Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I'm gonna whittle you into kindlin'

Just on the off-chance someone catches this and changes it later, this is both a link and a picture capture of that link:

(from the media album)

Feel free to expand the main picture, but I'll tell you now what it says: Bijou studio apartments available. Internet enabled.

Under a picture of the Cybermen. Riiiight.

More from the Escapist's forum logs.

Bloodstain: I tend to be on James' side of affairs, since I've heard about problems with the Escapist before. But I do not know the whole story, so I will refrain from judging too soon.
I wish Extra Credits and Allison's arm all the best nevertheless.

Edit: It's even sadder that here, you have to be afraid of suspensions because of agreeing with James.

JC175: Alex mentioned on the Escapist's facebook page that they didn't ask for 75% of the profit after expenses to go the Escapist, they asked for 75% of the profit after expenses to go towards the creation and marketing of the show itself. James instead wished to use the money to start his own publishing company, "after expenses" referring to the money remaining after funding Allison's surgery and the cost of the prizes that the Escapist offered as incentives.

Not picking sides here yet, but something doesn't add up.

EDIT: The quotes I'm referring to, from the comments on the Escapist's response:
"Once we paid for Allison's surgery, and once we paid for the cost of the t-shirts, that I thought 75% of the remainder of the money should be used on Extra Credits production. James disagreed and felt that he should be able to spend the remaining money on his new publishing business. We ultimately told him that it was more important to us that we keep working together and dropped it. Saying we asked for 75% of the money is simply not correct. We asked that 75% of the money go to the show. There's a huge difference."

"Alexander, the thing is, RocketHub is not a charity. No one gets a charitable tax deduction. My understanding when we supported the effort was that we were trying to "save Extra Credits." I feel personally betrayed that the excess funds are now being used for James to start a publishing business rather than to support Extra Credits. If James had intended to use RocketHubs to start his dream business of indie publishing business, power to him, but we wouldn't give lots of t-shirts and pub club memberships out to support that, you know? I just did my own Kickstarter and you didn't see anything about it on The Escapist."

Matt Oliver: I don't know if this has been said but someone will publish the emails on the escapist according to comments on alex's post,
James Portnow
I believe the best resolution would be for the escapist to simply publish all the letters sent by you or russ to me, my business manager or my lawyer...
45 minutes ago

Alexander Macris
If you'd like to do that, James, why don't you and I get on the phone with our attorneys tomorrow and we can mutually compile all of the emails dating back to November, and publish them in a PDF that's verified by both side's attorneys? I'm game for that.
44 minutes ago

TwoSidesOneCoin: I know its not directly related to this...problem, but after hearing this, one can't help but think that its the exact reason as to why Top 5 with Lisa Foiles never returned. They weren't able to pay. Unless Lisa finally spoke up about it. All I'd heard (from Lisa via tweets and/or facebook) was that she was on vacation/taking a break and would definitely be back.

Caramel Frappe: .. I read both sides. It seems like with Extra Credits, that The Escapist were very greedy and demanding 75% of Allison's money that was used for her arm which they also demanded $9,500. However, Escapist says that James misunderstood their claims and had a harsh lawyer making decisions that caused the website in the end break ties with Extra Credits.

will they use his old youtube account or a new one?

zerobudgetgamer: Out of everything here, one thing upsets me more than anything else: The appearance that the brunt of this started when Mr. Macris found out that the surplus donation money was going to be used for something other than making more Extra Credits episodes.

Seriously?? I've been trying to understand why Mr. Macris would be so concerned about the money going to making more episodes. My only belief is that he doesn't want to pay them for the episodes the excess charity money could afford to make. Honestly, if EC were allowed to create an indie publishing label, and link it somehow to Extra Credits, I can't see how this could not only "save" Extra Credits, but also propel it into something truly spectacular (See: Lucrative/Profitable)

Instead, Mr. Macris is concerned about "giving away" Memberships and T-shirts as the prizes for this charity - Which I really can't see as a primary reason ANYONE donated for - and I guess that he might not see the money return to his web site.

Now, this could very well be a misinterpretation on my part, and it could quite possibly be the sole fault of the pig-headed, soulless lawyers that both James and Mr. Macris have been forced to associate with for these proceedings that have caused things to spiral into such madness. HOWEVER, there are valid points on both sides, and I feel I must stand behind the Extra Credits crew in saying that The Escapist should NOT be entitled to ANY of the money from the charity outside of costs to fund Memberships and T-Shirts, and that the EC Crew should be able to use said money however they see fit, as we fans know the trio to be very good, trustworthy people, and their goals are in the best interests of gamers and video game lovers everywhere.

Imper1um: Here's what I think:

1. It's kind of BS that these guys are not talking face-to-face and are using lawyers to talk to each other. This goes for BOTH sides.

2. While I understand that they didn't pay because of issues with funds, I just don't think that the Escapist should purchase/take on any new projects and any flippant use of resources The fact is: if you do not have the funds, you don't purchase things!

3. From Escapist's Side: For the use of T-Shirts and Publisher's Club Memberships, Extra Credits and their representatives owe the Escapist reconciliation money for making the T-Shirts and giving players the Publisher Club Memberships based on the agreed upon price.

4. From the Extra Credits Side: Themis Media/Escapist should owe the staff the agreed upon amount that was set forth in the contract, which should have been paid on full at the designated intervals, regardless of what James said, period. Rule 1 of Business: Pay accounts first, regardless of if people say "Oh, you can pay me later." I understand a verbal contract is binding in certain states, however, it is not valid in all states, and also not valid outside of the United States.

Zaverexus: I seriously think things just need to be clarified here. Any contract signed should have been more clear and terms of donations should have been the same way.
That said, money donated belongs to Extra Credits.
But at the same time we know how devoted Extra Credits is to its purpose and its fans. Both sides need to form an agreement. Because no one wants to see EC leave.

Catalyst6: While I can understand that money is tight, here's the thing, Escapist: Don't take on more people *than you can pay for*. Seriously, everyone here looks at your ads or buys a pub club membership (I did the latter). I KNOW you have cashflow.

And while I can sympathize with the fact that we're not getting the entire story, some of these numbers seems crazy. It's just... /sigh. Extra Credits (and Name Game, and the rest, for that matter) are some of your most popular things on this site. If you can't afford to pay your debts then you're better off just telling them "We won't hire you" instead of expecting them to work pro bono.

Again, I realize that there's two sides to this. But it's kind of tasteless. As for *who* is tasteless, well, that depends on who's telling the whole truth. It's not cool of James to promise the money to "Save extra credits" (If that's what really happened)/refuse to talk directly to the Escapist anymore and it's not cool of The Escapist to demand all the money/not pay it off in the first place (or so they say). I like the EC team, but I also like the Escapist. I'm open to both sides, although I wish that I never had to draw those lines at all.

In all, I am disappointed with everything around. Someone is flubbing something and it's not right.

aashell13: I want to know who this "Business Manager" Macris mentions is. Reading between the lines of the two positions (James' explanation for leaving and Alexander Macris' response on behalf of Escapist) it seems to me that this "Business Manager" entered the picture at some point after the fundraiser had exceeded expectations, and talked James into doing things not part of the original plan.

aegix drakan: There is only one proper response to this:
(from the media album)

thepyrethatburns: Man, this is like the Dreamwave comics thing all over again.

viking97: well now i'm all depressed. i read both parties' statements, and quite honestly it sounds fishy from both sides.

Beautiful End: Look, I like the site. My friends have told me to go to Giant Bomb or IGN or something. But I say no, I like getting my nerd info in here. But after this...I just don't know. I thought these guys were different. I MIGHT actually start checking Giant Bomb or IGN. I don't know if they're better or not, but there's only one way to find out. At least these guys have shown their true colors.

Samurai Goomba: I don't know why people think The Escapist sounds like they're in the right, except maybe because the escapist has always been good at spinning the story. They did this crap just recently during Seattle or Bust, with their apology letter that both insulted those who doubted their awesomeness and grossly misrepresented their actual position at the time.
  • If you do not pay your employees
  • If you claim ANY money from a charity you did not start or run is money you deserve or can use to erase cash debts you owe to your employees
  • If you believe a verbal agreement is legally binding
  • If you threaten the other side with lawsuits for slander while secretly going around saying "let's do this without lawyers"
  • If you try to paint the other side as evil for seeking legal counsel when GOD KNOWS the escapist certainly has their own legal counsel available when they need it
You are in the wrong. Maybe James is a jerk. Irrelevant. You don't stiff your employees. Check how many responses there are to the EC team's twitter question asking who else has been stiffed by the escapist in the past.

Yeah. There's still more coming. Though eventually I may just give up, because I think my point's more than been made--there's a lot of fan rage, fan hurt, fan confusion, and while cooler heads are trying to prevail, there's a whole lot of folks who are wary and mistrustful of both sides, but most especially the Escapist.

Which--considering the staff of the Escapist--is really geeks going after our own, and more to the point, sad as well--not the controversy, per se, and not the rabid blood-in-the-water mentality of the circling nerdsharks, but the fact that there was fertile ground for mistrust in the first place.

How do you lose a community? Have large sectors of its population think you're being unfair in some fashion. So let's follow up on the recent actions of the Escapist:
  • adding long ads to their hosted videos. Check.
  • adding Captcha services for posting or watching some videos, which would also usually result in watching long ads. Check.
  • banning anyone who spoke out in any way against the site or what the site said. Check.
  • driving away, or more generally, just losing, content producers--and this is verified from at least December 2010, and it could go back farther--Check.
  • adding footer ads that waver between mildly invasive and claw-our-eyes-out annoying, with the added codicil that, once this ad bar is closed, flicking to the next page or the previous page will open it right up again: Check.
  • Sponsoring a fan drive to bring one of their more popular site contributors out, without fully researching what that would entail from airfare on down, to the PAX convention: Check.
And all of that was before what happened with Extra Credits. So take all of that as straw after slender straw, growing the pile of splintery doubt, until this situation happened, and yeah, a lot of fans are having that "A-HA!" moment, where the Escapist is concerned.

More when I can, but yeah, there's less outrage in me, and more resigned depression. It shouldn't have gone down like this. It's just sad to see.

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