My Night With Kotaku: Peter Gets Within 20 Feet of Video Game Ubermensch
Peter Tatara - January 29, 2007
As a kid, I dabbled with the Sega Genesis and Game Gear. I had six or seven games and was never very serious about either system. As I entered high school, though, at the insistence of Jamie and Kyle, two friends who spoke of nothing but Sony's miraculous console, I picked up a PlayStation. Before my high school career was over, I'd own over 300 games for the thing. (I didn't have a girlfriend.)
Come college, I presumed it would be more of the same. Sony rolled out the PlayStation 2. I bought a few games. I intended to buy a whole mess more. Then, something happened. I realized, a step closer to the real world, that I didn't have time for Sony's new system, and I consciously put it down. I played the occasional bouts of Dead or Alive and Halo with friends, but, otherwise, I was through.
I had figured that once I finished college I'd have the time to go back and play Xenosaga, Devil May Cry, and Shadow of the Colossus, but, thinking back on that now, I was an idiot. Once working, I was farther from video games than ever.
Still, while I didn't play anything, through college and up to today, I kept informed. I looked at art. I looked at screenshots. I looked at movies. I looked at walkthroughs. I looked at reviews. I knew everything about every new game. I just didn't have the time to play. And while I visited IGN, RPGamer, and The GIA for information, there was one site that would come to eclipse all others -- Kotaku.com.
A shot of hard video game news mixed with a liberal dose of sass mouth, Kotaku quickly became my favorite video game website. And my favorite website in general. It's my start page right now, and I check it at least once every five minutes. (I wish I was kidding, but I'm not.) I visit Kotaku clearly, easily more than any other site online. Even TheSneeze.com.
So, we've established I have odd hobbies and an unhealthy fixation with Kotaku.com. That's just dandy. What's the point? The point's that the entire Kotaku staff descended upon New York City's Barcade last weekend and I was there. Barcade, as you may have guessed, is a magical amalgam of a bar and an arcade, but what words fail to describe is just how perfect the pairing is. The tingling inebriation brought on by four or five indie microbrews brings back the joy and discover of adolescence that is altogether and immediately absorbed by Barcade's wall of '80s arcade machines. It's a time machine that takes you back to the days when Gauntlet was king and you spent a whole $5 on the thing (which was like $5,000 in 1980's money).
Anywho, Barcade's a wondrous place by itself, but when the Kotaku crew's dumped into the mix (and footing the bill for the liquor), it's like giant monkey balls exploding in my pants. (Yeah, I know, that sounds horrid, but a friend bet me I wouldn't use the phrase "like giant monkey balls exploding in my pants" in an essay. And now I did. And now he's my slave for the rest of the year. You hear me, Breidbart?)
Actually, no. While I'd like to talk about how fantastical the evening was, how I entertained Team Kotaku with charming witticisms all night long, I like to keep my lies believable. In actuality, after drinking some Wizard's Winter and Doc's Cider, I briefly approached the Kotaku staff, shook their hands, thanked them for the free gut rot and the site, and then disappeared back into the wall of pale misfits the Barcade was fat with that night.
While I'm not the most social of folks, I was especially skittish at the Kotaku event. See, before moving to New York City, it was a big thing to meet a celebrity; however, since starting to live in NYC, encounters with authors, actors, and the like have become a part of daily life. I was thrilled at first to spy Tina Fey in a bar and Sam Seder having a cigarette, but -- while you may see and hear these people every week on TV or on the radio, while you may think you know them ever so well -- they're complete strangers and you're a complete stranger to them. And anything beyond a tip of the hat becomes intensely awkward for everyone involved.
Want another example? This very blog. Sure, I talk about a lot of things, and a lot of it may sound personal, and after reading a score or so essays about cheesecake, Oxi Magic, and Doctor Who, you may think you know me pretty well, but each and every story is unapologetically embellished in the interest of making it interesting. In other words, in person, I'm only a quarter of the pompous, arrogant ass I come off here. It's all make-believe.
And I didn't want the Kotaku make-believe to end.
I love Kotaku's reckless, vainglorious energy, and I was afraid its editors would be less than the absolute hellions I had envisioned them to be. And looking back now, while I may wish I opened my mouth a bit more, I'm satisfied with the evening. I did share a few words with McWhertor, my favorite of the Kotaku staff. I actually discovered Kotaku after reading McWhertor's personal blog -- GeekOnStun.com -- and it's his writing that spiritually served as the genesis for Giant Robots Fighting God's own tone. So, while I didn't want to presume to know the guy, I did want to give McWhertor some genuine words of praise.
The whole affair's over now, but it's a night that'll continue to live for some time in memory, not something I'll let slip into the fog of forgetfulness for years and years to come. Thank you, Kotaku, for the Barcade shindig, but more than that, for a site that's always original, always fresh, always insightful, and always intelligent. And has cuss words, too.
To conclude, I want to reveal one more lie. While it's true my college career was a self-imposed video game exile, since setting foot into the real world, I've come ever closer to returning to it. My neighbor has a 360. I do Gears of War with friends all the time. I play Call of Duty with co-workers daily. I bought my girlfriend a Nintendo DS last year. And, oh yeah, she bought me a DS to match for Christmas. So, I suppose, I'm not a stranger to video games any more. Deal with it.
I'm off to play some Mega Man ZX.