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Extra Credits
Alt text
Type: Game Studies Edutainment
Leader: Daniel Floyd, James Portnow


Extra Credits, is a ongoing video series about video games and game design. The series got its start on The Escapist on July 28, 2010. The show was picked up by Penny Arcade TV (PATV) after a financial dispute with The Escapist and was hosted there from September 2011 to December 31, 2013[1] before moving to their YouTube channel. The show talks about a wide variety of subjects, ranging from difficulty curves to social commentary on the video game industry. Extra Credits published a statement on GamerGate on their website claiming that GamerGate has "moved far beyond the potential for constructive anything. It is misguided. It is harmful. It is wrong." [2] In addition to this Daniel Floyd has made further comments on twitter attempting to address the moderates of GamerGate[3]

The Escapist

During 2010 to 2011 The Escapist was experiencing monetary problems in response to the economic downturn. As a result many contributors to the site were not being paid on time including Extra Credits. Alexander Marcris of the Escapist stated that the Extra Credits team wished to be at the 'bottom of the list' of people to get paid as he said they knew that The Escapist was in a 'squeeze.'

In June 2011 Allison Theus, the artist of the show at the time, hurt her arm. The Extra Credits team opened up a RocketHub fundraiser to provide her money for medical expenses with a $15,000 goal. By the end of the fundraiser $103,814 were raised. A dispute between The Escapist and Extra Credits appeared soon after.

Extra Credits Position

James' Statement:

"Hi Guys I'm sorry about a lot of things over the last month. I'm sorry that I've been incommunicative. I'm sorry that I've been snappish. I'm sorry that I haven't talked to you about what's been going on. It's been a rough few weeks, but I can finally talk about it, so here's what's been happening with us... (this may take a bit, I'm sorry for spamming you too...)"

When Allison hurt her arm all I wanted was to help her. I believe that a person has a responsibility to those near them and you should feel shame when you can't live up to that responsibility...but I couldn't. I was near destitute. I had spent all my money on the show.

"Dan and I work on it for free and I pay Allison's salary out of pocket each month, then, in turn, The Escapist was supposed to pay us for our work - not much, but enough to cover Allison's wages - unfortunately they were never able to."

"When Allison hurt her arm, The Escapist had only paid us for four episodes over the course of a year. That meant I was down $20,000. That was the $20,000 I could have put in to help Allison. That was the $20,000 I would have used to get her surgery while figuring out how I could earn more money. It hurt that I couldn't tell you that then but I was asked not to."

"I felt so bad asking without being able to do more than sell a computer and call in old debts...but you taught me a lesson in humanity and the goodness of people. I had never lost my faith in mankind, but that first Rockethub week you redoubled it.

And that was truly one of the greatest weeks of my life. Better than releasing games, better than lecturing in the halls of GDC. I really can never say thank you enough."

"But since then things have not gone so well. We joined The Escapist because we believed in what was going on there. We believed in the idea of examining games more thoroughly, whether it was Yahtzee's blunt honesty or ENN delivering game news, we liked the idea that it was a place where consumers and developers could have a real conversation about games. We believed we were all in this together, fighting for the same ideals and goals."

"We asked the guys at The Escapist if we could trade some of the debt they owed us for the rights to our intellectual property back if they weren't going to be able to pay us so we could do things like sell t-shirts or write a book. We thought this was going to be an easy discussion. Instead they responded by telling us that they felt that they were entitled to 75% of the Rockethub money, thus their debt was covered and, despite not paying us for nearly a year, we owed them $9500 dollars"

"What followed was weeks of legal wrangling, lies and muck. Unless you guys really care about the details I won't go over them here. I do think The Escapist does some good, and I wouldn't want to destroy what good it does with how they operate their business. I'm going to work under the idea that our situation was unique and that their other content creators are paid regularly and don't have a contract that was as onerous as ours."

"Again: we don't want to add to the damage done. I'm already kind of heartbroken that things turned out this way. I had faith in what The Escapist stood for. That faith is in tatters, but it doesn't mean that there aren't good people doing good things for The Escapist."

The Escapist's Position

Archon's Response:

Hey guys. This is Alexander Macris. I'm the publisher. Jame's statements are very one-sided so I think they deserve a response.

Yes, we are having a very unfortunate dispute with James over Extra Credits, and yes, he's planning to leave The Escapist, despite our repeated requests that he stay. It's also true that we fell behind in paying James. Here are the key facts as I see them:

1. From November 2010 to June 2011, James told us not to worry about paying him and to focus on paying other people. His exact words were "I really don’t want to squeeze you guys if you’re in a crunch, so you can put us to the bottom of the list for right now…" Given that we have been in a crunch due to the recession, we took him at his word, thanked him profusely for the flexibility, and focused on paying down other debt. (Several other shows were cancelled around November 2010 you'll recall, as we couldn't pay them, but James' flexibility allowed us to keep working with him to promote Extra Credits.)

2. This continued until June 2011, when James emailed us to alert us that he needed funds urgently. The request was partly for family matters and partly for Allison's surgery. He asked for our permission to raise funds through Kickstarter. We more than gave permission, we threw our weight into supporting it. Unfortunately, Kickstarter refused because they don't do charity. I then suggested James try RocketHub and RocketHub agreed. We again collaborated to make it a joint effort. Our agreement was that we would be compensated for the wholesale cost of the t-shirts and Publisher's Club, and that the funds would be used to save Extra Credits. I reasonably interpreted "save Extra Credits" to mean that anything beyond what was needed for Allison's surgery would be used on Extra Credits production. I also Pay-palled James as much money as we had available at that time.

3. After the RocketHub was enormously successful and James had decided to use the funds to create an indie publishing label rather than to "save Extra Credits", James decided he would no longer speak to us directly and instead assigned a "business development manager" to speak to us. James' new business development manager demanded that we assign all the IP of Extra Credits to James.

4. We indicated we would be happy to work out an IP transfer but that before we did that, we would like to make sure we got paid for the wholesale cost of the t-shirts and the Publisher's Club memberships, and that we would like to see the Extra Credits RocketHub money used to create more Extra Credits. We did NOT ask that James send us $9,500 - we said he should use $9,500 to create more episodes of the show that the money was supposed to be used to save.

5. James' business development manager at that time emailed me and told us that his position was now that we had no rights to the show, no deal, and that our entire contract was invalid. This was out of the blue as far as we were concerned. We had no understanding at this time of James' intent to use the "Save Extra Credits" money to start a publishing business.

6. At this point, Russ Pitts, our editor in chief, flew out to meet with James and his business development manager personally. They agreed that we would continue to work together; that we would transfer the IP to James in exchange for some fee to be negotiated; and that James would handle the EC t-shirts directly rather than through us. We agreed to swallow the cost of the Publisher's Club memberships, a few thousand dollars.

7. I then emailed James and his business development manager to explain that I wanted to get them paid as quickly as possible so that the back debt was not a sticking point in negotiations. I then emailed them again to say that I had talked to our Board and investors and that payment would come in about a week.

8. At this point, James had his lawyer send us an email stating that we were in breach and that unless we sent money more quickly than I had just stated we'd be able to send it, that James was terminating his relationship with us. I presume that James thought we were playing games with him, although we were not.

9. We went ahead and mailed James the money we got from our investors the next week as we had promised. James' lawyer nevertheless sent us an email indicating they intended to terminate our agreement.

10. Finally, I should add that as of last week, we had paid James over $14,000 of the $20,000 we owed him, and that as of today, our company has mailed James all payments he is owed.

I have all of this documented extensively in email. James is simply in error if he believes we have ever lied to him or any of his staff. We are prepared to defend ourselves against future defamation in a court of law.

Cordial regards,

Alexander Macris


The Extra Credits team posted a response to Alex's statement which can be read here https://www.facebook.com/notes/extra-credits/a-brief-response/204423762946634#

Connection to the IGDA

Extra Credits member James Portnow is a supporter of the IGDA as evidenced by his Facebook page.[5]


See Also



  1. [1] Extra Credits leaves Penny Arcade
  2. A Statement on GamerGate
  3. A question for the Moderates... what do you see GamerGate as having achieved?
  4. Alexander Macris on Extra Credits Departure
  5. [2]

Retrieved from "http://wiki.gamergate.me/ExtraCredits&oldid=7001%22

last modified on 5 February 2015, at 01:33.