Cover for The Escapist's first issue: "Gaming Uber Alles"
Type of site
|Video game website|
|Created by||Alexander Macris, Julianne Greer, Jonathan Hayter, Greg Lincoln, Jason Smith, Tom Kurz|
|Alexa rank||10,826 (March 2017[update])|
|Launched||July 12, 2005|
The Escapist (typeset as the escapist) is an online magazine covering mostly video games as well as movies, comics, TV, and more. Published by Alexander Macris since its inception, it was edited by Julianne Greer up to June 30, 2009, then by Russ Pitts through September 2011, then by Steve Butts until September 4, 2012, then by Susan Arendt until June 14, 2013, then by Greg Tito until January 21, 2015 and is currently edited by Joshua Vanderwall. The Escapist was first published on July 12, 2005. The Escapist originally ran weekly with a main edition published on Tuesday but it is now updated continuously. On the 15th November 2012 it was announced that the Escapist had been acquired by online media company Alloy Digital from its corporate owner, Themis Media, for an undisclosed sum. In 2014, Alloy Digital merged with Break Media to form Defy Media, the website's present owner.
The premier issue featured pieces from well-known gaming-community authors including Jerry Holkins (a.k.a. Tycho Brahe), Kieron Gillen, and John Scott Tynes. Following issues included work by Tom Chick, Allen Varney, Jim Rossignol and other top writers from in and outside the game industry, including a four-part piece by leading game designer Warren Spector. The editor, Julianne Greer had not been involved in the gaming industry before The Escapist, and had a background in marketing and new media. According to Themis, by late 2006 the website had 150,000 monthly readers. The website MMORPG.com noted that the webzine had become the "flagship brand" for Themis, which runs other websites and ventures related to the gaming industry, with the reputation of "a widely read and highly respected form of game journalism" and "paying writers top dollar".
On July 9, 2007 the site relaunched with a completely new design, which also saw the end of the weekly PDF issues and a shift in layout to one more similar to other websites. Although the weekly topic and publish schedule was retained, new regular content additions included more game reviews, editorial articles, conference coverage, and a relaunch of Shoot Club by Tom Chick. The only notable new feature added was Zero Punctuation, weekly animated video reviews that led to a four-fold increase in the Escapist's traffic. In addition to news articles and videos, the Escapist also hosts an active forum community and usergroups, most notably the Brovengers and Injustice League, along with a paid membership introduced in 2010 known as the Publisher's Club which for $20 a year removes advertisements from the site, confers forum benefits and entry into special contests.
The Escapist has hosted a number of ongoing video series and webcomics, most of which pertain to video games, although they have expanded to other aspects of geek culture. Note: time postings are in EST.
Zero Punctuation is a weekly video game review series created by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. In the show Ben plays an animated caricature of himself who doesn't stop speaking for any punctuation giving the name of the show. Posted every Wednesday at 11 AM.
Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation makes fun of artwork on posters and covers.
March Mayhem: Developer's Showdown (commonly referred to as March Mayhem or simply MM) is an annual event hosted by The Escapist to determine the most popular video game developer in the industry. The event was first introduced in 2008 and takes the form of a series of opinion polls, split into four divisions (North, South, East and West) each consisting of 16 developers. In each round, developers are eliminated down to two, who then compete in the grand final.
The event was criticised by many site members due to the site's policy of allowing developers to advertise on their own websites and games in order to gain votes. Further criticism ensued in 2010 when Zynga was permitted to enter the competition despite multiple controversies surrounding the business practices of the company and debates whether Facebook applications could be considered games. There was also significant controversy over the 2011 result, considering winner Mojang hadn't officially released a game as of March 2011. As a result of this criticism and a generally negative opinion of the contest by Escapist users, March Mayhem did not take place in 2013, but was then revived in 2014 in much the same format, albeit with greater community input in the initial 16 developers chosen.
Around the end of July 2011, there was a dispute between The Escapist and the team that provided content for the show Extra Credits. After not being paid for months, the Extra Credits team needed to pay for surgery for their artist, Allison Theus. They began a charity fund, separate from The Escapist, and received substantially more money than was necessary for Theus's surgery. They planned to use this extra money to create a game publishing label, where the revenue would go directly into funding subsequent projects. The Escapist stated the money should have been used to create more episodes of Extra Credits for The Escapist and to compensate Themis Media for donation incentives, such as premium memberships and T-shirts. As a result, Extra Credits broke ties with The Escapist, and the show has since aired on Penny Arcade, ScrewAttack and has its own channel on YouTube.
In May 2008, The Escapist won the Webby Award and 2008 People's Choice Award for Best Video-Game Related Website. The Escapist also won this award in 2009 after a protracted voting battle between the members of The Escapist and the website GameSpot. In 2011 The Escapist again won three Webby Awards: Best Games-Related Website, People's Voice Best Games-Related Website and People's Voice Best Lifestyle Website. The Escapist also received a Mashable Open Web Award for Best Online Magazine in 2009 and was named one of the 50 Best Websites by Time magazine in 2011.
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