Kotaku to Give Employees Time Off to Cope With ‘Stress’ and ‘Labor’ of Game Reviews


Kotaku, the site best-known for injecting politics into articles about video games, has announced that it will now be offering game reviewers time off to recover from the apparently brutal slog of playing video games and reviewing them.

Editor-in-Chief of Kotaku Stephen Totilo penned the notice on Wednesday, referencing the “labor” that goes into Kotaku’s game reviews.

“Playing a game for a review is labor. Pure and simple. It’s too easy to lose sight of that,” Totilo writes. “Sure, it sounds fun and often is, but it can also be a grind and consume an incredible amount of time. Work is work, and we should always recognize it as such, even if the work involves playing Animal Crossing before it’s out or being among the first to dive into an exciting new JRPG.”

“The logistical challenges of covering games are formidable,” Totilo continues. “Games and hardware are expensive. Pre-release access to games is constrained, as is access to developers. Gatekeepers abound. On top of that, games just take a long time to play and understand.”

The “time commitment” of playing video games for work is also noted in the announcement, as well as the “immense difficulties in terms of allocating people and resources” it creates.

An issue of particular concern for Kotaku appears to be the fact that game developers often send copies of games to journalists a few days before launch. These measures are taken to combat leaks, which can be extremely damaging to the financial performance of a game title.

In some instances, developers have not sent games to various game journalism publications until launch due to the past history of leaks from the industry.

Game developers are also increasingly relying on actual gamers such as YouTube content creators for feedback, as they believe the reviews and advice given by people who already play and review games at a high level may carry more weight than those given by corporate media outlets .

“All this said, our reviewers are pros. I’ve never sensed that the stress of reviewing has impacted their take on a game,” the Kotaku announcement says. “But I’ve seen it tire them. We’ve been reactive to that.”

Kotaku has previously come under fire from the gaming community for complaining about the difficulty level and lack of an “easy” mode on certain game titles, as well as criticizing titles whose lore is in not in line with the personal political beliefs of Kotaku employees.

The outlet’s extremely negative coverage of popular content creators such as YouTuber Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg and Twitch streamer Dr. Disrespect has also caused backlash from fans of the online personalities.