Press Sneak Out

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Press Sneak Out
Suikoden II, the greatest game ever made (Screenshot: Konami)

After eight years and some change, I am leaving Kotaku. Friday will be my last day working for this website. I will miss you all.

Truth is, I’ve decided to leave the media and pursue my life’s calling: becoming a full-time saxophone player. Kidding. I’m staying in journalism, where I will continue to report on the weird, wild industry and culture of video games. I plan to take a few weeks off to put the final touches on my second book and hang out with my seven-month-old, and then I’ll be doing brand new things at a brand new outlet. If you’d like to reach out or share a story, you can find me on Twitter or email me any time.

I’ll still be podcasting with my good friends Kirk Hamilton and Maddy Myers, although we’ll no longer be hosting Kotaku Splitscreen. We’re starting a brand new video game podcast that you can also learn more about on Twitter. If you liked Splitscreen, you’ll like this one too. If you didn’t like Splitscreen, you might still like this one, I dunno. How could you not like Splitscreen?

I don’t think it’d be productive to spend too much time on the reasons I’m leaving, which will probably be obvious, other than to say this: When I think about what happened to Deadspin, bile builds in my throat. After October 29, 2019, it became clear to me that I could not work at this company for much longer.

Still, it was a hell of a ride, wasn’t it? Previous iterations of this company have offered its staff an unprecedented level of editorial freedom over the years, and I will be forever grateful for that ” for the opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and write a whole lot of ridiculous articles. I’m certainly proud of the assorted nonsense.

What I’ve always loved about this website is that, thanks to the spirit of Gawker Media, it’s never been afraid to be simultaneously serious and dumb. Put another way, I’m glad that my final two articles here were 1) a months-long report into how work conditions at a video game company have improved as a result of public pressure and 2) this.

Here’s something remarkable: Over eight-plus years at Kotaku, I’ve never once been told not to write something because an advertiser might pull out, or because it’d piss off a video game company, or because it might upset the wrong people. The story always came first. Serving readers always came first.

Here’s something else remarkable: When I started at Kotaku, I was waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish writing Winds of Winter. As I leave Kotaku, I’m still waiting for George R.R. Martin to finish writing Winds of Winter. Yet another thing Deadspin got right.

I take comfort in knowing that the Kotaku I leave behind is full of brilliant, inspiring writers, editors, and video producers, who will all continue doing great work no matter how difficult the circumstances. I am forever grateful to all of my colleagues here ” particularly, Stephen Totilo, my boss, mentor, and dear friend, who has pushed me in countless ways. I’ll miss our fights over nonsense, our lengthy conversations about newsworthiness, and most of all, filing him a garbage story draft and watching him hammer it into something worth publishing. If you read and liked something I wrote, Stephen probably had some hand in it, whether it was through editing or simply allowing me the time to report and write. Most people will never know a fraction of the battles he’s fought to keep this website thriving.

I’m grateful to all of the sources who have spoken to me over the past eight years ” some confidentially, sharing things they thought should be made public or speaking out about workplace conditions, which takes serious guts; and others on the record, telling stories about everything from randomizing Zelda to translating an old Final Fantasy game. My job has always been to inform and entertain people, and that would not be possible without those who have shared their stories.

I’m also grateful to everyone who has read and supported us over the past eight years. As a journalist, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that your work is beyond reproach, but the truth is that comments, corrections, and feedback are what make us all better. I’ve had so many great interactions with Kotaku readers over the years, whether it was in our comments section (back when it worked), on Twitter or email, or even in real life at events like PAX and E3. I hope you’ll all continue following my work and staying in touch ” and calling me out when I’m full of it.

Love you, Kotaku. Deadspin forever. Press sneak fuck out.

Comments

  • Best of luck Jason and thanks for all your time and effort in our little corner of the internet. Many thanks!

  • Best of luck, Jason. Thanks for everything. Can’t wait to catch up with you again when you get the new ball rolling.

  • All the best Jason. You’re journalism and exclusive insights in whats happening behind the scenes in game development have been great reads. I look forward to where you’ll end up. Congrats on a great 8 years at Kotaku

  • Wow – Kotaku will be a different place without Jason or Kirk… what a huge loss for my favourite source for gaming news. I love Blood Sweat & Pixels and am looking forward to the next book. Excited to hear the first episode of Triple Click. All the best for the future Jason, from one of your Australian fans!

  • As a journalist, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that your work is beyond reproach, but the truth is that comments, corrections, and feedback are what make us all better.

    I find this hard to believe given you employ block bots on your Twitter and block people when they even slightly criticize you

    While might not have liked you as a person. I can’t deny you did some great work.

    Good luck with what ever you do.

    • He’s a very prominent name in games journalism which no doubt draws in a lot of hate.

      I assume the bots and blocking are necessary to remain active on twitter without employing a personal social media filterer.

      No doubt he’ll be earning “high profile streamer“ cash soon and will be able to employ a series of Twitter humans!

  • I’d like to talk about the real victims of your leaving – the many, many “youtube commentators” who created endless hours of “analysis videos” based on Jason’s reportage while simultaneously decrying Kotaku’s “SJW agenda”. Has anyone given a thought to who they’re going to leech off now? Where’s YongYea’s bailout?

    But seriously, what happened to Deadspin as a result of one cashed-up ****head is a crying shame. Best of luck, Jason.

    • Deadspin became a site that actually reports on sports and not a personal blog for authors to repeatedly write articles mainly consisting of “ORANGE MAN BAD”

      • There are thousands of sports sites that write about nothing but sport. Deadspin had a distinct voice and message that resonated with the audience that it sought, and it was doing well. Then the new management comes in and kills that voice because he didn’t buy a website and community he bought a logo and a URL, and then in the name of ad revenue kills the user experience with intrusive adverts and loud, autoplay videos. Then just kills the entire site until it reopens in March just in time to cover all the sports that aren’t going on. So yeah – a crying shame.

        • There are millions of sites where the authors could have blogged about how bad the orange man is.

          Instead they used a sports website to write about anything other than sports.

          A crying shame that they were asked to do their actual jobs.

          • In a crowded media space differentiating yourself is important. There are people who like sports who know that Trump is a vile piece of crap too – nothing wrong with combining sports with acknowledging that fact with people who otherwise think the world’s gone insane to differentiate themselves.

          • At this stage you have to assume they just have a set of predefined responses about Trump being a bad man. Living rent free in their heads for years.

          • This right here is something I’ll never understand… So you dislike whatever, sure go ahead.

            But the amount of TIME and EFFORT some people feed towards precisely what they claim to dislike/hate is absolutely astounding to me. Especially when their entire message is nothing more substantial than “X is bad/evil” repeated to the point where it completely ceases to carry meaning.

      • Read the article linked from here. Every traffic analysis, every measurable data indicated that people overwhelmingly liked the political and media stuff and read it more than the sports bits. It’s perfectly fine if you didn’t like that content, but numbers can’t be argued with if we’re talking about the success or failure of a publication.

  • A bit late to the party but in the article linked, the author explains without any coyness the reason why invasive ads have been increasingly added to this website in spite of every single commenter expressing their disgust for them.

    Buckle up boys and girls, they’re not going away no matter how much we complain.

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