For over four years, I have spent every free moment either writing or thinking about video games and anime for the crazy world that is Kotaku. And frankly, moving on is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I came to Japan back in 2005 with only the roughest grasp of the language. Soon Kotaku became my lifeline to gaming. It was how I learned about the games, exhibitions, and events in this land far away from where I was born and raised.
I first met the people who would become my bosses back in 2009 when Kotaku held a meetup here in Tokyo. I remember meeting Brian Ashcraft who looked incredibly haggard. Brian had been responsible for the logistics of the meetup, and despite his best efforts, the booking for the party’s original venue, the “Trump House,” had fallen through. We had been forced to relocate at the last minute to “Mother”—a bar that looked like it was torn straight out of Hobbiton. I also first met Stephen Totilo there and, having become better acquainted with my adopted country, I “lectured” him about HDTV adoption rates in Japan and how that was affecting sales of the PS3 in Japan. For his part, he listened politely and showed no small amount of interest.
Over the years as my Japanese language ability increased, I entered the world of games journalism. At first, I made videos for free, then got paid for them, and eventually was writing freelance import reviews for GamePro until its closure at the end of 2011.
Then one day in January 2012, a friend called me and asked if I had seen the post on Kotaku.
It’s a magical thing to see a want ad for a job you want to do and not just think “I can do that” but rather “I know I am the most qualified person for that job.” It’s even better when you’re proven right.
I began working for Kotaku that February as part of Kotaku East. Over the years as we covered gaming in Japan, China, and Korea, I played many a Japanese game and loved sharing each one’s ups and downs with all of you.
After a few months I was given the go ahead to branch into anime coverage—dragging me back into a subculture I had been largely absent from for nearly six years. And while I’ve had to watch more than my share of crap, I find it personally traumatic to think I could be living in a world where I never saw Steins;Gate or never went back and gave Cowboy Bebop a second chance (at the urging of all of you).
And make no mistake, it is you, the readers, who make this job so amazing. To know that people value your opinion—even if they don’t agree with it—is a humbling experience. Watching the growth of our anime fanblog Ani-Tay and joining those there in talking about anime has been awesome, to say the least.
Sure, I’ve had more than a few frustrating days. I’ve played and watched things I generally hated. I have been dead tired from running around convention centers, playing demos and taking interviews. Yet, I have never once been less than incredibly proud to work for Kotaku alongside my fellow authors—even as most of them are an ocean away.
Kotaku is staffed by amazing people. Whether it was talking with Evan about comics, arguing about anime with Toshi, listening to Brian tell me all the weird crap on Japanese TV this week, or geeking out with Fahey about... well, everything, I never felt anything less than a member of the team.
Like everyone here, I’ve been encouraged to write about what I care about—even if it was only tangentially related to games. And I think it’s the strongest aspect of Kotaku. By writing about what matters to each of us personally, we are able to turn our own lives into a story we share with you—all with gaming at the core.
Honestly, I didn’t think there was anything that could get me to leave Kotaku...
Then a friend messaged me and asked if I had seen a particular want ad. Once again it was a job I dreamed of doing. Once again I felt that I was the most qualified person for the job. And once again, it turns out I was right.
So thank you all for reading my opinions on Japanese games these past four years. Thank you for pulling me back into the world of anime. Thank you for allowing me to do a job that I love for so long.
And as for all you anime fans who have come to value my opinions, I hope you’ll follow me for what comes next.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.