to answer them. That man was Gillen.

    KG: What's the purpose of your blog?

    RR: There isn’t really any one purpose when it comes to what goes up on here now. When I first started over two years ago, I was pissed off. Pissed off with the games industry. Pissed off with how it all works. Pissed off that the mags lie to their readers and treat them with contempt. Pissed off that I would get bollocked if I made anything vaguely resembling a humorous or true comment that wasn’t in step with the company line (which means the advertisers’ line too). Just pissed off that the games industry has become this ridiculous joke constantly begging anyone who’ll listen to be taken seriously whilst carrying on like a corrupt, amateurish sixth-form project. Money money money.

    KG: Why do you do it?

    RR: That fateful night I started the blog, I thought there was very little chance that I could make a difference. I just wanted to get it out there how the magazines are put together, how we’re told to lie, how we get less than 24 hours to turn around preview code and call it a review, and how we get censored unless we’re rewriting press releases. I thought I might get a handful of readers, maybe 50 or so, who read the games mags and would be interested to hear what really goes on behind the scenes.

    I never really thought I could make a difference until word got out and I started getting four-figure daily hits. Then I thought maybe I could. The weird thing is, despite blogging about the lies and bullshit, the majority of mag readers don’t know the blog exists because my main audience is games journos and industry workers who know it all anyway. Even the only place that’s had the guts to print my rants as the RAM Raider is the industry’s trade mag, MCV. I did get a mention in PC Zone though, in a roundabout way...

    KG: What drives you?

    RR: The purpose is just to have fun. If I want to slag something or someone off and Future Publishing (or even smalltime Nazis like the RLLMUK mods) won’t let me because they’re so fucking pathetic about censorship, I can just bung it on here and people get to read it if they want. The purpose now is just to talk about the games industry, get views from the people inside and outside of it, and to let the mags know that they can’t expect to lie without people finding out about it.

    KG: What do you hope to accomplish with it?

    RR: One of the things that makes me snigger when I’m being lambasted for being cowardly, and hiding behind my cloak of anonymity and all that bollocks is that the journos who are doing it aren’t criticising me for telling the truth. They’re criticising me because I’m talking about them and their buddies, and they don’t like it. They like criticising games (as long as the publisher hasn’t paid for advertising in the mag, natch) perched up in their magazines and on their little websites, and so they should. As games journalists, it’s our right and our duty to criticise bad games. I know for a fact that you feel no guilt when you’re really sticking it to a bad game, and rightly so.

    What the games journos really hate though is the thought that someone’s criticising them. The reviewers are being reviewed. When I’m being called a hypocrite for working in an industry I’ve come to hate as much as I love over the years, that makes me laugh hard. So there’s the purpose: it keeps the mags on their toes, it keeps the readers of the mags informed about what goes on, and it entertains me as well as my Anonymous Knights.

    KG: *Is* there anything you can accomplish with it?

    RR: When it comes to accomplishments, I think I’ve achieved everything I set out to do and then some. Anything else is a bonus. As long as people enjoy reading the blog and the right questions are there to be asked, I’ll carry on popping up from time to time to ask them. And you’ve got to admit – that Top 10 Least Hideous Games Journos thing was a genius idea…

    That’s enough for you, Gillen. And for the record, I don’t dislike you or your work. I just dislike some of your work, and the way it’s treated like lost sections of the Bible by certain people. Now, other questions from other readers:

    lips said...
    Happy Birthday Rammy! My question - why bother?

    RR: Kinda answered that above. Thought I could make a difference, but now I’m just pleased to have a conduit to comment without corporate interests taking precedent.

    Neil said...
    When did you first see corruption in the games industry?

    RR: Very good question. A lot of the very early stuff is well documented already, but the first time I personally felt the baseball bat of corruption was when I had an entire article plagiarised from an Amiga mag by a freelance guy like I wouldn’t fucking notice. I won’t name the guy who did it because I don’t know what he does now, and it was a long time ago. And yes, I do regret not suing.

    Bonjela said...
    Happy Birthday Ram. Answer this please: there are only two magazines for PC games players, so which is better. Pc Zone or Pc Gamer?

    RR: PC Gamer, without a shadow of a doubt. I’ve swung between the two a lot over the years. PC Gamer lost my vote when they redesigned a few years back and got all wanky, but then PC Zone was bought out by Future, and was transformed from an edgy adult games mag into a more sterile version of The Beano, and PC Gamer have reeled in their wankiness a bit. Both mags have their faults. PC Zone’s days are numbered the way its ABC’s are going, but they have some genuinely good writers on board which means it’s a shame. Jon Blyth is superb, and weird Irish kid also has his moments when he’s not hung over, but the combination of Future’s dictatorship and the worst editorial partnership in the mag’s history (Sefton/Porter) has sealed its fate. PC Gamer has a more consistent bunch of writers when it comes to quality, with Gillen (when he’s not being silly) and Walker (when he’s not being wrong) standing out. They’ve also got a good solid editor with Ross Atherton, although he needs to reel in the World Of Warcraft features, and stop Tim Chubby Edwards from being so smug.

    Anonymous Knight said...
    how long have you been in the games business

    RR: I won’t give an exact date, but my first published games mag appearance was in the 80’s.

    Richard said...
    why don't you actually post anything about people taking bribes and that anymore. More rumours of PR intervention, please!

    RR: Two answers to this, really. First, despite how much Future and its bitches made out they didn’t care about the blog, they got in an enormous flap. Hatches were battened down, rumours flew, and management wanted to track down their little leak. The problem is, and I hate to admit this, it kinda worked. The way this info works its way around the office means that when stuff does reach me, it would narrow down the field too much if I revealed it. About 10 people know for certain who I am (not including the ones who have guessed) and that's the way I want to keep it for now. The second reason is that it really, genuinely upsets people when I talk about them, so I hold back unless there’s something I really want to get off my chest. Anonymous Knights even write to me with info, but ask me not to reveal it for what I guess are the same reasons, which I always respect. Surreal, but true.

    Anonymous Knight said...
    How many games industry staff were in the PS3 get-a-free-TV line?

    RR: It was quicker to count the genuine customers, and that was after they had to be bribed to appear in the publicity shots.

    That’s it folks – the RAM Raider salutes you.


    1. I'm genuinely surprised THAT photo managed to get a 4.3, man. And which manner of mutant actually gave it a 9? Freaks.

      (And, yes, the least hideous games journalist thing was fun.)


    2. I hear you. I gave it a 10 for the shirt alone, so why people dared to click on the 9 I'll never know.

    3. "the first time I personally felt the baseball bat of corruption was when I had an entire article plagiarised from another mag by Amiga Power like I wouldn’t fucking notice."

      You know, you really shouldn't say stuff like that without backing it up.

    4. You've got a point. I've changed the post to make it clear that I'm not suggesting Future Publishing or any of the other AP squad knew. The guy, who will still remain unnamed, definitely did, though.

    5. That's all very well, but I still don't like the allegation that AP would print something like that, backed up by no kind of evidence whatsoever. That's highly unfair on everyone associated with the magazine.

    6. There is no allegation, at least about AP or Future. I'm not saying AP knowingly printed it - chances are they wouldn't have gone near it if they had known.

    7. Of course there's a fucking allegation. You're alleging that AP printed a wholly-plagiarised piece. Whether they did so knowingly or unknowingly is neither here nor there, but what you've written is nothing more than a cowardly unsubstantiated slur, and since you don't specify a time, it's one against everyone who ever worked for the magazine throughout its five-year history.

    8. There is no slur. Even if there is (which there isn't), I'm sure they'll get over it.

    9. Wow. With integrity like that you should work for Future.

    10. Anonymous7:08 pm

      Why don't you say who/when then? Seeing as this blog's anonymous and you're so angry and everything.

    11. Wow. With integrity like that you should work for Future.

      Yep, Stu, because suggesting someone unknowingly worked with someone who ripped off an entire article is so much worse than actually ripping off someone’s article.

      Seriously though, why do you care? It obviously wasn’t you, and if any of the ex-AP crowd has a problem, they’re welcome to get in touch.

      Why don't you say who/when then? Seeing as this blog's anonymous and you're so angry and everything.

      I’ve explained why I’m not naming them. I don’t know what the guy does these days – he’s not a games journo, and may just have made a one time mistake 15 years ago. Nevertheless, it happened, so I’ve mentioned it.

    12. "If I want to slag something or someone off and Future Publishing (or even smalltime Nazis like the RLLMUK mods) won’t let me because they’re so fucking pathetic about censorship, I can just bung it on here and people get to read it if they want."

      Jesus. Rllmuk mods are censoring things because of games industry pressure? I find that extremely difficult to believe.

    13. Rev Stuart Campbell: If you're offended by RR slagging off people in the games industry, why are you reading this blog?!

    14. Surely, if ram raider gave up the details of the article, it would only take a bit of clever googling to work out who he is...

    15. Perhaps you could explain why these 'small time nazis' are 'pathetic about censorship' then? Because I don't see it. Don't get me wrong, I agree with most of your points, but you are one petulant child sometimes.

    16. Ross: I had an influx of hits after being linked to by someone on there. The thread was deleted. I popped on to say hello. The thread was deleted. No reasons given, no possible excuse. RLLMUK = Nazis.

      How does being miffed at having a perfectly pleasant conversation deleted just because your precious forum's run by the Gestapo make me petulant, exactly?

    17. How amusing, when you're deleting comments you don't like in this very thread...

    18. That would be extremely amusing, if I had in fact deleted a single comment from this thread. Which I haven't.

      I think you should read this quote, Stu:

      "You know, you really shouldn't say stuff like that without backing it up."

      Oh, delicious irony...

    19. Er, you've failed to permit one of my comments, and at least one of Stu's. Either you're censoring, or your software is broken.

    20. If that's the case, the Blogger software must be overly spam-filtering, as nothing's appeared in the comments panel that I haven't let through. Send any comments you made to my email, and I'll see that they're posted.

    21. Oh right. I remember the thread. They guy was dissing you for something trivial as far as I remember. He's got a touch of the basket cases about him. Most other people were going 'who?' I suppose it shouldn't have been deleted, but nobody's perfect. The moderation's usually pretty tolerant.

    22. Yeah, right. *That pesky Blogger software* is censoring critical posts that people make that you can't face up to, while letting all the other ones through. Uh-huh. Of *course* it is.

      Your excuses are as cowardly as your groundless, libellous allegations against everyone who ever worked for Amiga Power. You've become the very thing you profess to rail against - untruthful, hypocritical and corrupt. Either back up your shameful, gutless slur against AP and its staff or withdraw it.

    23. Anonymous10:47 am

      So, when do we get those awards?

    24. I’ve not let through a grand total of three comments this year: one piece of spam, one completely illegible paragraph, and something vitriolic about someone else that I wasn’t comfortable with. Nothing has been censored from this thread, and I’ve never censored anything by you or John unless asked to by the author of the comment.

      The same thing happened to me on Gillen’s blog: His software didn’t let my stuff through, I told him, he offered to post it if I emailed it though, and he did. It’s interesting you’re grabbing onto this non-event though, and not taking me up on the offer of emailing your comments through for posting, as it tells me you’re losing the argument rather than making your original point.

      I haven’t made any “groundless, libellous allegations against everyone who ever worked for Amiga Power”. I’ve said that one guy took one of my articles, tweaked the beginning slightly, and gave it to AP to publish. I imagine it’s not the kind of thing you brag about, so there’s nothing to suggest that AP or the other writers knew about. I’ve also said it’s a guy who no longer works in the industry, so it obviously isn’t a “big name” like you or Gillen. Face it Stuart, it’s time for you to shit or get off the pot. If you’re so sure I’ve libelled you, sue me.

    25. Anonymous Knight: The awards have been "slightly delayed" by a year. They'll turn up in the Autumn. Unless Stuart Campbell terrifies me with his lunatic ranting into shutting down.

    26. A.Lawyer4:31 pm

      There's not enough there for the Rev to sue - Ram hasn't said anything defamatory about him. Amiga Powers's publisher can't sue either, because Ram's not said anything defamatory about them either. Whoever he's talking about could sue only if he's identified, and if Ram couldn't prove his claim.

    27. Anonymous10:57 pm

      Yep, I'm afraid you're wrong this time Stu. If you're working on a magazine you have no idea - beyond your trust of a freelancer - whether he's submitting his own work or that of others. Plagiarism is infrequent, but it happens, and when it does it usually gets uncovered by a reader who's seen the original. When that happens things are settled - usually amicably - between the powers that be at the top of the tree.
      To say that it's a slur on AP is ridiculous. Unless, of course, they employed somone to read every article ever printed to ensure the work they published was original.

    28. Anonymous12:58 am

      Anon: Stu's not disputing that it happens, just that RR hasn't provided any evidence for the alleged instance he's citing.

      But that would involve RR posting something that isn't already unremarkable public knowledge, and he's hardly going to break a two-year streak just to avoid being made to look foolish (again) by one of the journalists he's creepily fawned over on his blog.

    29. Anonymous2:55 am

      Anon: Stu saying it's libellous, which means he's disputing it. RR can hardly provide evidence without giving away who he is, which is why he's not.

    30. Then he shouldn't make the allegation in public. And, you'll note, has now removed the mention of AP accordingly.

    31. Anonymous9:33 am

      More Fun Stuff More Often!

      I know, i know i'll fuck off to UKR now...

      Still, it would be entertaining for you to comment on stuff you liked occasionally...or actually comment..this blog is pretty silent these days..

    32. “Then he shouldn't make the allegation in public. And, you'll note, has now removed the mention of AP accordingly.”


      For everyone’s information, I sent an email to Stu suggesting we mutually, that’s mutually, agree to put the matter to rest, and I’d remove the reference to AP as a gesture of goodwill, not because I was wrong.

      Stu: You start spouting off that this was somehow a victory for you, and I’ll put the reference straight back in. You’ve let yourself down, there.

    33. Anonymous Knight: You're right, the blog has been a bit quiet lately. Sorry, but paid stuff has to come first.

      I agree completely that there needs to be more fun stuff though, as that's what I actually like writing the most. I hereby promise to put some fun stuff up soon.

    34. Anonymous8:49 am

      i'd like to see you promote sega interests more, for example, dos attack a namco forum or at least spam up the 'official' sony boards with intelligent and subtle reverse psychology troll posts, instead of bothering to respond to these irrelevant old men from the 90s (pretty funny that rev stu seems to be slagging future now ahaha)

      and gillen in that photo there looks like he's just come from an erasure reunion, eww

      at least tony mott used to write about import snes games, c'mon!!