Kenneth Shepard – Hello, I’m Kotaku’s New Writer

V from Cyberpunk 2077 living his best life in Night City.

Image: CD Projekt Red / Kotaku

Oh hi. I didn’t see you there. I am Kenneth Shepard, my cityis the new writer on the team.

If you don’t know me, I’ve spent the last three years writing about the video game industry at Change of fan as a personal writer, and I did so through the lens of strangeness, communityand introspection. I’ve also written about these things in places like Polygon, IGN, Paste Magazine, Gayming Magazine, and many other places that I won’t list here. But if you were kind enough to read my words there, you’ll find it all here at my city, as well. But on top of that, I’m here to help in our Tips and Guides section, where we talk about the how and why of how we play video games.

I got my start as a reporter working in local news. What started out as writing for my college newspaper eventually turned into a director and then working for my local newspaper for a stint. The end goal has always been to get a job writing about games, but I think writing about people in the field has had a big influence on the way I think and talk about the industry. Where once I was interested in watching giant corporations compete in the name of conquering the market, I now care more about what games mean to us as a culture of gamers and creators. I tell people that the best question I asked in interviews when I worked for the paper was, “What does this mean to you?” and I watched someone light up as they answered. I like to keep the same mindset when writing about video games and what they mean to people who don’t sit on a board and brag about record profits while laying off half of their effective.

In addition to writing about video games, I also talk about them on Normandy FMa bi-weekly retrospective podcast that I co-host with Destructoidis Eric Van Allen. If the name didn’t tell you, we started as a Mass Effect podcast that spanned the entirety of BioWare’s sci-fi saga, featuring episodes at the pace of each game alongside incredible guests from across the industry. Doing this show had a massive influence on my critical voice, because it shifted a lot of my thinking about games, storytelling, and player expression to really dissecting a particular moment, rather than trying to sum up the things in reductive outlines.

In the years that followed, the show became nothing more than a general retrospective of video games. We continued to cover dragon age, jade empire, The last of usand Final Fantasy Xand are currently a few episodes away from completing our comeback on Cyberpunk 2077. In the new year, we will start playing through the Deny series, which is exciting because this is the first time I haven’t played a game in the series before covering it.

My God, what else is there to say about me? Pokemon is my vice in life, and I have a particular set of six Pokémon that I consider my main group (Raichu, Palkia, Latias, Beautifly, Torterra, and Houndoom). Before the pandemic, I lived in movie theaters and you would catch me seeing everything that was going on, good or bad. I’m still trying to get back into the habit of rewatching movies, but this transition with the reopening of theaters has been an ongoing process. Before writing about games, I was well on my way to becoming a music teacher and teaching high school choir (I clearly have a knack for choosing career tracks that have extremely stable job markets), because Every gay teen singing in his high school choir in early 2010 got caught in Glee’s grabbing and is probably in therapy right now trying to get over Matthew Morrison’s performance of “Blurred Lines.” I don’t make music professionally anymore, but I sing a mean showtune in my car and I paid too much money for a replica of Ellie’s guitar from The Last of Us Part II so as not to play it once in a while.

Before my city, I lived in a small town in Georgia with my 16 year old Yorkie-Chihuahua named Lily, who owns all my heart. I don’t know how she’ll react to city life as we move to New York, especially in her grumpy old age, but I’ve worked a long time to get us here. I started writing about the video game industry as a wide-eyed college student in 2013 with a terrible review from Grand Theft Auto V for my university paper (which has thankfully been lost due to time and site redesigns), but what I didn’t tell most people at the time was that I started to write about video games because I was sure the career would take me out of the stuffy confines of small-town Georgia and into the big city I so wanted to live in. Years of college, a pandemic, health issues, and a layoff later, I write this from G/O’s New York office as an editor at my city. I can see the tall buildings out the window and hear the bustle of the city below. For a very long time, seeing a city skyline felt like your family was taking you to a nice restaurant. It was a special event that you knew would cost you a salary or two. Now? As soon as my working day is over, I will go out into the city and I will know that I am no longer just passing through.

So, as I write this, it’s a pretty big time of change for me. Going from writing for one website to writing for another is one thing, moving your whole life to the city you’ve been dreaming of for half your life is another. So here is a fresh start in an exciting new place. Both in the big city and here in my city. See you on the first page.

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