Kotaku has been like a family to me for almost four years now.
From the outside looking in, you’ve probably known me as several things.
The deputy editor. The Borderlands nut who incidentally matches names (and even nicknames) with one of the series’ most favored characters.
The editor who used to share amusing pictures on Saturday mornings. The writer who reads and shares your worst and best stories.
The Adventure Time addict with occasionally controversial opinions. A lapsed Animal Crossing addict, too. The person on camera who talks to Evan a lot. The girl at Kotaku who knows how to handle a gun.
And, hey, I’ve done some reporting I’m proud of, too, and shared some deeply personal stories on the site. I’ve reviewed great games and trashed others. Fortunately I quite enjoyed my very first review for Kotaku.
Internally, I’ve been the deputy editor, too. I heralded the famous (infamous?) editorial spreadsheet at Kotaku affectionately known as Sheet16, which was once hated and operates more like lifeblood now. I brought in, guided and edited some of our best freelancers and seen many of them move on to great roles (and I’m very proud of you all!). I’ve shopped up some funny and dark images for the site. My first week at Kotaku, I remember Stephen asking if anyone could do any image work, and I was excited to be able to raise my hand and announce that I would happily create a game version of the meme that had been going around at the time.
I’ve insisted, at every single gathering, on group pictures, and then I created Ghost Kirk so he wouldn’t be left out of any. I’ve taken over the site in Stephen’s absence, sometimes in very difficult moments.
I still remember my first few days at Kotaku. After settling in and creating the first document that would eventually morph into Sheet16, I started up “Watch This, Play This,” which was meant to be an afternoon program where you could casually watch some hand-picked videos and maybe play a mobile game we’d recommended. Do you guys remember programming blocks? (I still continued to share the funniest videos I found on the Internet, even after the lifespan of programming blocks. Back when Source Filmmaker was first a thing, it gave me plenty to work with.)
Kotaku’s been through a lot of changes since I started. Some failed experiments, and some successful. I’m proud to say I’ve been there side-by-side with everyone for many of them. I’m proud of where Kotaku is and how far we’ve come. I’m proud of my team, too. We’ve been in the trenches together through everything from individual experiences with bad comments to covering the wake of the new generation of consoles. Together we’ve watched the rise and/or fall of things like Ouya, Oculus Rift, Kickstarter and more. We scrambled during major press conferences and sat, through exhaustion, through post-E3 livestreamed chats.
I was there through editorial phases like the ambitious Mass Effect Week and the days of the SimCity Disaster Watch. I was there through changes in editorial processes with things like Comment of the Week and that whole Frankenreview thing we used to do. Hey, anyone remember Power 40? I certainly don’t, nope nope, don’t mind me.
Together we survived the great Gawker Outage of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. A video I shot of an electrical fire quickly picked up steam and got shown on several national news channels, too. Crazy times.
I am going to miss my Kotaku family terribly.
Stephen is one of the best, most empathetic bosses you’ll meet. Even on his grouchiest of days, which we all like to tease him for, you can see that his love for this site and his readers is what fuels him. Stephen has been there for me through some tough times, being incredibly patient as he’s let me work through what I needed to. I’m not sure any other boss would have done the same. He’s also one of the best damn reporters out there, and somehow manages to keep doing that while running Kotaku with a hawk’s eye. One night, all of Kotaku was in town and we’d gone to see an interactive theater production in NYC called Sleep No More. I was very drunk (I hope Stephen didn’t notice!—I’d seen Sleep No More about five times already, so I decided to spend the night at their bar and in true Amini fashion bought every returning Kotaku member a drink alongside a drink for me to share with them) and Stephen brought up something about work that had been bothering me since I’d discovered it. He commiserated with me. Said he felt similar pangs when he first started, and told me how he learned to adapt. I already knew this, but in that moment it affirmed that he and I were cut from a very similar cloth and I knew that I could trust in his leadership, as a boss, sure, but as a work partner and a friend, too.
Evan quickly became one of my best friends after I started at Kotaku. We could frequently be seen taking lunch trips, and sometimes cookie or cupcake breaks on tough days. He’s done everything from help me edit my work to being my shoulder when I most needed a friend. I vividly recall, many years ago after a breakup, meeting Evan on the roof of our company’s old building and filling him in on all the details. We hugged after talking it out and I felt ok about the future.
Fahey will tell you he and I are mortal enemies or something, but I know DEEP DOWN that I’m actually one of his favorites at the site (don’t deny it, Fahey—sorry, everyone else). Fahey has been at the site forever, but I’m so happy he’s found a new place at an old job: hosting a series of shows all featuring him and his family. He’s done a fantastic job with it, and at least I’ll still get to hear about his antics there.
I’ve known Jason since before Kotaku, and him coming onboard the same time as me was actually one of the reasons I was excited for my new job, four years ago. Before we were at Kotaku, Jason worked at Wired and I was at Complex Magazine. We found ourselves at E3 attending Nintendo’s press conference together (back when Nintendo did actual E3 press conferences). I had some regular access pass, but Jason decided he could sneak me into the VIP seating he was invited to. We giggled quietly to ourselves as the show started, successful in our shenanigans. We’d go on to attend many conferences together, tagging along to each other’s appointments, and giggling for various reasons together, too.
Kirk and I always shared in personal conversations about life and the pursuit of happiness. A big intersecting point here for us has been editing Dr. NerdLove’s genius pieces, and spending time simply discussing our thoughts over that week’s letters and the issues inside them. They’ve consisted of some of my favorite Slack conversations, and have probably meant more to me than Kirk even knows. Also did you know that Kirk is a crazy talented musician? I’ve listened to one of his tracks non-stop for a while after discovering it.
Chris Person isn’t technically at Kotaku proper anymore—he’s part of Gawker Media’s video team now—but we still worked with each other all the time. Pro-tip: if you ever meet Chris, do not ever challenge his obscure video game knowledge. You will die a thousand deaths. Your eulogy will be the lore of obscure video games read out loud by Chris. Your tombstone will be inscribed with Snapple-style video game facts.
I remember when Patricia was a wee Kotaku baby, starting as a freelancer before moving into part time before moving into a full-time position with us. I remember editing her pieces back then and being able to tell even then that she’d continue to share truly fascinating experiences—both hers and others’—playing games she truly appreciated. I’ve always regretted the sporadic flak she’s gotten over the years. (I wish more people could see that we’re not just Internet bylines, and that we’re not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Anything we’ve ever done, we’ve done for readers. You should hear some of the discussions we have and the particulars we mull over in trying to do our best, most appreciated work.)
I was so excited when Patrick joined Kotaku. I’d been a friend to Giant Bomb for a while, and I always thought he was both a smart and great human. Having a chance to work with and bitch to Patrick has sustained me for many months nearing the end of my Kotaku career. And his wife is, unshockingly, fabulous as well. They are a fabulous, horror-movie-watching duo.
I met Nathan after he’d formally accepted our job offer. I happened to be in San Francisco at the time and we’d bumped into each other at a gathering at some bar. Even in the depths of many drinks, I remember Nathan and I diligently checking our inboxes to find a statement over a lawsuit between 3D Realms and Gearbox. We discussed it for a bit, and he darted back and forth to find out more. He was excited about the world of video games and reporting on it, and I knew we’d made a good choice.
I’ve been Yannick’s editor since he started at Kotaku. I’ve seen him write powerfully on personal experiences, and then take on one of the biggest video game communities with full dedication. He once related our editor/writer relationship to League of Legends roles, and I totally got it at the time thanks to editing his many LoL pieces (forgive me, Yannick, I forget the reference). Plus, he’s the only one at the site that has shared my debilitating affinity for cats. (Well, Stephen loves his cat.)
I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with my international Kotaku family as I’d like to have, but I’m no stranger to international family members to begin with. András and Gergo are an incredible team, who have supported those feeble hours in the morning when the NYC crew is still stretching and yawning. And thanks to Luke and Ash, I always got to wake up to fabulous art, silly GIFs, weird stories and smart editorials. They always had something I could either laugh with or learn from.
Lastly, readers, I’ll miss you all, too. I remember when writing for the Kotaku audience was once really daunting, like any slip-up I could ever possibly make would be under one gigantic microscope. Eventually, though, I came to embrace that possibility knowing that being subject to that level of pressure would push me to always grow. Now even the crudest, most unreasonable and completely irrelevant comments don’t phase me much (I’ve been on YouTube and, you know what, I’m not even that great in the kitchen). I’ve come to ignore the loudest, meanest comments and remember everyone who has followed my work closely, even emailing me letters. To anyone who has ever written me personally, know that I’ve kept all of those. To anyone who has ever tweeted support at me, know that it’s brightened up my day each time. And to everyone who has kept up with some of my inside jokes, like my tendency to record post-credit blooper-like clips in my videos, I love you the most. You have all made working here incredibly worthwhile. Knowing that I’ve made any of you smile, laugh, or learn something means the world to me.
It almost feels like I shouldn’t be ending this with a sentiment most closely resembling an “I’m quitting” statement, but there it is. I’ve had some amazing years at Kotaku working alongside coworkers who have come to mean a lot to me. Kotaku will always be my favorite site, and hopefully you’ll see my name pop up here and there in the future. I don’t want to disappear. I don’t want to lose everything that this site and my work family has given me. But it’s time for a massive change, and I’m excited as all hell for it.
P.S. Dinner is always at 7. <3
Oh, and, I’d like to leave you all with some of my favorite pieces that I’ve penned over my years here that haven’t already been mentioned in this post. I hope you all enjoy them.
To contact the author of this post, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter at @tinaamini.