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Salute

Written By mista sense on Thursday, September 30, 2010 | 5:16 AM

Sometimes people are ugly when they're being honest, but let me be honest.

When I decided I was going to try to enter games journalism I also decided I was going to reach the top of my field, you know, be "the best" at the kind of writing I intended to do. I think if people told me how hard it was to break in I wouldn't have started. But once I broke in, and I wanted to keep succeeding, when everyone said to me, "well, it's hard", I'd silently append maybe for you.

And people would say stuff like all games journalism sucks and it'll never be a serious profession and you'll never make your career this way and things like that, and I'd nod sincerely, but privately I felt that I had the capacity to change those rules, even if those who were warning me had become cynical. I suppose I'd set a goal not just to succeed, but to succeed in areas where others had failed. I had a special pride.

So with that in mind -- whenever a publication shut its doors, or a prominent voice left journalism for development, or someone migrated into another field or fell out of the public conversation because they couldn't keep sustainable work, I confess, I felt a little satisfied. You don't feel there's anything more to be done here; I do.

Like they'd failed for a good reason. Or if they left for a better opportunity, it's because they missed the chance to make better opportunities in game writing, which meant there were more for me to discover. Even when it was people I liked very much and whose work I would miss. Even when it was good people losing jobs and I felt for them -- it's not like I'm glad to see people out of work -- there was always that subtle satisfaction in the fact that no matter what the reason, I was hanging in where others weren't.

And for every writer that retired, was fired, gave up, was promoted out of editorial, I felt I automatically advanced, like when someone stepped out of the line, I could step forward. Some of the time, I even felt like a reduction in the noise everyone was producing was a good thing for game journalism, like pruning branches from a tree so that it doesn't choke itself.

Mostly I'm happy with my career. There are only a few people who could make me second-guess that, who make me think that if they don't feel there's anything more to do here, maybe there isn't. And, I mean, could is theoretical. Since I started, no one has left that has made me feel loss instead of that self-serving sense of opportunity until today.

Writers of my particular breed have the opportunities we do because of people like Kieron -- really, him and a handful of others -- being the really-really-first. I remember after a few weeks of Aberrant Gamer columns, largely the first pieces of writing with which I distinguished myself in any way, I saw that he had posted some kind of neutral comment, I don't even remember what it said. And I remember becoming really overwhelmed and excited and thinking that if Kieron was noticing my work, well, then, I was pretty much going to be okay.

Since we began talking a few years ago he was one of those few people that I held up, on various fronts, to say I want to be like you. That he was "here" in this space and had done it forever for so long and in his way always made me feel like I had more growing to do, like there was more room here for that. It wasn't just his writing, it was his attitude about writing, about audiences, about games, everything, that made me feel like this is an arena for sophisticated people and I wasn't wasting my time.

I knew about his plans but I got choked up today nonetheless because I'm a big sap and he'll probably be embarrassed but I'm always a little embarrassing like that when I actually admire someone instead of paying lip service to the concept of admiration, the latter being something Kieron would probably never do.

Not like I'm going anywhere right now. And it's not like he's dead or something, geez, Leigh! But the transition of Kieron Gillen makes me consider for the first time that a battle won in a war of attrition isn't much of a victory. I suppose I still have to keep getting better and more useful to this space, then.

So. Thanks for everything, man.

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