Started From The Bottom, Now We're Here

Illustration for article titled Started From The Bottom, Now Were Here

Kotaku was my first job out of college. I lived and breathed this site for nearly six years. I grew up here. Kotaku changed my life.

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It all feels so happenstance when I look back on it. In 2011, I emailed Kotaku out of the blue asking if the site would like to republish something I had written elsewhere. I didn’t get a response for months, kind of assumed that nothing was going to happen and that was that. Eventually, though, I did get a response. I was thrilled: I mean, I was still in school. Kotaku was the place I went to when I wasn’t paying attention in class. I must have refreshed the page dozens of times a day back then. When we kept talking and I kept getting more opportunities to put my stuff on Kotaku, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like a nobody, but I was still given a chance.

When I got hired full-time, I was hungry to take everything on. Games journalism was different back then, more tech-focused. I came in wondering about people, wondering about issues, wondering about the players themselves. I pushed for personality-based coverage. I pushed to cover the sensitive things we all experienced in games but seemingly nobody talked about. I pushed to cover the strange ways people played games, and the subcultures that gaming inspired. I pushed for writing about things that mattered—and things that didn’t, because hey, this is video games. Let’s have some fun here, because otherwise, what’s the point? All of this is normal now, expected even, but I still remember the uncertainty of it all at the time. I never knew if these things would have an audience. I feel so fortunate that they did.

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I went on to take a more behind-the-scenes role here at Kotaku during my last couple of years, putting more of my energy into building a great team and continuing to expand the ways we tackled video game culture. I look at what I’ve helped put together and feel such a sense of pride: nobody does it like Kotaku. This will always be true. I’d like to think I left some sort of mark on this place, although more than anything, it left its mark on me.

I’m proud of my legacy here, though it has been fraught at times. I’ve never really spoken about this publicly, but if you follow my work or read Kotaku at all then you probably know about the events of 2014. It’s hard to talk about—the harassment and controversy nearly broke me. I remember the demands for apologies, or for resignation. I felt so angry at the time, betrayed by circumstance of online writing. The beautiful thing was that getting my shot at a professional career here didn’t require having a specific degree, but the downside was that I didn’t know everything I needed to about reporting. I ended up learning on the job, some would say the hard way.

After things unfolded, I just strove to to be more ambitious, to pour myself into my work, to kick ass and prove there was a reason I was here. The years that came afterward were some of my hardest here, but also a time when I produced some of my best writing.

Don’t get it twisted, though: while I reflect back and recognize any missteps, I also know the controversy was all a part of a twisted campaign that didn’t want people like me to stick around. Fuck that. Instead of fading away, I became undeniable.

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Mostly, though, when I look back at my time here I’m amazed at all the things we got on the page. I’m lucky to have found a home at Kotaku. More than that, a family. I found my voice here, basically became an adult here. It still seems unbelievable that any of this happened, because if you scroll back far enough on my first commenting handle, you’ll see me bitching out the site for some thing. Thanks for not holding that against me, Stephen. (Please don’t look it up, though!!)

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This is my last week at Kotaku. I’m going to miss writing endlessly about Pokémon, Fallout, and Fortnite here. I’m going to miss my incredibly talented coworkers who inspire me day in and day out. I’m going to miss the hilarious commenters—yes, even the ones who always ask what a post has to do with video games. I’m going to miss the Kotaku fish. I’m going to miss Kinja randomly failing me in the middle of a breaking news post. Okay, maybe not that.

For those of you who want to continue following my work, worry not: I’m going to keep writing about games. Games won’t be my primary focus, though. I’m going to expand into the wider world of pop culture, internet culture, and sex. There’s a whole world waiting for me out there, and I’m excited to explore it. If you want to take this journey with me, follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be talking more about where I’m going next.

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Thanks for everything, Kotaku.

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DISCUSSION

stephentotilo
Stephen Totilo

I was honored to have Patricia on the team all these years and will miss her a great deal. In announcing her departure to the team, I tried to sum up what a great talent she’s been, and I wanted to share that here, publicly, with Kotaku readers as well:

People didn’t expect Patricia. She came out of nowhere, not even finished yet with college when she was already tearing it up at Kotaku as a freelancer. What a joy it was to see what she was capable of. Quiet and unassuming, yet brilliant and bold, she’d tell head-swiveling stories about censored sex games on Steam, about wild storm-wracked Smash Bros tournaments, and about school kids driving their teachers to the brink with their Fortnite obsessions. At times, she’d tell incredible stories through her own experiences—about using a harmful word casually while playing a multiplayer game and regretting it, of hearing an offensive joke during a game preview and wrestling with feedback she’d been getting that it just wasn’t a big deal (but it was a pebble in your shoe, she’d put it, in an astute observation I think about regularly). She even put that rodent Pikachu in his place.

It’s no secret that some of Patricia’s work was controversial and that she endured harassment and venom from many who were intimidated by or didn’t understand her work. More quietly, I know that her work inspired many—as it inspired me—and it helped raise awareness of how we think about and discuss gender, ethnicity, violence and even just the experience of the player in video game culture. Patricia’s work was read by millions and in her rise up the masthead at Kotaku, in the quality of stories she wrote and in the numbers she pulled in, she wound up being one of the most successful editorial talents in Gawker/Gizmodo Media history. And she has been an inspiration, from what I heard and saw, to many writers and critics—many of them women—many looking to also catapult from obscurity to the top of the heap.

At times, Kotaku critics have sold the lie that Kotaku is against the people who play games. Patricia was the best proof that we weren’t. More valuably, she was the model for many in recognizing that the achievements of people who play games are extraordinary and worth headlines. In that I found that Patricia and I were of one mind. We thought that the people who played games were interesting and yearned to tell not just stories about product and producers but of players. Patricia has been a marvel at spotting those players’ feats: highlighting amazing people who exploited glitches in Mario 64, hunted rare Pokemon or pulled off incredible stunt runs in Fallout games. My list of favorite Patricia articles is long, and I’m sure you all can think of many more.