After nearly a year and half of being Kotaku's San Francisco Correspondent and default token girl*, it's time for me to say goodbye. GamePro is whisking me away to that fabled land of print journalism I've heard so much about.
I can easily say that my time here has been well spent. Kotaku taught me more than Stanford University's graduate program in journalism ever did and gave me the chance to write about things I really care about. You know, instead of just boobs, Japanese role-playing games and scandals. Not that I mind writing about those things — actually when you combine all three, it can be pretty fun — but the world of video games is a lot larger than that. That's part of why I went to Stanford; to convince them that this is a subject that deserves the attention of journalism, and yes, being a games journalist is compatible with being a "real" journalist.
*After Leigh Alexander and Maggie Greene moved on, that is.
Here are some of the things I'm most proud of:
Knocked Up: A Look At Pregnancy in Video Games — I'd been pitching this feature idea for years to different publications, but Kotaku was the only outfit that let me run with it. I still find the topic fascinating and I still go out of my way to play games that let you get pregnant in some fashion. It's very much my "thing."
Pieces of You: Rebuilding Myself on Consoles — Breakups suck, but my work at Kotaku got me through a really nasty one. I still can't believe Stephen Totilo let me keep the Jewel song title in the headline.
Kotaku's Super Huge Pumpkin Patch (Parts One, Two, Three and Four) — I'm a sucker for crafts projects and I find that there's no other video game blog on the Internet that makes room to post stuff like this as well as shoes, cakes, video game wedding stuff, etc. It took me three hours on Halloween weekend to upload all those images, but it was worth it.
Girls Night With The Most Male Game Of 2009 — Yes, it pissed people off. Yes, I got death threats. But what's most important to me is that this article got people talking. I'm still amazed when I skim through the comments at some of the genuinely thoughtful discourse that goes on in there. Hope to see more of it where I'm going. And I still hope to see women in Modern Warfare 3.
My Master's Project, "Writing About Video Games: Journalism, Criticism and Mainstream Media" — I can't let the full copy of this 7000-word beast see the light of day yet because in my mind, it's still not "done." While working on it, I got the chance to interview Totilo before he jumped ship for Kotaku, N'Gai Croal as he was leaving Newsweek, Seth Schiesel from the New York Times, Jamin Brophy-Warren of the Wall Street Journal and Georgia Tech Associate Professor Ian Bogost — it was an all star cast. Kotaku made that possible by giving me access to these heavy-hitters and its articles make up about a quarter of my source list. Here's a tiny sample of my conclusion:
Time will tell if Schiesel and Brophy-Warren's editors care enough about video games to move their coverage into a more prominent place either in the print edition or in the online arts and entertainment section. If that happens, maybe their stories with replace the "point and giggle" stories in mainstream media. Time will tell if a vocabulary for talking about games emerges that are integrated into pop culture the way words and phrases like "Western" and "tear-jerker" can describe a movie to an audience that hasn't seen it. If that doesn't happen, words and phrases like "gameplay" or "free-look" and "sandbox" used in the reviews that most games journalism produces will remain impenetrable jargon specific to video games hobbyist magazines. Time might also make room for games journalism to grow up a little bit more, to develop into something that can be understood all 228 million American adults instead of just the 114 million who play them.
Well, that about does it for me. Take care of yourselves and take care of each other. Have a happy, safe, New Year!