Critical Intel on Sabbatical

Just a short announcement today.

After talking it over with my colleagues and family, I’ve decided to take a sabbatical from Critical Intel for the remainder of the year.  Putting the column on hiatus was my call and I can’t say enough good things about my editors at The Escapist and the support they’ve given me both professionally and personally.  According to the current plan, the column will return in January.

I love Critical Intel, and feel it’s a needed and appreciated voice in game journalism.  That love kept the column going for the last six months even as I got married and moved to Hong Kong.  During that period, my wife and I bounced across the country for two months.  I wrote columns in the passenger seat of a moving car, filed articles over airport wifi, and kept hitting deadlines as we re-built our life here.  But at the end of September my grandmother passed away, followed by my father three days later.

While I’ve continued writing CI since then, I realized last week that – for the time being at least – I can’t give the column the attention it needs.  Writing CI requires extensive research, solid analytical thinking, and attention to detail, and unfortunately grief has a way of screwing with all those things.  Turning out columns on deadline wasn’t the problem, it was the frustrating amount of energy I had to expend to create publishable work.  Faced with an inevitable drop in quality, I decided to close CI up for the winter.

But don’t think that Critical Intel is going away – this is a cat nap, not a dirt nap.   This sabbatical gives me a good opportunity to work in a deadline-free environment, allowing me to develop a back-catalogue of columns so I’m not so pressed for time next year and can spend more energy developing ideas that need extra care.  In other words, even though you’re not reading CI, I’m still writing it.  The sabbatical also gives me a little breathing space to get some fiction off the ground and sell my historical crime novel Lost Guns.  (Strangely, while grief paralyzed my left-brain, my right-brain seems to be manning the pumps double time.)  The lights are all on here in the workshop, and I’m fiddling with some stuff I can’t wait to show you.

So really, Critical Intel isn’t on hiatus at all, it’s just re-arming and re-fitting.  Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to seeing all of you in January.


5 responses to “Critical Intel on Sabbatical

  • SeerofBirds

    Oh my word, I didn’t realise you had hit upon such hard times. I can only hope your wounds will heal.

    My condoleances.

    • robwritespulp

      Hi there, and thank for the message. I wouldn’t say it’s “hard times,” exactly–the deaths in my family have been very difficult, but I’m still living in a cool place, happily married and doing work that I enjoy, so in some ways life is very good indeed! Having said that, I did need some time to decompress and am thankful for it.

  • Lake

    Hey Rob,

    Just read your spot-on “I Hate Magic” article and decided to come check out your blog.

    Sorry for your loss, my father and grandfather died last year while I was still settling in to Hong Kong, so I know how that feels to some extent. I’m mostly doing AI Research in game design out here, but it would be great to meetup at some point and chat about magic systems or writing in general. I’ve got a project coming up that it would be great to get your feedback on, so lemme know!

    Good luck with the Sabbatical!

  • Silemess


    Critical Intel was (and still is) my favorite column to read on the Escapist. I missed reading it quite a lot while you were on your sabbatical, but it was a good thing for you and apparently needed.

    I just wanted to say I’m glad you’re back to writing, and keep up the good work. Your work always shines an interesting light on games and the actual world views that they either are built around or reflect. Dishonored is the one that springs to mind most readily, but I’ve enjoyed all that you’ve written.

    Thanks for what you do!

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