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The Extra Credits thread!! EC is amazing!


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Man, not to sound crass, but "this is some fucked up shit":

http://www.facebook.com/ExtraCredits?sk=wall&filter=2

Apparently the escapist wanted a fuckton of the rockethub money used for Allison's surgery (75%) and also felt they were owed nearly 10k on top of that. Show is going to youtube until another site picks it up.

Dan, James, Allison, it breaks my heart that this past month has been so hard on you all. Please never stop doing what you're doing right now, keep your chins up, and keep your fanbase in the loop. You know them peeps watch out for you. :)

^ this. Can't believe I didn't think to post that here myself. But seriously, that's messed up - disgusting behavior on the part of The Escapist. Chin up guys - your viewers are behind you.

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Since no one else has posted it over here, The Escapist responded.

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

Seems a little more complicated than it did before. I'm going to avoid getting involved until I know more. It would be interesting to get Seph in on this thread and hear his side of the story. I might be a little more willing to take sides then, since he's someone I know I can trust.

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It's really a tragedy that so much controversy has come up partly as a result of such incredible, inspiring generosity.

EC is one of the only outlets for the kind of analysis they do. It's slowly happening in academia, but the show is 5 years ahead of any other group doing real analysis of the industry. I'm sure that someone out there will recognize this and pick up the show.

Hopefully everything is resolved extremely soon so we can get back to what really matters -- games.

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It would be interesting to get Seph in on this thread and hear his side of the story.

Or Allison for that matter.

Regardless who said what, this is a most unfortunate turn of events. Public IP disputes such as these almost never turn out well for any party involved.

I should point out: The Escapist has no valid legal claim over any money donated to members of the EC team by third parties for the purpose of Allison's surgery or any other purpose.

We're lacking a lot of details that could help explain these events. I'm curious though, who assigns a business development manager to make a legal claim on IP...especially when a lawyer is available? That's just bizarre. And who offers to transfer IP rights for in exchange for dictating the use of money donated for a charitable cause by third parties? Again, that is absolutely bizarre. A lot of Alexander's letter seemed incoherent or implausible.

I hope things improve for you guys.

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I'm really curious about what Sephire has to say. At the moment James is clearly in the wrong, he had no right to take the excess money and use it for his own personal gain when the fund was clearly set up for Allison's surgery. They should've stopped donations after they raised enough to pay for the costs of her surgery and left it at that. I don't think the people who donated their cash for Allison's sake would be happy knowing that James used it to make his own publishing label. I mean seriously, how do you defend that? He didn't even tell anybody.

I've been watching Extra Credits since their Youtube days, and in general I think most of the other shows on the Escapist suck, so it's not like I have a bias or anything. When I first heard what happened I thought "Wow, they're being a bunch of greedy bastards" but now that I know more about the situation, my perspective has changed entirely. Since the Escapist paid him back the money he's due, I don't think he has anything to stand on.

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I don't mean to sound like i know the situation, as i obviously don't, but after all the shit the escapist has been getting it sounds like a pretty simple misunderstanding...

From what Sinewav posted and what James was saying on facebook: James thought the extra money from rockethub was going towards what was best for the extra credits peeps (since the money was given by people to help extra credits and Allison more specifically) and the Escapist thought the extra money was going to be used for the Escapist-side of payment (from their allowance and support for rockethub donations)... Which is, well, a tad presumptuous on the Escapist's part, but understandable from where they were sitting.

I hope everything gets worked out and i hope to see more Extra Credits. I love what you guys do and I support whatever route you take. I also hope Allison is doing well too, that girl is mufuckin' talented.

And yes, I'd like to hear what Seph has to say...

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At the moment James is clearly in the wrong, he had no right to take the excess money and use it for his own personal gain when the fund was clearly set up for Allison's surgery.

For the record, the fund isn't really being set up for his personal gain. It states right on the Rockethub page that they aren't taking money from the fund, and all profit will go back into it to help kick start other gaming projects.

You can read that here: http://www.rockethub.com/projects/2165-extra-credits/posts/740

They should've stopped donations after they raised enough to pay for the costs of her surgery and left it at that. I don't think the people who donated their cash for Allison's sake would be happy knowing that James used it to make his own publishing label. I mean seriously, how do you defend that? He didn't even tell anybody.

To be fair, the goal was stated clearly on the page. Once they reached it people kept donating. In fact, people kept donating a lot of money, well after they had clearly reached their goal. Then they decided to use any extra that isn't required for Allison's recovery to support independent developers, something I don't think is totally unexpected for them to do. And people still kept donating once they announced that. In all fairness, I don't think the sort of people who love this show enough to donate to help Allison get better would mind any extra money going to another good cause that can help some new developers break into the industry.

And once again, to be clear, they've stated that it's only the extra money left over after Allison is taken care of that will go into the fund. It's not like she's not going to have the help she needs to get better or anything, so I'm not sure why you have such an issue with them using anything left over towards an equally good cause.

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Not to be a dick here, but perhaps instead of starting a business venture with the left over donation money, the folks behind Extra Credits could have either refunded the money (it came via PayPal or similar means, right?), or stopped the donations, when they reached their $20,000 - $25,000 goal. That they continued taking money (and still are according the the RocketHub site) wasn't the best idea. Surely they had to realize that people might not have been very happy with the money they gave going to something other than what it was intended for. I know I wouldn't be.

But, as they say, hindsight is always 20/20.

Despite my stance on it, I do wish you guys the best. Hopefully your show will find a new home, even if it's just on YouTube like it was in the beginning.

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I've been following this story on multiple websites since James started posting about it on Facebook earlier this evening. What you're saying make a lot of sense Coop. But the truth is, I have seen countless posts of people complaining that their donated money was not meant for The Escapist, and that they fully support this indie game publisher venture. I haven't seen a single post from a donor complaining that the game venture was a misuse of their money.

In other words, yeah, it was silly to keep accepting donations when they hadn't stated what they were going to do with the extra money... but the people donating the money all seemed to recognize that and be perfectly at peace with it (under the assumption that their money was going to Extra Credits rather than The Escapist).

Don't know how that argument would hold up in a court, but it seems pretty clear that so far no relevant party besides The Escapist has voiced disapproval of the publishing venture.

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On the other hand, if I remember correctly, their initial surgery estimate was low so it's a good thing for Allison that they didn't stop at their first goal or they wouldn't have had enough.

I'll agree though, I'm one of those people who donated, full well knowing they already had enough, but I wanted to help EC so I chipped in anyway. I wouldn't want my money going directly to The Escapist though. I'm glad they're getting away from that site. (if it sticks)

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I've been following this story on multiple websites since James started posting about it on Facebook earlier this evening. What you're saying make a lot of sense Coop. But the truth is, I have seen countless posts of people complaining that their donated money was not meant for The Escapist, and that they fully support this indie game publisher venture. I haven't seen a single post from a donor complaining that the game venture was a misuse of their money.

In other words, yeah, it was silly to keep accepting donations when they hadn't stated what they were going to do with the extra money... but the people donating the money all seemed to recognize that and be perfectly at peace with it (under the assumption that their money was going to Extra Credits rather than The Escapist).

Here's the thing though. If they had said "We're gonna made a publishing company with the extra cash" right up front, that would be one thing. But they didn't. And even if some of the people are happy with it, it's still not the right course of action to take.

Everyone who donated up until they said what they were going to do with the extra money did so for Allison, her rehab after surgery, and hiring guest artists. That's it. The moment the EC folks said they were going to start publishing indie games with the extracredits.pngmoney, they began using the money for something other than what it was intended for. You simply don't do that, and I'd be willing to wager it stands a very good chance of being a strong point that can be used against the EC crew if this actually winds up in court. After all, if EC can make a publishing company, why couldn't the escapist ask, "Can I get some of it too?" (assuming The Escapist did indeed bring that idea up).

Keep in mind, I'm not taking either side in this. Seems to me both of them have made mistakes over the course of this donation drive's lifespan. And until we get facts that both sides agree on, it's hard to see who's in the right or wrong regarding where things stand right now. That said, I do think EC made a sizable mistake in continuing to take money, and not coming up with a plan from the get go on how to handle any extra money (and thus, be able to tell the donators of that plan).

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Here's the thing though. If they had said "We're gonna made a publishing company with the extra cash" right up front, that would be one thing. But they didn't.

Of course they didn't say it up front. They didn't expect they would even get near enough money to have anything extra after the fact. By the time they figured out that, hey, they were going to have a sizable amount left over, they were well over the donation goal and people were still donating, even after they announced that they didn't need any more and they would be figuring out what other kind of project they would work on with the extra money. People even sent them suggestions and kept right on donating knowing full-well that it was going to be going to a purpose other than fixing Allison. Pretty much all the money that was donated after that point (which was still quite a bit) was done so with that knowledge. Presumably, anyway; you can't say for certain that every single person actually read the page after the initial call, but that's true for anything.

As far as continuing to take in money, if I'm not mistaken you can't close down a donation page on RocketHub before the initially set time limit is up. That's how I understood it as it was happening, anyway. If so, there's not much EC could've done to actually prevent more people from donating other than saying "stop."

Not going to start debating this myself after this post, just throwing that out there.

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Here's the thing though. If they had said "We're gonna made a publishing company with the extra cash" right up front, that would be one thing. But they didn't. And even if some of the people are happy with it, it's still not the right course of action to take.

Everyone who donated up until they said what they were going to do with the extra money did so for Allison, her rehab after surgery, and hiring guest artists. That's it. The moment the EC folks said they were going to start publishing indie games with the extracredits.pngmoney, they began using the money for something other than what it was intended for. You simply don't do that, and I'd be willing to wager it stands a very good chance of being a strong point that can be used against the EC crew if this actually winds up in court. After all, if EC can make a publishing company, why couldn't the escapist ask, "Can I get some of it too?" (assuming The Escapist did indeed bring that idea up).

Keep in mind, I'm not taking either side in this. Seems to me both of them have made mistakes over the course of this donation drive's lifespan. And until we get facts that both sides agree on, it's hard to see who's in the right or wrong regarding where things stand right now. That said, I do think EC made a sizable mistake in continuing to take money, and not coming up with a plan from the get go on how to handle any extra money (and thus, be able to tell the donators of that plan).

I think we're arguing two different things. I'm saying that morally they did right by the donors. You're saying that legally, there are some chinks in their armor. I think we're both right.

The donors donated, knowing that they were exceeding the amount necessary for the surgery, and not knowing what EC would do with the extra money. They trusted the team's judgement. Now they all seem to adamantly defend that EC represented their wishes and spent the money wisely. Morally, I feel EC did right by them. (No comment on if they did right by The Escapist).

Legally, however, it certainly seems like they are treading on very rocky ground. If it goes to court, I'm guessing it'll come down however the lawyers convince the judge to interpret the contract between EC and The Escapist. This is kinda hairy, because the contract between them is so vague. I could see it going a lot of different ways. But I'm not really an expert on law, so this is mostly conjecture.

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Not going to start debating this myself after this post, just throwing that out there.

I have no intentions of debating it any further either. I've said my piece about this.

Still, it's a shame this is becoming an unfortunate mess for all involved... one that may become entangled in a web of legalese, chosen sides, and burnt bridges. Hopefully the show will survive it all in at least some form.

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Sorry I've been out this whole time! Siggraph is happening up here and I've been a bit swamped. James is a lot closer to everything that's happened, but I can definitely say: the show isn't stopping. We'll just post on Youtube every week until we land elsewhere.

As for the donation thing, I can try to help clear that up a little. Like some of you have said, we never, ever expected the response we got to the Rockethub thing. We didn't think we'd even hit our goal. It was a pretty desperate move for us and we hadn't planned for that (incredibly inspiring) scenario.

Once we'd shot passed the goal and the donations were still piling in from people just showing their support, we spent two weeks trying to figure out what to do. We had originally estimated low for the cost of Allison's surgery, so a good bit of the excess would go to her procedure, follow-up therapy and such. Some would help to pay the guest artists. But we knew we had a lot left over anyway, and we weren't sure what to do with it.

People were clearly giving it to show support, so just giving it back and saying "no thanks" didn't feel right, but we felt uncomfortable just keeping it for ourselves too. We briefly considered passing it on to Child's Play. But then we considered what the donation drive was about: helping a talented person to be able to continue doing the thing they loved. And we thought "maybe that's how we can pay it forward." The publishing fund thing is what we came up with: a way to give some indie developer a chance to keep doing what they love, and hopefully do the medium some good while we were at it.

I totally understand the complaint that we hadn't announced that sort of thing earlier. If we had foreseen this amazing donation outcome, we would have. Again, it was a pretty desperate measure at the time. "Hindsight" and all that.

I'll try to pop in an answer any questions I can!

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Once we'd shot passed the goal and the donations were still piling in from people just showing their support, we spent two weeks trying to figure out what to do. We had originally estimated low for the cost of Allison's surgery, so a good bit of the excess would go to her procedure, follow-up therapy and such. Some would help to pay the guest artists. But we knew we had a lot left over anyway, and we weren't sure what to do with it.

People were clearly giving it to show support, so just giving it back and saying "no thanks" didn't feel right, but we felt uncomfortable just keeping it for ourselves too. We briefly considered passing it on to Child's Play. But then we considered what the donation drive was about: helping a talented person to be able to continue doing the thing they loved. And we thought "maybe that's how we can pay it forward." The publishing fund thing is what we came up with: a way to give some indie developer a chance to keep doing what they love, and hopefully do the medium some good while we were at it.

I really don't like seeing this kind of thing happening to anybody for any reason, and I really don't like to point fingers, so I'll try to be objective. However, as I've been reading through the facebook messages and forum posts between James and the management from The Escapist, it becomes more and more apparent (to me) that discussion of what to do with the excess funds was made without inclusion of feedback from The Escapist until the announcement to develop an indie company, which at that point, exposed a bevy of unresolved conflicts between everyone.

"He said that; she said this" and so on. Basically, James was upset at the unreliability of payments from The Escapist and The Escapist was simply wanting compensation for materials and expenses encountered for providing the bonus content for donations. If the long-distance communication between all parties had been more fluent, I don't think any of this would have happened. I still hope that both Extra Credits and The Escapist can work things out.

Addendum: As far as I understand, The Escapist did come through with donating some money to Allison's surgery/recovery initially post haste and have made no effort to recollect it per se.

EDIT: Being that I made a contribution to the fund after the goal was reached, I am unhappy to see that my donation is not going toward the intended purpose. As such, I will be more wary of making donations to Extra Credits in the future. It's unfortunate because I really want to support the show, but not if it leads to more situations like this.

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Hey Dan. I just lost a long response, which works out well cause you are probably tired of reading them anyway.

Quick anecdote from today at work in the kitchen. I mentioned I liked a busboy's Zelda shirt and we got to talking about gamers on the Internet. When I mentioned that you guys fell into contractual trouble with the Escapist he was really bummed about the news too. He not only knew of your show, he cited how much he loved your comparison of God of War to a Greek Tragedy. He got really passionate about how great of a show EC is, and I didn't even know the guy was a gamer.

I'll keep it simple. I, like many, am behind you 100% and anxious to know if there is ANY way we can positively respond. Energy, time, money... our individual resources... any way we can pitch in.

I know I'm not alone when I say you guys are like heroes to us. You're giving us gamers a well-spoken voice, an important message. You've been making us all THINK, and your considerable time and effort has not been in vain. It STILL isn't. Please let us know what can do. Seriously.

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Hey Dan. I just lost a long response, which works out well cause you are probably tired of reading them anyway.

Quick anecdote from today at work in the kitchen. I mentioned I liked a busboy's Zelda shirt and we got to talking about gamers on the Internet. When I mentioned that you guys fell into contractual trouble with the Escapist he was really bummed about the news too. He not only knew of your show, he cited how much he loved your comparison of God of War to a Greek Tragedy. He got really passionate about how great of a show EC is, and I didn't even know the guy was a gamer.

I'll keep it simple. I, like many, am behind you 100% and anxious to know if there is ANY way we can positively respond. Energy, time, money... our individual resources... any way we can pitch in.

I know I'm not alone when I say you guys are like heroes to us. You're giving us gamers a well-spoken voice, an important message. You've been making us all THINK, and your considerable time and effort has not been in vain. It STILL isn't. Please let us know what can do. Seriously.

Thanks, that's quite uplifting after a day full of drama. :)

I really don't like seeing this kind of thing happening to anybody for any reason, and I really don't like to point fingers, so I'll try to be objective. However, as I've been reading through the facebook messages and forum posts between James and the management from The Escapist, it becomes more and more apparent (to me) that discussion of what to do with the excess funds was made without inclusion of feedback from The Escapist until the announcement to develop an indie company, which at that point, exposed a bevy of unresolved conflicts between everyone.

"He said that; she said this" and so on. Basically, James was upset at the unreliability of payments from The Escapist and The Escapist was simply wanting compensation for materials and expenses encountered for providing the bonus content for donations. If the long-distance communication between all parties had been more fluent, I don't think any of this would have happened. I still hope that both Extra Credits and The Escapist can work things out.

Addendum: As far as I understand, The Escapist did come through with donating some money to Allison's surgery/recovery initially post haste and have made no effort to recollect it per se.

I see where you're coming from. There's definitely a "he said" vibe about everything that's come out over the last 24 hours, and I'm certain some of the frustration can be chalked up to miscommunication between The Escapist and ourselves. I kind of wish the whole situation hadn't turned into a drama storm, but oh well.

The lack of payment isn't the main reason we decided to leave, but money issues did set things in motion. I've not been nearly as involved with everything that's happened, but I can try to explain the basics.

We'd gone for a year with very little in the way of payment, and the Escapist guys had been open and honest about the hard times they were going through. Totally understandable, times are tough, etc. We were happy to cut them a little slack. But Allison still needed to be paid for her work (the show takes way too long to animate for us to ask someone to do the art for free). So James was paying her himself, and by the end of the year, he was personally 20k in the hole, and some family issues combined with Allison's injury put a lot of strain on that situation. Like I said, the Rockethub thing was a desperate last-resort thing, and the Escapist offered to contribute with the Publisher's Club memberships and t-shirts. They later backed out on that, but that was later after some other stuff happened, so it wasn't anything sinister.

After the Rockethub thing was a huge success, we eventually came up with the Publishing Fund idea (like I posted earlier). But the whole affair had made us a little concerned over the lack of payment for the show. When we approached them about the possibility for working out a deal for getting our IP back in exchange for some of the debt owed (so we could make a little money through other means), they countered that they were contractually entitled to a large percentage of the Rockethub donations, which would cover the debt they owed and then some. This came completely out of the blue for us. At no point had they ever mentioned that before. Even if it was true, it seemed in very bad faith to pull that sort of contractual thing on us after a year of us cutting them slack when they failed to meet their end of the contract. Yes, the Rockethub donations were meant to "save Extra Credits", but only in so far as it was to help save Allison's career. It wasn't at ALL intended as a "help The Escapist pay for more Extra Credits episodes" fund. It was at that point we got the feeling we weren't really on the same team here. It's possible it was a massive miscommunication, it felt like a huge dick move, and we were getting pretty fed up.

Re-examining our contract, we started finding a lot of stuff we weren't too happy about, and after weeks of trying to push them on the issue and negotiate for the rights to our IP back, we were only feeling less and less sure of our working relationship. And that more or less brings us to now.

I really, really don't have any hatred for The Escapist as a site, and have no ill will for the people running it either. This is not at all the way I hoped our working relationship would go. It's not about the money for me (I don't get paid for this show anyway). I just began to feel that I couldn't trust the people in charge, and that's an unpleasant feeling when they hold all rights to your IP.

I still really wish our departure hadn't turned into a drama mess, but here we are. I really hope both parties can leave this on more-or-less agreeable terms and go on to great success. For whatever it's worth, I know I'll still be watching shows on The Escapist well after this is all over.

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I know I'm not alone when I say you guys are like heroes to us. You're giving us gamers a well-spoken voice, an important message. You've been making us all THINK, and your considerable time and effort has not been in vain. It STILL isn't. Please let us know what can do. Seriously.

I second this. Every little bit of it. You have a vast group of people just waiting for a hint of what we can do to help. You have support all over the world. Remember that. :)

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I have been thinking a while over how to respond over this. My tension is a bit relaxed and I got my anger on a bit of control. I'm just going to rant for a momment and say how, like everyone else, EC has done a lot of work into making a entertaining yet great think tank, if I am free to say that.

Money does sadly make the world go round and lacking in that can lead to so many issues. By the way it sounds, it seems that you guys got into a very crappy contract but knew that and went to work anyway.

I don't know what is going to happen, but I do know that if you cats continue your work, you will make it. Allison's donation drive showed how much you guys are being looked at and I am certain you will either get picked up or just go solo on the work. I say this, because something like extra credits is needed to bring out ideas and discussion that can bring video games in a positive direction.

I don't like where you guys are at nor do I like how Escapist is getting hated. However I feel that everything will be fine and I wanted to thank you for the service you have done for the Video Game scene and the great hours of entertainment you gave us. I hope you guys continue, for I will be watching.

Edit: Just a quick P.S. I was going to check on Wikipedia to make sure there wasn't a flame war, and it seems EC doesn't even have an article.. how odd is that?

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