Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Since you've been asking...

Obviously, I have no official/specific comment to make about my business dealings with certain websites at this time. Those who know what that is in reference to, eh... probably know what that is in reference to, I guess. That's not meant as a dodge, or cryptic language, or a "clue," or a wink-wink, or anything of the sort - what everyone has heard on either end is all I am aware of and/or privy-to and at this time I have nothing to add.

That having been said, I want to echo what others have said and say that @ExtraCreditz are good guys and that I wish them all good luck wherever they land. I'd also like to ask that folks please keep in mind that, while obviously everyone is free to draw their own conclusions when business-issues go spilling out into the public record, businesses are made up of many levels and "hands," and not every action is attributable to to every hand at every level - and as such, one should not be too hasty in assigning "guilt by association" to parties under that sort of umbrella when they may not have had anything to do with wrongdoing (percieved or otherwise.)

65 comments:

Xavier said...

Well said Bob.

Invariel said...

I respect you all the more for showing your support and remaining neutral at the same time.

I hope that, whatever your situation with The Escapist is, it's of the mutually beneficial sort, which seems likely because of the number of columns you have there.

Kyle said...

I hope this makes The Escapist better, in the end.

Raziel 'kchakrak' Moshman said...

I hope everything works out best for both parties. Well said man. It's too tricky and business is too difficult for be to have an opinion, so I won't.

Ankhwatcher said...

This is the first I've heard about this.
Thanks for letting us know, Bob.

Aiddon said...

I first read about this on the Escapist forums. I don't watch EC, but the implications of this ordeal are a bit disturbing.

Chris Cesarano said...

I'm honestly angry at how both sides are dealing with the situation, but what can you do?

I just hope this doesn't hurt either operation too badly in the long run, because already this is going to have a negative impact on those of us interested in insightful games analysis and discussion.

Ezenwa said...

I doubt there's a place I can go to for the whole story. Having said that, I really hope both sides work out everything somehow. Otherwise, good luck to Extra Credits and their endeavors.

Adam said...

This is the first I've heard about this. I doubt I'll ever know all the details but I do hope ExtraCreditz finds somewhere to continue their work if they wish it. I didn't always agree with them but they are fascinating to listen to.

David (The Pants) said...

I learned of this for the first time here as well. Best of luck to EC. They are truly good people, hard-working and dedicated to making games a better industry and culture.

Ralphael said...

And then Bob told us we shouldn't be too quick in assigning "guilt by association"

After posting a video of Rachel Maddow doing the exact same thing a few weeks before.

Darren said...

Can someone explain to me exactly what happened because this is all new news to me. Or at least assure me that my favorite internet show, no offense bob :P, is still going to continue :/

Thanks

Adam said...

@Darren As briefly as possible the ExtraCreditz show will no longer be on the Escapist due to financial/legal disputes. You can google it and find various accounts on either side pretty easily. Also there's the show's Facebook page.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/ExtraCredits

Matt said...

I'm going to break with the tradition of this post and actually share my opinion on the topic as opposed to a meta opinion on talking about the topic.

First and foremost, I am glad I didn't donate to Alison's charity. So far as I'm concerned, using the excess funds from a charitable donation to start a production company is, well, practically the pinnacle of unethical business practices. Maybe I'm alone in this, I really don't know, but it's really quite disgusting so far as I'm concerned. Take that excess money and put it towards a games related charity or something... don't use it to fund a business idea to pad your pocket book. Now I don't know if that's truly the case, but if it is then I think that puts a serious damper on my appreciation for James. It just goes to show that good insights don't make you a good person.

Secondly, I would really like this battle to be fought professionally on both sides. Can it with the fuckin' wall of tweets and bickering in facebook comments (OK so it wasn't bickering, but it was still juvenile, reactionary, and a cheap trick on James' part to get something that he wanted -- to come out of this with a good image to his fans and the gaming community -- without giving escapist much of a choice). And let me be clear, it is obvious at this point that James is playing a "how can I take advantage of this" game. That's totally fine, if he wants to use this to get more viewers to EC or to, ahem, get people interested in his production company, good for him. But here's the thing, if you want to communicate with the public, a wall of tweets doesn't suffice. The fact of the matter is that if every point you have can be summarized in 140 characters, your point isn't that solid to begin with, and you aren't going to sway any person with wits about them to your case when you use a medium in which brevity is a quantifiable barrier.

In these sorts of situations, a lot of people flock to the "big business holding the man down" side because it's fashionable, but what these people don't realize is that James, too, is running a business (and I don't mean his production company). And his business practices, here, are at the very least as objectionable as the Escapist's. If James wants me to choose a side (which it is clear he does), he's going to have to up his game and start fighting with a little bit more honour, integrity, and professionalism.

counterpoint said...

wow, this is all news to me, but after reading matt's post..... man, sounds like i need to do some reading.

motyr said...

I agree with Matt. I'm on the side of the Escapist in this situation, but it must be noted that both parties acted completely unprofessional on more than one incident. This is, from my understanding, the summary of goings-on:

1. The Escapist and James Portnow make a hand-shake agreement saying that The Escapist can postpone James' pay for however long is required for The Escapist, who are in debt, to regain financial stability. James works on the show for free, and the pay he would receive would go to pay his artist, Allison. The Escapist pays James for four episodes initially. Allison's pay is subsidized by James out-of-pocket for subsequent episodes.

2. At some point over the course of the next year, James requires pay to be able to subsidize the medical costs of surgery for his show's artist, who suffers from a severe condition which would affect her ability to continue to work for James. The Escapist agrees to support a fundraising initiative because they still can't pay James the amount he would require, which, coincidentally, comes to less than or equal to the amount of money The Escapist owes him for his shows.

3. The Escapist and James strike up a deal that, as a part of the fundraiser, the wholesale price of t-shirts and publisher's club subscriptions will be payed back to The Escapist, all profit going to the charity. James assures The Escapist that the charity will be used to "save Extra Credits," which The Escapist interprets as meaning "all extra money beyond the cost of the medical procedure will be pumped back into the show in one way or another."

4. James' fundraiser makes a lot of money. The Escapist expects pay for the t-shirts and subscriptions, but tells James to use an extra $9500 to make more Extra Credits episodes.

5. James uses the "save Extra Credits" money to begin an independent publishing company.

6. A representative for James demands the rights to all Extra Credits intellectual property be given back to James.

7. James claims that his contract with The Escapist is completely invalid because The Escapist hasn't paid him.

8. The Escapist comes to an agreement with James that they would transfer the intellectual property rights to James for a fee to be determined later. James decides he will handle the t-shirts directly instead of through The Escapist, meaning that The Escapist would no longer have to worry about the cost of producing the t-shirts. The Escapist decides the will swallow the cost of the subscriptions, which amounts to several thousand dollars.

9. The Escapist wants to pay James as quickly as possible so that their debt to James does not factor into their intellectual property negotiations. They will send James his money within a week.

10. James' lawyer says that The Escapist must send the money quicker than this or risk James terminating his relationship with The Escapist.

11. The Escapist sends money, James claims he never received a cheque, James' lawyer contacts the Escapist saying they intend to terminate the relationship.

12. The Escapist claims to have paid James $14000 of the $20000 they owe, James claims he hasn't seen a single dollar.

(CONTINUED)

motyr said...

(CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS POST)

No one can be a judge of this situation unless they were to see the initial contract between James and The Escapist. Ultimately, however, it seems as if everything boils down to the initial agreement that The Escapist can postpone James' payment if they feel their other debts are at a higher priority. Whether or not James has received any money yet (someone's not telling the truth), the fact of the matter is that The Escapist didn't have to pay him, no matter what external circumstances required the money. The Escapist's priority, as a business, is their own debts and being able to turn a profit. James made an agreement with The Escapist that his payment would not be considered "urgent." In his own words, James said The Escapist could treat him as being at the bottom of their priority list.

James had no right to use the charity money to start up any new venture without informing anyone about it before people started to donate. I did not donate to the charity, but would be completely pissed off upon hearing this. This action is inexcusable.

At the end of the day, many fans of Extra Credits will be quick to jump to James' defence. In many ways, he appears to be the "underdog" in this situation, and is a familiar face to those who regularly watch his videos. In my opinion, though, it is The Escapist who is in the right in this situation. James Portnow is effectively screwing over a struggling business, not only out of money, but credibility as The Escapist is bound to lose a percentage of its subscribers and fans.


DISCLAIMER: the information surrounding this case is changing at a very rapid rate. All prior statements are based on the information I have interpreted at the time of posting. I fully accept the possibility of being misinformed. I encourage those who know better to enlighten me.

MajorRed53 said...

@ Matt
Just for the record, the indie developer James and EC crew want to make would be a non-profit group.

Here's the link where James states his plans for the excess money.

http://www.rockethub.com/projects/2165-extra-credits/posts/740

biomechanical923 said...

@Matt
Your account of the story is pretty close to what I gathered too.

James and Daniel started a fundraiser to help afford Alison a surgery that would fix her arm.

The community came together and donated WAY more money than James expected to get. James uses some of the money to pay for Alison's arm.

James decides to take the rest of the money and run, to start his own game publishing firm.

The Escapist calls James on his bullshit for trying to jump ship and leave Escapist with the Extra Credits IP (owned by Escapist). James lawyers up. And that brings us to today.

Honestly, I'm shocked to see that James was paying Alison $20,000 per year to draw crappy stick figures.

Matt said...

@MajorRed53

Yes, I've read that. Here's what bugs me about it:

"... we won’t take any money from the fund and any profits earned off titles published will go back into the fund to help kick start additional games."

And a few lines later:
"The fund is not about us and them, “publisher” and “developer”, we’re in this together, we’re partners. We’ll split the profits equally on any project we work on."

Now, call me a cynic, but to my knowledge James is a developer first, and now he's got a publishing company with some start-up capital taken from charitable donations. How convenient that there's a 50-50 split on the profits between developers and publishers (very good deal for DEVELOPERS don't you think?). So, it looks to me like he's got himself some money to develop his own indie game and he'll get a very good cut of the profits, and he'll get to save face by saying "look the money's going back into the publishing company for more games and we're not taking a cent (of that cash)."

Adam said...

I pretty much agree with Matt and Motyr based on the information presented. I don't know what the absolute truth is, but based on what I've read on the interent at least one party has an inconsistent story somewhere.

I didn't donate money to Allison's charity as by the time I found out about it they had already well exceeded their goal. If there was money leftover and there was no need to save it for Allison's post-operative care I don't think most fans would mind if those funds went directly into the show itself (assuming it's legal to do that) or perhaps another charity. Starting up a new publishing company (non-profit or no) is not what people donated for, and I would be very upset if I donated and found out that is indeed what actually happened.

Darren said...

@Adam:

Thanks I thought it was going to be more difficult to find the forms about this.

gabrieldevue said...

Hey Mister Moviebob.

I hope so much, that your show is not at hazard.
I do not approve of social media fingerpointing, but I was so shocked by hearing that EC left, that I was glad to find statements from both parties. Since they are contradicting each other, I did not win any clarity with this. I sincerly believe that these guys are good guys and would be pretty stupid to work for their personal gain with charity money - this is the INTERNET! afterall. But I am now digging around the other contributor's pages and hope to get the feeling, that you are treated well.

I thanked the Escapist in blogentries and many discussions that they pay for content like Escape to the Movies, BigPicture, EC and ZP, but if they try to fuel their page with good content that they are not able to afford, this is really bad for the artists. Less good content also means less money means less good content...

My fiancee gave money when the counter was already over 45k dollar. Because we were 100% certain, that EC would invest this in some way in a better gaming world. be that improving their show technically or starting this fund or pampering allison - we did not care, because giving this money was saying thank you. And even if their projects fail, it was not in vain, because they are _doing_ stuff.

Thank you for your statement, Mr. Bob. You are probably the only reason for me now to return to the Escapist. Please let yourself be treated with respect.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

Unfortunate reality of the world is that both sides can be wholly in the right and things still not work out... Not that I think either side is in the right. Both James and the Escapist did some pretty dickish things to each other. If nothing else, it was pretty fucking unprofessional for James to publicly air out his dirty laundry like that, and it was just as unprofessional for the Escapist to respond... can't say I'd want to do business with either of them right now.

Still, I won't take either "side" in this.

Sylocat said...

So, Bob, how are we supposed to interpret your "Spartacus" tweet?

motyr said...

I agree with The Almighty Narf. We should not be hearing about this. The business dealings between The Escapist and James Portnow should be private, and it's a real classless move on James' part to go so public about everything. He claims he isn't trying to take down The Escapist, but spoke in such a way to turn many of his followers against them, viewers who may provide valuable traffic to the myriad other video producers working for the site. I'm surprised Bob has given a metaphorical "fist bump" to Portnow, because he's acted totally out of line.

Matt said...

@gabrieldevue
"I sincerly believe that these guys are good guys and would be pretty stupid to work for their personal gain with charity money - this is the INTERNET! afterall."

What gives you this idea? You think they're good guys because they are smart? Because they have a large internet following? Because their practices will be made public?

I mean, it's a pretty good business strategy so far as I'm concerned. He's got a great story (start-up capital = donations), great ideas (you've watched the show, you know), and he knows how to do the early publicity (hey it's a production company made by developers, look at how good we are with developers, and the profits that don't go to them are going to more developers!). In a years time come the first major release, the tone will be different (because the excitement out of "doing a good thing" will have passed), and their followers will eat it up because they forgot that hey, this money was supposed to go to charity. And then James will be standing their with his large cut of developer cash in one hand, and the production microphone in the other.

Unknown said...

Heres the one thing I don't get about this whole charity money-gate. The Escapist says they were blindsided by James announcement to make an indie publisher out of the excess funds from the donations. So lets assume they're telling the truth and James didn't give them the heads up before making this announcement. He still had to submit the episode in question to an editor of the Escapist before they posted it... so why didn't they raise a single question as to what he was doing with the money after reviewing the episode and/or ask him to hold off on making his plans public before discussing it with him? seems like the Escapist could care less what james did with the money until he started asking for his toys back too.

BTW not picking sides here just thought i would point out another facet of this quibble that doesn't add up.

antecedentless said...

"[they] won't take any money from the fund and any profits earned off titles published will go back into the fund to help kick start additional games"

Here, let me repeat that

"[THEY] WILL MOT TAKE ANY MONEY FROM THE FUND AND ANY PROFITS EARNED OFF THTILES PUBLISHED WILL GO BACK INTO THE FUND TO HELP KICK START ADDITIONAL GAMES"

100k isn't enough to fund any substatial work of art. Continuing to raise money to fund more artwork (say, Alison++) is not wrong.

motyr said...

@antecedentless

Whether or not the non-profit publishing organization is a worthy cause is besides the point. Donators should be made aware of how their funds will be allocated, even in the event that extra money is made. Lots of people donated money on the presumption that their cash would be used to help someone to resolve a potentially crippling medical condition and that was it. James should have informed the audience that extra money would go towards such-and-such initiative. That may have swayed a number of potential supporters one way or another. The information was crucial but was withheld.

antecedentless said...

>The information was crucial but was withheld.

"This. Is. False.

James, Daniel, and Allison all mutually agreed to go with this publishing idea, and they made it perfectly clear what they planned to do with it once they came to an agreement. When they announced it, everyone was perfectly fine with it, and donations continued to come in. You cannot claim that donators have been cheated here. I am sick to death of people accusing James of running off with the money for some personal gain, this isn't even mentioning how the project is a non-profit publishing company where any profit gained would go directly to that project."

Nothing was withheld. IIRC there was a vote for what to do with the funds that went above and beyond the medical/recovery expenses, and "independent game fund" won out.

What they did or did not raise is irrelavent to the base issue: Lets consider a situation where ONLY the funds needed to pay for medical/recovery expenses was raised. Does that still give the Escapist the right to withold Alison's salary and leave James holding the bag?

biomechanical923 said...

@Antecedentless

You know, it's sentimental to see that James is trying to be loyal to Alison. But let's get real here for just a second.

James demands that from The Escapist that she gets paid $20,000 to draw STICK FIGURES. Meanwhile Bob and Yahtzee are doing their own art for free as part of the video.

There's just something extremely fishy about that. Any schmuck from 4chan can draw internet stick figures and not demand $20,000 profit from them.

antecedentless said...

>demand $20k 'profit'

As an occasional b-tard myself, take my advice: DON'T BRING UP 4CHAN. You'll regret it.
-Bob and Yahtzee do not have full time jobs outside of their videos so far as I know.
-Allison is a student (probably a full-time student), and a capable artist at that (as are all the guest artists). Even ignoring her deviant art profile, I'd say those "stick figures" are worth 20 grand.
-James Portnow actually works in the gaming industry.
-Daniel Floyd is an animator for Pixar. When he started on youtube, he did the drawings himself.

Hammbone said...

@matt and @motyr

what are you on about? This wasnt surprised on anyone who donated. there was a vote on what to do with the excess and this idea won.

COULD james "pad his own wallet" with this? yeah... if he was the only one making the decision... but he wont be.

i have recieved no evidance to distrust James or the rest of the EC bunch. and what little evidense you provide is mostly out of context quotes blown out of proportion (aka: the fox news treatment)

@biomechanical923

he didnt demand 20K in cash, he demanded that he get his overdue payment. please check you facts.

But im just ranting at trolls and better move along.


OT: i hope EC does well, and with the ever increasing number of content providers coming out about not getting paid (or waiting 6-14 months for their first payment) The Escapist has proven them selves a poorly run company, i know times are tough but not being able to pay your employees is unexcussable.

Chris Cesarano said...

Y'know what? At this point, I think I'll be joining The Escapist's publisher's club. If I can contribute by actually paying them for their service, then so be it.

I mean, this whole thing came about because The Escapist is trying to do so much in a struggling industry, paying so many freelancers everywhere. Y'know what? They deserve my money for all the value and entertainment they have provided.

motyr said...

@antecedentless

"When they announced it, everyone was perfectly fine with it"

Like I said in my first post, I'm completely ready to admit I was misinformed, however this still sounds as if the initiative was decided/revealed/etc after the initial donation blowout, and, if that's the case, then my point still stands. If the EC team did not think of what to do with any extra money before there was extra money, then that's completely short-sighted and it makes me glad I didn't donate in the first place.

Now, if Hammbone is right and there was some vote among donators as to what to do with the extra money, I would say that's a better option/alternative but it still isn't perfect and wouldn't be enough to make me completely comfortable with the situation. If any individual donator feels their money, already given to a charity, isn't going to go to a cause they can support, an injustice has been committed. (Now that I think of it, is it impossible to put a "donation cap" on a charity in the first place?) At least, I can say, in that case, James (or whoever else was involved) couldn't be held entirely responsible for reallocating the money. Doesn't change my opinion that the situation is completely shifty, though.

However Hammbone, James' payment may have been overdue, but he volunteered to have his payment postponed if The Escapist felt their money would be put to better use in paying off other debts. There is a direct quote by James to support this statement. I promise you, I'm not trolling or attempting to troll at all. I'm working off of the information I have.

I'd like to make the point that, regardless of who is in the right in this situation, there has been so much mudslinging from James speaking against The Escapist about private business contracts. I cannot support someone who would sink to that level.

Matt said...

@Hammbone
In what way are my quotes out of context? I quoted the only two sentences that dealt with what they are going to do with the profits. I interpreted them in a non-contradictory way within the context of the other stated ideals and promises James made in that exact same post. Seriously, if I am somehow erring in my interpretation of these sentences, tell me how.

And does anyone actually believe that James isn't going to use his own production company to produce a game he really wants to develop? Do you honestly think he, the guy who has spend the last year telling us what makes a game good, doesn't have a hundred ideas floating around? Because that's all he needs to do here to be using charitable donations to be making profit. And what's your argument here... "he won't"? "Other people won't let him"? Says who? You don't seriously thing a production company with $55,000 start-up is going to have a rigid bureaucratic hierarchy in place to hinder his chances of developing this game, do you? Shit you know what, it may even be the most economically feasible decision for the production company (as well as the developer) for James to be the first developer.

biomechanical923 said...

@antecendentless
If you think Alison's mspaint-quality sketches are worth $20K, then brother do I have some chicken scratches I'd like to sell to you...some people have to actually work hard for their money. By the way I go on /v/ not /b/ and I really don't see a problem with mentioning it since a pretty big portion of Bob's followers found Game Overthinker when his fans viralled it all over /v/

@Hammbone
I believe it is you who should check your facts, and stop putting words into my mouth. James said himself that he was willing to let his due payments go to the bottom of the pile, as long as the Escapist gave him the $20,000 to pay Alison her profit as his "employee"

Matt said...

@antecedentless

I actually did mention how it's a not-for-profit company. And how it's a great plan (for the developers) to split profits 50-50. You do know that the 50% going to the developers isn't going back into the fund, right? Because that's not profit for the production company. Only the profit that the PRODUCTION company earns. I really don't get it... it seems he really set himself up to reap some benefits while still maintaining a positive image to his community hear, and even after spelling it out NO ONE seems to get it. All he has to do here is develop a game (did I mention he's a game developer by profession?) to make money, to be using charitable donations to line his pocket.

It doesn't even matter that there was a vote, there shouldn't have even been a vote in the first place, and so far as I know the organizational structure of the production company (you know, that thing that James can easily take advantage of by DOING HIS JOB!) wasn't clarified until after the votes had been cast and that was shown the most interest. They should have capped the donations at $25,000 from the beginning. And if there was still interest in giving back, they should have just done the vote before ANY excess money was collected. I get it though, they didn't think about that. And that's OK. But it's a problem when their plan to use the excess funds both looks great on paper and in the press, but is also VERY easy to take advantage of.

lordy said...

Just as something to bear in mind, Alexander Macris has said that the Rockethub earning drive wasn't legally charity.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.306109-An-open-letter-to-James-and-Alexander?page=3#12311193

Matt said...

It may not have been legally a charity, but neither is giving a sandwich to a bum. Regardless what the law thinks, the donation was a charitable act.

jojjo said...

"If you think Alison's mspaint-quality sketches are worth $20K..."

God! I thought you where simply kidding at first, but you're not, are you? You're seriously making the argument that if someone does a job you personally dislike they are not entitled to their salary, and any contract they might have is null and void. Wow, just wow...

And isn't it sad that right after the first posts about not jumping to conclusions, people start to assume that is James a liar and a thief? Why can't we just wait until the dust settles before we start the blame game? I just hope the Escapist survives its economic problems and that EC can find a new home.

Matt said...

@jojjo

I don't think he's making the argument that the contract is null and void at all, but simply that James is not a very strong businessman for paying a $20,000 salary for stick figures.

And I don't see anyone claiming James is a liar or a thief, merely that he set up a pretty good situation for himself by using charitable donations to fund what could be his own projects, pocketing a fair bit of cash from the situation, and still saving face in the long run.

Ezenwa said...

Looks like Extra Credits is on Youtube. Latest episode is there. If anything, if they have a strong audience, they should just go to blip.tv, and make a blogspot promoting it or something.

Blip.tv can provide with some decent cash for the week or so (granted they have 10,000 views), when it comes to advertisement.

Then, get a blogspot, promote it, and you can get people to watch it there.


To reiterate:
-get a blip.tv account
-get a blogspot as a page to see it on (like Moviebob)
-hope you get at least 10,000 views a week or something


Otherwise, I'm sure Screwattack, Gametrailers, RetrowareTV, Normal Boots, and TGWTG will appreciate your services

That's granted you can't work this out with the Escapist..which you should be able to do.

But, hey, that's my take on it. I'm sure they can fix this. If not, it's not like they have no way to make it.

jojjo said...

Matt/
The Escapist set up a contract where they agreed to pay Allison exactly that, so that is exactly what her work is worth; how is this complicated? And no, you don't call him a liar, you just imply it.

Matt said...

No, jojjo, that's not what the contract says. The Escapist pays JAMES ($20,000), and he employs Alison for that same amount ($20,000). There is a huge difference. Both on paper and in terms of a business model.

And go right ahead, tell me where I implied James is a liar. You've got about 5 comments to find as little as one part of one sentence where I implied he was a liar.

Matt said...

Sorry I didn't address one of your points, it's kind of absurd that I actually have to say this but... just because someone is payed X dollars, doesn't mean their work is worth X dollars. If it were, the word "overpaid" wouldn't exist.

BS Digital Q said...

"...just because someone is payed X dollars, doesn't mean their work is worth X dollars."

*ahem*

There's a story about a guy called Picasso. The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris cafĂ© when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather significant amount of money.

The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”.

Point: You may call them "stick figures drawn in MS Paint," but the work put into Extra Credits without a doubt takes time and effort to draw and animate. Calling it anything else is being dismissive without giving the artist a chance.

Time is money to artists. That's why professional artists charge so much for commission work, cause that is time spent away from working on a movie, comic book, advertisement, or painting. They've spent their lives getting to where they are, and the money they receive in return should reflect that. Anything else shows how clueless and/or disrespectful of artists a person is/you are.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ comments about Allison's drawing

Ok, you realize that she draws around a hundred or so pictures per episode, right? Even as just little stick figures this is still several hours of work for her. And I'm given to understand she puts the video together to which is also a few hours of work. Since 20k a year equates to about $350 an episode, I'd say for a professional artist she's actually kind'a underpaid for this.

motyr said...

Re: Drawings

It's hard to put a value on art, isn't it? For example, this is the highest valued painting in the world at $149.70 million dollars.

When it comes to visual art, the monetary value really falls under the "however much someone is willing to pay for it" model. Personally, I think the images used in EC are far more visually and technically complex than "stick figures," and I'm far more prone to lean towards "underpaid" than "overpaid." (150 mill for the painting above, though, now that's overpaid!)

TheAlmightyNarf makes a good point that there are a lot of images every week (each slide lasts anywhere between <1 and 3 seconds, so this figure can approach 200 but the end of a complete episode), and, as far as I can assume, Allison is probably in complete artistic control as to what goes, visually, into each slide. The images are funny, witty, and tend to approach the narration in an abstract way. I always liked EC, but the visuals were actually my favourite part of it.

Considering some people on The Escapist make a living off of video series like EC (Yahtzee is a good example because MovieBob has two shows on The Escapist), and the only payment The Escapist would be dolling out would eventually change hands and end up going 100% to Allison, $20,000 certainly isn't, comparatively, very much.

Matt said...

@BS Digital Q
Fair enough, but notice how nothing you said negated, or even addressed my point. Also I would appreciate it if in the future you spared me the insults and instead used that time to actually develop your reading comprehension skills. If you're going to address me personally (as you did by directly quoting me), make sure you are not creating an ignorant straw man. I realize opportunity cost of actually understanding the person you're replying to could perhaps be better spent elsewhere, but it saves us both time in the end if you get it right the first time and does nothing to actually stimulate any sort of discussion.

@TheAlmightyNarf
Again, fair enough. It's not the quality, it's the quantity. I get that. I've seen some of Alison's other work and it is more or less aesthetically pleasing. But even though you weren't addressing me personally, I still feel the need to clarify at this point, I do not think Alison's is overpaid, I was paraphrasing someone else who does, to a person who, incidentally, has their economics wrong. I tend to have the opinion that James, in paying all of his Escapist money to Alison, is doing bad business, not that Alison's work isn't worth it. Hope that clears things up a little.

@motyr
The issue is the "however much someone is willing to pay for it" model quite frankly doesn't work here, as the Escapist is not willing to pay $20,000 for Alison's work, they're willing to pay $20,000 for the entirety of Extra Credits. While Daniel's work may be the least intensive (I bet maybe an hour a week unless he also does the audio editing, I'm not sure), the Escapist is paying for his voice as much as Alison's drawings, and James' insight as much as Alison's drawings. If we were to follow the "however much someone is willing to pay for it" model, it follows that Daniel's work is worthless (assuming there's no economic discrepancy between visual art and providing audio, which I can't seem to find an argument against -- they both help create a consistent tone, they both require hard work and dedication under tight deadlines, they both require a skill-set that not everyone has, etc...).

BS Digital Q said...

"Fair enough, but notice how nothing you said negated, or even addressed my point." That her work is not worth the money paid to her? Yeah, every artist out there that works would like to have a word with you on that...

"Also I would appreciate it if in the future you spared me the insults and instead used that time to actually develop your reading comprehension skills. If you're going to address me personally (as you did by directly quoting me), make sure you are not creating an ignorant straw man. I realize opportunity cost of actually understanding the person you're replying to could perhaps be better spent elsewhere, but it saves us both time in the end if you get it right the first time and does nothing to actually stimulate any sort of discussion."

Then it'd be nice if you, you know, actually addressed what I said, instead of more or less acting like that person who demeans the other by saying their grammar sucks.

But nope, we gotta use ad hominem.

BTW, despite my constant use of the pronoun "you," my point was directed at more than just you, even if it was your post that inspired me. Hence the "a person is/you are" qualifier. Not to mention the "stick figures drawn in MS Paint" wasn't an insult you made. My point was to the others insulting the art, not just you. So do try and actually pay attention to what I write. It'll save you the trouble of looking like a hypocrite when you go after somebody regarding "reading comprehension" (which is a real funny insult, since I know better than you on that front).

garwulf said...

Well, I only just heard about this, and I guess it's time to stand up and be counted. I'm an Escapist contributor, and I got paid 110 days after my article was published (and that was after threatening to find them in breach of contract and take appropriate action). I'm firmly on the Extra Credits side here.

The sad thing is, when I started contributing to them, they were a class act. They tried to pay within 30 days, and while that often meant within 60 days, they were good for it. This situation, well, the only conclusion I can draw is that they have badly overextended themselves, and rather than consolidate and bring themselves back to sustainability, they want to keep expanding.

Anyway, until they get themselves sorted out, I'm not contributing to them again.

Robert B. Marks

Matt said...

""Fair enough, but notice how nothing you said negated, or even addressed my point." That her work is not worth the money paid to her? Yeah, every artist out there that works would like to have a word with you on that... "

Boy that's sure going to take up a lot of my time. Especially since their word is with me regards me saying something that I never said, nor does it express an opinion I share. Funny, as the rest of your post amounts to what is fundamentally a 'no u' reply regarding your lack of reading comprehension, and yet you demonstrate in your very first sentence that is is a skill you lack.

Secondly, I did address your point. In fact, I agreed with it.

Thirdly, it wasn't an ad hominem, please add "learning what words mean" to your list of skills to acquire if you wish to have an intelligent conversation.

Fourthly, 'no u' (what did Shakespeare say about brevity again?)

BS Digital Q said...

"Especially since their word is with me regards me saying something that I never said, nor does it express an opinion I share."

"James is not a very strong businessman for paying a $20,000 salary for stick figures."

"...just because someone is payed X dollars, doesn't mean their work is worth X dollars."



"Funny, as the rest of your post amounts to what is fundamentally a 'no u' reply regarding your lack of reading comprehension, and yet you demonstrate in your very first sentence that is is a skill you lack."

I'm not accusing of lacking reading comprehension. That would be assuming you even read my post or payed attention to it.

"Secondly, I did address your point. In fact, I agreed with it."

Evidence.

"Thirdly, it wasn't an ad hominem, please add "learning what words mean" to your list of skills to acquire if you wish to have an intelligent conversation."

Ad hominem is the attempt to undermine a person's argument by going after a negative characteristic of that person. Your entire "reading comprehension" shtick is such a case.

"Fourthly, 'no u' (what did Shakespeare say about brevity again?)"

No u ain't.

Meme war is declared.

Matt said...

"Especially since their word is with me regards me saying something that I never said, nor does it express an opinion I share."

"James is not a very strong businessman for paying a $20,000 salary for stick figures."

Nice quote mine, here's the full sentence "I don't think he's making the argument that the contract is null and void at all, but simply that James is not a very strong businessman for paying a $20,000 salary for stick figures."

"...just because someone is payed X dollars, doesn't mean their work is worth X dollars." is not a statement about artists at all, it's a statement about economics.

"Evidence." What do you think "fair enough" means?

"Ad hominem is the attempt to undermine a person's argument by going after a negative characteristic of that person. Your entire "reading comprehension" shtick is such a case." Incorrect. I was making a ancillary argument about why it's best to not make errors in your own argument. I had no intention to undermined your argument as, as I said in my last point, I agree with it.

jojjo said...

Matt/
All you have been writing in this thread have been about how James is some sort of shady figure who tries to scam his fans and trash the Escapist, or how else am I supposed to interpret it? And it doesn't matter if the Escapist are paying Allison or paying James to pay Allison: they still have a contract! Allison's drawing skill are just so completely beside the point that I fail to see why anyone would bring it up. Look it's noting personal, I just get so frustrated when people immediately starts to gossip and throw dirt. You're no better the all those people basically calling the Escapist's management the Devil on their own forum.

jojjo said...

Matt/
And on the last point: Is a movie star "worth" what they make? A politician? A businessman? A nurse?

motyr said...

@Matt

Ah yes, of course, how could I forget? The Escapist does not deal with Allison, they deal with James. It's James' decision to pay Allison the entirety of the $20000, which is inconsequential to the conversation regarding the dealings between The Escapist and James. Sorry if I came across as being contradictory, I never meant to.

@garwulf

Your dealings with The Escapist are irrelevant to James' case. If you feel The Escapist has wronged you, by all means do what you feel is appropriate to better your situation, but please understand there were many factors in the EC case that do not seem to apply to yours.

garwulf said...

Motyr: I was writing out of solidarity with other Escapist contributors. Sorry if it didn't come across that way, but that was how it was intended.

(That's what I get for writing a blog post while hopped up on anti-histamines, I guess.)

At any rate, this is a big problem. I would not break my own silence if it wasn't. Speaking up on something like this is very dangerous for a writer. If there isn't a lot of solid ground beneath your feet, it can affect your ability to get work in the future. And it can do that even if there is no shortage of solid ground.

What happened to the folks at Extra Credit was a severe case of it, but the fact remains that a lot of people contributing to the Escapist are not being paid in a reasonable amount of time. And, for this problem to be fixed, people have to come forward and support the contributors who are currently fighting for what is owed to them. So, here I am. Perhaps this was not the best place to announce it, but standing up and being counted is the right thing to do.

jojjo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jojjo said...

Matt/
I'd like to add the (somewhat late) disclaimer that I certainly came off sounding way more like a douche than I intended, so perhaps I should give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn't mean it the way I interpreted it.

Matt said...

@jojjo
I replied to you comment... twice... and they both didn't go through for whatever reason. Quite frankly I don't want to type it out again for a 3rd time to find it won't get posted.

Either way I understand your concern and even agree with it. No worries.

barcelona said...

Well, I don't actually think this is likely to have effect.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see collective guilt is seen as a bad thing by Bob. I've not personally been a part of the retake Mass Effect movement, but I hated the ending and am quite vocal about my right to hate it. Please feel free to apologize at your own pace...