Meet the Newest Members of the Kotaku Team (2020 Edition)

By Stephen Totilo on at

In 2012, in my second month running Kotaku US, I introduced readers to four new staffers (and one new columnist) who would go on to do great things for the site. Eight years later, I’d like you to meet the five newest members of our team.

I introduce them at a very different time in Kotaku’s history, a time when we’ve seen an unprecedented number of staffers leave for new adventures. They’ve explained their reasoning in a series of farewell posts, and while I’ve cheered them on as they go on to great new things, I’ve seen and heard many of you wonder what’s next for Kotaku.

Part of what’s next is a lot of opportunity for new members of our team. Since February, we’ve been welcoming some new writers and editors to the site’s full-time crew. Some have contributed to Kotaku for years as freelancers. Others will be brand-new to you. They’re all part of an amazing group who I am confident can and will do great things here. I figured it was time for you all to get to know them better.

Alexandra Hall is our newest staff editor. She joins us after a run of freelance editing and, in just a few short weeks, has skilfully sculpted many a draft into magnificent shape. She’s also been flexing some impressive knowledge of the classic and obscure, and is the reason Ninja Five-O is on our list of best GBA games. Here’s Alexandra:

I’ve been nerdin’ out for a long time. A hand-me-down Atari 400 sparked my fascination with video games, and a subsequent NES sealed the deal. In part, games helped me escape the uncertainties of being a closeted queer kid in the days before the Internet let us find community. In my first go at university I played Quakeworld and Neo Geo Pocket instead of attending class, resulting in many Fs and one job offer in California. Saving roll, nailed.

So yeah, I’ve been covering games since Dreamcasts roamed among us. But most of my work was for the old-guard, sort of monolithic publications, and after the shine wore off I grew tired of their MO. Like, burnt out tired. I wanted to do work that meant something more than free marketing for publishers. Didn’t find it, so I drifted away from games editorial.

Hearing about Kotaku’s openings reawakened the old excitement. I’ve long admired this site’s feminist politics, diverse voices, and willingness to speak truth to power. At its best, Kotaku’s reporting foments real, positive change in this industry. I’m very pleased to have a hand in that going forward, as well as helping to further develop our promising stable of writers. Shout out to Dragon’s Dogma!

Ari Notis started earlier this year as our first full-time service and advice writer. He’s not just here to publish tips and tricks, as you’ll see. And he’s already cheerfully solved half of my problems. Here’s Ari:

I’m Ari, a NYC-based lifestyle journalist. I started at Esquire and worked at a variety of other Hearst publications before becoming an editor at the relaunched Best Life. I’ve also spent the past seven years regularly emailing various Kotaku staffers, angling for a chance to write interesting stories about cool video games. In January, Stephen finally relented and hired me, presumably just to shut me up. Maybe you’ve read my articles over the past few months. I largely focus on service journalism.

In the broadest sense, that means wisdom that helps improve the reader’s life in some tangible way – a neat trick here, a small tip there. Our colleagues at Lifehacker are masters of the form. I’d like to bring a slice of that pie to the Kotaku table. Applied to gaming, that could mean newsy PSAs, tips for a big game, or tactics to beat a tough boss. Other times I’m tackling general quandaries: say, clearing up how PSNow and Game Pass downloads work, or even a strategy guide about protecting your back while gaming. Of course, I’m only human, which means sometimes, on very rare occasions – like, seriously, very rare – I’ll use this massive platform to air my various frustrations about Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

If my writing helps you at all, I’ve done my job. If it solves a problem you didn’t even know you had, I’ve done my job well. Got a question about gaming (or life)? Connect with me on Twitter. Send me an email. Seek me out in Animal Crossing (as a last resort). I’ll do my best to find you your answer.

Ash Parrish joins us as our newest staff writer. Her sharp, insightful writing first caught my attention a few years ago when she was blogging about Minecraft, among other things. I’m so glad we finally got her on the team. Here’s Ash:

My name is Ash and I’ve been a freelance writer covering all sorts of gaming things from Minecraft to the Overwatch League for the last four years. I first started writing when I was 16, writing fanfiction stories for my little sister and Inuyasha crossover fanfiction for myself. I’ve been writing some form of fanfiction off and on for the last 16 years.

One day I decided that the life of an office drone wasn’t for me and that I was going to pursue writing as my full-time vocation. All I had at the time was a blog and an AO3 account and somehow that was enough for my first editor to take a chance on me.

My goal at Kotaku is to elevate the discourse for black, brown, and queer gamers. There is a maxim that drives me to continue writing in a field that can, at times, be extremely hostile to people like me: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” It means representation matters. Exposing diverse representations of gamers and their stories to Kotaku’s vast audience gives more people the opportunity to see what’s being done and what’s possible, to see what they can be.

If you want to hear me yell about my favourite Overwatch League team or are just interested in hearing me yell in general, give a follow on the ole’ Twitter account here.

Earlier this year, Ian Walker switched from just covering fighting for us to working as a staff writer. He’s also a former Compete contributor, so consider that site living on through him. No pressure, buddy. Here’s Ian:

I am Ian Walker, self-proclaimed Bad Boy of Kotaku. I play video games. Hello!

I was a freelance writer off and on for almost 10 years. I mostly worked For Exposure until landing a gig at Shoryuken.com, which was once the best place to find news about fighting games and the fighting game community. Eventually I became Shoryuken’s editor-in-chief, a title I never want again as long as I live. When I quit, I went on to write at places like Paste, Polygon, and Vice Games (formerly Waypoint). As is often the case, this was bolstered by stints as a retail employee. I much prefer writing. I write at my dining room table. Maybe this job will finally give me a chance to purchase an actual desk?

I wrote my first Kotaku piece in 2016, when EIC Stephen Totilo wanted something about how rough Street Fighter V had been at launch. I was surprised he chose me to write that, as our prior history mostly consisted of me haranguing Stephen on Twitter about how bad his website’s FGC coverage was. I don’t normally recommend negging editors to get a job, but in this case, thanks boss!

The only reason I gave Stephen shit all those years ago – well, apart from me being an arsehole – is because I recognised Kotaku’s importance. This is not a place to regurgitate press releases or take marketing departments at their word. Kotaku is everything an independent press needs to be: antagonistic, fearless, and thorough. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m changing the world when I respond sarcastically to Google’s high-falutin promises for Stadia or bluntly state that Capcom Cup sucked, but I do think the video game industry could do with a healthy dose of scepticism. And Kotaku is the best place to do that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go ask a couple raccoons about turnip prices.

Zack Zwiezen was discovered by Patricia Hernandez many years ago and built a freelance run with us that landed him the weekend editor gig, which we recently expanded into a full-time role. Taking his Kotaku opportunity seriously, he’s spent a lot of time cataloguing weird Pokémon. Here’s Zack:

I’m not really new here. In fact, I’ve been writing for this site in a freelance capacity since August 2016. If you count that as “being here” then I’ve been here longer than about half the current staff. So I don’t feel new. But I am now officially a full-time writer for Kotaku, so hello! Let me introduce myself properly.

Before Kotaku I wrote for sites like Kill Screen and GameCritics. As mentioned, I wrote my first blog for Kotaku back in 2016. Since then I’ve been covering GTA Online and other Rockstar games on a monthly basis. Last year I became the weekend editor around these parts. And now, none of that is changing. If you like my weekends, don’t worry, I’m still the weekend editor. If you love my GTA coverage, I’ll keep covering that game until Rockstar shuts it down in 2028 or whatever.

So what is changing? Not much. I’m still going to write weird things, but now I can write more weird stuff, cover more GTA and Red Dead stories, and pop up a lot more often on Kotaku. I’ll probably be hanging out in the comments more, too. Anyway, I can’t wait… to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Oh and follow me on Twitter! I still use that terrible site, because why not!

In 2012, I wrote that “Kotaku in 2012 will inform you, entertain you, and provoke you from time to time. If we do our jobs as reporters, writers, videographers, reviewers and opinionated essayists right, we’ll also keep surprising you.”

In 2020, the goal’s the same.

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