Greetings, one and all. My name’s Kirk; I’m a musician and writer based in Portland, OR. I compose, teach, perform and love music a whole ton, and I write about and play a whole bunch of video games, too.
Here’s my full bio, which I try to keep updated:
Kirk Hamilton is a writer and musician in Portland, OR. He is features editor for Gawker Media’s gaming site Kotaku and has written about music, games and culture for a variety of publications including The New York Times, Edge Magazine, Kill Screen, and Paste Magazine, where he served as Games Editor. He has spoken at music and video game industry conferences, educators’ panels, and on National Public Radio. He is also a saxophonist, composer, songwriter, and jazz educator, and can be found online at kirkhamilton.com and on Twitter @kirkhamilton. Email him at Kirk [at] KirkHamilton [dot] com.
So, that’s the short(ish) version. Here’s the longer story:
First and foremost I’m a saxophonist and woodwind player, though I play a lot of other instruments as well. I also do a lot of arranging and orchestrating, and love to work with other people on their music. I guess that makes me a “producer” or something. I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, where in high school I was lucky enough to take jazz classes on campus at Indiana University. The highlight of that time was definitely studying jazz improvisation with the legendary David Baker.
After high school I attended the wonderful/intense Frost School of Music at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, where I got my degree in Studio Music and Jazz performance. I now gig around the SF Bay Area and have been lucky enough to play some pretty spectacular shows over the years both with my own groups and alongside a lot of music legends. Once I got to play “Where the Boys Are” with Connie Francis at the Castro Theatre, which I believe is the actual Ultimate San Francisco Gig of All Time.
I spent 2008 writing, recording, and producing my first solo CD, titled “The Exited Door,“ which I released in 2009. It’s a party, and features over 20 of my very favorite friends and musicians. I am currently performing shows in support of that music, as well as working on a second album and a number of groovy new projects including the theatrical radio variety show “915 Cayuga,” for which I am the musical director.
I’ve been a writer all my life, from the ridiculous action-adventure novels I’d write when I was twelve to the newsletter I wrote in High School detailing the rad (or, “rad”) adventures of me and my band-geek friends. I love video games as well – I grew up as a diehard PC gamer and finally came to consoles around the PS2 generation. As a result, I fell into writing about games pretty naturally – I’d discovered the “Brainy Blogosphere” in about 2007 and instantly fell in love: here were people who wrote and thought about games the same way I did!
I read, lurked, commented, and emailed with a lot of my favorite writers (each of whom is featured over on the sidebar), and finally in late 2009 I started up the gaming blog Gamer Melodico with three friends. I ran the site and worked my ass off for a year, putting up a ton of posts and figuring out how, exactly, I wanted to write about games. During that time I made friends with a whole lot of fantastic people and started to freelance for Paste Magazine and Joystiq and Edge magazine. I also got some stuff published at Kotaku, and generally became more and more present on the scene.
After that, I took over for Jason Killingsworth as Games Editor at Paste and ran the gaming site there for a while, and had a freakin blast doing it. A short time later I was given the chance to join the team at Kotaku as full-time features editor, and that’s where I am now.
I’ve had more fun than I know what to do with over the past few years, and feel like I somehow stumbled upon the actual most fun thing to write about in the world. I love the conversation so much—I’m a tireless advocate of the artistic merits of games, and I will seriously talk to you about them until the sun comes up. My contact info is all over this blog and I’m a really easy guy to get ahold of.
(I will, however, offer the caveat that I’m 100% exhausted with the snark and negativity that creeps its way into games writing and the communities surrounding games, so if you’re bringing that, I don’t have space for you.)
Some of my favorite games include Grim Fandango, Far Cry 2, Portal, No One Lives Forever, Half-Life 2, Rock Band, Final Fantasy Tactics, Persona 4, Morrowind, Warcraft 2, Journey, The Secret of Monkey Island, and doubtless a whole bunch that I’m forgetting.