An Open Letter to The Escapist Community

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Vendor-Lazarus:
The "old guard" were the ones who started ruining it.
If susan, moviebob and jimsterling bought it and moderated it I would leave in an instant.
No Thanks!

I love what you've done with the place.

This place is way different than it was when I first joined nearly 10 years ago now. I've seen multiple ownership changes but TBH it's just seemed like a large downward spiral. I had great, interesting conversations on games and philosophy here with everyone being polite, respectful, and even insightful.

Now the forums seem to be populated with people who are nothing but impossibly cynical and contrarian. This forum has become addicted to negativity and conflict - is it really a surprise no one wants to be here anymore?

I do commend the mod team for their tireless efforts. If nothing else, I can appreciate the truly selfless work you're putting in to keep things afloat.

edit: and no, the irony of making a whiny, negative, cynical post complaining about negativity and cynicism is not lost on me.

Fappy:
So it appears this announcement has garnered the attention of Escapist's old guard editors and content contributors. There's been some back and forth on Twitter about Susan Arendt, Russ, and some other folks potentially buying the site back (or crowdfunding a buy-out). Not sure how serious they are about it, but as far as I am concerned this is the best shot the site has at bouncing back. If anyone else feels the same way, please tweet at these guys and let them know you support them and their idea. Encouragement from the community can show them there are people here that still care, and miss the old site we all loved.

Relevant twitter handles:

https://twitter.com/SusanArendt
https://twitter.com/the_moviebob
https://twitter.com/Graham_LRR
https://twitter.com/miracleofsound
https://twitter.com/GreyTheTick
https://twitter.com/russpitts

A buyout like this is pretty much the only way I'd support any efforts to revive this site. I mean no offense to the mods here, who I'm sure have no ill intentions. But as bad as Defy has been at running things, it's become increasingly clear that founder-and-somehow-still-part-owner Alexander Macris was the source of a lot of the problems and definitely the reason it took to chasing the Gamergate crowd and throwing everyone who questions them (Jim, Bob, Susan) under the bus. For those who haven't heard, his latest venture is collaborating with Milo Yiannopoulos, one of the three most infamous figures in the alt right alongside Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon. Whether it's a collaboration of the like-minded or Macris is just that relentless in chasing the almighty dollar that he's willing to get in bed with the absolute scum of the earth, I don't know and frankly I don't think it matters. As long as he continues to have anything to do with this site, I won't, and I guarantee that neither will any of our illustrious former contributors. A buyout would be amazing, but I realize that after years of getting fucked over by Macris and his crew, the last thing they probably want is to have to pay him for the privilege of getting their old job back and probably still not get to make any money from it.

With that in mind, holy crap we've had a lot of really great contributors over the years, and I admit it has long been my dream to somehow get the band back together, ideally with some of them as co-owners. If nothing else, I miss having a proper forum to discuss shows like Extra Credits (they had one, for a while, but I guess it was too much work for them). I miss being able to check in three times a week for whichever series or column updates that day and catching up with the latest gaming news on a site that's not built on fucking Kinja.

Oh, and someone else I'd add to the list: Shamus Young, who was let go just this past year. He still runs his own blog, alongside some other folks who until recently were also part of a Let's Play show with him called Spoiler Warning (they still are; he's not; I don't know the specifics of that). One of those people, Campster, also has his own show called Errant Signal, which you might be familiar with and which feels very much like old-school-Escapist material.

The Lunatic:
Getting Susan back would definitely kill this place.

The community that grew under her is definitely one of the reasons this site's forum became known as badly as it was.

I don't think we ever really recovered from the kinds of people she brought here, and people still complain about passive-aggression to this day.

Here, let's try this bit of passive-aggressiveness.

Looking at who doesn't want the return of Susan, getting Susan back and chasing out the people fussing about her would be my number one wish from a genie.

Well.

It seems my hour has come again.

It's been over five years since I last posted here, and a long time since I last visited. I can't say I haven't thought of this place in all my time away, but I have always been much too busy to even come and see it again. Some things have changed, some things have remained the same, - but being called citizen on my profile still makes me just that bit more pleased.

I suppose I've come here again to say a goodbye I never said, for my own sake, and put this place behind me, and enshrine all the people that I've met and shared a good time with over the years in memory. I hope too that my words can be some comfort in this tough time too - at least, an old friend's well-wishes.

From talking about the minutiae of Warhammer lore, to roleplaying my first games, to discussing the intricacies of how rifles function, - the one thing that I always enjoyed was the people who visited here and who I will remember, - Xitel, BabyTea, Beefcakes, Dalek Sec, Archeopterix, Dele, Sparrow, Erana, Fraught, Higurashi and many others. I don't know how it's changed since my time here, but even in the worst of times there were plenty of good people to share a good time with. That's something special, and very few -if any- other places had it quite as good.

As you transition from one medium to another or try to keep the site alive, however it will go, I hope you'll at least be a better community for it, if you manage to stay together. I wish you all the luck in the world in doing so, because it's going to be a tough road ahead - but one you can hopefully beat. I would not want this place to die even if I am no longer a part of it, and I would not wish it ill, even if it's gone from the halcyon days to the cesspool, as was the case with NeoGAF and many other forums, particularly the more ban-happy ones (ironically enough).

I hope that as things change and the website develops, through whatever measures you choose to take, you continue onward with honesty, integrity and good judgement. Those values are dimmed in this day and age, where all that seems to matter is what narrative someone spins or what ideas someone tries to force upon someone else, and people are willing to tear others down and witch-hunt over the slightest provocation - a sad state of affairs, if you ask me.

However, I hope you will do well! I really do. I hope to hear in a years time or more that the Escapist is flourishing still, in one way or another - and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Wishing you all the best, my favourite citizens,
Combined

NewClassic:

  • Please submit pitches, not completed articles.
  • Well thats fine and all but i doubt you want a pitch to just start with a topic.

    Also i spy 'no non-compete' in the guideline, this means multiple people may well be pushing reviews for, lets say, wolfenstein 2 at the same time?

    Combined:
    Wishing you all the best, my favourite citizens,
    Combined

    It's been quite a trip, Combined. Glad to see you again, for however brief. May your future bring you somewhere excellent.

    gigastar:

    NewClassic:

  • Please submit pitches, not completed articles.
  • Well thats fine and all but i doubt you want a pitch to just start with a topic.

    Also i spy 'no non-compete' in the guideline, this means multiple people may well be pushing reviews for, lets say, wolfenstein 2 at the same time?

    Non-compete clause means if you review something here, we won't make any demands of exclusivity. If you want to review it for another outlet, or perhaps spin up derivative works on your YouTube or Twitch account, that's all good. We won't assign the same project to multiple people, but we will keep every request in mind in case our primary writers fall through.

    Edit - The guideline has a quick word on pitches: About 100-200 words, covering roughly what you're envisioning for the article. There are some really good pieces of pitch advice out on the internet at large. If anyone needs help with pitching, I will point them in the right direction.

    Sassafrass:

    Hazy992:

    BreakfastMan:

    Honestly, I would be too if her and Russ could scrape together the cash to buy the site. But I don't know how feasable that actually is at this point...

    Oh it's definitely just a pipedream. But a man can dream eh?

    Dreams can become reality though.
    And even if it's not this place specifically, a new site run by them would be kickass.

    I have five quid I can donate, unless I end up at the pub again.
    All this talk about reviving the site is getting me nostalgic. Don't make me cry, damn it.

    NewClassic:
    Update!

    New content submission guidelines and information can now be found on the Submissions Contact Page, or by clicking "Submissions" in the footer below.

    Judging by your submission guidelines, I guess you wouldn't be interested in anything unscripted, like Let's Plays or podcasts, since you require scripts to be approved before recording? Everything we do is unscripted, so that'll knock us out of the running.

    plasmiusnake:
    Judging by your submission guidelines, I guess you wouldn't be interested in anything unscripted, like Let's Plays or podcasts, since you require scripts to be approved before recording? Everything we do is unscripted, so that'll knock us out of the running.

    I'm willing to entertain the idea, but I think it'll depend on previous work. Hit me with some samples, and I'll let you know.

    I'll fully support a sorta buy-back of the website, it'll for sure tell me that The Escapist is actually owned by people who care about it. My only concern is on the technical side, like does the domain, source code and such get included with the brand? 'suppose that's decided when/if this sort of thing happens. Same with server costs, like the upkeep has gotta be paid for somewhere, right?

    NewClassic:
    Update!

    Hang on a hot minute here. "Videogames"? Not "video games"? Ehhhh? Have I been living a lie my whole life?

    NewClassic:

    gigastar:

    NewClassic:

  • Please submit pitches, not completed articles.
  • Well thats fine and all but i doubt you want a pitch to just start with a topic.

    Also i spy 'no non-compete' in the guideline, this means multiple people may well be pushing reviews for, lets say, wolfenstein 2 at the same time?

    Non-compete clause means if you review something here, we won't make any demands of exclusivity. If you want to review it for another outlet, or perhaps spin up derivative works on your YouTube or Twitch account, that's all good. We won't assign the same project to multiple people, but we will keep every request in mind in case our primary writers fall through.

    Edit - The guideline has a quick word on pitches: About 100-200 words, covering roughly what you're envisioning for the article. There are some really good pieces of pitch advice out on the internet at large. If anyone needs help with pitching, I will point them in the right direction.

    Honestly, you might want to let down a bit on journalistic standards if you want a site thats going to be subsisting off of community contributions.

    Obviously dont sink to the level of one paragraph articles, but if i was running this i wouldnt be expecting contributions from people who actually know how to write professionally. Or at all, really.

    I would say keep pitches as a system for feature opinions, but allow submission of rough drafts for reviews, previews and reports that will be subject to an editing and revision process.

    And as for review exclusivity to contributors, i think it would be a better idea to drop it. Ive always thought this was one of the major problems with games journo sites that only one person would be reviewing any given work and on occasion i would be more interested in what someone else thought of a game than the writer who actually got the article.

    Also consider youre letting a community contribute at their discretion, i think it would be foolish to turn away someone simply because someone else has already covered it. Maybe they can bring different perspectives or have a wildly divergent view, which would be good for baiting people to sign up accounts to join a discussion and therefore potentially have more PubClub subscribers.

    If titling becomes an issue, the solution is to title reviews [Username] Reviews: [Thing Reviewed]

    Would the site be interested in some development side content? Like indie process and tools stuff? I have in the past written stuff along those lines to try and help others get a start in game dev.

    The Lunatic:
    The community that grew under her is definitely one of the reasons this site's forum became known as badly as it was.

    image

    For serious though, stop before you make yourself look even sillier. There's a reason some of us haven't been back here in almost four years.

    Oh, hey, hi.

    So...what's new?

    gigastar:
    Honestly, you might want to let down a bit on journalistic standards if you want a site thats going to be subsisting off of community contributions.

    Obviously dont sink to the level of one paragraph articles, but if i was running this i wouldnt be expecting contributions from people who actually know how to write professionally. Or at all, really.

    I'll keep it in mind, but as the comments in the recent content is quick to point out, people will always vocally prefer good content to just any content, and unless the Escapist gets no submissions, I'd much prefer investing my and my other editors' time into creating genuinely good content. I'm not expecting perfect journalistic standards, in part because I know I'm not paying for it, but what I do expect is a high level of effort. I can easily ask a submitter to maybe elaborate on a pitch or help me understand their direction for a review. And if they want to review something to which they don't have access--like a game that hasn't been released yet--that pitch gives me the opportunity to reach out and maybe secure a key for them. Also, for reviews, there's still my team's editing time, appropriate imaging, and so on. Having the opportunity to secure material and press kits ahead of time.

    Also, if someone wants to review an older game that has a lot of opportunity to spark an interesting discussion, I'd much rather be able to look at a pitch and say "Yes, this will work." rather than demand my contributors stay up-to-the-second and only review new release stuff.

    That said, you have some merit. I'll need to amend the language about review pitch requirements. They can be rather simple and still be effective.

    And as for review exclusivity to contributors, i think it would be a better idea to drop it. Ive always thought this was one of the major problems with games journo sites that only one person would be reviewing any given work and on occasion i would be more interested in what someone else thought of a game than the writer who actually got the article.

    This is an excellent point, and one I'll have to consider. Can't say I have an immediate answer for it, but it'll be on my mind. Multiple perspectives is something we have the luxury and time to entertain, and it's not something that should be discarded lightly.

    Thanks for your input!

    Basement Cat:

    Graham_LRR:

    lol

    I hope you and the others are doing well. I dunno where you are these days, btw.

    In case he doesn't see this, LRR's still very much active on Youtube & Twitch ("loadingreadyrun" on both) and you should definitely go check them out. They stopped doing the weekly sketches a little bit back but there's a whole host of stuff they've done more recently.

    Susan Arendt:
    Oh, hey, hi.

    So...what's new?

    Oh, you know, a bunch of us holding on to the rotting corpse of a website we used to love.

    Susan Arendt:
    Oh, hey, hi.

    So...what's new?

    She returns! :O

    Vendor-Lazarus:
    The "old guard" were the ones who started ruining it.
    If susan, moviebob and jimsterling bought it and moderated it I would leave in an instant.
    No Thanks!

    The Lunatic:
    Getting Susan back would definitely kill this place.

    The community that grew under her is definitely one of the reasons this site's forum became known as badly as it was.

    I don't think we ever really recovered from the kinds of people she brought here, and people still complain about passive-aggression to this day.

    Given the choice of getting her back or keeping you two? I think I'll take her.

    Susan Arendt:
    Oh, hey, hi.

    So...what's new?

    image

    Slanzinger:
    For serious though, stop before you make yourself look even sillier. There's a reason some of us haven't been back here in almost four years.

    98 posts, big part of the forum were you?

    lacktheknack:
    Here, let's try this bit of passive-aggressiveness.

    Looking at who doesn't want the return of Susan, getting Susan back and chasing out the people fussing about her would be my number one wish from a genie.

    The Rogue Wolf:

    Given the choice of getting her back or keeping you two? I think I'll take her.

    Exactly my point, we have people who care more about winning internet fights than keeping the website alive.

    Susan Arendt:
    Oh, hey, hi.

    So...what's new?

    Man, I miss seeing your corgi avatar around.

    The Rogue Wolf:

    Vendor-Lazarus:
    The "old guard" were the ones who started ruining it.
    If susan, moviebob and jimsterling bought it and moderated it I would leave in an instant.
    No Thanks!

    The Lunatic:
    Getting Susan back would definitely kill this place.

    The community that grew under her is definitely one of the reasons this site's forum became known as badly as it was.

    I don't think we ever really recovered from the kinds of people she brought here, and people still complain about passive-aggression to this day.

    Given the choice of getting her back or keeping you two? I think I'll take her.

    Susan Arendt:
    Oh, hey, hi.

    So...what's new?

    image

    Those were some good times, man. I still think about the Expo often and I still have the lanyard too.

    Fiz_The_Toaster:

    Those were some good times, man. I still think about the Expo often and I still have the lanyard too.

    Hang on a second...

    image

    There we go!

    shrekfan246:

    Fiz_The_Toaster:

    Those were some good times, man. I still think about the Expo often and I still have the lanyard too.

    Hang on a second...

    image

    There we go!

    Funnily enough, plushie Daystar still sits on my PS4. :D

    Fiz_The_Toaster:

    shrekfan246:

    Fiz_The_Toaster:

    Those were some good times, man. I still think about the Expo often and I still have the lanyard too.

    Hang on a second...

    image

    There we go!

    Funnily enough, plushie Daystar still sits on my PS4. :D

    It took me longer to find that picture this time than the last time. It still eventually shows up with some specific Googling, though. XD

    Christ, how many people here don't even know/remember that this website was once big enough to host its own expo two years in a row?

    shrekfan246:

    Fiz_The_Toaster:

    shrekfan246:

    Hang on a second...

    image

    There we go!

    Funnily enough, plushie Daystar still sits on my PS4. :D

    It took me longer to find that picture this time than the last time. It still eventually shows up with some specific Googling, though. XD

    Christ, how many people here don't even know/remember that this website was once big enough to host its own expo two years in a row?

    I don't know even know if I still have the pictures or not anymore since it's been years since I've bothered looking.

    The Expo was fucking great, and I think it's a damn shame that 2013 was a nose dive for this site. Hopefully the new mods and CM can bring this place around before Defy fucks with the place. Again.

    NewClassic:
    And if they want to review something to which they don't have access--like a game that hasn't been released yet...

    Ok one thing i will say is that one practice i think should absolutely be abandoned is review copies. Another persistent issue with games journalists at large is that theyre not really consumers, as they not in a position to be paying for what they review. And from a community contributors standpoint, something i would write a review for is something i was passionate enough about to have invested in.

    And all the time when i parse through through Steam reviews for a new game i always see people who think a game is not worth full price at release even if their review is a positive one.

    The relationship with the publishers is also something to wary of, what seems to be happening on sites like Gamespot and Iggen is that their reviewers are being pressured to write good reviews for games while the site is often covered in advertising for said publishers latest game so that publishers will continue to pay for advertisement and so that the site doesnt end up blacklisted for an opinion that the publisher doesnt want.

    And while that not sound like a bad arrangement to you, remember that many games journo sites, including The Escapist, as it happens, have fallen by the wayside as viewers began transitioning to new media sources over the past few years as, it seems, the readers/viewers arent so stupid as to not realize the ethical issues in the relationship between the games publisher and the games journalist.

    Another thing to consider for this is simply, who can you trust to pass a review copy on to and not come back with some half assed review after a week of playing it.

    And finally as mentioned earlier in the thread, people are going to be allowed shill their donations page of choice. So it wouldnt make much sense to also be passing these people free games. If their content is up to par with the readers then they should be able to recover their own costs.

    The Lunatic:

    Slanzinger:
    For serious though, stop before you make yourself look even sillier. There's a reason some of us haven't been back here in almost four years.

    98 posts, big part of the forum were you?

    Perhaps not. Some of us don't judge our sense of self-worth on having a five-digit post count on a single account. /shrug

    But... you *do* realise there used to be more to this site than just the forum, right?

    Fiz_The_Toaster:

    shrekfan246:

    Fiz_The_Toaster:

    Funnily enough, plushie Daystar still sits on my PS4. :D

    It took me longer to find that picture this time than the last time. It still eventually shows up with some specific Googling, though. XD

    Christ, how many people here don't even know/remember that this website was once big enough to host its own expo two years in a row?

    I don't know even know if I still have the pictures or not anymore since it's been years since I've bothered looking.

    The Expo was fucking great, and I think it's a damn shame that 2013 was a nose dive for this site. Hopefully the new mods and CM can bring this place around before Defy fucks with the place. Again.

    I'm pretty sure that pic is still from your photobucket.

    I would love if this website somehow managed to get out from under Defy's thumb, without going completely under. I mean, do they even remember they technically own us anymore? XD

    gigastar:

    Honestly, you might want to let down a bit on journalistic standards if you want a site thats going to be subsisting off of community contributions.

    Obviously dont sink to the level of one paragraph articles, but if i was running this i wouldnt be expecting contributions from people who actually know how to write professionally. Or at all, really.

    I disagree completely. There is absolutely no reason to let quality standards slip just because there is someone else behind the keyboard.
    Part of the reason I stopped coming here so much was because the articles dipped in both quantity AND quality. Sometimes when I read a couple I genuinely thought "man, I could do better than that".

    Quality writing speaks for itself, and is the only way to breathe some life back into this site.

    Susan Arendt:
    Oh, hey, hi.

    So...what's new?

    <3 My queeeen!

    shrekfan246:

    Fiz_The_Toaster:

    shrekfan246:

    It took me longer to find that picture this time than the last time. It still eventually shows up with some specific Googling, though. XD

    Christ, how many people here don't even know/remember that this website was once big enough to host its own expo two years in a row?

    I don't know even know if I still have the pictures or not anymore since it's been years since I've bothered looking.

    The Expo was fucking great, and I think it's a damn shame that 2013 was a nose dive for this site. Hopefully the new mods and CM can bring this place around before Defy fucks with the place. Again.

    I'm pretty sure that pic is still from your photobucket.

    I would love if this website somehow managed to get out from under Defy's thumb, without going completely under. I mean, do they even remember they technically own us anymore? XD

    I just remembered I had a photobucket. XD

    That would be sweet, and I'm pretty sure that they would have to buy Yahtzee's contract and the rights to the site. I can't imagine it's super expensive now given that not a whole lot of content is around now. :/

    But we'll see. A lot of people on the site want to publish content, so we'll see how that all plays out.

    DoorMatt:

    gigastar:

    Honestly, you might want to let down a bit on journalistic standards if you want a site thats going to be subsisting off of community contributions.

    Obviously dont sink to the level of one paragraph articles, but if i was running this i wouldnt be expecting contributions from people who actually know how to write professionally. Or at all, really.

    I disagree completely. There is absolutely no reason to let quality standards slip just because there is someone else behind the keyboard.
    Part of the reason I stopped coming here so much was because the articles dipped in both quantity AND quality. Sometimes when I read a couple I genuinely thought "man, I could do better than that".

    Quality writing speaks for itself, and is the only way to breathe some life back into this site.

    Im fairly certain the drop in quality at the beginning of the decline was due to having a crummy editor who let that one staffer push through all those one paragraph articles about E3 rumors.

    And im not advocating for a drop in quality of an end product, im advocating for a drop in expectations for contributors for exactly the reasons i pointed out in the first place.

    Slanzinger:

    The Lunatic:

    Slanzinger:
    For serious though, stop before you make yourself look even sillier. There's a reason some of us haven't been back here in almost four years.

    98 posts, big part of the forum were you?

    Perhaps not. Some of us don't judge our sense of self-worth on having a five-digit post count on a single account. /shrug

    But... you *do* realise there used to be more to this site than just the forum, right?

    So how about instead of just bitching about certain contributors you explain why you dont want to see them return.

    Wow. Haven't been here for years. I used to really love this place until it went to shit around gamergate. What ever happened to TopazFusion? I remember he got especially targeted around then. Crazy to see so many familiar names and faces still here in this thread (I dunno where my avatar went though.)

    I admire your guy's passion. Hope the site sticks around

    EDIT: Jojo and Fappy as mods, Caramel Frappe as staff? What a time to be alive.

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