Ever since appearing here on Destructoid, this question has plagued the minds of many readers. So, in order to answer this question, and some other questions that you might have on your mind, my lovely co-host Faith and I shall be embarking on a series of staff interviews, to let you know who the **** we even are.
This week, naturally, we start with the mythic Jim Sterling. The man has made a name for himself as part of the British duo of Sterling and Houghton, champions of Gamers for Gaming. Let's hop right into the questions.
If you readers have any questions for Jim, no matter how dark and disturbing, he is contractually obligated to respond to them. Otherwise, Niero will impregnate his horse.
Name: Sir James Eruvius Delacroix Sterling
Location: London, England
Time at Destructoid: A couple of stormy months
Favorite console: Xbox 360 this gen, PS2 last gen
Favorite game: Silent Hill 2
Really, who the **** is Jim Sterling? Why should we care about what you have to say?
Like all British people, I am a baron of the realm who lives in his castle, clutching a brandy glass tightly in between heavy bouts of polishing my monocle. Each and every Thursday, His Majesty the King rides his golden penny farthing to my homestead and we eat a hearty banquet of crumpets. In the morn I hunt for wild boar in St. Hammersmitherington's Forest, occassionally happening upon elfin sprites, hobgoblins and all manner of fantastical imps that dwell in the woodlands of this sceptered isle.
Or, I'm just some gamer who thinks he's far better than he is. Your call.
Why should you care about what I have to say? Because nobody's going to say it the way I do, whether that's a good thing or not.
How did you get hired to Destructoid?
Basically, I'd spent many years wasting my life, wandering without any sense of purpose or direction. I tried a career as a live comedian, both sketches and stand up, but results were mixed. I was always a writer at heart though, even though I never truly accepted it. I spent most of my time writing at my personal baby, Morphine Nation, which was/is social commentary and very angry, curse-laden rantings. I had a small amount of cult success with that, but never anything spectacular. At the same time, I used to drop game reviews for a friend's website, Project Wonderboy and occassionally Earth-2. I'd always been heavily complimented on my game reviews, and told I should go professional, but for some reason I never took the idea seriously.
Skip to this year, I just decided one day that I would seriously pursue a career as a video game reviewer. I emailed a bunch of magazines, to little effect, but in only two weeks suddenly found myself talking to David Clayman at IGN Insider and we talked about doing some freelance work. I'd scored a commission with him, but sadly missed out on a regular job with Insider, mostly because of my location. Still looking for places, I bought a copy of GamesTM magazine which had an article written by our very own William Haley about jobs in the games industry, one of which was games journalism. He'd featured Destructoid quite heavily in the writeup, so I briefly checked it out and, not expecting much in a reply, emailed Niero with a very general, copy/paste "Hey, luv ur site, here is sum samples can I haz be doin revewz for u?" message.
Imagine my surprise when our robotic hero messaged me back saying "Hey, yeah cool, we have a spot open on the news team." I don't know what I did to win both he and Nick over, but they very quickly hired me aboard and threw me out there with no introduction, leading to the now infamous "Who the f*** is Jim Sterling?" meme I've come to know and hear about 80,000,000 times in just one visit to Stickam.
Ironically, all I ever wanted to do was reviews, and since trying to make a career out of writing, I've done everything but.
How did you enjoy the welcome you got here at Destructoid?
I'd say that was a prophetic welcome. I ruffled a whole bunch of feathers and a few people jumped down my throat -- which kind of started me as I meant to go on. No, it was quite ... interesting, to say the least. At first I was seriously worried that people genuinely hated my work, even asked Nick if the early reactions were normal or if I'd legitimately gotten on people's tits. I'd say my hazing lasted only a short while though, I seemed to be winning a lot of people over by the third day to the point where I guess I'm one of the more recognizable writers around here -- ironic, considering my career started with people asking "who the f*** is Jim Sterling?"
Despite the mauling I received at first, I'm very pleased and grateful that I was accepted as part of the Dtoid collective so quickly.
What do you feel is your "beat" when it comes to covering content?
I'll cover a little of everything, but obviously I'm most known for touching the controversial topics and in a somewhat inflammatory manner. It's not purposeful as much as it is just how I am. If I see something I disagree with, I'm far more likely to just say "that's bullsh*t," rather than try and be sugar coated and sit on the fence. You can go elsewhere for totally unbiased, apologetic editorial content, but I'm never going to do that. I guess my "beat" as such is brutal honesty, with emphasis on the brutal. I'm a passionate writer and I put my heart into my words, which some people disapprove of. I ruffle feathers and I say some things that sectors of the readership aren't going to like, but I also like to feel I do it with a flair and class that justifies the vitriol.
I don't discriminate with my opinions, either. I get accused of picking on Sony the worst and that's not true. It's just that there's so much material when it comes to Sony. I'll just as easily serve Microsoft and Nintendo their lumps too -- something I do regularly enough, but some readers fail to acknowledge. Furthermore, I'll praise every company accordingly as well. I'm not just a ball of negativity, as my dedicated coverage of all things KOEI should prove.
Which article of yours are you most proud of, and why?
Hmm ... I think it's a choice between three here. Firstly, there's BAN THIS SICK FILTH, which I originally wrote for Morphine Nation and rewrote in the wake of the Manhunt 2 banning. I was channeling Chris Morris, one of my absolute heroes, and it's still one of the most ridiculous things I've ever written, yet still not as ludicrous as the actual writing of those who oppose video games. More recently would have to be the article comparing MGS4's Eva to David Bowie as he appeared in Labyrinth. Playing Bomberman Live shortly after that and hearing people tell me how awesome it was is quite something. I guess currently though, the article I'm most proud of is one I wrote just a few days ago, about the accusations of racism in Resident Evil 5. I hate racism, especially racism dressed up as political correctness, which is what that Black Looks crap was. I was very proud of the counterpoint I made as well as the 400+ comments of social debate that arose from it. As I said before, social commentary is where I started, so it's gratifying when I bring it here as well.
Being British, enlighten us rebellious colonists about the gaming scene in the home country.
We love our PSTriple!
Seriously, the gaming scene in Britain is like every scene in Britain -- similar to America, but smaller and less impressive. There's a far deeper root of Sony love in this country, as evidenced by the PS3's popular launch here, but that's because British people, generally, are a flock. A friend of mine interviewed PS3 purchasers on launch day and the most common reason for buying was because their friends were buying them. We have a rubbish gaming scene, generally. Like everywhere else, it's not a medium to be taken seriously, and with pathetic dirtrags like The Daily Mail demonizing them and of course, the BBFC banning whatever they don't agree with, there's a struggle there.
Notoriously, the biggest problem UK gamers have is the fact that too many game companies give Europe the shaft. This has never struck me as logical, especially on Nintendo's part. We're a hungry and large market who will snap up whatever scraps are thrown us. The economy here is mighty, and even then, prices are hiked up disproportionately to other territories, so there is plenty of money to be made. However, companies like Nintendo just don't care about us, it seems. European money is still money, right? Plus, if a company is serious about online gaming as Nintendo claims, then worldwide releases are the only way to go. Anything less is pitiful.
You're hotbutton issue is obviously Gamers for Gaming. What sort of headway have you made with this campaign since it started, and where do you plan to accomplish by the end of the year?
At the moment, we're working behind-the-scenes to get the website sorted out. Obviously, an Internet campaign is worthless without a founded base of operations. It's far from just me of course. My fellow countryman David Houghton is just as big a driving force, if not a bigger one, and we have the entire Destructoid art department as well as Mr. Destructoid himself working hard to help us out. At the moment, we've had things like E3 and the upcoming Leipzig getting in the way of progress -- damn games companies and their stupid games -- but we should be on the move soon.
The immediate goal is unity. I think it's our biggest hurdle, mainly because it involves a lot of people and sometimes a lot of people aren't the most reliable of chaps. Unity in the game community is very important to our success. Not just the Dtoid army, who always have our backs and are cherished for it. I'm talking other blogs, sites, everywhere there is gaming, I want the gamers to be for it. I have a minor rumbling of support from IGN and I believe Lord Houghton has Pure Pwnage's ear. What I mostly want to see though is support from our peers -- sites just like ours, pulling together regardless of petty intersite feuds, just sharing their love of games and voicing their refusal for games to be treated as a lesser form of media.
Perhaps I'm asking too much, but I like to think I'm not.
Now that you've got your foot in the door with the game industry, what do you hope to accomplish?
Honestly, I've already accomplished more than most people could hope for. I never figured that so quickly after aspiring to be a writer, I'd be courting controversy on the largest independent videogames site on the Internet. I have a platform where a lot of people can read my ideas, I have a fair deal of respect and I have a job I can be incredibly proud of -- not many people can be lucky enough to say that and I'm very grateful that I can. Hell, I could get away with saying I'm a little bit famous, even. You know, when some kid walks up to you at an event and says "Excuse me, are you Jim Sterling?" That's it right there. You can close the book on my career and I'll be happy.
If there's anything I can continue to strive for, I just want to do Destructoid proud. I want to continually make Niero, Nick, Ron, et al look at my work and my activity and think "Yes, he was a good decision." That's about all I can accomplish. This place has become my home and I want to help build it into a juggernaut. I want to be there the day we kick down the doors and say "We're in charge in now." That day will come and I will be there.
When the hell are you moving your ass over to America?
Haha, I wish I knew, I really do. I've been trying for four years, but do you know how hard it is for a white Brit to get into America? Astoundingly difficult, it is. I'd need marriage or a rock solid job offer to live out there. Who knows? Maybe IGN will offer me that sweet San Francisco job again and I can go live in the Bay area and trickle hot exclusives to my Destructoid brethren. Hell, maybe one day Destructoid will be in a position where Niero himself could sponsor me and I could live out there as an official employee of the Robot Army. That would be incredible.
All I can say is that I will find a way into your country, my friends. And on that day, the rivers shall run red with boiling blood and the black clouds shall rain down a fiery pus upon the wretched hides of the screaming damned ... for Jim Sterling will have arrived.