Kieron Gillen's workblog





A couple of days ago I posted in a thread on the TIII forum that they shouldn't look at a piece of concept art, as it weakens part of the game they may want to recieve by itself.

Someone replies, along the lines of "But I don't give a fuck about narrative - stories stink, so spoilers don't matter".

And I go "Seriously - even if you only respond to games on a visceral level, you want to avoid this one. Part of the fun is the unveiling, and this removes it."

And he goes, "But narrative is terrible in games. In 50 years time, we'll have AI so good we don't need plots and then we'll live on the moon in space-houses."

And I go "I don't really care about speculation. It's boring. Honestly - don't look at the picture".

And someone else goes "Narrative will be so amazing in 50 years time AI will resurrect a digi-Shakespeare to write more plays, which will only be presented in Counterstrike XIII. And you're a smug shit because your user name is just your real name."

And I go "Er... don't look at that picture. And, seriously, I'm not interested in a speculative far-future games debate. Don't look at the picture."

And he goes "You're a smug shit. Don't you understand that games in the future will have AIs so advanced you'll end up abandoning your real parents for a new pair of perfected parents designed by Will Wright? And you'll be on the moon, in a glass house, looking for signs of Horace The Endless Bear. Anyway - you're a critic and who gives a fuck about criticism?".

And I go - fuck it - and hammer out 1,100 words of nonsense.

I press post only to discover that they've closed the fucking thread.

I post here, because words need to be free.


Oh me, oh my.

Firstly, none of what you say has any relevance to anything actually core to my participation in this thread. At all. Which is simply me saying that it's probably best if you resist looking at the shot, as it'll make a really cool moment in the finished game a little less cool, for reasons other than simple narrative.

People have then proceeded to start an argument by telling me that in 50 years AI will be so ace that games will be about it and form a whole new art form of virtual tourism. I've told them - everyone - that I don't have any interest in having that particular debate, because it's nothing to do with my simple DON'T LOOK AT THE PICTURE message. And because it bores me to talk about the future in terms as vague as you are. For me, we might as well be saying "In 100 years we'll be able to jack into our nervous systems and we'll be playing totally immersive games".

Both of these things may or may not be true - I simply can't be bothered talking about because everyone is essentially engaging in fantasy or rough speculative fiction.

Yes - there's a fair chance that AI in the future will be so good as to lead to drastically new forms of games. Yes, they can do stuff that has Turing looking a little shifty now. I don't doubt anything you say. It just has no relevance or interest to me. In 50 years I'll probably be dead, and if I were to talk about narrative in games - which I wouldn't do in this thread - i'd be more interested in what we can do *now* and the near future.

Now we come to you, Grim: You are picking a fight on the internet with a complete stranger for no other reason than because you can. You're walking the borderline between trolling and a flame, by saying what I do is worthless and making huge judgements about my personality based upon the simple fact I'm not calling myself "BremXJones" or "C-Monster" like I used to. You're doing it for no other reason I can see, apart from the pleasure of doing it - and you're doing it with particularly snotty phrasing, designed to try and get a raise from me.

I've been getting called names by random people for doing this for a long time now. While I still care - I wouldn't be posting otherwise - it doesn't really bother me.

The reason why I'm actually giving you the satisfaction of a response, isn't to try and persuade you anything - you've picked a fight on the internet, so will never, ever back down. You'll either silently disappear or just come back with another tedious breaking down of a post into individual lines to try and tire any life from this argument. This is for the audience to this thread, silently watching.

Arguing criticism is worthless - and I wouldn't normally use Criticism for the mass of what I do. Reviewing isn't exactly the same thing as criticism - is just the sort of lowest-common denominator argument which tries and reduces all emotional responses to a grey limp shrug. Some people like talking about stuff, and I object to anyone trying to take that away from me.

You note that Criticism is "pointless". On the greatest scale in the world, it probably is - but everything short of huge works of charity and just loving people is ultimately hopeless, and nihilists will even disagree on that point. Pointless compared to what? Wilde among others would argue that all art is pointless. I tend to agree. I'd also argue that pointless things are some of the most important things in the world.

But I don't *think* that's the sort of pointless you're talking about - please do correct me. What you mean is that it's a waste of time and no-one gives a damn. Which is where you lose me. I love people's opinions. I wouldn't be on this forum if I didn't want to read what people were thinking.

Reviews are just the same as a forum post - by insulting opinions people put on site, you're essentially rejecting communication and exchange of ideas. I don't want to live in a tiny box with only my own insights into the world. I want to know what random other people care about and feel, how they see things. People who write reviews are just doing that - communicating their view of a cultural artefact to other people in an attempt to provide insight and amuse.

If someone's opinions and insight are interesting enough, I'll pay to read them, because I get great pleasure in consorting with brighter and/or different minds. Which isn't to say that their opinions are any more RIGHT than mine - but it's always interesting to hear another angle on something.

Odd note about reviews - people are more likely to at least read a review of a cultural artefact they've already experienced, just because they *like* comparing their opinions to someone elses. It's why we talk about films after walking out of them. It's all communication, exchange of ideas and life.

So - what justifies reviews is people dig them, primarily, as a form of entertainment. The second justification, which I'm not going to argue as this has gone on long enough, is acting like a rubbish-filter. Mags experience everything so you don't have to, pointing out stuff you'd have missed and turning away from stuff you shouldn't spend your cash on. Clearly, you can get reviews from other sources to do it, but it's still there - and when someone drops me an e-mail saying that they'd have never played a certain obscure game or listened to a wierdo band without my heads up, you know what?

I don't feel what I do is particularly pointless.

It just seems like an incredible privledge.


1) I'd argue some people get more enjoyment out of two and a half years of a well written games magazine than you do out of the average 2.5 year development cycle game. I know this, because I'll never forget how much I loved Amiga Power when I was a bored Teenage kid in Stafford.

2) When I say "Critics Only Criticise Because They're Jealous And Should Do Something Before They Say Anything" I was simply paraphrasing your particular argument in its most common form, usually seen in teenage music fans complaining that a review slags off their favourite band so clearly must be jealous. I'm sorry you didn't get the reference - I should have probably been clearer. Of course, if Grim *did* get the reference and was just using it as ammunition for his argument... well, I think we part company once again. I don't care about being right or wrong - just communication.

3)What a long and tedious post. Sorry guys. I'm not exactly sure how a three line post has become this.




Kieron Gillen's Workblog, foo'.