Meet Kotaku's New Staff Writer, Heather Alexandra

Meet Kotaku's New Staff Writer, Heather Alexandra

On the 22nd of August, Kotaku welcomed Heather Alexandra to our ranks. On Kotaku, Heather's been producing thoughtful, critical videos about abstract concepts in games for a few months, but now, we're proud to have her full-time as a staff writer. Hooray!

We've seen Heather explore "time" as the scariest video game monster, as well as what "win states" mean in the age of No Man's Sky. Heather's told us about what Ana Amari's unique play mechanics say about Overwatch and why we should like repetitive video games.

But who is Heather Alexandra?

Yesterday, I interviewed Heather about life before Kotaku and games she plays to unwind (Heather interviewed me, too! We'll post that on Monday). Check it below, and say hi in the comments!

Cecilia: Tell me about the first video game you remember playing.

Heather: I distinctly remember playing the first Castlevania. I had a friend who lived up the street from me. He had a Nintendo and I did not. We'd go to his house before we'd get on the bus to school and I'd go into his basement and, on this tiny, crappy CRT, he was playing Castlevania. We ended up doing that every morning. I was so jealous until I finally got a Sega Genesis.

I don't think young Heather would believe that's a thing you could do. I think young Heather wanted to be a ninja.

Cecilia: Now you write about ninjas!

Heather: I eventually got into reading about games once EGM became popular. I had Dreamcast Magazine, which was awesome because I got demo discs which I still play time to time. Even two years ago, if you told me this was something I could do in my life, I wouldn't believe you. I was working at Starbucks.

Cecilia: You worked at Starbucks before this?

Heather: Until about a year ago. I was working quality assurance and game design at a small AA studio beforehand. Before that, I was a theatre teacher for a nonprofit.

Cecilia: I feel like what you're bringing to our team is a really critical view on video games. What's prepared you to have that perspective?

Heather: I think it goes back to my education. I went to a liberal arts college, where we had to take a "Western Civ" course. There were a lot of things like, for my major, I need to take a script analysis class, or film theory. If I didn't have that, I don't know if I'd be sitting down and taking in art as critically.

Cecilia: What does thinking critically about games even mean?

Heather: What a broad question. Thinking critically games is thinking about what games are doing to you and what it's doing in order to be a game. You can think about what the game is doing to you, you can think about what you're feeling or experience, physical or emotional, frustrations, failings. I think it's also structural stuff. After you play games enough, you start to see all the little things that compose them and turn them into a format.

You see the common points. We need to find ways to make abstract life. What does it mean to have life in a game? I have a hit bar, or when I run out of mushrooms, I die.

Cecilia: So, what are some games you like to enjoy uncritically?

Heather: A lot of online shooters. I like to just play Overwatch. For CS:GO, I could sit back and think of like, what's the meta of this round? How much money does each team have? How are these maps composed? What's the language of the space? But I don't do that because, I want to say I'm shooting other people, but they're probably kicking my arse.

Cecilia: Outside of games, what are your other interests?

Heather: A lot of running. In the past, it was beer and wine tasting. So much of my life is consumed by games.

Cecilia: What kind of effect are you hoping to have on Kotaku readers?

Heather: Writing should improve the writer, the writing and the reader. It's about making sure people think. You want people to walk away from a piece that they didn't have before. They can laugh at it, be mad at it — as long as they have left with something they didn't have before. I want to bridge the perceived gap between writers and readers. There isn't much of a gap when you get down to it.

Cecilia: What are some topics readers can look forward to you covering over the next few months?

Heather: I want to look closer at quests in games, the structure of quests. I've been talking with people about game preservation with fan games. We're losing games. We don't talk about that. That's a passion project of mine.


Comments

    Woohoo! Welcome to full-time! Your articles so far have been great. I'm a sucker for game analysis and discussion so I can't wait for what you write next.

    Congrats on the Full time spot Heather, from an old gamer who is dire need of preservation himself! Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Last edited 10/09/16 9:22 pm

    Congrats. I have enjoyed reading your articles and watching your videos so far and look forward to more.

    More branch stacking.

      Please explain.

        Possibly to do with her being a trans person? But Branch Stacking refers to politics, not gender. I don't know what this person is talking about.

          I probably should have mentioned that was meant to be read in Pauline Hanson's voice as I'm pretty sure that guy has a poster of her hanging in his loo.

      Curious by what you mean here

        I am suggesting that Kotaku are adding yet more 'talent' that cannot objectively cover issues with any traditional journalistic standards given their exhibited bias. It ends up with pointless coverage of Blush Box going to a Lyst picnic in Norway and agenda filled lists containing women and minorities in gaming, when 0x5f3759df and HAKMEM 169 are actually more educational and interesting. Seriously, why must everything be political these days.

          I know right, how dare women and minorities invade the precious safe spaces of the white male gamer. How shocking.

          So you'd rather us go back to ignoring a portion of the gaming community and just have stuff written about men in gaming?

          What's 0x5f3759df and HAKMEM 169, as doing a google didn't really tell me much.

          Why do you even come here if it doesn't provide you with the type of articles you want?

    Did she join Kotaku US or AU?

      Pretty sure it's US. She lives over there anyway, did some stuff for Giant Bomb a few months back when Austin was getting some guest writing in, so that's my assumption anyway :)

      I think AU contributions usually have a little avatar next to the author name, even if it's just the blank little K.

        Yup, Heather's part of the US team. There hasn't been any changes on the AU side, apart from Mark stepping up recently.

    Hair makes me think of Zarya from Overwatch. This is a good thing. Welcome.

    Welcome to the full time Heather! As everyone else has said already, your writing has been great so far as it is, and the vids have been cool - quite liked the one around no man's sky and abzu. Very much looking forward to what's to come!

    Congratulations :) looking forward to reading your future articles.

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