What happened to the Escapist?

Scars Unseen

^ ^ v v < > < > B A
May 7, 2009
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sky14kemea said:
Scars Unseen said:
Okay, so wombats are out? Hmm... what else is fluffy...

Awwww, what an adorable cthulu nose it has!

[sub][sub]What the feck is that thing....[/sub][/sub]

I'd rather be something more people friendly, like this guy!

That would be the star-nosed mole. Hmm... still not to your liking... ah! How about...

 

major_chaos

Ruining videogames
Feb 3, 2011
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I don't really think whats changing is The Escapist, its gaming/gamers. The days where there was a sense of childlike wonder and glee over videogames are long gone, replaced with cold bitter cynicism, and the places that used to be about talking about how awesome games are are now mostly devoted to talking about how much games suck, and gamers suck and wurgle gurg murg WHY CAN"T I HOLD ALL THIS MISANTHROPY. As much as I yearn for it, the age of Nintendo Power style happy excited game reporting is dead and its never coming back. The amount of bile and snide barbs directed at the new CM for having the gall to suggest a new more positive direction is a clear sign of that. And its not just news sites either. Remember when GFAQs was a nice place where people went to discuss strategy, write awesome guides, and provide meaningful feedback, instead of the roiling pit of fanboy wars and trolling it is today? Pepridge Farm remembers I do, but that was a long time ago.

The whole idea of big gaming websites also seems to be fading. Ads were never a wonderful way of getting income and as the deal gets worse and worse, and more people get fed up with the annoyance and start using the addon that must not be named, the big sites start to see their bottom line hurt. And at the same time people with recognizable names see a chance to abandon the sinking ship and break free of oversight at the same time with pateron, possibly even making more money than they did before. Even the once untouchable TGWTG/Chanel Awsome seems to be suffering a bit. I think it wont be too long before we see the personality driven individual content creators supplant the old order of big one stop shop sites almost completely, with the survivors being those who have something to prop them up. For example IGN being a blatant but effective mercenary hype generator will survive on corporate money, while Polygon with its limitless pretension can secure the artsy pseudo-intellectual "smarter-than-thou" crowd that hasn't really found its big Eceleb.

None of this really surprises me. I have been saying for years that gaming as me and my generation grew up with it will die fairly early in my lifetime, to be replaced exclusively by "experimental" art/vanity projects funded by kickstarter on the "core" side and the ever growing mobile cash cowclickers on the "casual" side. The radical alteration of the way gaming content is distributed is just the first pangs of this eventuality.
 

Boba Frag

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Dec 11, 2009
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remnant_phoenix said:
So here's my story...

Like so many others, I first came here for Zero Punctuation. For me, it was late 2010. It didn't take long for me to discover other great content: Extra Credits, Escape to the Movies, The Big Picture...
....

When I started frequenting The Escapist, it felt...warm. It felt like a personable place. Now? As each of these unceremonious departures followed by a remainder of people who just keep going and pretend like nothing of note happened...the Escapist is a colder place to be. It once had this wonderful energy about it, like the community was something more than the sum of its members and contributors. Now it seems like the cold machine that technically is: a collection of computers and a web site for people to use as an inherently lifeless tool, nothing more.

Damn, this hit me right in the feels! I started coming here in 2010 too, and this site and its wonderfully warm, funny people and great content really helped me through some hard times, as well as helped me develop my own sense of place as a nerd for games, movies, whathaveyou.

Damn, it feels like the end of an era with Bob's departure.

I was sad when Susan Arendt left (I really like Greg Tito's engagement with people on the site, though) but, yeah..

Things have felt weird for a long time.
 

Zhukov

The Laughing Arsehole
Dec 29, 2009
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Redlin5 said:
Like I said, I think The Escapist will pull through just fine unless they start getting rid of more pillars of the community.
How many "pillars of the community" are left to be gotten rid of?
 

Colour Scientist

Troll the Respawn, Jeremy!
Jul 15, 2009
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Zhukov said:
Redlin5 said:
Like I said, I think The Escapist will pull through just fine unless they start getting rid of more pillars of the community.
How many "pillars of the community" are left to be gotten rid of?
Well, there's... Susa... Gre... Nasr... Rus... Ji...

Shit.

The new Community Manager seems to have made a temporary effort?

I would be sad if The Wooster and Critical Miss left.
 

God'sFist

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May 8, 2012
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I came here back in 2012 back when the mlp wars happened and I've stuck around since. I came here for Yathzee and stayed for the forums. And for the record I still want the neo badge too. And yeah this place gave me somewhat of a home in nerd culture. I could post in the off topic or in R&P and have a good time. Hell seeing guys like daystar post was fun and exciting. I remember those threads about firefly and those people arguing how cowboy bebop was the same but better. Now? with guys like Jim and now Bob leaving it has definitely made the site feel more hollow. Plus with all the feminist hate or the GG hate or the (insert controversy here) hate, its just made the community feel that much more aggressive and less fun. I will probably stick around for a while cause I still like to lurk here so hopefully we'll see a turn around have some fun again.
 

Breakdown

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I've seen Susan Arendt's name mentioned a lot on this thread and others. What did she do differently to her successors?
 

wizzy555

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Breakdown said:
I've seen Susan Arendt's name mentioned a lot on this thread and others. What did she do differently to her successors?
It may have just been a facade (I've never known her personally) but Susan was great fun to listen to on the podcast.

I'm not sure if her editorial style kept the site fun or it was just the fact that online media hadn't descended into buzzfeedisms. I mean this was a time where Lisa Foiles list show was almost a fresh and original concept.
 

Augustine

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Jun 21, 2012
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I must admit, this discussion gives me a bit of a Gibbons' talk of the twilight of the Roman state vibe.

Personally, I have a hard time ignoring the I saw a sharp decline in the quality of news articles, often shockingly so, considering the legacy of the conversations on the forums happening concurrently with them. Escapists' inability to keep most of it's "flagship" content creators is also troubling, and is the most obvious symptom. It is fair to say that this may be a natural rotation of content, writers coming and going, but I don't see anything worthwhile taking the place of lost shows.
It seems to me that Mr. Croshaw can simply march into the office and dictate any terms he likes at this point, for he is obviously the only ace Escapist has left up its sleeve.
 

Hoplon

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Mar 31, 2010
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wizzy555 said:
Breakdown said:
I've seen Susan Arendt's name mentioned a lot on this thread and others. What did she do differently to her successors?
It may have just been a facade (I've never known her personally) but Susan was great fun to listen to on the podcast.

I'm not sure if her editorial style kept the site fun or it was just the fact that online media hadn't descended into buzzfeedisms. I mean this was a time where Lisa Foiles list show was almost a fresh and original concept.
If it is a facade it was one she kept while at joystiq. was great on their podcast and twitch streams.
 

F-I-D-O

I miss my avatar
Feb 18, 2010
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I started coming for ZP back in 2008-2009 ish.

Made an account in 2010, started posting lightly in the forums, and watched most of the shows.
Russ Pitts left, and I didn't see much change. Steve kept it pretty stable, then he left.
I think Susan Arendt as Editor-in-chief was the best thing to happen to the site. She engaged often with the community, communicated clearly, got a bunch of good content on the site, and managed a site that could talk sensibly about any content in geekdom (except the comic offerings were light). It was a great year, and the most I've ever been engaged with the Escapist. When she left, it seemed a lot of the site did as well, and the positive attitude seemed to become just a little bit more cynical. Viewer engagement also seemed to be down in her absence - many shows had a drop in the comment section's size from a regular 200+ to barely 100.

Greg Tito did a decent job, and had huge shoes to fill - I do not envy his position. But, he continued to expand the Escapist. I think he made some weird decisions (I don't know too many people who visited the Science section), but he gave everything a space. I think it may have divided the community and staff into boxes, but it was a promising direction. Coincidentally, I also went had more of my time eaten up by a more rigorous school schedule, and became detached from the Escapist. But there wasn't anything to latch back on due to the site's nebulous nature. I went back to lurking.

The new editor in chief seems to be shrinking back the Escapist, which will look weird for any website. Restructuring could be good, but I'm worried it's moving back to quickly, and wonder what financial situation he's in that he's being forced to make these calls. The changes could also be due to the parent company demanding shifts, and using a new EIC to hide whose making the decisions, letting him get blamed before them. Hemorrhaging content creators will always lose some people - something the Escapists always had an issue with - but this is the first time I remember where there's nothing immediately new to keep people engaged in some other manner.

I have hopes that the site can shrink and then grow back again, with a more focused audience and community, but I worry that there's too little to last the transition.

Now I only come for ZP and the news.
 

ZZoMBiE13

Ate My Neighbors
Oct 10, 2007
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shrekfan246 said:
The scorched wasteland is a pale reminder of times long past; hollow, blasted pits are all that remain of the places we once called "home". The war changed everything. Splinter groups of "SJWs" were known to be hiding here, and the People's Militia of Reddit aligned themselves with the anarchic 4channers in an earnest attempt to salt the earth. To bring about a new beginning through reckoning. We fought, some would say bravely, as we tried to defend the honor of our home.

We lost.

Now, with our leaders fallen and removed from power, most of us have been driven into hiding. We fear the retribution that will be brought down upon us if we dare show our faces again. Cowed into silence, most of us wish only to be allowed to eke out our meager existences. A few speak up here and there, but inevitably they are beaten down by the Moderators, those beleaguered law-keepers who restlessly preside over this forsaken stretch of virtual space. Still the war rages along the outskirts, with more casualties every day. The central hub has been allowed a respite, but the fighting merely gave way to rioting. The chaos is even taxing to the Moderators themselves as it seems they are no longer the final word of law in these parts. Judge, jury, and executioner have been superseded by a power even they fear, a corporation which holds their reigns tightly.

As we kneel before our posters of Anita Sarkeesian each night, praying for the strength to get through tomorrow, we will forever know this purge as "GamerGate".
That was very entertaining. Hell Escapist, someone hire this person to make content! :)
 

Palmerama

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Jul 23, 2011
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major_chaos said:
I don't really think whats changing is The Escapist, its gaming/gamers. The days where there was a sense of childlike wonder and glee over videogames are long gone, replaced with cold bitter cynicism, and the places that used to be about talking about how awesome games are are now mostly devoted to talking about how much games suck, and gamers suck and wurgle gurg murg WHY CAN"T I HOLD ALL THIS MISANTHROPY. As much as I yearn for it, the age of Nintendo Power style happy excited game reporting is dead and its never coming back. The amount of bile and snide barbs directed at the new CM for having the gall to suggest a new more positive direction is a clear sign of that. And its not just news sites either. Remember when GFAQs was a nice place where people went to discuss strategy, write awesome guides, and provide meaningful feedback, instead of the roiling pit of fanboy wars and trolling it is today? Pepridge Farm remembers I do, but that was a long time ago.

The whole idea of big gaming websites also seems to be fading. Ads were never a wonderful way of getting income and as the deal gets worse and worse, and more people get fed up with the annoyance and start using the addon that must not be named, the big sites start to see their bottom line hurt. And at the same time people with recognizable names see a chance to abandon the sinking ship and break free of oversight at the same time with pateron, possibly even making more money than they did before. Even the once untouchable TGWTG/Chanel Awsome seems to be suffering a bit. I think it wont be too long before we see the personality driven individual content creators supplant the old order of big one stop shop sites almost completely, with the survivors being those who have something to prop them up. For example IGN being a blatant but effective mercenary hype generator will survive on corporate money, while Polygon with its limitless pretension can secure the artsy pseudo-intellectual "smarter-than-thou" crowd that hasn't really found its big Eceleb.

None of this really surprises me. I have been saying for years that gaming as me and my generation grew up with it will die fairly early in my lifetime, to be replaced exclusively by "experimental" art/vanity projects funded by kickstarter on the "core" side and the ever growing mobile cash cowclickers on the "casual" side. The radical alteration of the way gaming content is distributed is just the first pangs of this eventuality.
It's sad that I agree so heart breakingly. ScrewAttack was similar. The golden age for that website was about 2007-2009 as when the big personalities of the site left, the replacements (though no fault of their own) can't hold up and it becomes a revolving door. The website gets more popular bringing in a load of new users and the old users feel outcast by all the changes as the landscape they knew is unrecognisable.
It's happened elsewhere as well. TGWTG/Channel Awesome, apart from NC and Cinema Snob is full of new producers as all the other names have left.

However, people change as well. The guys and gals that started visiting these sites and got them so popular aren't going there as much anymore because of other commitements that life brings in.
 

StriderShinryu

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Breakdown said:
I've seen Susan Arendt's name mentioned a lot on this thread and others. What did she do differently to her successors?
Susan's greatest strength, in my opinion, was always in her ability to achieve balance between having fun and being serious. She was, in a sense, sort of like games in general. She wasn't afraid to just enjoy gaming but when things get serious she was able to mix it up and intelligently articulate her perspectives. She also wasn't afraid to be out there and actually communicate with the users, when things were going well or going poorly. It also helped, I suppose, that I largely agreed with many of her opinions.
 

Scarim Coral

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In my view, to summed it up they are having financial issue.

Ever since ExtraCredits, no other creator of original video contents want to signed up with them or rather they don't stayed for long (Reel Phyics and Space Janitor).
 

faefrost

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Jun 2, 2010
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Josh123914 said:
Well ever since Gamergate started advertisers have been in a bit of a pickle.
Gaming websites targetted at gamers suddenly were blasting their own demographic, with thousands within that demographic e-mailing said companies NOT to support said sites.
In a climate like that, websites will take whatever ad revenue they can get, which usually means less money. Now, this wouldn't just affect Polygon, Kotaku and Gamasutra, no. With a few big guns going cheap, and no guarantee other sites wouldn't start posting the same economically suicidal stuff it drives the entire market of game site ad revenue down.

Defy Media..... is a whole other story upon itself, but suffice to say they are willing to cut the fat when need be. If the Escapist wasn't breaking even before the "restructuring", then it is now (or at the very least preparing for worse ad deals). Some of IGN's crew leaving last month was no coincidence. I'm predicting that bigger sites are preparing for a cold snap of bad ad revenue, with other sites not (presumably hoping to wait it out), but those like The Escapist and IGN letting people go before things get too bad.

So I think this is what's happened to the Escapist. Basically, the "Gamers are Dead" articles set off a lot of e-mail campaigns and boycotts, which baffled a lot of advertisers, who either pulled out or demanded they pay less for ad space.
This left many sites with less revenue (despite whether or not your site has been the one publishing them) and so gaming sites with ambivalent owners deciding they should save money and fire people now rather than wait for things to get worse.

How's that? Can someone with a degree in Economics or Finance let me know if I'm in the ballpark here?
Pretty much. I would suggest if you want to get a better feel for what is going on at The Escapist don't read forums of gaming sites. Instead poke around on advertising sites. Adland.tv seems to be a good starting place.

As for why these particular changes at The Escapist? Honestly it is not limited to the Escapist, and as time goes on you will probably see most gaming sites start to follow the same pattern. At the end of the day their only path to survival is a return to normalcy and civil content. They have to appeal to the gamers. ALL of the gamers. And they have to do it with far less advertising dollars then they used to. This is not a time period where contributors can be openly disdainful of the audience they are seeking. The sites will be shifting towards a warm inclusive neutral messaging. They don't have a choice. Bomb throwers cost too much these days. Their biggest problem will be winning back the AAA's. We don't know how much if any AAA ad revenue to gaming sites was cut back this holiday season. But it is clear that at least some of the big boys holiday marketing budgets has been shifting to non traditional sources to reach consumers, such as twitch and youtube. WB's actions with Dying Light were very very telling.
 

rgrekejin

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I only come here to watch Yahtzee and engage in some minor pointless bickering on the forums.

Place seems the same to me as it ever did.
 

AzrealMaximillion

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The Escapist has been going through some questionable changes for a few years now. The discontinuation of original content like "There Will Be Brawl" was more of a mark of things to come then Gamergate and the comments made by Jim Sterling and Movie Bob that got crosshairs put on this site. The addition of scored reviews, the questionable exit of Extra Credits (who have lost all my respect thanks to James Portnow slandering Totalbiscuit, as well as them shaming their audience for not agreeing with them.) and some controversial forum bans to say the least.

The community also got a lot more toxic. Some blame it on inconsistent moderation, some blame it on the new generation of consoles, the introduction of Bronies to the forums, and you could point to a lot of other events and not be wrong. But it is more less enjoyable now. I took a leave from here because of the community's penchant for snark. Bit of snark is fine, but when combined with strawman arguments flung at one another it tends to itch.

I came back due to Jim Sterling and Movie Bob leaving I'm I'm going to be completely 100% honesty with everyone. I don't think having multiple polarizing figures help the forum community out. People got attacked by fans for disagreeing with social political points, which rarely have a hard answer.

The Escapist community was starting to remind me a lot of the old Destructoid community which I'm sure Jim brought some of with him while he was here. He held that site up in the spotlight for years. I left that community and I left here when it was turning into the D-Toid comment section.

Now I think I can come back. I honestly loved these forums at one point. They're where I learned how to debate and how to form an argument without resulting to trollery or ad hominem attacks. I like discussion and I like to challange my ideas and beliefs every once in a while. And I like that I can do so without pledging allegiance to whatever hot "social acceptance flavour of the year" label to do so in a time where people are proud to blindly support an ideology based on the first thing they heard.

In the end I just hope that we get some mental ambidexterity in the forums again.



Pluvia said:
Presumably Gamergate. The Escapist made their bed when they decided that a group that's not allowed on other websites for being toxic as fuck would be the best thing for their image.

Weirdly, lots of content creators have left. Probably a coincidence.
You call it "making their bed" with a group. I call it remaining to be the most open gaming forums after the GG bomb blew up. Comeplete censorship of it made the other sites look real cowardly. Moderating it by the rules like anything else gave The Escapist a lot of props late last year.