The past decade or so has seen players afforded increasingly extensive access to, and communication with the creators of their favourite videogames and videogames commentary.
It really wasn’t that long ago that such quaint, antiquated means as the telephone or handwritten letters (delivered by delightful people dressed in red) were the only way we had to contact our childhood heroes.
As available or contactable as Jaz Rignall, the Bitmap Bros. or… Patrick Moore(!) might make themselves, only a relative, lucky few could successfully reach out via the addresses and phone numbers printed on the inside cover of a favourite magazine or game manual and converse with writers or developers they admired.
The news of Patrick Klepek leaving Giant Bomb was a sharp reminder of how much more readily accessible such people are today. The speed and quantity of correspondence sent Patrick’s way via Twitter alone was staggering.
Easy, fast forms of communication have broken down barriers, and provided a greater degree of direct, two-way interaction. Trying to assess the impact of these changes is the purview of a thesis on ‘The Internet as a communication tool’, but there are personal impacts too.
This isn’t necessarily about personalities or celebrity; being able to engage the hosts of GamerDork or The Digital Cowboys in conversation on Twitter felt like a flattening of a previously hierarchical and unbalanced strata. I’ve always tried not to put people on a pedestal, and being able to enter into a balanced dialogue helps break down the predilection we have to do just that.
Specifically, contacting Jay, Leon and Tony on Twitter led to playing BioShock 2 with them, participating in forum discussions with them, and on to Cane and Rinse.
I know it happened, but to this day there’s something almost illogical or unbelievable about it. Cane and Rinse is very special and to think that I’m a part of it is surreal, even after more than three years.
Through the website and podcast, I have interviewed Nels Anderson, Ed Key and Christos Reid. Thanks to Cane and Rinse, I’ve podcasted with some of the very best podcasters around and guested on many other great podcasts. My work on Cane and Rinse has brought about comment and contact from Leigh Alexander, Clint Hocking, Tale Of Tales and Patrick Klepek.
The first time I contacted Patrick Klepek, however, was before Cane and Rinse, before his time on Giant Bomb; it was in response to his lauding Minerva’s Den on Twitter. I love Minerva’s Den and suggested that the condensed story could have been an interesting structure for BioShock 2’s multi-threaded narrative.
He agreed. A simple interaction that stuck with me for its simplicity. There was nothing particularly notable about it, and I’m sure we both had more than a dozen like it on Twitter that day. Well, that hour in Patrick’s case, and many of those interactions wouldn’t have been nearly as innocuous.
I say that I try not to put people on pedestals, but in certain cases I don’t try all that hard. Patrick is one of those cases. It’s not that I revere him or his work necessarily… well, I do, but that’s not why I put him on a pedestal. Patrick attracts an unbelievable amount of negativity and remains steadfastly polite and generous in his responses nonetheless. He is not unique in this, of course, but he exhibits traits for which I have the utmost admiration.
As many, many people contacted Patrick a couple of weeks ago to say that they loved his writing (‘but not enough to visit Kotaku FYI’), I was reminded of the response Patrick received when he started at Giant Bomb. Then, like now, I felt the line between people’s right to have and express an opinion and their expectation that their opinion be heard and heeded was crossed. Then, like now, Patrick thanked those who contacted him for their support and expressed a genuine sadness that his actions might have upset them, without resorting to sarcasm or dismissal.
The final blog post Patrick wrote for Giant Bomb had me shedding a tear or two for reasons I can’t quite explain.
Perhaps it was empathy for a person writing candidly and emotionally about a significant period in their life, but I suspect that my own emotional response had a lot to do with my respect for Patrick’s attitude and demeanour in the face of provocation. I hope that in his position I could be as magnanimous.
I should say that I am eternally proud and grateful to have had an article of mine chosen by Patrick for the ‘Oh, And This Other Stuff’ section of his Worth Reading blog on Giant Bomb.
Again, I’m sure that there’s an aspect of giddy excitement to having my article validated by someone well-known in the field of videogame commentary, but I genuinely appreciate that Patrick wants to help promote writing and games of all types, and from a variety of sources.
Reading ‘The End’, I found myself regretting that I hadn’t read and viewed more of Patrick’s work on Giant Bomb (and from before then). It was this article that made me resolve to set more time aside to seek out and read more interesting writing.
I was saddened to see people dissuaded from following Patrick due to where his work will now appear, and promised myself that I would endeavour to follow him and other interesting, eloquent, thoughtful and provocative writers, wherever they may be.