hes1.jpg['Quiz Me Quik' is a weekly GameSetWatch column by journalist Alistair Wallis, in which he picks offbeat subjects in the game business and interviews them about their business, their perspective, and their unique view of life. This time - an enlightening chat with Matt Hestill.]

It’s been interesting reading Michael Walbridge’s series of interviews with prominent games journalists, and Simon Parkin's recent column on the same subject. It’s really given me pause to think about some of the people I admire in the field; Michael is actually interviewing a number of them.

There’s plenty of other people who I think exemplify the great things about games journalism – intelligence, an ability to think critically and a desire to move journalism past its occasional stagnancy in the mass-market commercial field. While a disappointing number of people writing about games are all too satisfied with towing a line of mediocrity, these people are pushing forward and asking, ‘Why can’t we expect more?’

Unfortunately, all of those people were too busy to talk with me, so I contacted my old acquaintance Matt Hestill instead.

You might know Matt from his blog, It’s Matt Hestill, Stupid - a surreal collection of self-obsessive rants and reviews, all written in Hestill’s somewhat underwhelming stream of consciousness style, punctuated with the odd bit of freeform poetry.

Or it was, anyway, until Hestill snapped in late January and deleted every single post because “the comments were just annoying and you people don't deserve my insight into the games industry anymore so you can all just get fucked”.

“Hey Matt,” my initial email read. “I want to interview you for GSW, man. What have you been up to since you stopped the blog? Are you even still writing? Haven’t seen anything around lately. I thought you were meant to be doing some stuff for 1Up or something.”

“Wallis,” he replied. “Busy always. Here’s the interview’s focus: I am the next evolution of games journalism. The blog was my chrysalis. I was the pupa. Shutting the blog was the pumping of the hemolymph into my wings so that I might emerge stronger and more beautiful; flowering and rocketing. Now I am the butterfly, Wallis. Soon I will fly above the caterpillars of games journalism. Skype me.”

So, it quickly emerged that Matt had recently had something of an epiphany while rereading Kieron Gillen’s reknowned New Games Journalism manifesto. And then reading everything he could find on games journalism's need for a Lester Bangs. And then reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And then, the following is what transpired, immediately after connecting to Hestill via Skype.

Matt Hestill: It's early here. I'm drinking a beer.

GSW: What?

MH: A beer. This is my second for the day. It's very early. I'm working on my second day of this bender. It's going to be big, man. Classic stuff. People are going to be talking about what comes out of this bender for years to come! Hestill's great video game journalism bender of 2008!

GSW: Right.

MH: [Laughs] Wallis, have you considered what we games journalists need to do?

GSW: In regards to what, Matt?

MH: To burst forth from our skins and rejoice as artists and doctors of journalism in the true sense, man. Cast forth commercialism. Lean forward like Cameron and Ferris and that hot chick, pressing our faces against the glass, looking down on the people below: 'I think I see my Dad!' Embrace our own destinies and win the race, holding the cup high above our heads screaming 'You fuckers! We've taken [Matt yells too loud at this point, rendering the rest unintelligible because the speaker distorts wildly]


Man. Man, you know, right? You know what we need?

GSW: Matt, are you sure you've only had two beers?

MH: Wallis, here's the thing, right? That's not the point! What are you, man?

GSW: What?

MH: You're a journalist, man! But are you the best you can be? Do you push it in directions you never saw as possibilities; dragging and kicking at it, telling it that it's for its own good that this happens? Man up, journalism! Take it! Take it, you prick!

GSW: I...hang on, what? Are you directing that at me?

MH: Take it!

GSW: Right. I'm still not sure what you think we need, Matt. What do you think is wrong with game journalism?

MH: It's...it's lotion on the coffee table, man.

[Pause, punctuated by the sound of an opening bottle]

GSW: I have no idea what that means.

MH: It's lube. It's a masturbation aid. It's sitting there on the coffee table in front of you, next to a box of tissues – next to a whole roll of toilet paper! - and you're staring at it, and then you're looking down at your pants, watching your desire struggle to free itself from your jeans and you're licking your lips, man, because you know that when you load up that browser and read your Metal Gear Solid 4 review and see that it got a ten, that fucking lotion is going to feel so good and cold and slippery, and...BAM!

You're unleashing it to that, man.

Golden ropes. On the table.

GSW: So, you think it's pandering to its audience and what they want to hear?

MH: What they want to do, Wallis! And you know what they want: golden ropes! And games journalism says, 'Hey hey, man, I got just what you need to make that easier. You're gonna love me, cause I'm slippery and wet. I know you've got a fire, and we're gonna stoke it all over the coffee table.' Blogs, review sites – all of them.

GSW: Right.

MH: And you know what I am, Wallis?

GSW: I'm sure I have no idea.

MH: I'm that toilet paper, but I'm a roll of toilet paper made of sandpaper. I'm there when you're cleaning up, but I'm chafing – ripping and shredding, tearing your bits to bits when you want soft four-ply, man.

GSW: I'm not really seeing how this is going to help games journalism's problems.

MH: I won't compromise, man! I'm not there to be soft, damp and clean you up; I'm there to shred your genitals when you least expect it! Don't you want me to shred your genitals, Wallis?

GSW: I can't say that's an entirely appealing prospect, Matt.

MH: We need it, though. That's what we all need.

GSW: We all need Matt Hestill to shred our genitals?

MH: That's right! Don't you see that every other journalist is just letting themselves be used as a masturbation aid? I'm not letting that happen, man. That's why I stopped the blog. I don't care what people think. They need to be rubbed raw, and no one else is doing that, man – you can still keep your oh-so-fucking-witty tabloid Kotakustiq and publisher-handjob commercialism review templates, but I'm here for something else entirely.

GSW: So you're the great saviour of games journalism?

MH: Damn right, man. I'm the new, new james journalism.

GSW: James journalism?

hes1.jpgMH: Shut up, man, you know what I mean. You know that whole Lester Bangs of games journalism thing? Screw it - screw being Lester Bangs of games journalism, man, just screw it. Screw it. You know what we need? We need a Hunter S. Thompson of games journalism.

We need someone who's going to take a whole boatload of acid and go to E3; rock up to press conferences wondering why they've suddenly replaced Don Mattrick with Budgie the goddamn Little Helicopter and why Pippa the Plane is playing Wii Music at the Nintendo event, belching blue green halitosis at our industry's journalistic savior in an effort to try and sell to a market won't even be watching while still keeping a bunch of chronic masturbators on message boards under the impression that the company still gives a shit about them and their pathetic excuses for incomes. Jeff Green gone power mad on drugs. Pure gonzo games journalism. Burning E3 to the ground. Nothing left but Kirby Dots.

And liveblog the whole thing on 1Up! They need me there to say, 'I'm Matt Hestill, stupid, and this is how the goddamn hell it is,' There's nothing like a crystal clear acid come-down to make you realize, 'Oh hell, they really don't care about you anymore'. The indies and the devs with half a brain in their head? They might give a shit, but why are journalists pandering to the lotion-rubbing fanboys who honestly believe that Sony care that they're upset about Final Fantasy on the 360 and the guys who think that Microsoft are really very sorry for the inconvenience caused when they sent their third Xbox back in?

Stockholm syndrome, man. Capitalism taken to an extreme never before seen, where you start defending and proffering love for the ones who charge you money. But no kissing on the lips, and they won't love you in the morning! Battling on boards for a bunch who see you as a number? Man, it's battery hens sent to war. I hate those guys, man – detest them with a fury that sometimes overwhelms me. Hands off it, boys! And I'm not afraid to tell exactly how much contempt I have for them; for my prospective audience.

Couldn't be much worse than the pedestrian crap that comes out of most of those blogs anyway, right?

GSW: I think you're missing the significance of Thompson's work a little, Matt. Besides, no one's going to pay you to write about E3 on drugs. And now that you've mentioned it, they're not even going to let you in next year.

MH: If not next year then the year after, man! I'm doing this. I have to, and I know you know that I have and you want me to as well.

GSW: I'm not sure that's really something I'd want to be known as a supporter of, Matt. You're kind of on your own with this one.

MH: Man, I don't need your help. I don't need 1Up or IGN or Gamespot or any of the blogs. Did Hunter S. Thompson need shit like that?

GSW: Well, I'm pretty sure that most of his work was actually at least started as commissioned pieces...

MH: But now we're in a different time, Wallis! People even read your blog, for God's sake. [Sound of another bottle opening] I'll be self-published, self-made – Giant Bomb isn't the new Gamespot, I am.

GSW: You'll forgive me for suggesting that this sounds a little more like the increasingly drunken rantings of a possible madman than a manifesto actually promoting something.


MH: Oh, hell, man. You want a manifesto, Wallis? You just wait. [Call ends]