Obituary: Kotaku’s Mike Fahey dies

Kotaku’s Mike Fahey, one of the longest-serving writers at one of the oldest and most widely read video game publications online, died Friday. He was 49. For more than 16 years, Fahey wrote about toys, snack foods, giant robots, video games, and the emotional ties that bind them all to his readership with great hilarity and deep affection.

Fahey’s death was confirmed Friday by his partner Eugene Abbott. In 2018, Fahey suffered an aortic dissection, which is a rupture in the body’s main artery that paralyzed him from the chest down and forced him to use a wheelchair. Fahey suffered another such tear in April and died from an infection related to those chronic health issues.

Mike Fahey joined Kotaku in 2006 after building an online presence with hilarious posts about a missing Pikachu plush. “He had a Pikachu that people kept kidnapping,” Abbott told Polygon. “People held up a sign that said, ‘We’ve got your Pikachu.’ I think the last time it was seen it was strapped to the front of an 18 wheeler.”

Mike Fahey in a Dickies shirt alongside Eugene Abbott, both mugging for the camera

Mike Fahey with his partner Eugene Abbott in 2010.
Photo: Eugene Abbott

Brian Crecente, Kotaku’s editor-in-chief from 2005 to 2011, recalled that Fahey was a commentator on a blog he started before Kotaku was founded. When Crecente was appointed editor of Kotaku, Fahey was his first job.

“The reason I hired him and why he continued to work there is because he was such a natural fun guy,” Crecente said. “So many who try to write funny stuff come across as forced, but for him it was an innate ability. It was just so natural. I pushed him to do investigative stuff and write longer-form lyrics, but I think what he liked best was making people laugh.”

Fahey climbed out of his shell when Crecente hired him in November 2006. He has stayed with the team ever since. “I had a job again, a girlfriend, and eventually my own apartment with no roommates,” Fahey wrote. At Kotaku, Fahey became known for his appraisals of tasty treats—Snacktaku was the running title of those posts—and for celebrating the lighter moments of video game culture.


Brian Crecente, Flynn DeMarco, Mike Fahey, Brian Ashcraft, and Michael McWhertor of Kotaku, circa 2007.
Photo: Brian Crecente

Fahey found his voice as an everyday fan of pop culture. His interests and enthusiasm include The Transformers, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, Madden NFL, and role-playing in particular. In October 2009, he published a groundbreaking memoir of his own video game addiction to gaming everquest, and how it broke a relationship with Abbott that he would soon mend.

“Everyone would be like, ‘Haha, you dated that guy who ignored you because of video games?'” Abbott said Monday. She seemed to understand that Fahey was approaching level 40 – which she still hated. “But there wasn’t a part of me that ever thought, ‘Does he care? Does he love the video game more?’ I just said, ‘Bruh, hurry up.’”

Posts about a Michael McDonald Fight Stick or how to cook an authentic Castlevania Wall Turkey were the order of the day during his workday. In 2008, his one-man campaign for Stan Bush got “The Touch” – the power ballad from the 1986s Transformers: The Movie animated feature – added guitar hero 5.

In one of Fahey’s most memorable and raucous contributions to Kotaku, he was playing a video game in his office, looking over his shoulder and seeing “a spider the size of a small Volkswagen” on the ceiling above him. He blew it up with a can of Elmer’s CraftBond glue, then smashed it up with a copy of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare for Xbox One. The suitcase is still stuck to the ceiling.

Fahey invited comparisons to the big, plus-sized kid stereotype, not least because he was 6ft 6 tall. Abbott recalls often returning from business trips to conventions and expos with a suitcase full of surprises for the children. “He came home with a suitcase and opened it and all the candy and toys came out,” they said.

“He came home from Momocon 2015 [in Atlanta] with lots of Ramune and Hi-Chew [candy]’ Abbott said, ‘called the kids in and opened her up on the bed, then she fell asleep surrounded by candy.’

Polygon News Editor Michael McWhertor, who joined Kotaku shortly after Fahey, had a similar memory while co-covering San Diego Comic-Con. “I came back to the hotel room and there was Fahey sleeping on his bed surrounded by all the toys he bought at the exhibition 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 support the family has been set up. Obituary: Kotaku’s Mike Fahey dies

Curtis Crabtree

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