My first job out of college, I was fired. I used two words with my editor that proved career limiting. I have quit with no notice; I’ve given two weeks and had cake on my last day. I’ve signed paperwork at the long conference room table twice. And I’ve had a farewell so tearful I wore sunglasses as I said goodbye.
You name it, I have been through the full spectrum of professional exits, and some unprofessional ones, too. Yet this one will be unique.
How do I leave a job when my office is my home? Why am I saying goodbye when all of the things I have written and forgotten can still be read and remembered?
I’m saying goodbye to you, as self-regarding as this is, because it’s the closest thing to closure when your work and its relationships are all refracted through the lens of a computer monitor. After six years with Kotaku, running the weekends the entire time, I am leaving for another publication. I’ve said my goodbyes to my colleagues here, now it is time for me to say goodbye to our readers.
You may feel taken for granted in this relationship, especially at a publication that exposes the traffic figures for each story, which often reminds readers they are just one of 1,000, 10,000, or — when you’re drinking the good shit and surfing Amazon.com — 100,000 who saw what you did that day.
But I have noticed more than your reactions to my work, good or bad. I’ve noticed who you are. I know where some of you live (roughly). I know where you’ve gone to college. You’ve sent me things in the mail, including your first novel. I would say that, despite never meeting in person, I’ve become good friends with some of you, and that will remain.
I’m saying goodbye because it was always uncomfortable to know a longtime reader had left us without a farewell. We do notice these things, especially when prolific commenters go silent, and you look over at their user page, and realise they haven’t said something in three months.
Video games — especially the ones we write about the most — are widely seen as a young adult’s interest, even if you’re 40, like me. It helps you feel young, after all. But changes common to that age can take readers away. Maybe they have graduated, or gotten married, or had a kid, or gotten a new job, or lost an old one and have to work two.
I’m thinking of people like bakeroo, buddhathing, Insidious Tuna, chewblaha, Spoony Bard, Komrade Kayce, Mike Dukakis, pan1da7, Quality Jeverage, and Manly McBeeferton. I haven’t seen these readers in months, some of them in years. Of the current corps, when I say goodbye I am thinking of General McFist, DocSeuss, Rachel Fogg, GiantBoyDetective, uscg_pa, sciteach, truthtellah, aikage, Bobsplosion, and Ellen J Miller. Even though I’m going to another publication, I want them always to be here, at Kotaku, where they have more than a strong voice. They have friends.
Let me leave you with my favourite comment of all time. It’s one of the most touching things I’ve read on this site, by a staff writer or otherwise. It comes from mintycrys, a reader I haven’t seen comment in about two years. I know I tangled with him a few times in the always uncomfortable task of comment moderation.
This isn’t a message. There’s no hidden meaning. It’s about Bad Dudes, for Christ’s sake — which was notorious in our ‘Shop Contest as the easiest meme that someone with absolutely no skills could exploit and still make the roundup of finalists.
It’s just an unimpeachably good memory. If it doesn’t make you smile, well, something may be missing in your life.
When I was little, a friend and I played “Bad Dudes” outside. A really fat man who lived two doors down on the other side of the street was Karnov (unbeknownst to him), and when some grizzled old korean war veteran who lived on our street asked us what we doing, we told him we were going to save President Ronnie, he gave us two toy assault rifles to play with. My mother blew a gasket when she saw me hiding in the holly bush (bad idea, I know) in front of the house with a fake assault rifle.
The veteran died several days later. I still have the toy gun, with the phrase “Ba” carved into the stock from when I tried to etch “Bad Dudes” into the toy gun with a pocketknife, but cut myself as I finished the ‘a’.
When you choose to share your experiences, opinions and perspectives with the friends I leave today, and with the person who will come to take my place soon, I want you to think of this — a comment on a Saturday morning five years ago, in a boilerplate post listing the work of the preceding week — and realise that all the things you might write and forget still will be read and remembered by someone.
And some will be remembered forever.