Kotaku’s Mike Fahey, one of the longest-serving writers at one of the oldest and most widely read online video game publications, died Friday. He was 49 years old. For 16 years, Fahey wrote with great hilarity and deep affection for toys, snack foods, giant robots, video games, and the emotional bonds that bind them to their readers.
Fahey’s death was confirmed on friday by his partner, Eugene Abbott. In 2018, Fahey suffered an aortic dissection, which is a tear in the body’s main artery, which paralyzed him from the chest down and forced him to use a wheelchair. Fahey suffered another similar tear in April and died of an infection related to these chronic health problems.
Mike Fahey joined Kotaku in 2006, after establishing an online presence with comic publications about a missing Pikachu plush toy. “He had a Pikachu that people kept kidnapping,” Abbott told Polygon. “People were holding up a sign that said ‘We’ve got your Pikachu.’ I think the last time he was seen, he was strapped to the front of an 18-wheeler.”
Brian Crecente, Kotaku’s editor-in-chief from 2005 to 2011, recalled that Fahey was a commentator on a blog he had started before Kotaku was founded. When Crecente was appointed editor of Kotaku, Fahey was his first hire.
“The reason I hired him, and the reason he kept working there, is that he was a very fun guy by nature,” Crecente said. “A lot of people who try to write funny things are forced, but for him it was an innate ability. It was so natural. I pushed him to do longer-form research and writing stuff, but I think what he liked best was making people laugh.”
Fahey came out of his shell when Crecente hired him in November 2006. He’s been on the staff ever since. “Once again I had a job, a girlfriend, and finally my own apartment, with no roommates,” Fahey wrote. At Kotaku, Fahey became known for his appraisals of deliciousness (Snacktaku was the title of these posts) and for celebrating the lighter moments in video game culture.
Fahey found his voice as a run-of-the-mill pop culture fan, his interests and enthusiasm spanning The Transformers, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, Madden NFL, and especially RPGs. In October 2009, he posted a groundbreaking recollection of his own addiction to video games while playing. everquest, and how he broke off a relationship with Abbott that he would soon mend.
“Everyone was like, ‘Ha ha, did you go out with the guy who ignored you for video games?'” Abbott said Monday. He seemed to understand that Fahey was moving towards level 40, which, however, he hated. “But there was no part of me that ever said, ‘Doesn’t he care? Do you like the video game more? I was like, ‘Bruh, hurry up.’”
Posts about a Michael McDonald Fight Stick or how to cook an authentic Castlevania Wall Turkey were part of his workday. In 2008, his one-man campaign for Stan Bush got “The Touch,” the 1986 power ballad. Transformers: The Movie animated function — added to guitar hero 5.
In one of Fahey’s most memorable and outrageous posts for Kotaku, he was playing a video game in his office, looked over his shoulder, and saw “a spider the size of a small Volkswagen” on the ceiling. He cleaned it up with a can of Elmer’s CraftBond adhesive, then tore it up with a copy of Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare for Xbox One. The box is still attached to the ceiling.
Fahey invited comparisons to the big, too-big-kid cliché, especially since he was 6-foot-6. Abbott recalls that he often returned from business visits to conventions and expos with a suitcase full of surprises for his children. “I would come home with a suitcase and open it, and all the candy and toys would come out,” they said.
“He came home from Momocon 2015 [in Atlanta] with a lot of ramune and hi-chew [candy],” Abbott said, “he called the children and opened them up in bed, then fell asleep, surrounded by sweets.”
Polygon news editor Michael McWhertor, who was hired by Kotaku shortly after Fahey, had a similar memory, covering San Diego Comic-Con together. “I went back to the hotel room and there was Fahey, sleeping in his bed, surrounded by all the toys he bought on the show floor, like a kid at Christmas,” he said.
Michael Fahey is survived by Abbott and his two sons, Seamus and Archer, both 11 years old. A GoFundMe campaign has been created to help the family.