Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Thoughts On The Deal With GameAnyone...

Alright, so no doubt everyone (well, almost everyone) has heard about the incident near the beginning of September this year, where a bunch of us top contributors seemingly all-of-a-sudden just up and left GameAnyone. This has understandably caused some confusion, concern, and even some turmoil amongst the smattering of followers that we collectively have.
I'm here to finally lay the cards out on the table and fill you in on what happened, and my thoughts on it. I'm going to, for all intents and purposes, try and remain amicable as I write this. The intent is NOT to just spout slander, but rather to illustrate why I (read: we) acted in the way that we did, so you can understand our reasoning. In order to arrive at such a conclusion, I will have to divulge some details, which may come across as slanderous. This is purely a recount of how things went down, so please bear that in mind before choosing to react in a way that takes what I am about to say out of context...

First, a little background. I joined the site in late 2008, after an invite from the site's owner and founder, Maceman, and hearing some new promotions on the beginning of DavetheUsher's videos. I decided to head on over to see what they had going on over there. I joined up, and started submitting my content to the site, which at the time, was simply a forum community of people who liked games, liked recording, and wanted a place to hang out. The site was a collection of peoples' contributions from their YouTube channels, and served as a collection for video game walkthroughs, accessible from one single source. Great idea right? One of my biggest projects at the time, and probably my claim-to-fame, was Fallout 3. Through the work I put in on that game, and the exposure that I gained, I was invited to become a GameAnyone director. At the time, the directors were supposed to be heavily revered as people who were good at what they did. I mean, as best as could be quantified... they put out great quality videos, they generated traffic, and they used proper editing techniques (not to mention, they agreed to plug the site...). Through some time spent there, I had pegged Maceman a few times regarding help needed on the site. A growing site, needing features to be implemented, what better person than someone with a background in software engineering? I was promoted to moderator, where I was able to establish myself as a face in the community, and at the same time, develop a working relationship with Maceman. All that was peachy, so eventually I became an administrator for the site. A role I took very seriously for my duration on that site. Together, Mace and I did a lot of behind the scenes work on the site that took it from where it was when I joined, to what I had grown to legitimately support until I left. As a result of that work, I developed a relationship of sorts with what we now refer to as the "GameAnyone Crew", whom membership in said club has morphed over the months, but basically consisted of DavetheUsher, Shadowzack, and Volvagia. We all started talking because of some co-commentary that we provided for a special recording done by Dave, called Desert Bus. This brought us together and eventually became the basis for the team that eventually carried GA to where it is now. We provided creative direction, did podcasts, co-ops, forum awards, and pretty much anything else we could think of to set ourselves apart from any other site on the web. Now that you have the background for how we got where we did (note, a lot of smaller events were omitted, to save time, but this is really the crux of it all here), I can begin to take you through what ultimately happened.

GameAnyone had risen to the point that it was no longer viable to maintain the level of computing resources we had when we started. GA started getting into the market of video hosting, which is not a cheap feat by any stretch of the imagination. With the traffic levels we were generating, it was a daunting and expensive task. Mace and I worked countless hours to build up our servers, configure our optimal settings, and fighting issues with downtime and well, let's face it, a shitty server. It was a lot of time and work. Work that nobody really knew happened, because it was all behind the scenes. As the time went by, as with everyone, things in our lives take hold. Volv decided he no longer wanted to contribute and had to take some time for himself to do his thing. I started school and couldn't code and upload as much as I could. Dave pretty much stayed strong. We had some directors that came and went, and the popularity sort of shifted. Podcasts started happening less and less often, another year of poster awards came and went, where we were chastised as staff for being allowed to be nominated for the awards (that's another story), and there were features on the site that had to be added/changed by Maceman alone. Along with those features, and rising costs, there had to be a way to pay the bills... most of which was advertising. Getting good advertising is no easy feat. You have to demonstrate your site has what it takes to justify earning decent rates. The traffic has to show it. Mace handled most of that, so we gave him the credit for that. For the most part, those of us on the staff team, worked for the good of the site, without expecting any sort of compensation for our time, even though we knew it could be afforded. We were led to believe, and rightly so, that since we were allowed to rise to where we were, that we had a stake in the "ownership" of the site's direction.

Things started changing rapidly in the months leading to when we ultimately decided to leave. Mace started making decisions without consulting his "team". There were MANY occasions throughout the years that needed staff discussion, simply to be made aware of the circumstances, that never happened. Mace used to talk with us on Skype. Frequently. During a portion of time where we used to play jokes by "kicking" people from the calls, Mace was a frequent target. He didn't like that. As a result, he left Skype and started developing the GA TeamSpeak server. That's where he hung out. We didn't take well to it. This further exacerbated the gap between the admin and his "team" because he wouldn't seek us out. He waited for us to come voice concerns. This didn't sit well with us, since any good team leader (and for that matter, any member of a team) knows that good leadership is founded on communication. Good communication. That was missing from the beginning. This ultimately became what broke our bond to the site, and caused us to become alienated from what we knew (or believed) to be our work. All we wanted was to be recognized and appreciated for our hard work. We had feature time taken away from top members (granted, this was a hot commodity anyways), we had features of the site removed or changed without warning, we were given no credit for anything we'd done to bring new members to the site, none of the work I did for the video server was recognized, including the 2 days I spent fixing a broken server... (it broke twice, the first time was my fault, so that was a freebie). This is really what led to us leaving. We were more or less led to believe we had a stake in the website, but ended up just being people that were there who did the work, and got more or less shit on for it. We mulled on it for weeks, deciding what to do. The communication was terrible, the attitude and lack of disclosure was even worse, and then all this talk of discontent got all my server access revoked. That right there is a trust violation. We collectively decided to go our separate ways, and had our videos pulled from the site. I will not support a site that doesn't support me.

I spent a lot of time on that site. I genuinely thought it was a good idea. I passed up a partnership opportunity with Machinima to continue my work with GA, because I thought my work there was leading to something. When we left, Mace was scrambling to offer the long-hidden revenue system to the remaining directors to get them to stay. Too little too-late. I for the most part let my YT channel go into back-burner mode so I could upload exclusives (and at the time, get longer videos), and as a result, I think I alienated the fans I attracted, that just didn't want to bother to go to another site to see my work. Upon returning, I'm feeling that hit. It sucks. I pretty much just wasted all that time. Granted, I made some good friends out of the whole thing, but it's unfortunate that we are all almost back to square one. Sure, we have a lot of loyal fans who both came from GA and followed us all the way to and from, but there's some truth in saying, people don't like frequent and abrupt change. I'm one of them. I can understand the frustration with this whole thing.
The important thing to note is, this was as much our own individual decisions, as it was a collective agreement, because the site just wasn't what it used to be. I for one, won't miss it one bit, and I'm better off because of it.

17 comments:

  1. Some generic thoughts on this issue, even if it is supposed to be a veto topic.

    1) Everything that was stated here is totally true, during the time i was present there i was given very little respect by maceman and he took all the credit for the work we as mods/staff did on there, so i know you had your reasons and that's something i respect completely.

    2) Mace should have treated you guys with more dignity and respect as human beings not mindless slaves, he should have learned he doesn't get away with treating his staff like shit.

    That's really all i gotta say, nice post there skorch.

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  2. i have watched your videos on gameanyone for years due to my failing heath i was not able to watch videos for a few months when i got better i saw everyone was gone. now i will continue to watch your videos on youtube ~~jjtk65@yahoo.com~

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  3. Sounds like Mace turned into a greedy little dictator. Don't worry, he'll get his - what goes around comes around.

    Rock on skorch!

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  4. Thanks for explaining everything. Helps shed some light on this whole fiasco.

    If you keep recording, I'll keep watching.
    Thanks Skorch.

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  5. I discovered you with the Fallout 3 LP. Back then, I had such a shitty computer that was horrible to go GA to see you exclusives. My PC was soooo crappy that the player ran at, like, 10 FPS, and I still did for the sake of watching you.

    If what you did was what you thought that was the right thing to do, then I back you up 100%. Bad luck for GA to loose such a great Wolf Pack

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  6. It seems like this all started from you guys kicking him. Not saying that this was your fault, but it did start the rift of communication since Mace stopped going into skype.

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  7. I don't go on gameanyone anymore. No intriguing directors. I remember when adds first started popping up that I would turn off my add blocker just to be able to watch videos on the site. Now that there is no one there, I'd rather just watch it on youtube without the annoying adds.

    It's a shame. Gameanyone was going well (at least from an outsiders point of view) and was a great community. I really hope that you can connect with a couple other of the old GA crew to do some co-ops, and try going for Machinima again. They're still doing well.

    Either way, I'll still be on your youtube channel. :D

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  8. I stopped watching your videos and unsub'd from your youtube account because it seemed you were no longer uploading to there and all the ones i wanted to watcher were being put as GA exlusives, which i could not watch because of the terrible video player (well it probably is not actually terrible but to my lil' old netbook it is :P )but im glad you are back to youtube and i congratulate you on your partnership

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  9. Hey scorch, I kind of understand what you went through. I worked as a graphic/motion designer for almost two years on a little start-up, and had a terrible supervisor who took all the credit for my work, made me stay (unpaid) overtime while he left the office on time, and was generally just an asshole. Even though I have no other income, I decided to not take that shit anymore, and left to follow my dream as an independent game developer, so far I am a much happier man.

    I wish you the best, and love your videos.

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  10. I can honestly say that for the longest time I assumed you owned GA (just now hearing about all of this btw). That is not an exaggeration.
    Stay strong guys.
    Fujji

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  11. Hey Skorch, I followed you since day one on gameanyone and at that time I knew you were important for the site and i really enjoyed your let's plays :).
    Yon, Dave and shadowzack were really the core. And i was so pleased to see "co work" on let's play and references about each other. It was really entertaining, like following a part of the road with you that you all offered to us.

    You left gameanyone for good reasons, that's for sure. And for my part, i really think all this time is not lost !! All that you've done will stay when i'll remember how i laughed watching your videos :D and i assume a lot of your fan also do ! Conditions have changed, but you didn't be aware of that :)

    Well, keep rocking and keep enjoying games. Good luck !

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  12. Wow you treat the guy like crap and then wonder why all communication breaks down. Yeah, total fucking shocker. Plenty more where you came from.

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  13. I will always be a loyal fan, skorch. The moment I found your Fallout 3 walkthrough on youtube back in 2009, I've been in love with your Let's Plays and the like. No matter where you post, I will always watch. Of course it won't be under Razor303, it will be under Websurfer203, since I created that account before I discovered GA. But I doubt you care. I'm just gonna miss the videos being longer than 10 minutes. lol

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  14. Oh a brighter note.People who actually take the time to finish reading what you posted on your blog, actually give two shit about you. Wouldn't you say? :)

    I love your sarcastic commentaries. They are truthful and relevant to my own experience with gaming. (Maybe not so much the sexist comments, since I'm of your opposite sex, but even I do that sometimes, so I manage). Now that you're off the hook from all that mess, you've gained the freedom to re-brand yourself whichever way you want. And that's a splendid thing. Hope to see more of your videos soon (Currently I'm hooked on The Witcher 2 you've posted)

    Much Love and Support,
    Phoebe

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    Replies
    1. Well, thanks for your kind words. Sorry this reply has taken so long, I wasn't getting notifications of replies here. I try not to make sexist comments if at all possible, so my apologies if I have continued to do so. Thanks for your support!

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  16. Certainly, you and the team could have coded script in some indecipherable language format for some military while offering gated community language software installation with customer service for cheap. Even though that’s probably what GA was going to turn into anyway many people these days seem to be impressed that you hung on for so long. People like you have grit and that’s not easy.

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