Mike Fahey from my box, one of the longest-serving writers at one of the oldest and most widely read video game online publications, died on Friday. He is 49 years old. For 16 years, Fahey has written with great joy and deep affection for toys, snacks, giant robots, video games, and the emotional bond that binds them all to their readers.
Fahey’s death is confirmed Friday by his colleague, Eugene Abbott. In 2018, Fahey have aortic dissection, namely a tear in the body’s main artery, which paralyzed him from the chest down and forced him into a wheelchair. Fahey suffered another similar tear in April, and he died from an infection related to this chronic health problem.
Mike Fahey joined Kotaku in 2006, after establishing an online presence with hilarious posts about missing Pikachu dolls. “He’s got a Pikachu that people keep kidnapping,” Abbott told Polygon. “People would hold up signs that said ‘We have your Pikachu.’ I think the last time it was seen, it was strapped to the front of an 18 wheeler.”
Brian Crecente, editor-in-chief of Kotaku from 2005 to 2011, recalls that Fahey was a commentator on the blog he started before the founding of Kotaku. When Crecente was appointed editor of Kotaku, Fahey was his first employee.
“The reason I hired him, and the reason he continues to work there, is that he’s such a funny guy,” Crecente said. “So many try to write funny things, it seems forced, but to him, it’s an innate ability. It’s very natural. I encourage him to do investigative stuff and write in longer forms, but I think the thing he enjoys the most is making people laugh.”
Fahey came out of his shell when Crecente hired him in November 2006. He has remained on the staff ever since. “I once again have a job, a boyfriend and finally my own apartment, no roommates,” Fahey wrote. At Kotaku, Fahey became famous for his judgment of delicious treats — Snacktaku is the title of the run of this post — and to celebrate the lighter moments of video game culture.
Fahey finds his voice as a regular pop culture fan, his interests and enthusiasms spanning The Transformers, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, Madden NFL, and especially role-playing games. In October 2009, he published a groundbreaking memory of his own video game addiction while playing search, and how it broke with Abbott which he would soon fix.
“Everyone would be like, ‘Ha ha, you’re dating a guy who ignored you for video games?’” Abbott said Monday. He seemed to understand that Fahey was heading for level 40 — which he still hated. “But no part of me was ever like, ‘Does he not care? Does he prefer video games?’ I was just like, ‘Bruh, hurry up.’”
Posts about Michael McDonald’s fighting stickor how to cook Authentic Turkish Castlevania Walls is the equivalent for the day’s work. In 2008, one man campaign in the name of Stan Bush gets “The Touch” — a 1986s power ballad Transformers: Movie animation feature — added to Guitar Hero 5.
In one of Fahey’s most memorable, and most shocking, posts for Kotaku, he is playing a video game in his office, looking over his shoulder, and seeing “a spider the size of a small Volkswagen” above the ceiling. He blew it up with a can of Elmer’s CraftBond adhesive, then smashed it with a copy Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare for Xbox One. The case is still stuck to the ceiling.
Fahey invites comparisons to the cliché of the big boy being too big, not least because he stands 6 feet-6. Abbott recalled that he often returned from business visits to conventions and fairs with a suitcase full of surprises for their children. “He came home with the suitcase and opened it, and all the sweets and toys would come out,” they said.
“He came home from Momocon 2015 [in Atlanta] with lots of ramune and Hi-Chew [candy],” said Abbott, “to call the kids in and open them in bed, then fall asleep, surrounded by candy.”
Polygon news editor Michael McWhertor, who was hired at Kotaku shortly after Fahey, has 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 from the show floor, like a kid at Christmas,” he said.
Michael Fahey is survived by Abbott and their two sons, Seamus and Archer, both 11. A GoFundMe campaign to help families has been set.