3chicgeeks

Goodbye Nathan, Wordsmith And Internet Whisperer

Sketch of a young man in pencil.

Portrait of a blogger as a young man busy speaking over people during the Zoom call.
Illustration: Mike Fahey

Senior reporter, Twitch expert, and longtime Steamed proprietor Nathan Grayson is leaving us today. We tried to get him to stay but after seven belly-achingly long years he decided it was time to finally go join Facebook Gaming as its new head of Good Community Vibes.

We wish him the best as he roles around in bags of money and guzzles Sweet Baby Rays with Mark Zuckerberg clone 134B-006. In the meantime, we scrounged around for every hot ember we could find to give him a proper bonfire send-off.


Ashley Parrish, Kotaku Staff Writer

I am eager to roast Nathan in a way I wasn’t for Riley because this roast will be the first time I will be able to directly speak to Nathan without him interrupting me. Thank you Nathan, for your tireless dedication to making sure you have the first, middle, and last word. Splitscreen will not be the same without you, since that show was 85% you workshopping failed blogs and reading from your own blogs to remind us how goddamn clever you are while the rest was just me and Fahey trying to have a normal conversation.

But seriously, you are a talented writer with a knack for finding cool, interesting stories that always seem to hit well with readers. It’s just a shame it takes you nine years to write them. I will never feel bad about blowing my deadline by a couple of hours again. So thank you for providing the example I needed of how not to be. I will miss you.

Ari Notis, Kotaku Staff Writer

[Update – 8:01 p.m. ET: Looks like staff writer Ari Notis is carrying on Nathan’s torch by filing his roast late]

On the eve of Nathan’s sendoff, the internet got fucked. Vid.me, a video-hosting platform, was apparently purchased by a company that distributes pornography. That company then worked some technical wizardry and swapped out many embedded Vid.me videos, most of which were relatively tame, for explicit videos about sex. I won’t be linking to or sharing any screenshots as proof, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but one practical result meant that some of Nathan’s old articles ended up crammed with such clips.

What a fitting send-off: On his way out the door, the guy who famously covers digital culture ends up having a not-insignificant chunk of his portfolio inadvertently rendered to the one aspect of pop culture literally everyone knows about. It’ll surely get fixed in no time. Maybe it already has, I don’t know. But for now: lmao.

It’s also not a huge deal, as the writing often speaks for itself. Click on literally any one of Nathan’s stories, and you’ll find at least one line that forces you to put your head in your hands—a mixture of amusement, bewildered shock, and the stomach-sinking feeling of wishing you, also a writer, thought of it first. Y’know, a groaner.

Some choice examples from just the past, like, week: “…Newell, who much like Sauron rules over his company from New Zealand…” “…Tom Clancy’s Marvel’s Avengers…” “…Get up close and personal with the Normandy’s personnel…” “…Bidoof Bidoof Bidoff Bidoff Bidoff Bidoff Bidoff Bidoff…”

For most writers, dropping turns of phrase like so is the product of much turmoil. You sit there for eons, trying to find a way to be as clever as you are clear. Reading Nathan’s writing, you might get the impression—fairly so, because he’s a writer by trade and by soul—that he too toils over such things. Let me correct the record there and say that, nah, Nathan’s just like this. IRL and IRS (that’s “in real Slack,” for those who don’t know), the dude is a bottomless well of one-liners. It’s as intimidatingly impressive as it is maddeningly amusing. They say there are as many stars in the Milky Way as grains of sand on every beach on earth. Well, Nathan’s capacity for one-liners that make people go “ugh” might be a more apt comparison.

Anyway, in lieu of a Kotaku-traditional “Eat shit” send-off—I refuse to give him the satisfaction—I’d like to offer a sincere congrats and the absolute best of luck to Nathan Grayson for his new role as senior karaoke correspondent at Axios.

John Walker, Kotaku Morning Editor

When I first employed Nathan Grayson at Rock Paper Shotgun in 2012, he came in bursting with promise, pitching fantastic-sounding features about the specifics of gaming culture. I’m sure he’ll be filing one of them any moment now.

Moments before breaking all of games journalism, Nathan moved on from RPS in 2014, to accept a job at a rival site called Kotaku dot com. (Apparently Nathan is only able to work for gaming outlets with stupid, meaningless names.) At the time I remember he had a very on-the-nose pain in the neck, and I think he just wanted the Gawker health insurance. Anyway, Judas Nathan went on to further his reputation as one of the industry’s best investigative commentators, with his uncanny ability to get absolutely anyone to talk on the record, sometimes publishing as many as four or five articles a year.

He’s an enormously talented writer—there’s nothing Nathan can’t say in 3,000 words where 250 would do, and I wish his future editors the very best in his new career. Love you Nathan.

Kieron Gillen, Rock Paper Shotgun Co-founder

Nathan who?

Stephen Totilo, Former Kotaku Editor-in-Chief

I meant to send this in a day ago when I said it was almost done, but I need a little more time. Probably will file it right as most of the editors leave for the day. Just 4,000 words or so, okay? Only 1,000 of them are jokes.

What I can share for now: I first noticed Nathan’s talent when I saw him outworking every other reporter at a gaming convention. It’s been amazing — and, uh, a tiny bit stressful? — watching his career develop since then. I’ve been thrilled to see his evolution the last couple of years into his potential final form as the world’s foremost reporter about all things Twitch. May Nathan’s journalistic subathon never cease.

Riley MacLeod, Former Kotaku Editor-at-Large

Here is a thing that happens when you are Nathan’s editor: he has an idea for a story, and tells you he can have it by, say, 2. This seems fine to you. And then 2 comes, and there’s no story. And then 2:15 comes, and 2:30, and 2:45, and you send him a Slack message being like, “Where is the story?” and he tells you, “It got complicated.”

I spent over 5 years trying to decipher exactly what happens in these moments. Sometimes the complications make sense: a new development in a breaking story, someone agreeing to talk, some wildly thorny topic that needs as much time as possible to get right. Other times I have speculated as to what is going on in Nathan’s life to complicate matters, especially when what he ultimately files is some straightforward blog that in no way seems complicated. Secret double life? Sucked into alternate dimension time vortex? Buried under his own hair and barely escaped with his life? The possibilities are endless.

I think the root of all these complications comes down to Nathan himself, and the way he approaches the work he does. Nathan cares a hell of a lot about the topics he reports on, and especially about the people involved. He always sees their full humanity and thinks carefully about how the words he chooses in his story might affect them. He never simplifies things, or takes the easy road when he’s writing about something others might just fire off a glib tweet about. He takes his responsibility as a reporter so seriously, and as a result, when I finally got those drafts, I could feel the time-consuming attention and care in each sentence. The stories might take longer sometimes, but they were always thoughtful and humane, so much more than just “streamer did thing” or “Twitch, huh?” This, of course, meant I had to bring the same level of care to them as an editor, which is not the sort of task you want to assign on a deadline to a chronic over-thinker like me. With our powers combined, we could “it’s complicated” a story into the late hours of the night. But his drafts always asked me to be a better editor, and I was always so proud of playing a part in the piece that eventually appeared on the site. Even when everyone else had gone home and I was sitting in the dark office vaping at my desk and Dealing With A Nathan Story, I knew I was helping make the kind of work that makes our whole corner of journalism better.

Other times it was clear the story got complicated because Nathan spent a long time thinking about a joke, which I then promptly cut because I didn’t think it was funny enough and then felt like a monster about it.

Jason Schreier, Former Kotaku News Editor

In honor of Nathan I’ll send it in a week late and 1,000 words too long.

Patricia Hernandez, Kotaku Editor-in-Chief

I’ve worked with Nathan for a long time, between my first stint here and my return. Not once has he ever been able to file a thing on time, and it’s always double or triple the length it needs to be. Infamous for making editors try and wrangle his tomes literally when we’re supposed to clock out, I fear for Nathan’s future editors. I’m sorry, he’s yours now.

Mike Fahey, Kotaku Senior Reporter

The first time I met Nathan Grayson in person was during a trip to Kotaku headquarters in New York City. Nathan came from whichever place he was living at the time (he is a modern nomad, wandering from town to town) with nothing but a smile, his luxurious hair, and a horrible flu-like sickness that took down most of our staff. This might be an allegory for something else, I am not sure. Suffice it to say, my first impression of Nathan was that he was trouble.

I’ve now worked aside Nathan for nearly seven years. I’ve hosted a podcast with him. I’ve streamed that one snowboarding game with him, you know, Ubisoft’s Steep: A Game Of Angles. I’ve watched him grow from a little furry dude into a reporter with a tremendous tolerance for half-naked Twitch streamers. Honestly, I’ve never met someone so willing to watch Twitch streamers lick fake ears while wearing yoga pants for hours on end. What a trooper.

I know Nathan Grayson so much better now than I did when we first met, which is how that’s supposed to work so whatever. He may have gotten me violently ill and been personally involved in ushering in one of the darkest eras in video game history, but other than that he’s an awesome guy who’s only MOSTLY trouble.

Meet our new machine learning AI blogger: Graython Nayson.

Zack Zwiezen, Kotaku Weekend Editor

Nathan is a great person and a great reporter. But also during one of my first weekends when I was running Kotaku as the new Weekend Editor, I got a message from him on Slack complaining about how his story was removed from the top of the site. (On the weekend I control the layout of the front page.) I apologized, moved it back, and then thought to myself “What an asshole…” But reader, I was the asshole because it, like all of Nathan’s work, was great and it deserved more clicks!

Well, most of his work was great. He did once call Palmer Lucky a Wunderkind. So actually, I’m glad he’s leaving. You and your amazing luscious hair and awesome knowledge of Twitch are no longer welcomed around these parts!

Gita Jackson, Former Kotaku Staff Writer

His hair is actually so big because it is full of secrets. Other people say this but in his case, it’s true.

Patrick Redford, Former Deadspin Staff Writer

Nathan is a sweet man whom I love and I wish he still lived in the Bay area.

Chris Kohler, Former Kotaku Features Editor

Nathan—I was going to write a roast for you by the deadline but it turned out to be a lot more complicated than I expected and I’m still working on it. I just have to wrap up five more interviews with your friends, family, and the barista at your neighborhood Starbucks. I put this on the schedule for 5:10 p.m. ET Friday but I should be able to get in a draft at 1600 hours Mars time since that is where humans will be living by the time I actually file. I’d write more but the karaoke DJ just said I’m up next.

Joshua Rivera, Former Kotaku Staff Writer

The best possible way I could roast Nathan is by doing something he never could: Wrap things up with just twenty-five words. Bon voyage!

Shoshana Wodinsky, Gizmodo Staff Reporter

There’s a lot I could say about Nathan—but frankly, I’m too busy being shocked that the guy survived the Great Gummie-Off of 2021.

Ethan Gach, Kotaku Staff Writer

Kotaku time-dialation is a real thing. I got here only a few years after Nathan, but in my mind he’s been here causing trouble since the turn of the century. He may only have technically been here for seven of our Earth years, but in blogger time that is several aeons.

For most of that time Nathan lived in my mind as some west coast beach bum who logged on for his shifts late and somehow managed to turn the most boring or arcane pitches into exceptionally clever, erudite, and lengthy bangers. When I finally met him in person for the first time he reminded me of Yanni if the Greek composer had spent the last six months conditioning his hair with the same empty bottle.

Even though most of Kotaku happens in Slack where you can’t see anyone Nathan and I were often confused with one another, most likely because we had similar sounding and looking names, but also because we occupied similar normie white boy status (disclaimer: Nathan does know a lot more bands you’ve never heard of than I).

Except that Nathan has always been wittier, better sourced, and unrivaled at turning small tales into longwinded traffic coups. These facts and others have always made me jealous of his work, but probably come as a relief to my editors. Either way he can shit.

Alexandra Hall, Kotaku Editor

Now we’re going to have to work a lot harder to keep our front page stocked with other people’s tits.

Eric Van Allen, Former Compete Staff Writer

Oddly enough, most of the time when I see Nathan, it’s a surprise. Seriously, he has an incredible way of appearing suddenly at an event, without warning. I’ll be walking over to the bar, and when I turn around, bam. Nathan. I now half-expect him to show up at any given life event.

It makes sense though, because Nathan seems to bring life to every situation around him. He’s talked me into karaoke twice—both virtually and way back in the days of “going out into the real world.” He was my go-to for discussing random music takes, or Overwatch silliness, or just throwing memes at during the work day.

That is Nathan – he brings that life into every piece, whether he’s covering video games, streamers, esports, or anything else. I’m excited to see wherever he goes next, as long as it can facilitate him once again showing up without warning at events to surprise me. You know, when we can do that whole “travel” thing again someday.

Kirk Hamilton, Former Kotaku Editor-at-Large

I think my days of Kotaku roast contributions are over, but that’s cool that Nathan got a new gig.

Lisa Marie Segarra, Kotaku Editor

Finally, these roasts are about to get spicy! I’m not sure what we’ll do without you. Literally, not sentimentally. Our meetings will be shorter, as will the number of 1,000+ word blogs we have to edit and the number of people I have to guilt into contributing to Ask Kotaku.

But, alas, we’ll also lose your amazing prose, your gift for finding weird internet stories, and a voice that has become ingrained in what I’ve long thought made Kotaku what it is.

Enjoy the freedom.

Maddy Myers, Former Kotaku Deputy Editor

I got promoted three times when I worked at Kotaku, but when I started, I was just a staff writer at the entry-level salary. For my first year of employment, that meant Nathan outranked me; he had the same job title but he had been around longer. Except then I became his editor and soon after that, his boss. This means that I have the rare experience of knowing Nathan as a peer and friend, and also as an employee. All I can say is, Nathan’s great to have as a peer and friend!

Okay, but seriously though, editing and managing Nathan felt like some serious comeuppance for all the times that I turned in a draft that was overlong and late. In roasting Nathan, I have to also roast myself, a fellow depressed writer who frequently got mired in her own unwieldy ideas. That quality of caring too much, often to my own detriment, was something that Nathan and I bonded over at length when we were both staff writers — and then, suddenly, it became the problem I had to help him solve. I never did, obviously, but I did edit a lot of his stories, and it was a journey. He’s supposedly writing a book now, or something. I will be very proud of him if he finishes it.

I’ll end with a story that has become somewhat notorious among the specific cocktail of people who worked at Kotaku when it happened. I feel like people deserve to know my side of it. When Nathan and I were both just staff writers, we went to the Blizzard Arena on Overwatch League’s opening day. I accidentally got put in the skybox, which resulted in my best investigative reporting work ever. I went back to the press box after that, met up with Nathan, and entranced him with my story about the skybox. We did a quick livestream for Kotaku’s Facebook page, and during the stream, Nathan convinced me that we should try to get back into the skybox. In the stream, you can watch me ask a security person if we can go up there, and they say no. We laugh about it and then we turn off the camera and head back into the press booth. Then I tweeted a link to the video alongside something stupid about trying to get into the skybox and I move on.

For whatever reason, this incident became a flashpoint for Blizzard PR. Maybe it was because I regularly reported stories that were critical of bigshots associated with Overwatch League, or maybe they just didn’t like the cut of my jib. I’ll never know. The Blizzard PR person did not talk to me directly. In the press room, a few minutes after I sent my tweet, he walked up to me and Nathan and pulled Nathan aside privately. He then told Nathan to tell me that what I had done was out of line. (Never mind that it was Nathan’s peer pressure that had convinced me to ask about getting back into the skybox in the first place!) When Nathan relayed what the PR person had said, I felt very stupid, in part because the PR person hadn’t talked to me directly and given me a chance to apologize for the misunderstanding. Nathan convinced me not to worry about it; I deleted my tweet, which had barely been seen by anybody anyway, and tried to forget about it.

But Blizzard didn’t forget about it, because I guess they had absolutely nothing better to do. Our boss Stephen Totilo had to call Blizzard and apologize on behalf of me and Nathan and our stupid attempt to get into the skybox, even though Nathan had already apologized previously (and I hadn’t been given the chance to do so). I think Stephen made multiple phone calls, actually? But it didn’t help. I also remember asking Stephen if I could call and apologize as well, and he told me I had better not. Meanwhile, Blizzard PR refused to talk to us for certain esports stories, including ones that had absolutely nothing to do with me or Nathan. (Stephen, Nathan, and Cecilia all mention this incident and the problems it caused in their roasts of me when I departed the site. They’re lighthearted about it, but it was actually kind of bad and bizarre, and I spent a lot of time feeling guilty and baffled by it in turns.)

So yeah, anyway, Nathan, why the hell did you tell me we should try to get back into the skybox? You knew Blizzard was going to say no! They sent me there by mistake the first time! And also, the skybox wasn’t even that cool!!!!! Ahh, I can’t keep this up. I don’t actually give a shit. All of the most worthwhile, important, and damning stories about Blizzard are the ones that PR wouldn’t ever give us. We all know that, and capitulating to their bullshit was against the Gawker spirit (RIP Compete, RIP Deadspin — fuck access, favor, or discretion).

Good luck to Nathan. To his new coworkers, if he tells you to do something, you probably shouldn’t listen. Or maybe you should. It could result in a very stupid story that causes problems for you and your coworkers and then, years later, you’ll be like, “That situation was kind of fucked up anyway, and Nathan didn’t necessarily know that at the time, but his ‘Damn the man’ attitude was still technically correct.