Ari Notis, Kotaku’s primary source for guides, puns, and woefully uncritical games coverage, is leaving us. That absolute bastard.
Joining Kotaku in January 2020, Ari was employed to be a guides writer, and maybe reading this he’ll finally find out and stop pitching reviews?
Ageless, boundless, tasteless, talentless, what can be said about Ari that hasn’t already been whispered behind his back in disappointment or rage? Well, it turns out all the words below.
Roasting Ari is almost too easy. The man loves to pun, even when the joke makes no sense. He has terrible opinions and he’s not afraid to share them. Also he’s one of the nine people still playing Halo Infinite.
Honestly, though, Ari is the best of us. He’s the human embodiment of the sun. The kind of optimism Ari has is a rare, beautiful thing that the world is designed to crush. Somehow, despite everything, it hasn’t. People make fun of the way Ari goes about the world because it’s terrifying and difficult to wake up every day and be earnest. Optimism is vulnerability. And Ari seems to choose it every day. What the fuck.
I’d say “eat shit, Ari” but he’s just gonna take it in stride, you know? And thank god for that.
Being an editor is often about making choices. And my god, the choices you have to make when editing something Ari has written.
Don’t get me wrong, Ari’s a professional. He turns in clean copy. His news stories provide all the context a reader needs to understand not just what’s happening, but why they should care. He is, for the most part, a pleasure to read. No, the challenge with editing Ari is in deciding just how “Ari” to let his writing be. And what, you may be wondering, is the unmistakable signature of Ari’s writing? Let me offer you an example.
I had the terrible burden of editing Ari’s review of Halo Infinite. And as I’m going along, making minor tweaks to tighten up the language here or to clarify a point he’s making there, I am stopped dead in my tracks by the following sentence:
“At one point, [Master Chief] openly admits to not feeling OK, to legitimately feeling some Master Grief.”
Now, here, I have a choice to make. This surprise attack of a sentence could conceivably do so much psychic damage to some readers that they close their browser tabs immediately and resolve, then and there, to never visit Kotaku again. I wouldn’t blame them at all. The human mind was not meant to be exposed to turns of phrase like this one, and there’s only so much any of us can take. And yet in this case, I resolved that as I’d had to suffer, so our readers should suffer, too. They should have some small glimpse of what Ari inflicts on us all in Slack day in and day out; “wordplay” so excruciating that some of us have often wondered, in the wake of some particularly painful pun, if we couldn’t just fire him and spare ourselves the anguish. Well, we won’t have to worry about that anymore.
OK, OK, I can’t keep up this roasting any longer. Ari, the truth is that I’ll miss working with you, I’ll miss editing you, I’ll even miss those terrible puns of yours. All the best in your next adventure, and may you still get the chance to inflict your sense of humor on unsuspecting people from time to time. Kotaku won’t be the same without you.
Hey Ari’s future coworkers, if you wanna have fun and establish some good running joeks™ with the inexplicable weirdo you’re for some reason welcoming into your ranks, try asking Ari to state his precise age. You’re not gonna get a straight answer. If 1980s G.I. Joe cartoons are correct in saying that “knowing is half the battle,” well, you’re fucked; gonna be straight frustrated.
But perhaps you’ll find the middle ground where your increasingly fevered pursuit of this seemingly trivial number and Ari’s continued, nonsensical evasions become a reassuring ritual, a sort of eternal dance in which both parties achieve at least mild catharsis by performing their given roles until it’s time for this blithely sunny, maddening enigma to inflict his weirdness on another unsuspecting workplace. That’s how we got through it, and you can too. I’m sure of it.
I’m also pretty sure he’s like 52 and just really, really naive for his age. Eat shit, Ari!
Ari? You want me to roast Ari? The golden retriever of Kotaku? Well, if you insist. Although, every roast I can think of: the way he gets excited for nearly every game or event, his insatiable hunger. It’s all still part of his charm, right? How do you make fun of someone for being upbeat and positive and proud of it? The answer is you don’t. Because then you’re a hater, and that’s not cool. And then you would never get to hang out with any of Ari’s cats. It would, ultimately, just be a self-roast. So I’ll just say I’ll miss Ari’s infectious spirit and leave it at that.
Wait, no! I thought of one. If you told Ari to eat shit, he’d probably say, “Ugh. That sounds delicious. Now I’m hungry.”
Somehow I became friends with Ari. Even through all the terrible puns. Even though he’d get excited about any newly announced press conference. Even after I learned he liked Halo 5. Even when we would play console games and he spent years forgetting to get the right microphone so we could chat easily and not need to use Discord. And even after all the requests from him to make some new image in Photoshop. Yes, after all that, I still call Ari my friend. I’d still invite him to my wedding and other future parties.
Why? Perhaps he has used some strange chemical to brainwash me. It’s possible. But the real reason is that Ari is a great writer and more importantly, a very nice person who is always willing to chat, help me out, or provide some support on a blog idea. I could always count on Ari. Sure, I could always count on him to make a terrible pun or get excited about some random new game that looked bad. But I also always knew that no matter what, if I asked Ari to help, he’d hop in fully, no questions asked. Losing that is going to suck. So while I do suggest Ari should eat some shit, it’s mainly because I know that wherever he works next, people will be able to count on him and I’m jealous.
I’m sure that the other Kotaku staff are roasting Ari about how uncritically positive he is. I won’t deny that. But I also won’t say that his positivity is a bad thing either. When the world was a horrible place, as my brain was cannibalizing itself, and the gamers were in my mentions, I could count on Ari to show me what was already good in the world. He would always say the right thing with kindness and seemingly effortless grace. Ari is a deeply sensitive person who could see you with more startling accuracy than you could see yourself. Even when I was too cynical to fully absorb his perspective, he made me want to be a better person. Now that he’s leaving to work elsewhere, there’s nothing stopping me from fully jokerfying the next time Twitter can’t read past the headline.
Ari would joke to me that he’s a workhorse rather than a showhorse. He might not be flashy, but he’s the ligament that kept Kotaku together during the most difficult circumstances. The best work is not produced by superstars, but by a newsroom. And Ari always tried to make sure that we had the best one available to us.
If he doesn’t make his next newsroom at least as good as at Kotaku, then I will never forgive him. Eat shit, Ari Notis.
When Stephen first sent the email announcing Ari was our newest writer I quickly Googled him because I had never heard of this guy before. It led me to a website called Best Life and the byline for his most recent story titled, “Having This in Your Yard Could Attract Rattlesnakes, Experts Say.” The article’s headline continued, “THE LEADING CAUSE OF SNAKEBITES COULD BE CLOSER TO YOUR HOME THAN YOU THINK.”
I DMed someone to be like, uh, is Stephen serious? It might have been Riley. I think Riley than said something like, “He did really well on his edit test.” Ari then proceeded to do little to assuage my skepticism. He was hyped for every new trailer and announcement. He frequently wrote things like, “Oh my god this game is incredible.” He went through exclamation marks like they were sitting in his refrigerator about to expire. All I could do was shake my head and respond in Slack with things like “smdh.”
In the two-and-a-half years since, Ari proved my initial impression was not only ungenerous but completely undeserved. In record time he has become a pillar of Kotaku, a trusted colleague, and one of my favorite shit talkers. He actually writes all the things I say I will write. In addition to juggling a never-ending torrent of reviews, interviews, and guides, he even managed to publish original scoops. Behind the affable temperament and GQ smile is a killer instinct for hard news and unflinching takes that get under the brands’ nerves. Also terrible puns.
I’m sad to see him go, not least of all because having him on the masthead was a reminder that whatever mistake I had just made wasn’t as bad as posting that Halo Infinite was delayed until 2022. Mostly just because he’s an excellent writer and a real cool dude.
“The rattlesnake might sound like a mythic beast confined to the realm of dusty hiking trails,” reads the lede of his last post before joining Kotaku. “But make no mistake: Rattlesnakes are very real—and very dangerous.” He might as well have been writing about himself. What was the unsuspecting culprit attracting them in people’s yards? Wood piles! I have long since gotten rid of mine. Thank you Ari. And I hope wherever you go next you continue to live your Best Life.™
I fear too many people think Ari too nice for a solid roasting, which is not only objectively wrong, but also forgets that anyone could write the most vitriolic spew of unbridled hate about him, and he’d come away with the impression that it was completely wonderful.
For a critical journalist, Ari only lacks the “critical” and the “journalist” aspects of the role, attempting to hide this behind a veneer of attempted “mystery,” such as his idiosyncratic refusal to tell anyone how old he is, or how much 343 pays him for his Halo coverage.
Here’s a pun for you, Ari: I’ll barely Notis when you’re gone.
Dammit, I really bloody like him. He’s a genuinely lovely person, has so much time for people, is far too self-effacing, and I enjoy puns anyway. He can absolutely eat shit, because I don’t want him to leave one bit.
I’m fairly certain that every entry in this roast will probably have some sort of commentary on Ari’s godawful puns that are universally hated (loved?) by the staff. So, I wanna take some time to instead talk about why Ari’s witty one-liners are actually good. Not good in the sense of comedy. Don’t be ridiculous. I will never give him that satisfaction. But they are good in the sense that they serve as an excellent conversation ender. They’re the type of jokes that make you say “This fucking guy…” and then you walk away to find someone that actually values your time and sense of humor.
I will genuinely miss your jokes though. I hope your future coworkers find some sort of coping mechanism for them, just as I have. They better be ready for Ari-lly bad joke (I tried).
Ari’s tip posts, like this one on how to unlock Hades’ hidden weapon aspects, could make any challenge feel approachable. I’ll certainly miss seeing that face around the office.
Kotaku Dot Com has been going through some changes since I joined nearly a year ago. The most recent one is tips guru—and insatiable pun machine—Ari Notis leaving us. OMG, Finally! Y’all don’t understand how insufferable Ari’s puns are. If you’ve gotten sick of them throughout his blogs, imagine working with him every single day, logging onto Slack, getting inundated with some of the worst jokes on Earth over a nine-hour workday. It’s awful.
But as much as his puns suck, Ari himself doesn’t. An incredibly generous individual with the enthusiasm of a nine-year-old who could talk your ear off about Halo Infinite, Ari is the rare kinda games journalist who enjoys giving advice. His tips are always thoughtful and thought out, uncovering elements in games I hadn’t considered or known were possible. That’s what I’ll miss most about working with Ari: His drive to deliver top-tier service journalism while keeping it lighthearted and, ugh, full of jokes. Here’s hoping he doesn’t annoy his new coworkers. Bye forever, Ari. Eat shit, and good luck.
Ari ari ari ari ari ari ari, Arrivederci
Ari applied to work at Kotaku so many times that I’m not sure he’s actually allowed to leave yet.
Be that as it may, I wish all the best to Ari Notis—a person so ceaselessly nice that he didn’t just treat his coworkers well, but treated the July 2020 build of Halo Infinite to a glowing preview. Right before Microsoft delayed it for over a year out of quality concerns.
Ari was Kotaku’s first dedicated service writer, and in all seriousness, did a wonderful job. Many of us at Kotaku past and present have been celebrating and mourning a certain kind of voice of late: the joyful prose from an earnest soul that reads like advice from a friend. Ari has continued that spirit magnificently and I hope he will for a long time to come, wherever he goes.
Can’t believe Ari chose to leave Kotaku knowing full well that it would kill the queen.
Try as I might, I can’t let Ari off with just one pithy joke. I’ve never met somebody who is more willing to openly remark about how photogenic they are than Ari. I’ve never met someone who loathes as many universally beloved things—including dogs and, as I learned recently, My Chemical Romance (!!!)—as Ari. He is possibly the single most bully-able person on the planet, a perfect amalgam of good looks, a sunny disposition, and puns. Bullying him is not just a victimless crime; it’s restoring the world to a state of balance and fairness. Nature decrees that everyone should bully Ari.
And yet, it can sometimes feel like kicking a puppy—something Ari would happily do—because he’s just so darn kind (except to dogs). The moment I moved to New York last year, he welcomed me into his friend group with open arms. I’ve never been so immediately accepted in my entire adult life. What you get in Ari’s writing is Ari: witty exuberance in spades and an unfaltering desire to ensure that people of all stripes have the best time they possibly can. I’m sure those skills will come in handy now that he’s finally pursuing his true passion: explaining Halo esports to people at parties who will never, in a million years, care.
Ari has a cat named Puck. He’s very kind, but also ceaselessly neurotic and a vocal whiner. In other words, he’s Ari’s cat. There’s a running joke among Ari’s friends that over time he will come to resemble Puck more and more—in a Kafkaesque fashion—until one day they trade places. Ari will look up, and he will see Puck, a human man, leaning down to pick him up over and over and over again, against his will, forever. This seems like an appropriate fate for Ari, one of the most genuinely kind people I know who nonetheless only knows how to express affection by annoying those he cares about to death.
And no, Ari, I’m not ever going to respond to that Venmo request.
The duality of Ari Notis is such that he’s one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and also so annoying that working alongside him meant sighing for nine hours straight. The puns, my god, the puns.
Without seeing other responses for this goodbye post, I’m almost 100% sure everyone else mentions Ari’s bad jokes in one way or another too. You may think many of us unoriginal, but it’s only fitting because Ari’s never told an original joke in his life.
Honestly, I’m glad Ari’s jokes are so terrible. He’s so gosh darn pleasant otherwise that I probably would have fallen madly in love with him if not for that little bit of friction. Godspeed, my friend, you’re someone else’s problem now.
Riley MacLeod, Former Kotaku Managing Editor, Deputy Editor, Interim Editor-In-Chief, Editor At Large, Jam Maker, Therapist
It’s hard to think of a roast-able thing to say about Ari, whose relentless positivity makes a run for my own. It’s my understanding that he’s shockingly bad at cooking, but it’s hard to poke fun at that because he considered every baked good I brought into the office a masterpiece and that made me feel good.
I could tease him for the occasional times he would jokingly fire off some absurd take and then be determined to blog it, but he showed such patience and determination as I dourly, rigorously drained the fun from it that it’s hard to see that as a flaw. I guess his worst quality is his commitment to mind-bendingly bad puns, but as an editor it felt heroic to cut them and thus save him from himself. This is too hard; screw you, dude.
Congratulations Ari, you too will now be sent to the great Kotaku retirement farm to live out your days in peaceful obscurity because nothing you ever do after this will be better than the stuff you did there. You are the most talented of Kotaku’s writers, second only to Sisi, John, Zack, Ethan, Ashley, Luke, Levi, Lisa Marie, Isaiah, Fahey, Me, Alexandra, Carolyn, and Patricia. But that’s okay! Being a Kotaku 7 makes you an 11 ½ everywhere else!
You were one of my favorite writers that I never really got to work with because you were all the way on the other side of the website doing stuff like your incredible and insightful and helpful service journalism while I was writing the stuff that, y’know, actually kept Kotaku’s single, half-burnt out, woefully neglected, understaffed, underpaid, and unsupported lightbulb on. But! The things I did get to work with you on were some of the most fun I ever had working with another human being. I hope wherever you go you get a chance to change something for the better. To make an impact.
Ari, it’s tough to see a fellow old-timer go. It was an honor to walk alongside you in a big circle for hours in the cold, and your voice will be sorely missed at GMG. Good luck with [whatever it is you might be doing next].
Here’s my roast: “Who?”
Outside our office, every day around lunchtime, a truck shows up bearing chicken—one that looks, more or less, like the city of Boston became a truck. You know that specific brand of patriotism they have up there? Anyway, despite the aesthetic, this truck has the best chicken of any nearby lunch option. Ari hates it, and I find it a perfect example of how he works.
Ari Notis is inscrutable. You can never predict what take he’ll have on a question, what weird backstory he’ll bring to a situation. Every piece of “Ari Lore” that I learn has no relation to the others, building a tangled spiderweb of this man’s history that makes precisely zero sense. He is an enigma, unpredictable, unknowable. I don’t know how old he is and I never will.
Eat shit, Ari.