After eight years and some change, I am leaving Kotaku. Friday will be my last day working for this website. I will miss you all.
Truth is, I’ve decided to leave the media and pursue my life’s calling: becoming a full-time saxophone player. Kidding. I’m staying in journalism, where I will continue to report on the weird, wild industry and culture of video games. I plan to take a few weeks off to put the final touches on my second book and hang out with my seven-month-old, and then I’ll be doing brand new things at a brand new outlet. If you’d like to reach out or share a story, you can find me on Twitter or email me any time.
I’ll still be podcasting with my good friends Kirk Hamilton and Maddy Myers, although we’ll no longer be hosting Kotaku Splitscreen. We’re starting a brand new video game podcast that you can also learn more about on Twitter. If you liked Splitscreen, you’ll like this one too. If you didn’t like Splitscreen, you might still like this one, I dunno. How could you not like Splitscreen?
I don’t think it’d be productive to spend too much time on the reasons I’m leaving, which will probably be obvious, other than to say this: When I think about what happened to Deadspin, bile builds in my throat. After October 29, 2019, it became clear to me that I could not work at this company for much longer.
Still, it was a hell of a ride, wasn’t it? Previous iterations of this company have offered its staff an unprecedented level of editorial freedom over the years, and I will be forever grateful for that — for the opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and write a whole lot of ridiculous articles. I’m certainly proud of the scoops and features I’ve published here, but when I look back at eight years of Kotaku, some of my fondest memories are the silly things that only an outlet like Kotaku would encourage. Reviewing IGN’s exclusive review of BioShock Infinite. Writing timely headlines. Ranking review scores. Eulogizing Luigi. Calling out video game executive puffery. Recapping 24, for some reason. Other assorted nonsense.
What I’ve always loved about this website is that, thanks to the spirit of Gawker Media, it’s never been afraid to be simultaneously serious and dumb. Put another way, I’m glad that my final two articles here were 1) a months-long report into how work conditions at a video game company have improved as a result of public pressure and 2) this.
Here’s something remarkable: Over eight-plus years at Kotaku, I’ve never once been told not to write something because an advertiser might pull out, or because it’d piss off a video game company, or because it might upset the wrong people. The story always came first. Serving readers always came first.
Here’s something else remarkable: When I started at Kotaku, I was waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish writing Winds of Winter. As I leave Kotaku, I’m still waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish writing Winds of Winter. Yet another thing Deadspin got right.
I take comfort in knowing that the Kotaku I leave behind is full of brilliant, inspiring writers, editors, and video producers, who will all continue doing great work no matter how difficult the circumstances. I am forever grateful to all of my colleagues here — particularly, Stephen Totilo, my boss, mentor, and dear friend, who has pushed me in countless ways. I’ll miss our fights over nonsense, our lengthy conversations about newsworthiness, and most of all, filing him a garbage story draft and watching him hammer it into something worth publishing. If you read and liked something I wrote, Stephen probably had some hand in it, whether it was through editing or simply allowing me the time to report and write. Most people will never know a fraction of the battles he’s fought to keep this website thriving.
I’m grateful to all of the sources who have spoken to me over the past eight years — some confidentially, sharing things they thought should be made public or speaking out about workplace conditions, which takes serious guts; and others on the record, telling stories about everything from randomizing Zelda to translating an old Final Fantasy game. My job has always been to inform and entertain people, and that would not be possible without those who have shared their stories.
I’m also grateful to everyone who has read and supported us over the past eight years. As a journalist, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that your work is beyond reproach, but the truth is that comments, corrections, and feedback are what make us all better. I’ve had so many great interactions with Kotaku readers over the years, whether it was in our comments section (back when it worked), on Twitter or email, or even in real life at events like PAX and E3. I hope you’ll all continue following my work and staying in touch — and calling me out when I’m full of it.
Love you, Kotaku. Deadspin forever. Press sneak fuck out.