Hi, my name is Stephen Beirne and I am a game critic. My specialty is in looking for the little moments of beauty and intrigue across games of all sorts, from undiscovered Ludlum Dare applicants to AAA titles even my cat's heard about. My writing is sometimes philosophical, sometimes personal and sometimes satirical.
I’ve been described by Lana Polansky as “a games critic with a consistently strong outlook on games and surrounding culture and the skill to set off critical truth bombs with serious writerly panache.” Chris Franklin of Errant Signal agrees that I “exist” and adds, "Stephen Beirne has a wonderful ability to find and describe a game's heart, both to dissect and to find the beauty therein."
Since launching this Patreon in 2014, patrons have funded articles about:
- The capitalist propaganda of RPG levelling mechanics.
- A first person shooter whose combat centres on aesthetic wonder.
- The barrier to expression that lies in our limited concept of interactivity.
- The hidden wealth that is Final Fantasy VII’s use of camera and composition.
- A beautiful, broken mess of a game that expertly teases the gnawing potential of sci-fi.
- Ludonarrative Dissonance born from The Last of Us’ brutal condescension.
- How The Walking Dead uses its second-person perspective to play with our sense of philosophical identity.
- A number of articles on Demon’s Souls and the Dark Souls sequels, including an enormous analysis of the Boletarian Palace’s worldbuilding, and Dark Souls’ subtext of existential joy and amor fati.
- The loneliness as I trekked across a vast desert of white, knowing I was the villain.
And that was all in 2014. In previous years, I interviewed Anita Sarkeesian for Destructoid. My piece on the disappearance and fraud of that Tropes vs Men in Games project caused a bit of a stir in 2013, while my satire detailing the lack of the medium’s male protagonists was also quite well received. I've talked about The Last of Us' ladders, Final Fantasy IX's Mognet, and BioShock 2's morality, among a very many other things.
My name has appeared many times on Critical Distance's weekly and yearly roundups. My work has featured on The Arcade Review, Re/Action, Destructoid, Gameranx, Pop Matters, Unwinnable, The Huffington Post and more. It has spurred invites to Indie3 conference panels. It has sparked discussion and created words and thoughts and passion.
And, touch wood, it will continue to do so. It is my belief that games exist as cultural texts, containing narratives which tell us something of worth about people and the world whether they want to or not. I hope to continue providing you with enjoyable, philosophical perspectives on games in interesting and accessible ways.
Why I need your support
I've been doing this for a few years now and I would quite like to keep up the good work. I find it to be a fulfilling and productive way for me to spend my life. Sometimes I like to think my writing is somewhat valuable, defying everything I'm told by larger society.
But beyond the dreaming and sense of self-fulfilment, it is very difficult for game critics like myself to find sustenance in this work. There are very few paying jobs and most of those that offer steady pay give pittance in exchange for menial press work a world away from what I want to be writing. Everyone tells you there's no space for my kind of jam.
That's where Patreon comes in. With your support, my writing can help to sustain my day-to-day living, while the money I earn can be put back into delivering more articles, artwork and videos. This way if you enjoy my work and feel it warrants a couple of quid, you can help to make my load a little lighter and keep the good stuff coming. To this end, you can support me by as little as $3 a month.
Otherwise, I have a cat named Zoe and she is adorable. If you don't care about my writing but want to help me buy Zoe her food, they are also acceptable terms for supporting my work.
What your funding will net you
What you will get are more articles of the sort I currently write. Your money will go towards my living costs - groceries, rent, bills, you know yourself. It will give me the creative freedom to write the games criticism that large publications are simply not interested in but our community thrives on. With money coming in, I can focus more on talking about freelancer-unfriendly indie games, or write meandering think-pieces with no thesis at all. It will free up my time so I can play more games in general, meaning I will have more material to talk about.
My writing routine currently nets one article and one video per month, since I'm presently at it part-time. At that pace it would take over $400 an article/video to make it comparable to the Irish minimum wage. If my writing shows to be a viable source of income for me I might increase my rate of articles, but never to such a point that would degrade its overall quality. I want to reward your trust in me with quality work I'm proud of. But if you choose to support me, please bear this in mind and cap your monthly patronage to whatever you feel is appropriate.
Regardless of whether or not you want to pitch in to the Stephen fund, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to check out my Patreon. I hope you find something here which you feel deserves the support you can offer. Even if the most you can spare is $3 a month, every dollar helps me to continue with the work I love.
Thanks again and all the best.