Mike Fahey knew how to disarm a person.
Most people know Mike’s humor: the way he would slip into cartoon voices on a whim, how every conversation was like a poke to the ribs that tested your verve. The six-foot-six guy with a thunderous laugh was a magician, though, and his larger-than-life personality was classic misdirection. Behind every joke and every antic was a sensitive man who had lived many lives and seen a lot of shit.
Yes, this was the guy that reviewed toys and snacks for a living. He was also the guy that could make you go “damn” in a blog about Fortnite or Animal Crossing. Mike Fahey wanted to tell you about the dozens of keyboards he owned, to show you that he’d pinpointed the specific symphony of sounds that he heard when he pressed his fingers down on each individual key, curious to see if you could hear it, too. I suspect this was the same drive that made him want to tell you what he dreamed about during a coma. It’s no accident that Mike was one of the first writers on the internet to really capture what made MMOs tick. All we have is each other, and Mike knew better than anyone that we often use video games to find connection. Even when he was being absurd and reviewing, say, a frozen dinner, he still wanted to find ways to make people feel less alone. With Fahey, even moments of crushing despair were laced with a hopeful laugh.
It’s hard to write this, for a variety of reasons that may be obvious, but one of them is the heartbreak of knowing just how badly Mike wanted to come back and keep sharing his joy with everyone at Kotaku after eight months of being away. Between trips to the hospital, Mike kept telling me that he was sure he would come back soon—that he needed to, because writing and playing games were one of the things that still brought him joy.
But after years of fighting against health issues, some of which left him partially paralyzed in 2018, Mike Fahey has passed away at 49 years old, possibly due to organ failure according to his spouse. It’s bewildering to write this, because by the time I started writing for Kotaku on the side while still in college in 2012, Mike had already been here for around six years. That was a decade ago. To say Mike is the heart and soul of Kotaku is an understatement.
For many readers, Fahey is Kotaku. He built this thing that millions of people read every month, as a part of a network that forever redefined what it was like to surf and read the internet. We take the idea of “personalities” as a given on the internet now, but Mike Fahey provided a blueprint for being a human voice in a tech-driven space. The drive to put a person at the forefront of everything is still in many ways Kotaku’s north star.
Fahey may be gone, but his spirit will forever live on in anything that we do. I said this to Kotaku staffers this weekend, but it bears repeating again: I want to think that somewhere, there’s still an Xbox game superglued to a ceiling that will never come down.
You can contribute to the Fahey family’s fundraising efforts here, and scroll down further to read memories from colleagues current and former.
We’ll miss you, Mike.
Mike was my kind of curious writer and my kind of human being: he saw wonder in everything, turned his nose up at nothing. He was delighted by so many things and wanted to tell us, through words and sometimes video, about all of it. FarmVille blew up and he was game to launch Kotaku Social and search for great games on Facebook (he really, really tried). He launched Kotaku Mobile, too. Then a toy show and Snacktaku. He began a mechanical keyboard beat. He even attempted a gamer-parenting show with his amazing sons. He always had plans for more. His dreams were vast.
I was far from Mike’s only fan, obviously. During my run as editor-in-chief I fielded plenty of reader feedback about our writers and producers. Regarding Mike, never a complaint. Nothing but love. It fit. He loved writing for all of you.
We mostly connected by phone or Slack, though we crossed paths in person early in my Kotaku run when he’d go to E3. He traveled less as his boys got older, well before any health issues. But connecting with him in any way was a delight, not the least because 50% of any conversation with him was jokes–and another 10% or so [was] him doing a bit as he switched to his notorious, absurdly deep “scary” voice. His longtime colleagues can hear it right now, I’m sure.
I last saw Mike in person in mid-2018. He’d had his medical episode, had woken from a three-week coma (about which he’d later write), and began grappling with being paralyzed from the waist down. Our company was in some crisis or another (always!) and it was E3 season, too. No matter, I flew down, with a Nintendo Labo box in hand, to spend a day with Mike in the hospital and give him some hugs from all the staff. Whatever other work stresses were happening vanished. A rare full day with Mike was a lovely thrill.
When we eulogize someone, we often note that we wish we had more time and admit, as I do now, that we assumed they’d be okay, that they’d hang on, that we just hadn’t imagined them going. I dreamed of a full recovery for Mike, fantasized about science improving so he could even walk again, and regularly scanned Kotaku for his byline, yearning to read more of his words. He last texted back in March. It was a short exchange that he ended with a joke. That was fitting.
He and I had a running gag. When I joined Kotaku in 2009, he teased me about my propensity to conduct an interview and then chop it up into several articles. I will admit that some interview-chopping I did since then was done at least a little bit to needle Mike. And now, as I write about him here, and on Twitter and elsewhere, I smile that I’ve done the same about him. You deserve it, Mike, as important and wonderful a person as I’ve ever written about. Rest well.
Fahey and I met in person my second or so week at Kotaku, when he was visiting New York for Toy Fair. I remember him towering over me in the empty nighttime office as I dealt with some mild disaster related to his hotel check-in, and me feeling both happy to be helping and a little annoyed I was at work so late. Maybe it’s because of that first encounter, or because of his immense industriousness, but I associate a lot of my off-hours with him: the countless mornings I woke up to somewhere between one and three articles of his to edit, as well as a complex plan for more. As his editor, I could always count on him to have something I could run, even if it was rarely the thing he’d told me he was working on.
He had so many ideas because he knew absolutely everything about everything: every game, every toy, every snack food, every Photoshop or video editing trick. If our Slack messages are preserved somewhere in the internet, a good 80% of them are probably me asking him “hey, can you tell me about [X]?” The other 20% are probably me poking him on a deadline he was in danger of missing, and him replying with some chaotic story about why his plans had changed that either involved getting excited about something else, or some ridiculous thing that was happening in the real world around him. He always wanted to take on so much in a day, which meant I had to spend a lot of time being a party pooper—er, realist. But he knew so much and was so excited about so much that I think he simply couldn’t keep it to himself, and he wanted to pour all that knowledge and excitement out for his colleagues and readers and the people close to him. He was just so passionate about everything all the time, and it’s heartbreaking to think of all that passion being gone.
But it’s not gone of course, not exactly. It lives on in his nearly two decades of work on Kotaku. It lives on in the communities he was part of, the conventions and gaming bars and MMOs and nerd scenes he told wild stories about. It lives on in the things he taught me and the rest of his colleagues. It lives on in his children and his partner, to whom he was utterly devoted and loved so, so much. Some cynicism will probably always be necessary when you’re a journalist, but Fahey’s passion pushed me to be a little more open, a little more excited, to admit that yeah, Hatsune Miku is pretty cool and yeah, that keyboard is really pretty and yeah, the theme song to Cruis’n Blast is a real banger, even if it will always make me cry now. Everyone who knew him carries a piece of that passion with them. I hope we always hold it close.
I started at Kotaku as a weekend editor back in 2016, taking over for Mike who had just moved to a standard weekday schedule. One day I was taking an interview in a 90-degree parking lot with my windows rolled up so my current employer wouldn’t overhear. The next I was losing my mind trying to keep up with finding multiple stories a day, writing them, editing them, posting them, socialing them, and then engaging with the commenters. One sentiment was unanimous among the readers: Bring back Fahey.
Mike had already long been an institution by the time I arrived, and he had the weekends down to a science. He filed news and video game impressions, but also roundups of toys, snacks, and everything else that seemed at home on the Saturday morning of a major gaming site. His ‘Shop contests were better, his jokes were funnier, and he deployed his encyclopedic knowledge of games and culture with speed and precision while also making it look effortless. He was graceful and compassionate about readers’ preference for him, reassuring me at every turn and always just a DM or two away, ready and happy to offer helpful advice.
Internet blogging has a way grinding people down, making them overly cynical, and occasionally outright cruel. Mike didn’t just retain his kindness, sincerity, and passion, he helped spread it to everything his (many) keyboards touched. And in an industry that cycles through people at breakneck speed, he remained a constant.
It is easy and natural, as an outside reader hopscotching from one site to the next, to be somewhat oblivious to the details, intricacies, and hard work that make one version of a review or aggregated news story so much better than another. As someone who, in a previous life, spent several hours a day in a cubicle browsing every site I could think of, including Kotaku, I fell into this trap with Mike. I came to assume there was something standard about the ease with which he appeared to mingle nuanced opinions, sharp wit, and a long memory.
It wasn’t until I started writing full time myself that I realized just how much these qualities are in short supply, the hard work that goes into honing them, and the talent required to make it appear as if the words had always existed, just waiting for someone to click on them.
But Mike didn’t just make words. He made art for stories, produced his own videos, and co-hosted the most recent incarnation of Kotaku Splitscreen with the warm, thoughtful sort of radio voice everyone wishes they had when they decide to start a podcast. These would have been multiple jobs at most companies, and while I steadfastly reject the material circumstances that forced Mike and many others in this business to wear multiple hats, I will forever marvel at how he managed to make so many fit. He literally could, and did, do it all.
As I write this I keep imagining what Mike would DM me after reading it. Which bit he would riff on to help lighten the mood. The neurons in my brain have still not adapted to the realty that I won’t be getting that DM. He was a gentle giant with so many more stories to tell, and I miss him dearly.
I think the thing I will always remember about Mike is that there’s this character that everybody thought they knew—this goofball who wrote about toys and snacks—and then there’s the guy he actually was behind the scenes. Who, yes, was a goofball who wrote about toys and snacks, but Mike also harbored a deep love for this website and his colleagues that was so constant, I think we all took it for granted.
It’s an understatement to say Mike had been through some shit these last few years. So has this website. And through it all, through every setback and departure, through every surgery and diagnosis, Mike was always...Mike. He’d bring the same energy, the same friendliness, and the same level of support and friendship into work, day in and day out. I honestly have no idea how he managed it. It must have been a Herculean effort some days simply to log on, let alone work; a struggle so great I don’t know if any of us could have truly grasped how hard things must have been for Mike and his family.
So I’m sorry I’m only saying this now, Mike. I’m sorry I never thought to say this to you while you were here to hear it. We may have sometimes had our disagreements, like all people who have worked together for 16 years do, but outside of your Kotaku “character” you were an absolute rock, someone without whom this website simply would not exist. I loved and respected you, and I wish I’d been able to tell you that. RIP, big unit.
Mike was an inspiration. That’s the sort of cliche you often read about a person after they’ve died, but there’s no hyperbole here. When I think of Fahey, the first word that comes into my head is “inspiration.” He inspired me so much, in so many ways, and I’m furious and devastated that he’s been taken away from us.
I only got to know Mike over the last couple of years. Of course I’d known of him for many years, and hugely admired his enormously funny writing, but it was only since starting with Kotaku in 2020 that I got to chat with him every day. I’m so damned glad I did.
Fahey’s writing was the sort that felt effortlessly funny, and so utterly readable. He had the ability to create paragraphs that mellifluously flowed, with amazing jokes that would spring out and surprise you, and it all felt like it just poured naturally from him. (Of course, no such thing is “effortless,” and Mike worked damned hard to write so well.) That he did this, while lying flat on his back, unable to sit up, let alone get up, in pain from unhealing wounds, permanently paralysed “from the nipples down” (as he put it), is utterly impossible, and gave me a perspective on my life I hope I will never be able to shake.
You often hear people say of others in such situations, “And they never complained.” That sounds deeply awful to me. Mike complained, thank God. I’m honored that he complained to me. He had dark days, where the implausible awfulness of his prostrated circumstances became too much, and he would rant, and I would tell him how utterly wonderful he is, and it felt right. But far, far more often, he was funny, silly, or bursting with passion for joyful things. God, I loved to sit there as he raved (this was all by DM, and yet my memories feel almost in person) about ‘80s Transformers, or how much he adored a particular cartoon.
Mike inspired me with his writing, and editing his articles improved my own writing in turn. Usually when a writer sends over a Gdoc, I switch to Suggestion mode, and then go through fixing errors, rearranging the orders of sentences, dropping in “TKTK”s with notes for what to add, or questions about sections that don’t make sense. For Mike’s posts, I did little more than just highlight sections so I could tell him they made me laugh out loud.
Then he inspired me all over again by creating such positive, happy, joy-giving copy while unable to move, that morning maybe his left eye having failed to open, his specialist bed having broken, and the bastards who made it dicking him around for months refusing to fix it. If I experienced a sliver of a fraction of the astonishing shit Fahey went through as a consequence of his aortic dissection, I’d be a gibbering, incapable wreck. Mike, meanwhile, was a force, offering positive, happy, life-giving writing, no matter his situation. Not with endless grace and patience, but with humanity and grief and anger and love.
I hate that I was unable to chat with him over the last few months, as he spent more time in hospital and was unable to come to work. However, I’m so delighted I know I already told him how much I respected him, admired him, and was grateful to know him. Go do the same for the people in your life.
I’m going to miss you, Mike Fahey, and I only just got to know you. Love you, man.
Lisa Marie Segarra, Kotaku Staff Editor
In truth, I still can’t believe I’m writing this. I keep expecting Fahey to pop up on Slack with a crazy story about a massive miscommunication at the hospital, and he couldn’t reach out to anyone because there was a new Lego set or game release commanding his attention. Something. In part, I think it’s because I keep saying to myself, “Surely, that isn’t it. That can’t be all the time we get.” I feel so lucky to have gotten to know Fahey over the last year and a half, someone I looked up to and read on Kotaku for years before joining the staff. I feel so lucky to have gotten to know him more through the podcast. But it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough. There’s likely never “enough” time, though.
I think the other reason I can’t shake the feeling that any second now Fahey will reappear is because he always made me feel good. Feel hopeful. He found joy in so much. And he loved Kotaku. He brought such life to this site, to otherwise mundane Zoom meetings, to Slack. To everything he touched. It’s felt like a gaping hole at Kotaku since he’s been out. Now, knowing that hole will never be filled feels unimaginable.
Man, this frickin’ sucks.
Fahey was a gaming journalism elder statesman compared to me—a girl who didn’t own a console until she was 15—and he had so much knowledge that I loved to hear from him. I loved to hear his stories about working at Kotaku in the early days when one was paid per post and how he’d knock out 10 or 11 stories like it was nothing. And despite the fact that I was brand frickin’ new to this site and this job and, comparatively speaking, gaming in general, he never made me feel like I was stupid for not knowing something, or like my opinion didn’t matter.
I worked with Fahey as one-third of the Splitscreen podcast before my other co-host Nathan Grayson and I left Kotaku for new adventures. I’ll never forget what Fahey’s voice sounded like during our last recording together. He was sad we were leaving but, to me, he also sounded proud of the work we had done together throughout our many shows. If you were a Splitscreen fan during that era, you might have noticed Nathan liked to talk a lot (I’m sure he still does) and he would often come to Splitscreen planning meetings with ideas and segments fully formed that, more often than not, me and Fahey would just go along with. But there were times when Nathan would be late to planning meetings and me and Fahey would take the time to just talk and shoot the shit. I loved those conversations. During them we’d often conspire to plan the whole podcast before Nathan arrived, and we even pulled it off a couple of times, resulting in some of our favorite, most-fun-to-record episodes. I also remember the episode in which we all drank some atrocious “gaming flavored” G-Fuel energy drinks that were so awful, all three of us died. It is my favorite episode.
Rest well Fahey. Your new adventure awaits.
Mike Fahey was the kind of playful soul that showed you he loved you by teasing you, relentlessly and shamelessly, but you always knew it came from a place of love and that’s what made the relationship special. He had the same kind of playfulness in his writing—both in what he chose to explore and the passion with which he covered it. We’ve all suffered a great personal and professional loss with Fahey’s passing, and it’ll be hard to find that special kind of joy Fahey brought his readers just by virtue of being himself: curious, thoughtful, and descriptive in the most specific of ways. He will forever be missed.
I’ll never forget Fahey’s tour of his old Second Life haunts. He’d talked about his history in virtual worlds and MMOs like he’d been a rockstar in a past life. I didn’t understand how deep it went until the weekday evening he took me through Second Life’s towns and landscapes, describing the fairies and furries like they were wildlife in his backyard.
Fahey had a gift for sharing both the depth and levity of gaming. He could bring you to tears by recalling Aerith’s death in Final Fantasy VII or take the breath out of you with an essay about his gaming addiction. He also had an infectious humor when explaining what tickled him about anime rhythm games and toys. Or random encounters with chaos. Fahey was a born storyteller with a special ability to invite us into his enthusiasms. We were lucky he shared his talents with us for as long as he did.
Mike Fahey put it all out there for the world to see. There are not a lot of people who can do that—being as earnest or as vulnerable as he was isn’t always easy on the internet, especially when you did it like Mike did, without ego or self-importance. He was just unafraid to like what he liked, and nothing seemed to please him more than sharing that in the hopes that you would too.
I worked with Fahey twice, first as an intern in the summer of 2011 and again as a colleague in 2019, but even when I was working with him, I was primarily a reader. I read when he shared his struggle with gaming addiction, his love of JRPGs no one else seemed able to make time for (I don’t really know how he did), his oddball humor, and—what was likely the most difficult thing for him to share—his ongoing efforts to cope and adjust to the sudden and unfortunate turns his health took in his last few years with us.
Yet he kept writing, and I kept reading. I’m so very sorry that none of us will get to read anything else from him anymore.
You meet a lot of people in life, but most of them aren’t very memorable. Anyone who met Mike Fahey never forgot meeting Mike Fahey. He was a truly unique soul, the kind of person whose unforgettable, room-filling personality is only truly appreciated when you realize you’ll never get to experience it again. Mike’s final years were hard, and yet he seemed to always greet it with a smile—for himself, his family, and the community that appreciated his words over the years. My thoughts are with all of them. Thank you for briefly appearing in my life, Mike. You made it a better one.
What is there to say about Mike “Kotaku Dot Com” Fahey? He was a witty mind and an honest blogger. A veteran of the site for some 16 years. A boy-who-never-grew-up, someone who kept his youth and shared it with others through his love of entertainment and video games. I didn’t get to work with him for that long. I never met him. But from his writing, I could tell he had a lotta heart and a lotta fun doing what he did despite the many challenges. But though I’m saddened he’s left us—especially considering he shaped the site—I know he’s watching us all with a controller in hand, waiting for the next set of toys or the latest expansion to FFXIV or WoW.
If there’s anything we can learn from Mike Fahey, it’s to find the levity and joy in things in spite of life’s cruelty. I’m hoping we all heal from this in time, and my condolences to his family and friends.
Rest in Peace, Mike Fahey. Kotaku Dot Com will surely miss you.
Before I knew Fahey, I knew Bunnyspatial.
We crossed paths on a terrible little blog called RedAssedBaboon that I created in early 2004. Before long he went from a commenter to a prolific contributor.
He was a natural writer whose avalanche of stories always managed to make me smile, and more often laugh. His self-effacing humor and quick wit were seconded only by his genuine charm and graciousness.
I can’t remember when I actually learned his real name—Michael Fahey—but I’d like to think it was before I offered him a job at Kotaku in 2006.
There are so many memorable stories to share about my time working alongside Fahey. Like how his room-rattling snores once pushed video editor Adam Barenblat to sleep in a tub at E3, but only after Adam created a genuinely hilarious video about the whole ordeal. Or the time we convinced Fahey to go on a zero-g flight, and he packed his stomach with colorful foods so that if he vomited, it would create a “pleasing color palette.”
Fahey’s truest gift to anyone who knew him was that you couldn’t help but smile whenever you thought of him. Even now, pondering his tragic passing, the force of his goodwill and kindness and the history of his humor outweighs the grief.
I can only hope to leave behind a small portion of the joy and happiness Fahey brought to the world when my time is up.
Mike was one of the funniest people I have ever worked with. You can catch snippets of that in his writing but it really took knowing him to get the full effect. In chat he was disarmingly quick and had the ability to catch you entirely flat footed with a zinger. It was like getting your leg swept.
Once at E3 he showed me that he was able to drop his voice an absurd amount, like several octaves, the bass so heavy you could feel it in your ribcage. He said he used to do tech support and when he got a particularly bad customer he would use that to screw with them. An incredible bit.
I will miss Mike tremendously. He was one-in-a-million, a joyous presence. There was and will only ever be one Mike Fahey.
Mike loved watching Twitch. This isn’t uncommon, of course, particularly in our space. But Mike’s favorite channel didn’t feature gameplay or some internet celebrity chatting. Nope, Mike regularly tuned into a 24/7 livestream that showed one thing: a litter of kittens.
Really! Just kittens. They’d hang out, sleep, run around, eat, slap each other, sleep some more. Every now and then, he’d drop a portfolio of screenshots into Kotaku’s Slack channel and tag me. “Ahhh!!!” I’d say. “Ahhh!!!” he’d respond. And then we’d gush for a minute about how fucking cute they were, how badly we just wanted to squish their little tiny baby faces. We’d pick favorites.
I’ve long believed that a person’s ability to care for animals is often indicative of their ability to care for humans too. In Mike’s case, that platitude absolutely bore out and then some. (At any given time, Mike lived with an estimated 75 cats.) He was a tirelessly loving, devoted father and partner; a supportive colleague who was always ready to share his vast knowledge; a grown man who was able to maintain a childlike, bottomless well of creativity and joy and enthusiasm—which anyone could instantly tell by reading any of his articles. This is a tiny thing by comparison, sure, but I want the world to know that his generous spirit also extended to animals too.
I’ve spent the past few months anticipating Mike’s return, hoping he’d conquer his health issues and come back to our fold. I fully imagined signing into work one day and just...cracking jokes about some anime game or another. Learning that he won’t be making that long-awaited return was devastating. His impact on all of us here at Kotaku—and on everyone with whom he crossed paths—was meteoric. His absence is the same. My deepest condolences go out to Eugene, Archer, Seamus, and the rest of Mike’s loved ones.
When I first started working at G/O Media, it was still called Gizmodo Media Group, and Mike Fahey could walk. I worked at an esports website called Compete run by both Kotaku and Deadspin; Compete closed after a year, at which point I got hired at Kotaku as an editor and my colleagues at Compete got laid off. Fahey didn’t hear about any of that when it happened; he was unconscious in a hospital bed. When he finally came back to work, he was paralyzed from the chest down. Also, G/O Media no longer had an esports site, and I had become his editor. He used to joke around about how when he went into a coma, I was one of the newest writers at the site, and when he woke up, I was his boss. He made the trajectory sound like a fun adventure, as opposed to a deeply traumatic life change that had involved his physical health and also the lay-offs of two beloved colleagues (RIP Compete). No one could roll with the punches like Mike Fahey.
Before Fahey’s hospital trip, we were already work friends, but once he returned and I was “his boss,” we got a lot closer. Even though he now had to spend most of his day in a reclined position, Fahey continued to critique not only video games but complicated toys and hardware that required construction and care. Sometimes, he’d be late filing a draft because a controller or Lego block had accidentally fallen off his bed and he needed to wait until one of his family members became available to pick it up again. But most of the time, he wasn’t ever late, only ever slowed down by the limitations of his own body—which he always pushed to the limit, especially if he could make it funny.
That was perhaps the most reliable thing about Fahey—his determination to make everything funny, sometimes to a fault. He had barely emerged from the hospital before he began making jokes about how he couldn’t walk, or how he’d almost died. As his coworkers, we’d try to laugh along with him about this, even though it had been the scariest shit ever for us. If his ghost could read this post, he’d be disappointed in me for not coming up with jokes about the fact that he now has died. (Give me a break, Fahey! This sucks!)
I don’t know whether I should also compliment Fahey for being so reliable and so stubbornly determined to keep on working, because in many ways, it was darkly emblematic of a culture that has haunted Gawker since its inception (even though its owner, and its company name, has changed a couple times in the intervening years). In my time at Kotaku (and now, at Polygon), I endeavored to be the boss who would spot an overtired employee and encourage them to log off and rest, even if they didn’t want to. Often, people who work in editorial don’t want to take time off because if they do, their coworkers will have to pick up even more news/reviews/etc, trying to keep traffic afloat. Fahey was always keenly aware of how his absence was felt, and how often other people at Kotaku had to pick up the pace to accommodate his medical needs. Even now, I know his ghost would be more worried about post count in his absence than anything else I’ve written here. He would be worried about Kotaku as a website instead of himself—and his enthusiasm for Kotaku was both dangerous and infectious, a fire that kept me going when it all felt pointless.
Fahey just seemed like somebody who would be at Kotaku forever. He had been at the site through multiple leadership changeovers and he’d been patient with lots of different editors and leaders with big-picture visions pushing and pulling his work in all different directions. He’d been through a personal crisis, and his big takeaway after that trauma was that he really just wanted to get back to writing about Kirby and Hatsune Miku and She-Ra. He was excited about those things and he wanted to tell you how excited he still felt about them, every single day.
It seems impossible that he is gone. He deserved a vacation, a long rest, a break from the absurd pace he kept on weathering, against the better judgment of his editors (who often told him to rest and to tell us when he wasn’t feeling well enough to work). He deserved so much more time. Not for the sake of Kotaku and all the articles that I know he would have written—but for his own sake. He gave us all so much.
In the NBA, it’s not too hard to find guys who can get you 20 points in one night and then take the next two weeks off. Streaky shooters are a dime a dozen. What’s coveted far more is consistency: players who can and will score points no matter what, bringing the same level of effort to their performance day in and day out.
That was Mike Fahey: the ultimate model of consistency. Every single morning, no matter how bleak the world might have seemed, he’d have something fun to blog about. He’d always write with warmth and humor that stayed just as sharp whether he was diving into FarmVille guides or geeking out about whatever weird anime game he was into that week. He was so relentlessly positive that sometimes I’d worry that his posts came off as sponsored content, but of course, readers knew he’d never do anything like that. Fahey was Fahey. His excitement was as genuine as his Final Fantasy tattoos or his absurd vocal range.
Fahey and I worked together for more than eight years. We bantered, we argued, and we raved about our favorite JRPGs. Every time he shared a story about his bonkers video game/relationship history, I told him he needed to write a memoir, but really, his work was already resonating with countless people. Every day, without fail, he’d make our readers’ lives just a little funnier. A little less dreary. A little warmer.
Even now, when I think about Fahey, it’s hard to get too sad. All I can think about is how, if we were in a meeting together this morning talking about how he’s gone, he’d try to cut the tension and cheer everyone up with a joke. I just remember that unabashed enthusiasm that made him such a beloved part of the Kotaku staff and community. He might not be with us anymore, but hell if he isn’t still consistent. May his memory be a blessing.
Mike was intensely himself, which was apparent in both his work and my daily interactions with him. A real original, and a pleasure to edit. He was quirky, sometimes a bit prickly, and also kind and good-hearted. Being a fellow Gen Xer, we’d trade increasingly obscure pop-cultural references that had little hope of landing with a younger crowd. He was also my pal in classic gaming, and half the reason why I finally decided to get into the MiSTer project. Nerd recommendations don’t get much fucking better than that.
I still don’t really emotionally understand that he’s gone…I guess that will come later. My heart goes out to his family. I wish we got more time with him.
When Fahey learned that my then-boyfriend got me a pink Filco Mejestouch 2 as a gift, he was almost happier than I was. He was hugely into mechanical keyboards, and like me, had a penchant for cute keycaps with which to adorn them.
From that point onwards, nearly every day, he sent me a new link to a dropshipping website that sold keycaps in the most adorable color combinations you can think of. I warned him frequently that he was burning a hole in my wallet—so was he, he said. How he exactly knew my taste was a mystery. We rarely saw each other in real life, him in Georgia and me in New York, but at that point in time I wore the New York uniform of all black, all the time. How could he have known that I longed for all shades of pink, green, purple and blue, ranging from neon to pastel? That I wanted a Sailor Moon escape key? Or one shaped like the calico cat I had just adopted?
When I left Kotaku, I missed these messages more than anything. Even on our worst days, Fahey found ways to make coming to work feel fun. He wanted it to be a nice place to work, a place where we could indulge in our hobbies and interests without judgment. I still remember the hugs he gave on the rare occasions that he could come to New York—genuine and warm.
I miss him now more than I can say. I type every day on the keys he encouraged me to buy. May his memory be a blessing.
Fahey was everyone’s fun uncle, a reliable source of joy in the face of reality’s unending suffering. I wish I’d been able to make more memories with him in the relatively short time I was his colleague. Rest in peace, Mike.
Mike was Kotaku to me, in a lot of ways. I bet a bunch of people are saying that, because it’s true. He was here when I arrived, and he was here when I left. He embodied something essential about this website.
He loved video games like he loved toys, gadgets, and candy—in a straightforward, infectious way. It made you want to love those things, too. And he helped me love video games more, in ways that I never really managed to tell him about or thank him for.
That’s a big deal, to grow someone’s love for something they love already. He never acted like it was a big deal. It was just Mike being Mike. Squasher of spiders, snacker of snacks; a big man with a big love for life’s tiniest trifles.
Rest in peace, Fahey, and thanks.
When I started at Kotaku, it was a high-pressure, high-volume website and unlike any place I worked before. It was tough trying to match my voice and instincts to the pace and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge that it seemed everyone else working at the site had mastered. But Mike Fahey made it a point to make me feel better.
He couldn’t help but do that, really, because Fahey had the biggest heart. If you needed someone to bounce headlines off of, compare viewpoints with, or just crack jokes with during a marathon run of E3 presentations, Mike was your guy. He was one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and, more importantly, his humor was rarely mean. Even though he had lived through several editorial lifetimes, Mike never did that puffed-up chest posturing that’s so common in video game creator or commentary circles. Yeah, he had strong opinions and wasn’t shy about expressing them, but he’d try and win you over with enthusiasm, not by shouting you down.
And just when you were ready to think of him as only a jokester gamester, Fahey would file a review or feature story with razor-sharp observations or deep emotional insight. He was a person who was the best version of the friends you made in the dorm room, comic shop, or arcade. With all that he had to deal with, the humor and the heart never went away. I still can’t believe he’s gone.
Fahey was one of the sweetest, bravest people I’ve ever known. He was refreshingly irony-free and honest. He was curious and kind. He was generous and funny. What you read on the page, saw in a clip or heard in a podcast was what you got. That’s rare. And beautiful. And I am so sad he’s gone.
Mike Fahey was someone who embodied this undeniable charm and optimism that served as a constant reminder of how truly lucky we all were to not only get the opportunity to do what we did everyday, but to appreciate the love from family and friends that supported us along the way. And Mike had a lot of people who loved him for the joy he radiated into their lives. I like to think he had countless friends from around the world who genuinely cared for him. I count myself among them.
I’ll miss being in the office during our morning meetings and seeing his camera feed hooked up to his capture card playing whatever new game he got his hands on, or the way he’d beam with joy every time his kids made a guest appearance on the call. I’ll truly cherish the times we teamed up to make videos, and the way he had the perfect keyboard recommendation for me like he thought I’d never ask. He also loved roasting me whenever possible and I would always get a kick out of the chuckles I’d get when I jabbed back, always with love.
A little while back, he messaged me privately to check on me and he said he was happy I landed on my feet somewhere after the tough times we faced at the company. That’s the kind of guy he was, and those little moments are the ones that will stay with me. Mike was so much more than what he already appeared to be and it was legitimately inspiring. That’s the legend I’ll always remember. Rest in peace, Mike. I hope to share the light you so generously shared with the world. You’ll be missed.
Starting out my freelance career at Kotaku I mainly helped cover holiday weekends, and was often greeted by Mike (who was in charge of weekends in those days). Initially I was terrified I was going to post a terrible article, tweet an unforgivable spelling error, or delete the site in its entirety. Mike, a gruff but lovable mentor, was quick to help me with any questions and assure me that, should I screw up, it wouldn’t be the end of the world (though he would still probably make fun of me for it).
Eventually I became more confident in my writing skills and, inspired by Mike, began to branch out into niche subjects not related to gaming—mainly toys, animation, and snacks. This was Mike’s domain, but he was always more than happy to let me inside and show me around. Over time I worked fewer and fewer Kotaku weekends, but still spoke with Mike about new Lego sets or weird soda flavors. My heart breaks realizing I’ll never be able to have those conversations again. Mike’s legacy will live on through his writing, but more importantly through those he has inspired during his life. Buy that new toy. Try that new snack. Watch that new show. Do what makes you happy and let others know. It’s exactly what Mike would have wanted.
I was an admin of Kotaku’s reader-run community blog, TAY. A few editors would share our silly posts over to Kotaku’s main page every day, and Mike did that for us for a while. We were always so grateful to him. We even started doing a few TAY-centric Snactaku posts—we called them “SnackTAYku” because we thought ourselves so clever. I’m not so sure how Mike felt about it…
On a personal note, whenever I ran the weekends on Kotaku, if I had questions, Mike would be around to help when he could, always in a funny way. He was amazing and kind. I know so many on the TAY side miss him. I sure do. Thank you for everything, Mike. Rest in peace.
I don’t think I ever told Fahey this, but he helped me with my own gaming addiction. It was this story in particular that helped me understand my own issue and finally put away the WoW raids for good. Plenty of people had written about gaming addiction when he started doing it, but no one really seemed to understand the problem from anything but an academic point of view. They didn’t get how goofy but serious gaming addiction could be for people who had it. Fahey got it! Fahey wrote about it in a way that didn’t make you feel ashamed, but did make you understand how harmful getting too deep into a game (or games) could be. He had this incredible ability to write something very funny and very personal and with so much heart and gentle earnestness that you were compelled to pay attention.
I’m really really bummed we’re not going to get his opinions on all the new VR headsets, and that weird Lego keyboard, and just so many other parts of the gamer gadget landscape. His joy—his earnestness—cannot be replaced and will be missed.