“We need talk” the text message said. No conversation has ever started that way and ended good.
“Hi Toshi.” my editor, Brian Ashcraft, said over the phone in a voice usually reserved for the morning after a weekend bender. Thus began the conversation that ended my four years at the best job I ever had.
This was over two months ago. Maybe people noticed that I hadn’t been writing since then, maybe not. I’d forgotten how being on the other side of the screen, one tends to look more at the titles of articles and the contents rather than the name of the writer. Regardless, if anyone has been curious, that’s why.
Perhaps I should be mad, confused, or just plain frustrated from the untimely nature of the experience, but both Brian and Stephen explained the situation to me. It wasn’t due to any shortcomings on my part nor was it due to any personal grievances anyone had had against me. If either of them could have had a choice in the matter, things wouldn’t have gone this way.
So, for the past two and a half months, I’ve been puttering around, doing other things to make a living—most involving sitting in front of a computer. Not having my nose constantly looking for news has certainly been relaxing, and it’s given me the luxury of going back to games I really liked but never got to finish due to how writing for a gaming news website works.
I’ve also been “cured” of the need that I used to have to get popular or highly anticipated games. I still go to my regular game store, but for the past couple of months, I’ve just been browsing the racks and going, “That looks neat. Maybe I’ll get it someday.” and then leaving without buying anything. (Not to say I haven’t spent any money on video games I’m already playing)
I said earlier that working for Kotaku had been the best job I ever had, and I wasn’t kidding. I’d like to take this time to thank my good friend Harris O’Malley, aka Dr. Nerdlove, who pointed me in the direction of the original post that convinced me to apply for a job. I remember sending in my application thinking nothing would come of it. Soon after, I was having a video chat with Brian with him happily welcoming on board. Shortly after that, I was spending my Thursdays, at home in front of my computer, frantically typing away.
Living in Japan, I have always hated commuting. Working at an office job, riding a train during rush hour every day nearly drove me to suicide (another story for another time), so the opportunity to sit at my own chair in my own room by myself and type away without the any of the social pressures of working in an office with other people was a dream come true. Plus, every day is casual day.
Aside from the luxury of working from home, being part of a popular gaming website does have other perks. I got to see the underside of the gaming industry, got access to cool and exciting stuff before most people do, and I was able to sit down for casual conversations with some of the people behind some of the most popular gaming franchises out there.
Getting to go to gaming events as press was fun. The Bandai Namco offices began to feel like a home away from home with all the regular visits, and Tokyo Game Show was an annual exercise in exhaustion and hype-fueled excitement.
Not all of it was sunshine and rainbows, obviously. There were frustrations and disagreements with other writers, overbearing policies, squashed stories that I wanted to write, and a couple of stolen ones too. I’ve met developers with their heads so far up their asses you needed a plumbing degree to even talk to them, and there were the writers who would stake claim to topics or games they deemed were “theirs” or wouldn’t be caught dead with their name on a story that wasn’t guaranteed to get less than 10,000 hits.
That said, I had a good time. I was blessed with a good editor, friendly and open colleagues, and a job that let me appreciate, enjoy, and loath video games all at the same time and gave me experiences few others get. Kotaku is a great site. It’s a fun site. And for four years, I got to be part of it. For that, I am grateful.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m in the middle playing a video game that I started two years ago...