I’ve been working at Kotaku for *checks watch* nearly ten years now. In that time I’ve seen a lot of things change, and most of them have been for the better.


While we occasionally go public with editorial decisions, for most of that ten years we’ve evolved quietly and confidently behind the scenes, growing as a site as we’ve grown (up) as writers and as people.

That’s probably not something you notice if you just pop in every day/week/month and see how things are going. It’s been a gradual thing. Glacial. But if you take a step back and look at the longer view, it’s easy to see that there are things we talk about now that we never used to, and things we used to talk about that we just don’t care for any longer.

When I started here, in late 2006, our coverage was chaotic. The goal was basically to report on anything and everything we could find that related to video games. We were part of a wave of games publications that, embracing the 24/7 news cycle and trying in an adorably “I’m a grown up now” way to be important, strived to cover video games like a proper news site would cover proper news.


So we posted press releases. Financial reports. We listened in on investor calls. We posted .bmp screenshot galleries for upcoming games, we posted 117 trailers for games that would eventually be “meh”, we would post about an executive reading something from a script in a terrible interview.

It was successful, though, and amongst all that we did some very good work! But after a while, it was also tiring. In our rush to cover everything, we weren’t taking the time to examine whether the mountain of #content we were publishing was actually important. Whether it meant anything beyond acting as an independent branch of a game publisher’s PR hype cycle, or served any other wider purpose than to fan the flames of some bullshit fanboy struggle.

So first under the leadership of Brian Crecente, and now Stephen Totilo, we slowly moved away from that stuff. And a load of other stuff! When this site started we were mostly a bunch of writers in our mid-20s who were happy putting stupid inside jokes and giant faces on the internet for a few bucks per post. As we’ve grown older, become salaried employees, had kids and hired smart new writers, our tone has, if not matured, then...softened. Just a touch.


Anyway, all this reminiscing has a point: this is Senior Week 2016 here at Gawker Media! We’ll have new owners by next week, and we’re celebrating the last 14 years of quality and not-so-quality independent journalism with features across the network looking back at some of the work we’ve done in that time.

So below, enjoy a taste of the Kotaku that was. If you’ve been with us since the start, it’ll be a walk down memory lane. If not, well...websites are a lot like people. And just like people, from the safety of adulthood we’re free to look back on our formative years with equal measures of pride, shame and a dash of regret.

Oh, and please do not confuse any of this with the dumb shit that Kotaku still posts, thanks.


Back in the early days, games boss tit-for-tat seemed both newsworthy and exciting. It’s not, but we had to learn. Also: I can remember three examples of PR companies asking us to remove an image/photoshop of a video game company employee. This was one of them (our “tag” for stories featuring executive beef was “face milkshake”). The other two involved Ken Levine and Cliff Bleszinski.

Come back, Mr. Wada. Video games are cold place without your special warmth.


Death to review scores. Even when they’re not our own.

We used to post American sales charts. Japanese sales charts. Australian sales charts. PC game sales charts. Then we stopped, because it meant nothing. The UK ones were my favourite, though, because there was never a shortage of quaint images of the British countryside to go with them.


Linkedin does a much better job of this sort of stuff than we ever did.

To numb the pain of writing about the boring things executives would say in boring interviews, we would accompany posts with GIANT FACES. Former SCEE boss David Reeves was our favourite; we called him “dirty nail” because, well, when you’re having a corporate portrait taken that’s available at 10,000x resolution, you’ve gotta make sure those nails are sparkly.


Let’s leave analyst discussions to the shareholders, not the casual readers.

Let’s leave complex financial reports to the shareholders, not the casual readers.


The day and night notes were a kind of “hand off” gesture, signifying the break between the day shift and the night. It was a cute idea, and worked well for a while, but after a few years they became pretty tedious.

We posted too many bento boxes. We also used to post too many pictures of cakes. Both are fine, but only in moderation.


I miss this guy :(

We used to stalk people. We thought it was funny (actually, this night at TGS 07 was pretty funny). Shame the image has been lost, but then, you can probably imagine it.


This was many, many years before “Don’t preorder video games”. Also, isn’t it lovely that none of us have to use/read the words “after the jump” anymore!

Unboxing videos used to seem like a good idea! Then it kinda dawned on everyone that we were just doing free PR and contributing to the nasty culture of pre-release hype. Whoops. Also, hi Tina!


Because we worked late nights, because he was/is a hunk and because his name was a pain to keep correcting when we spelled it wrong, we starting calling Jake Gyllenhaal “Chesty Jake”. It ended up making it into World of Warcraft, which was nice.

This is exactly the kind of confrontational, hard-hitting journalism that you expect from a fiercely independent media company.