Ash Parrish, Kotaku’s co-host of Splitscreen and esteemed expert on all things Lady Dimitrescu, Final Fantasy, and hornt, has left us.
It’s been a trying time for us at Kotaku as we’ve shed some of our favorite colleagues. We decided to take a short break from roasts as we recovered from the last few, but now it’s time. So, Ash, I hope you enjoy this belated ode to your thirsty wonder.
Ash, you were one of the biggest reasons I came back to Kotaku, and now you’re gone. EAT SHIT. (But also, thank you.)
This is so unfair. Roasting Nathan was easy. But I actually like Ash. I mean, how am I supposed to be mean about someone so awesome, passionate, talented… oh hang on a minute, I’ve just remembered how she pronounces “Picross.”
“Picross,” as you already know, is pronounced “pick ross.” Because, well, it’s a game based on making a picture. A “pick cher.” There’s no controversy about this, there’s no widespread conflicting opinion. Much as few would argue that “fish” is pronounced “Canterbury,” there’s not an argument to be had here.
Ash pronounces it “pie cross.” Yes, I know. You too were thinking, “But Ash is like, the best writer here. I have nothing bad to say about her.” And now you are thinking, “Maybe everything I know is wrong and flawed?”
So good riddance, Ash. How dare you? How dare you?
When Ash first joined Kotaku, there was some confusion over the use of the name “Ash.” Previously, I had been known as “Ash” or “Bash”—either was fine, really. But, when Ash arrived, she was definitely an Ash, full stop, and since there can be only one Ash at a time, she won out and got the moniker. But now she’s gone! Which sucks, but hey, unlike all the other folks that work here, at least I got a nickname back out of this. So there’s that.
Ash came in at such a difficult time at Kotaku, though that’s probably true of everyone in one way or another. I always admired the way that, though she saw our challenges for what they were, she didn’t let that deter her from jumping in with humor, passion, and dedication. She has such a knack for finding great stories about people, and I’m so excited to see what stories she tells next. I’m sorry if this isn’t mean enough, I’m on my phone.
I’m about to turn an unspecified age in my early thirties soon. I started this when I was in my twenties, so you know...time flies. Which means a lot of faces and cool people to meet along the way. It also means sometimes you watch them move on to other things.
Anyway, because I’m a Boomer now, my memory of the Kotaku timeline is hazy. I believe that Ash was just in the process of getting hired as I left for Double Fine. So I didn’t really get to work with her directly but I have had the privilege of watching her develop from the perspective of a reader.
The important thing is this: Ash didn’t hold back. From the start, it was clear where her priorities rested: telling her truth and anchoring each article in the weight of her own experiences and opinions. It can take writers some time to get comfortable with this. Putting yourself on the page is a risk; this is not an industry where readers always react well to the personal. Which is why it’s key that I stress that Ash did this right away and was very good at it.
Because she was good at it, and because she (as any good writer should) has a low tolerance for bullshit, her work has a rare quality. It’s fearless and that boldness certainly had a cost in terms of online trolls and assholes.
I don’t know what her plans are post-Kotaku but I do hope they involve writing. Because in short order, Ash has established herself as a voice that you can trust to be clear, honest, and unafraid. We need writing like that; I’m happy she was able to do that here and very glad that I got to see it all as it went down.
The only bad thing I have to say about Ash is that she’s so cool it makes roasting her nearly impossible. I hope she enjoys whatever dorks she works with next.
Hmm. Ash is tough to roast. I mean, I think I have to say something mean, otherwise she won’t notice or tweet about it. But it’s hard.
She already makes fun of herself for bawling when I told her I was hiring her, but I found that touching.
Yeah, I’m struggling here. Ash joined Kotaku at a time of multiple national crises and Kotaku’s third or fourth consecutive corporate cataclysm. Yet she shined from day one.
She is among the boldest writers Kotaku’s ever had, and I’ll miss reading her on the site.
Ash was a great writer who was always able to find a fun angle that made all of us laugh. She also only worked at Kotaku for like 15 days or something like that. Good run, hope whoever replaces her sticks around a bit longer. And to whatever site is taking her on next, be prepared for some “horny on main.” (It’s good content. Just be prepared.)
Ash might be the slowest blogger I’ve ever worked with. News would break in one time zone and get posted in the next. It was excruciating to watch sometimes as someone with a deeply unhealthy attachment to doing things fast and seeing them go up on the site even faster.
But it was ultimately comforting to know that a writer of Ash’s rare talents had at least one weakness. The alternative was to see someone walk out of the internet fog one day and immediately start posting bangers on the site that were equal parts funny, insightful, and cut like a fresh pack of razors. It’s hard to write fast, but even harder to imbue just about everything you write with the same quality of wit and no bullshit whether you’re geeking out about the Overwatch League or lampooning the eternally staggering whiteness of spaces everywhere, but especially here in video games. I’ve sat in front of empty Google docs for hours waiting for the good stuff to flow and it very rarely does. Ash without fail always had something to say and it was always worth reading. My only regret is that now it’ll be at some other website.
I don’t have a roast for Ash, not because there’s nothing to roast (c’mon, the number of aliens and demons she’s declared an intention to bang could fill a textbook) but because her departure makes me really, really fucking sad. Ash came on board more than a year ago, during the same hiring wave that added a crop of writers to Kotaku’s masthead: me, her, Zack, and Ian. We plus Alexandra, one of the site’s stalwart editors, made up Kotaku’s so-called class of 2020. Ash is the first to leave. May she rest in peace.
There’s also little argument that Ash, had she not left the site and therefore Thanos-snapped herself out of existence, would have gone on to be the class’s valedictorian. Starting off as a Kotaku writer, you face a heavy burden. These are big shoes to fill. There’s a predetermined idea of what a Kotaku writer is—a sharp, brash, fearless thinker who regularly publishes head-turning journalism but also maybe sometimes blogs about dicks—and, because of circumstance, you want to morph yourself into that mold as fast as possible. Usually, there’s a learning curve. With Ash, there was not. From day one, she embodied the spirit of Kotaku.
What Ash likely doesn’t know is that she, perhaps more than anyone here, helped teach me how to be a Kotaku writer. Last July, we tag-teamed a post about a moment in Paper Mario: The Origami King that blew us both away. (Warning: Don’t click that unless you’ve played The Origami King...or don’t give AF about spoilers.) Getting a chance to hash that out with Ash, to have a hands-on teacher hold my hand and show me it’s fine—cool, even—to write about emotional truth as seriously as you would scientific fact, has informed so much of what I’ve published in the past year.
I know the moment stuck with her, too, because it made it into her farewell post:
If I could summarize my time at Kotaku in a single quote, it’d be one from the eternally slept-on Paper Mario: The Origami King.
‘This is what every Bob-Omb hopes for—a chance to change something for the better. To make an impact.’
I dearly hope I have.
That it’s even a question kills me! Obviously Ash made an impact. Obviously Bobby, the character behind that quote, did too. How fitting that neither realized it. I figured I had a chance to tell Ash, and posted as much in Kotaku’s Slack.
My post went up at 6:03 p.m. ET, a full 180 seconds after Ash’s last day here officially wrapped up. Her Slack account was already deactivated, because the powers that be at this company care, if nothing else, about enacting policies to the fucking minute. Sadly, there is no way for me to tell her now. The only form of communication in the world is the Kotaku Slack channel, in which she now no longer exists.
I won’t presume to know Ash’s reasons for snapping her fingers and turning herself into space particles, never to be seen again in the dusty halls of the chatroom we’ve dedicated to talking about the hottest and nottest Hades characters. I have a guess. It’s a reasonably well-informed one. I won’t put it to ink.
I don’t want to roast Ash. She’s too good, too vivacious, too admirably, unapologetically hornt, for me to want to knock her wild spirit down a peg. It was an honor to work with her and witness the start of what’ll doubtlessly be a successful, exciting career. Everything Heather said above is spot on, and if Ash actually learns how to turn around a one-graf breaking news story in less than 45 minutes, she’ll be nigh-on unstoppable.
Ash has a habit of thinking that not liking cats and being horny on main are personality traits. I am here to remind her, once again, that they are not. Get a hobby.
But it’s not much of a dig considering that Ash does have an actual personality—and a decent one too! Even without ever getting to see her in person, I can just feel how fun Ash is to be around and the kindness she radiates. Her ability to be, at once, charming and not take any bullshit makes her one of my favorite people to have worked with.
Ash might play up her thirst posts, but her true skill lies with her talent for making even mundane scenes in games feel compelling. Ash writes like her life depends on it, and she can find something meaningful in anything. She has some of the best raw talent of any writer I’ve ever seen, which made editing her such a joy. And which makes this goodbye so hard.
[Remains deceased after Ash’s roast of him]