The Escapist

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The Escapist
TheEscapist.jpg

Parent Company Defy Media
Owner Alexander Macris
Editor-in-Chief Joshua Vanderwall, Greg Tito (former)
Ethics Policy View on site
Boycotted? Yes

About

The Escapist is an online magazine which covers video games as well as movies, comics, and TV.

Pre - Gamergate

Coverage of Zoe Quinn's alleged harassment in 2013

On December 13, 2013 The Escapist covered Depression Quest developer Zoe Quinn's alleged to have received harassment from an anonymous imageboard called Wizardchan after her game was submitted on Steam Greenlight. She claimed this community was sexually harassing her via phone calls and had to change her phone number. None of these claims were fact checked.[1]

Quinnspiracy forum thread

On August 17, a thread was made on Escapist forum to talk about the Quinnspiracy controversy, and was later merged with another related thread. The merged thread had reached 817 pages when its activity was last recorded on October 16. The thread was subject to heavy moderation to the point that some people mentioning quotes from Eron Gjoni's blogpost were banned permanently.[2]

Greg Tito's Admission of Bias Regarding Harassment Claims

On that same thread, Greg Tito posted some answers about the article The Escapist wrote about Zoe Quinn on 2013. He was confronted by users that pointed out the lack of research and fact checking in the article. It was also pointed out how much he was trying to shame people who were pointing out double standards concerning coverage over Zoe Quinn's alleged harassment but not the conflict of interest between her and Nathan Grayson.

On those posts he admitted to publishing the 2013 article about Quinn's harassment without doing proper fact checking because, according to him, victims don't have a burden of proof so he didn't need to ask for the other side of the story. His justification for the coverage of Quinn's alleged harassment but not the coverage of her controversial conflict of interest was because he wanted to focus on "helping" instead of "hurting" people. He denied the legitimacy of Thezoepost despite the evidence proving its veracity and claimed that if Stephen Totilo said that Nathan Grayson is innocent, then he must be.

  • [[120x50px]]

    Greg ignores the other side of the story because the harassment angle is more important[3]

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    Says there's no narrative of victimizing women after victimizing women[4]

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    Greg calls 9/11 truthers to users posting evidence of media censoring.[5]

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    Greg says The Thezoepost isn't believable despite all the evidence backing it.[6]

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    Greg claims the media censorship was to protect Zoe from harassment and that if Totilo said Nathan Greyson is innocent then it must be true.[7]

  • [[120x42px]]

    Greg admits reporting without proper fact checking and to drive an agenda.[8]

  • [[120x41px]]

    Greg Admits that there's no need for fact checking if you want to push an agenda.[9]

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    Greg says he stands for journalistic ethics while saying there's no burden of proof on 'victims'.[10]

Role In GamerGate

GameoverGate and #burgersandfries interview

On September 6, 2014, Alexander Macris (co-founder of The Escapist) visited the #Burgersandfries (a public Irc channel)for their side of the story regarding Zoe Quinns accusations towards them.[11]

On September 7, 2014, The Escapist released the interview with the irc, in it was explained that most of the screenshots leaked by Zoe Quinn were taken out of context and how she drew strange connections out to them. Then they gave the complete logs of the channel to Macris which can be found in the article.[12]

  • A comparison between the Irc Chat screenshots showed by Zoe Quinn and the real quotes in context can be seen here.[13] And the full log of #burgersandfries from August 18 to September 6 can be found here.[14]

Ethics Policy Reform

The Escapist was the first website to agree to adopt a substantial ethics policy at the behest of the GamerGate revolt.

On September 8, Defy Media's owner Alexander Macris published a lengthy article, "The State of Gaming", detailing many of the concerns raised in this scandal,[15] followed by a revised ethics policy.[16] In addition he offered an apology for incorrect reporting involving Zoe Quinn and Wizardchan, stating that the article did not cite credible proof.[17]

Game dev. interviews about #GamerGate

On October 10, 2014, The escapist revelead they had been collecting interviews of game developers about what they think of the GamerGate controversy.[18] The developers interviewed were:

Developer Summary
Slade Villena Villena speaks about the IRC logs (the same that were explained to be out context in the interview to #burgersandfries), being 'shadowbanned' from Gamasutra, the impact of blacklisting, cliques in the industry "bashing and sabotaging devs and journos with different opinions", and how Gamergate is "an information war against the clique that wants to cover up corruption".[19]
James Desborough James talk about the blacklisting of developers from Tabletop games communities and the Tabletop Games industry for not agreeing with them on political topics. The hyper sensibility that triggers the blacklisting and false claims to character assassination to silence dissent and places and companies in the tabletop games industry where this is practice is accepted.[20]
Brad Wardell Brad talks about the double standard in game journalist where the tone and research of a story vary depending on the gender of the person they're covering. How harmful this is and how this affected his works years ago. He also speaks about how SJWs have wrongly smeared people in the industry, the lack of proper reporting, how gamers have lost trust of Gaming media because of this and they're seeking better mediums to get their information.[21]
Daniel Vavra Daniel talks about gamers, that he makes games for people with similar taste to his, "toxicity" in gamer culture, "Gamers are dead." articles released on all gaming journalism websites between 28 August 2014 to early September and main cause for Gamergate.[22]
Damion Schubert Damion talks about how Gamergate is a "clusterf**k", like how both sides will overreact, game companies advise employees to not bring it up, so they won't alienate both customers and co-workers, and such. Though he describes himself as a free speech zealot and supports developers to make art they want and customers to be free to seek what they like.[23]
Xbro Xbro talks why he supports Gamergate, it's because he's always against the Social Justice Warriors phenomeon and certain game publications choosing to side with non-gamers, who wish to destroy gaming. [24]
OakHeart Oakheart explains that there's two camps, Anti-GG and pro-GG, instead of talking to each other and finding common ground, both sides are shouting at each other. [25]
Dave Rickey Dave Rickey sees Gamergate as incredibly petty, that they're focusing on the bad breakup, when there's other problems in the gaming industry. He doesn't like the extremists from both sides, also that GG became a proxy for the larger "Culture War" that's being fought between feminists and conservatives (Neither side cares about games and gamer culture as a whole). [26]
Crowned Demon Studios One of the devs from the Crown Demon Studios sees Gamergate as an important conversation about journalists' role in gaming that's still ongoing. The cause of Gamergate is the lack of journalists' willingness to investigate the conflicts of interests that were the catalyst of it all.[27]
James Covenant James Covenant compares game culture to cultures of another mediums, to him Gamergate is a part of a larger cultural issue, and it has been "brewing for a long time." [28]
Tadhg Kelly Tadhg Kelly compares Gamergate to the former Tea Party and its root cause is ignorance. Also, there's no SJW conspiracy and some other things.[29]
Kyle McConaughey Kyle McGonaughey states that Gamergate started, when the gaming media publications called gamers misogynist nerds and worst, he supports GG. So far Kyle didn't get in any trouble, like blacklisting, yet.[30]
"Scion" Scion doesn't talk about Gamergate much, though he's really concern about the fallout. He sorta agrees that Gamergate has been brewing for years and all because the game journalism has been insulting gamers for a long time. Scion then talks about the corruption going on in the gaming press.[31]
Greg Costikyan Greg Costikyan sees Gamergate as a conspiracy, which was formed by the PUA and MRA communities. He sees GG as a by product of gamers who respond defensively to perceived attacks on hobbies they love. Even sees GG barking the wrong trees, though knows that the gaming press is corrupted.[32]
"Roo" Roo talks about his fellow game developers who came out in favor of Gamergate or are perceive as anti-sjw and are blacklisted, harassed, or stonewalled by game journalists. Even stating that the SJWs use emotion to divert from the important issues that GG brings up and making it appear villainous.[33]
"Glaive" Glaive states that he didn't "toe the party line" and he wasn't hit, but all these "Gamers are dead" articles, game devs coming out in support of GG, and talking about how he sees the aftermath of these articles.[34]
"Royale" Royale discusses that there's never any "integrity" in game journalism, his main concerns is game press doing to make favorable coverage, even trading favors to get it, and things, like Gamergate, has been brewing for years. [35]

Removal of Roguestar's and Grimachu's interviews

On October 10, 2014, Zoe Quinn, Alex Lifschitz and Jim Sterling pressured Greg Tito to remove the interviews done to Slade Villena[36] and James Desborough[37] under the claims of harassment of developers and The Escapist's staff.

On October 17, Greg Tito removed both interviews to avoid backlash after being pressured with unverifiable and questionable evidence.

"Editor's Note #4: The Escapist removed the interviews of Slade Villena and James Desborough due to complaints (accompanied by what appears to be actual evidence) that Messrs. Villena and Desborough have harassed members of the online community, including certain of our contributors. While we cannot speak to the legitimacy of such of complaints, due to our strong policy prohibiting harassment and abuse we thought it best to simply remove the interviews."
The Escapist[38]

Desborough later stated he didn't get any explanation for the removal of his interview until he saw the update accussing him of harassment (This points to Greg not bothering to contact James at all to get both sides of the story).[39] The tweets previously shown also prove that Slade tried to contact Greg to tell his side of the story but he didn't get any response.

Female Game Devs thoughts about #GamerGate

On September 24, 2014, The Escapist interview some of the women in the gaming industry, they're anonymous, so to avoid actual harassments and blacklistings. These women developers have 10 years or more industry experience under their belt.[1] According to Developer #1, "Gamergate" is a loaded term, alongside with "Social Justice Warrior", "Men's Rights Activists," and "Gamer", the past month was frustrating and even exhausting for many, even terrifying to a few. She doesn't care if one calls him/herself a "gamer" as long as they're decent humans. Developer #1 sees Gamergate just started by a fringe few that's trying to divert attention from their horrible behavior, if Gamergate wants to point out the corruption, inappropriate behavior of game developers, publishers, and journalists, they should start doing the same with their fellow Gators, who are doing harassing, abusing, and hate speech which is derailing any useful conversations. Developer #1 is also saying that their needs to be diverse games and game developers and gamers for the gaming industry to survive and be more open, no one is trying to "destroy games", "take away hardcore games", or tell anyone what they should or shouldn't play.

With Developer #2, it took awhile, since she needs to gather her thoughts. First and foremost, she's a gamer and loves video games, and that gamers are damaging the very thing they love and here's why. Stating that developers play and are influenced by all sorts of games, whether they're AAA or just plain indies. Losing the "weird, polarizing, indie voices" means that we'll lose variety, which will doom games to be dull, stagnant, and boring sequels. The more Gamergate yells, digs, attacks the game journalist/devs, the more game developers will quit listening to them. So, think twice before attacking people that makes them, because it'll doom games to a bad and boring future. Developer #2 continues saying that this controversy has the potential to do severe damage to game development, to the point that she (and her fellow devs) cannot talk about it, especially in social sites like Twitter and Facebook, they want to talk about it, but they cannot. Because it'll also attach the company's name, if the developers do say something. On the flipside, Developer #2 talks about how artistic freedom is being trample (Even going far to say that there's no such thing when you work for a company), they tell you there needs to be less clothes, more clothes, blood isn't shiny enough, etc. Even talking about her friend who stood up for Anita Sarkeesian and she's now getting targeted, despite that her public face is unshakable and resolute, one can see that Developer #2's friend is broken and is now doubting her career choice, mainly because she's worried and frighten for her children (and rightfully so, she's seen what happens to others).

Developer #3 sees the word "gamer" to be just as varied as the definition of the word "art." She thinks Gamergate is a colossal mess, it started with terrible origins and gained followers who do have legitimate concerns and good intentions, but the hashtag won't be taken seriously since it's tainted with the misogyny, malice, and those that still uses it and insists that it isn't what it stands for is baffling.

Pressure from GameJournosPro to censor dicussion about Zoe Quinn

The Escapist's forums were censored early on in the GamerGate scandal. It was revealed later that Greg Tito questioned the GameJournoPros group about whether or not to allow discussion on the topic;[40] Ben Kuchera, Andy Eddy, and Chris Dahlen stood in favor of censorship while James Fudge saw the threads violating The Escapist forums' terms of service. Macris later intervened to allow discussion. The forums currently host GamerGate discussion in the "Religion and Politics" section and continue to be a significant part of the community surrounding GamerGate.

Going Turncoat

On January 21, 2015, Ethan Ralph of the ralphretort announced prematurely that Bob "moviebob" Chipman had been terminated from the escapist, which proved to be false[41]. On February 13, 2015 movie bob himself revealed he had been let go from the Escapist[42]. GG supporters unsurprisingly counted this a victory, while moviebob proclaimed via his twitter, it had nothing to do with GG, and loosly alluded to budget concerns and sweeping employment termination at Defy Media. This does not explain why the Escapist hired two openly Pro-GG personalities as moviebob was leaving.

Liana Kerzna will be contributing content in cosplay starting summer 2015(Citation needed). Brandon Morse will be a freelance writer, not a staff writer, he revealed in a conversation held on Sargon of Akkad's youtube page[43].

The response is what you'd expect from Anti-GG. Brandon Morse aside from being Pro-GG, is also openly right-wing, and accused of being transphobic by Dominic Preson of frontiersmedia[44]. This has been used to claim Escapist is now a right-wing site, and is the "Fox News" of the gaming media.

In December 7, 2017, Russ Pitts and some of the few of the potential stuff, like Bob Chipman, in the Slack chat discussed on how they would re-brand the site and get rid of the "Alt-Right stink."[2] Even going as far to distance themselves from "bad ownership" and that the erasure is the top priorities at the time.[3] One of the staff members, Robert B. Marks, took umbrage with Pitts' "alt-right" comments and sued him and Enthusiast Gaming (The Escapist's parent company) for libel and defamation, the case will resume in January, 2019.

New Owners, New Obstacles, New Future to Look Forward To

When the Escapist fell under new management, Russ Pitts, one of the new owners stated that Gamergate is ban period. [4][5] Despite saying that the Escapist won't allow politics, they re-hire moviebob, an individual who has high political opinions.


In August 21, 2018, Russ Pitts expands that the Escapist was currently dead and dormant, even thinking that "Gamergate and its far-right ilk" had damaged the forums and the site was living on borrowed time.[6] In September 9, 2018, Russ Pitts then states that those who frequented the Escapist during the post-GG times are the worst kind of people, [7] After seeing Kotaku In Action's thread about his speech, he tweeted a "societal rejects" joke.[8][9]

GameJournoPros Members

These are the gaming journalists that are working (or previously worked) for The Escapist and are part of the GamesJournoPro's Google mailing list.

References

  1. Escapistmagazine.com - Depression Quest Dev Faces Harassment after Steam Submission
  2. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums:Zoe Quinn and the surrounding controversy thread
  3. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums:Greg Tito ignores the other side of the story because focusing on the harassment aspect is more important.
  4. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums:Greg Tito's denying that media is making a narrative of victimizing women
  5. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums:Greg tito calls 9/11 truthers to users posting evidence of media censoring.
  6. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums:Greg Tito claims that Thezoepost isn't believe despite all the evidence supporting it.
  7. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums:Greg Tito sees disent as 'harassment' and uses an argument from authority
  8. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums:Greg admits reporting without proper fact checking to drive an agenda 01
  9. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums:Greg admits reporting without proper fact checking to drive an agenda 02
  10. Escapistmagazine.com - Forums(before merged thread):Greg says he stands for journalistic ethics while saying there's no burden of proof on 'victims'
  11. Rizon #burgersandfries - Archon interview
  12. Tito, Greg (September 7, 2014). Exclusive: 4Chan and Quinn Respond to Gamergate Chat Logs. Escapistmagazine.com. Archived from the original on November 26, 2014. Accessed January 19, 2015.
  13. Imgur.com - Irc Chat Matches
  14. #Burgersandfries full logs(Aug 18 to Sep06)
  15. Escapistmagazine.com - Publisher's Note: The State of Gaming, Part I: The Culture
  16. The Official Ethics Policy of The Escapist
  17. Escapistmagazine.com - Publisher's Note: The State of Gaming, Part II: The Journalism
  18. Escapistmagazine.com - What Game Developers Think of #GamerGate
  19. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - Slade Villena GamerGate Interview
  20. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - James Desborough GamerGate Interview
  21. Escapistmagazine.com - Brad Wardell GamerGate Interview
  22. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - Daniel Vavra GamerGate Interview
  23. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - 'Damion Schubert' GamerGate Interview
  24. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - Xbro GamerGate Interview
  25. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - OakHeart GamerGate Interview
  26. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - Dave Rickey GamerGate Interview
  27. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - Crowned Demon Studios GamerGate Interview
  28. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - James Covenant GamerGate Interview
  29. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - Tadhg Kelly GamerGate Interview
  30. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - Kyle McConaughey GamerGate Interview
  31. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - "Scion" GamerGate Interview
  32. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - Greg Costikyan GamerGate Interview
  33. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - "Roo" GamerGate Interview
  34. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - "Glaive" GamerGate Interview
  35. Escapistmagazine.com - The Escapist - "Royale" GamerGate Interview
  36. Twitter.com - Jim Sterling claiming Roguestar sent people to dogpile him
  37. Twitlonger.com - @EffNOVideoGames: Discussion with Alexander Macris (@archon) of @TheEscapistMag
  38. Escapistmagazine.com - What Male Game Developers Think of #GamerGate
  39. Postmortenstudios - #Gamergate Escapist/Desborough Interview Disclosure
  40. Breitbart.com - GameJournoPros Zoe Quinn Email Thread Dump
  41. http://theralphretort.com/published-report-fat-liar-movie-bob-shitcanned-from-the-escapist-012115/
  42. http://moviebob.blogspot.com/2015/02/all-good-things.html
  43. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upjZlfQfRxc
  44. http://www.frontiersmedia.com/frontiers-blog/2015/02/26/gaming-site-the-escapist-hires-transphobic-writer/
Retrieved from "http://wiki.gamergate.me/The_Escapist&oldid=8598%22
  1. Female Game Developers Share Their Views on GG (The Escapist/archive) -[1]
  2. Before Rebooting the Escapist Russ Pitts Wanted to "Erase the Alt-Right Stink" (One Angry Gamer/archive)-[2]
  3. Chat Log[3]
  4. New Owners, New Obstacles, New Future to Look Forward to (archive)-[4]
  5. The Last of Escapist Magazine (archive) -[5]
  6. Russ Pitts Expands On The New Escapist and the Joy In "Making Things" (archive) - [6]
  7. My Written Down Yesterday Speech (Russ Pitts/archive) -[7]
  8. Societal Rejects (Russ Pitts/archive) - [8]
  9. Russ Pitts Lets It All Out (KIA/archive) -[9]