Tuesday, August 16, 2011

you and I in silence, with nothing else to say

More from the Escapist.

Dreiko: Simply put, the continuation of extra credits is not the same as the FUNDING of it. If Allison's arm was rendered useless we wouldn't have extra credits any more. The money is unimportant and for the escapist to interpret their agreement as being about money and not solely towards saving her arm (if they're saying the truth) speaks in volumes about the level of soullessness they have.

JourneyThroughHell: The fundraiser that was originally intended to help a person recover from a career-threatening injury is now for James to use for his personal needs. Surgery has already went through but the fund still has 19 more days to collect shit.

I'm not gonna trust James Portnow. I hate their show and I want the Escapist to be right, I admit. Doesn't sound like they are, but it doesn't look like EC are, either.

silversnake4133: As for picking sides, I'm going with the Escapist on this one. Look just because the escapist is an online company doesn't make it automatically evil. What say you put yourself in the publisher's shoes. With a bad economy, they are barely getting money as is, most of the money they get is from ad revenue, merchandise sales, and Publisher's Club memberships. (Most if not a good percentage of the people on here are free members anyway, so you have no right to complain.)

Unnamedenemy: To me, this entire affair smack of bad choices and faulty assumptions on both sides, all of which could have been avoided with a bit of foresight. It looks to be that the Escapist is desperate for any source of revenue, and James/EC didn't give the escapist what it was due (there's also the issue that they didn't really specify what would be due). I love EC and the Escapist, and I'd rather see them find a way to work this out.
Also, I am sick of people all over the forums text-screeching "OMG ESCAPIST IS EVIL!" It is not that simple, the actions of both sides are almost certainly motivated by good intentions and mucked up by poor decisions.

Packie_J: Now that I've calmed down, instead of blindingly firing at the escapist because of my respect to EC, I must admit that both sides are being shady about the whole matter. I'm taking a couple of steps backward and see how the whole thing plays out.

dyre: I'd be more inclined to stay neutral if not for the several other Escapist employees who have also stated that Escapist screwed them in similar ways.

DustyDrB: Thoughts:
1) It sounds like the Escapist is clearly in the wrong here. Their case is iffy at best.
2) But that sucks because I still respect the creative staff and...well, anyone who isn't involved with payroll and contracts. I hate to think that they'll be demonized for the poor business decisions of someone else in the organization.
3) That said, I'm in support of the Extra Credits team here. I just hope the fallout on this site isn't too bad.
4) We'll see how this goes. It's best to avoid kneejerk reactions, though. I'm not with the people who are shouting blanket statement condemnations towards The Escapist. Though there's definitely some major dirt behind the scenes, I think the people who do the writing around here are decent folk.

ianeddy44: First of all, I don't think we should fear moderator wrath. I don't think they're quite that bad. The last thing The Escapist should want to do right now is stifle outcries from the community. That would a) indicate that there's more to it and they don't want that out, and b) that would plainly and simply make people flip shit even more.

On topic: Let's not jump the gun here, kids. It might not be as sensational as it appears. I've been lurking here for quite some time, posting every now and then. The feeling I got here was that this site is legitimate. It's about the gaming industry. I loved the escapist because it represented not only gaming, but "geeky" culture in total. It was a good place, with honest and constructive elements.

While it pains me to say so, and I really with this wasn't happening... This turn of events has placed an irremovable black mark on your name, Escapist. This is not child's play. THIS IS REAL LIFE. YOU PAY YOUR EMPLOYEES. Contracting people and not paying them under contract is ILLEGAL. It's not a slap on the wrist. It isn't some meager fine. Sure, the EC team was fine with a delayed payment because you were strapped on cash. That was in good faith. They were giving you some slack and allowing critical flexibility. Which it seems you took advantage of.

Soviet Heavy: I'm more upset about what happened to our money. The money was for Allison's surgery, not for a show. Saving the show was great, but it was about helping out a struggling artist.

I don't want the money going towards the Escapist for whatever reasons, but I'd have liked it if James had told us what he was going to do with the leftover cash. Even if he said that he was going to make the indie company in honor of Allison or something like that, I'd feel better.

It's just infuriating that neither side is telling us what is happening with OUR money.

bob1052, some hours later: Assuming someone owes you more than 29,000 (20,000 to break even on unpaid wages and then the extra 9,000 that is "owed") in the face of a vague term is forcing misunderstandings. Any assumption involving thousands of dollars is completely retarded and whoever at the Escapist made it should be fired on the spot for being an idiot.

xXAsherahXx: Both the Escapist and James are in error.

The Escapist thought that it could get away with not paying EC for almost a year. Everybody knows that mankind doesn't simply say "alright, you don't have to pay me"...that's a bunch of shit, it doesn't matter if James or anybody said it. It's just shit. Even in a non-profit business, somebody gets paid to keep said business from crumbling.

Also, the Escapist made the mistake in demanding that it be paid and went about this in an offensive way. The money raised for Allison was meant for Allison, but on the other hand. MORE THAN ENOUGH WAS RAISED TO HELP ALLISON. I mean seriously. We shouldn't bitch about the Escapist taking most of the money if there was more than enough to begin with.

"You have enough for Allison's operation? Awesome, we kinda spent a lot on t-shirts and shit, mind if we take the rest?"

The Escapist was half just and unjust in taking all of it. On one hand, it needed the money to pay for its own expenditures, and on the other, the money could have gone towards paying James.

Jumplion: Okay, so, I randomly pop in on the Escapist and all this shit is going down. From all the things that have been going on, here are my thoughts;

Both parties are at fault with this, I am sure. I am less inclined to believe Portnow as he is using sympathy right now to fight for his cause, but at the same time other contributors to the Escapist have rallied with the Extra Credits team so that gives him more credence.

This thing seems to have started due to the charity drive for Allison. Now, I don't know what they're ultimately planning to do with the extra money they got, but I would assume that the whole team came to the idea of a publishing company together. I highly doubt that Portnow just up and decided to hightail it out with the money for something completely different, there's no way that the publishing project couldn't have been thought up mutually between the three of them.

The Escapist really seems to be in the shitter right now. Other contributors (MovieBob, the old Creater Caster Master thing, Lisa Foiles, what have you) are calling them out. It looks like the Escapist wants to promote a good, healthy line of content but they can't seem to manage it properly.

After all this shit settles, then I'll begin to asses the situation and realign where my trust lies. This does hurt my impression of The Escapist, from what I have been reading.


Traipse: I'm kind of amused to see the posts with people complaining about what ExtraCredits/the Escapist are going to do with "our money". One of the interesting things about money: Once you spend it or give it to someone else, it's not really yours anymore.

Korolev: Hey, at least her operation got paid for. It was always going to be difficult since they all have their own jobs. I'm surprised that it cost them that much to run the show. Really opens your eyes to how much of a gamble this sort of stuff is.

squid5050: Why does it entitle James to start his own business though?

Bruden, in response: If you'd read the initial proposals on it along with all his comments on Facebook you'd realize he's not starting a business, he's starting a charity. The plan as described by James was a fund that would give money to a worthy indie game developer with an agreement that a portion of profit returns to the fund to be handed out to the next developer. It's not a for profit business venture, it's a not for profit fund to further the growth of gaming, similar to his innovation awards earlier this year.

uncanny474: These are the facts as I see them.

1) Escapist was having financial troubles.

2) James was willing to take some financial hits in order to help the Escapist through these troubles.

3) Allison screwed up her arm.

4) James (understandably) freaked out and started working like a madman to get money to pay for her surgery.

4a) James tried to save her by collecting his back fees from the Escapist. They didn't have the money, so he was forced to try a fundraiser. This is not necessarily a fault with the Escapist--an emergency came up suddenly and they didn't know that James would need back fees so suddenly.

4b) James asked for "permission" for the fundraiser. Why? Was it for the intellectual property of the name, logo, etc.?

4c) The Escapist "threw [their] weight into supporting [the fundraiser]" by putting an ad up for a week or two and graciously allowing James to buy EC t-shirts and Publisher's Club memberships to offer as incentives. He bought them "at wholesale", meaning the Escapist didn't receive a direct profit from the items. It seems to me that, although they supported the effort, they were not the ones fueling it, managing it, or coordinating it--James was.

5) Rockethub made a TON of money. More than was needed to give Allison her surgery.

6) Here's where things get messy. I'd need to see the agreement James and Escapist worked out to be sure, but it seems that the Escapist had given permission for the intellectual property to be used to support the effort and for James to buy the merch wholesale ONLY AS LONG AS THE MONEY WAS BEING USED TO "save Extra Credits".

7) So, the real question becomes--is James using the money legally? Did the agreement he worked out with the Escapist mean that to use the funds for anything other than "saving Extra Credits" is a breach of contract? If so, then the whole thing becomes a mess, and I'm not a lawyer, nor can I see the contract, so I don't know what the legal consequences are. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say something along the lines of embezzlement. I don't think James did this maliciously--he may just have not understood the contract. Also, if he hasn't spent the money, then I don't expect too much legal recourse.

7a) If James IS using the money legally, then the escapist is either greedy or unable to understand the contract. I'm, once again, banking on the latter.

CONCLUSION: I'm going to watch whatever legal stuff comes out of this and find out who is in breach and what sort of statements are made. If it looks like one giant misunderstanding, I'll probably support both groups. If it looks like the Escapist is trying to cover up their greed, I'll quit the site. If James is trying to weasel out of a contract, I'll back the Escapist.

If I can't find any more information, I'll assume it was a giant misunderstanding.

Now, as for the Escapist not paying its people... they're cruising for a BIG lawsuit there. I think that regardless of what happens with Extra Credits, this BS about people not getting paid is going to be a big deal. I'll be watching that even more closely than the EC case.

And yeah, I quoted the entire message because I thought it was that damned good, and worthy of preservation.

More when I next have time.

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