Last week, Kotaku recently added a new member to our staff: the wonderful Gita Jackson. Gita’s a prolific writer who has written for Giant Bomb, MTV, and worked her butt off as assistant editor of Paste Magazine’s comedy and games sections. I sat down to talk with her so you could get to know a bit more!
Heather: When I interviewed our other staff writer, Cecilia D’Anastasio I began by asking about her pathway to Kotaku and to writing in general. What drew you to writing in the first place?
Gita: My mom is a college professor. She teaches English. I was always really aware that I was very good at writing but had no idea how to turn that into a career. I went to an arts school for creative writing but the teachers there all told us how hard it would be for us to make a living as a writer.
When I went to college, I got into new media art and became a cinema major. I thought about maybe going to grad school and becoming a curator.
By the time I graduated I was getting more and more interested in video games as they intersect with new media art—one of my professors, Brett Kashmere, did this really cool and funny exhibit for the faculty art show where he had a Wii playing NBA2k in practice mode without a controller. So it was just Lebron dribbling in a circle forever.
I began to think there was a viable academic angle for looking at games. This was 2012—a really exciting time for the indie scene. So when I graduated I got more and more into games. Eventually, my friend Maddy Myers asked if I would pitch to Paste. And now here I am, somehow.
Heather: I like to think you’re pretty versatile in what you can cover. You’re really good at reaching a wider audience. Do you find that difficult to manage at all?
Gita: Yeah, actually! I try really hard to write about complex topics in a compelling way. I mean when I’m not just doing a bunch of jokes.
As a freelancer you agonize over every word. I’d spend days on pieces trying to see if I was able to convey the value of fashion and personal style to my audience. More and more it seems like the audience was there. They were just waiting for someone to talk about clothes and blackness and all the rest.
Heather: Nice! Are there specific genres or games that you prefer to write about? What are the things that interest you about games and the culture around them?
Gita: I really love Visual Novels and I don’t think there’s enough coverage of them in the West. As a young anime enthusiast, they were games I’d read about on fan sites and never have the chance to play—when I grew up it was like they fell off the face of the earth.
They’re such a wonderful space to explore intimacy and love and friendship. There’s a really neat scene of creators in the English speaking world that are trying their hand at the genre now.
Heather: It feels like everyone around me loves anime and VNs. I hardly know anything about them!
Gita Jackson: I have long list of recommendations for you!
Heather: I think I need to focus on those Visual Novels first. They’re great stuff. Cecilia and I had lots of fun talking about Mystic Messenger!
Gita: Visual Novels are a calm and soothing space to explore feelings that don’t get explored in other aspects of gaming. I think we can all use a little more feelings talk than we get right now.
Heather: Agreed. Using games to explore new situations and experiences is pretty awesome. Has there even been a gaming moment that really made a difference to you or stood out in your coverage of them?
Gita: It’s actually the one that convinced me to take a break from gaming in college. The entire message of The World Ends With You is basically: please go outside and make friends. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up, and it was like that message hit me at just the right time. I devoured that game. I still love it so much. It’s my favorite game.
Heather: Did you feel a connection to [the game’s protagonist] Neku? I always liked Shiki. I’m totally shy like she is!
Gita Jackson: I was a huge misanthrope so Neku was my DUDE! I still walk around with my headphones around my neck. I had a huge crush on the coffee shop owner.
Gita Jackson: HANEKOMA! I have notoriously horrible taste in men. Hanekoma was not the start of that nor was he the end. He’s got a cheesy monologue in the game where he drops the title and explains to Neku that his worldview is something that he can change.
Heather: I totally love when games can inspire us. I never hesitate to explain how much Skies of Arcadia changed my outlook on life. I think we both agree that games are powerful! With that in mind, is there a topic here at Kotaku that you really want to take on long term?
Gita: I want to get back into writing about fashion. I’m also interested in doing stories about the fandoms surrounding games. Writing my McHanzo piece and talking to people in the fandom was really, really fun. They were all so nice!
Heather: People really liked that piece! Players and fans are very passionate and I’m glad you were able to tap into that.
Gita: I think fan communities are so interesting and creative! I used to be on Livejournal in the Harry Potter fandom. I’ve always admired how smart and insightful people in fandoms are. Watching people get so enthusiastic about what they love that they also start making art is so amazing to me.
Heather: Well, we are glad to have you aboard. You’re gonna kick a lot of butt!