The Enthusiast Gaming network recently purchased The Escapist. The outlet was on its death throes after skimming down its staff back in October of 2017. Now that the network has stepped in to take over, they’re re-launching The Escapist with one of the former editor-in-chiefs at the helm, Russ Pitts.
In a press release they revealed that Pitts, the founding editor-in-chief at The Escapist, will be returning. Pitts started with the magazine back in 2005 and stayed up until 2010, where he moved on to help get Polygon off the ground. Greg Tito took over as editor-in-chief for a while and maintained that position up until the #GamerGate controversy happened and then he eventually departed from the magazine to pursue interests elsewhere.
Enthusiast Gaming seems to want to recapture the core gaming audience, as they also purchased Destructoid back in 2017.
Menashe Kestenbaum, the founder and CEO of Enthusiast Gaming, commented in the press release about the company’s intentions, saying…
“The acquisition of Escapist is instrumental as we continue to grow our network of gamers. Escapist represents long form and intellectual content generation and will be another flagship platform in our network. Russ is a true visionary in online gaming journalism and we are thrilled to bring him back to lead Escapist.”
Pitts wasn’t just a former editor-in-chief at The Escapist, he was also a member of the elite GameJournoPros secret e-mail group. He attempted to stay out of any incriminating drama while in the group, and came to the defense of some staff at Polygon during the SimCity review debacle.
Quite naturally, the announcement about Pitts coming back as editor-in-chief and The Escapist being reborn for today’s politically charged climate in gaming has left a lot of gamers with a lot of questions.
In a Medium post Pitts stated that the relaunch of the site would leave “politics at the door”. This obviously spurred a number of questions and queries about how the outlet would be addressing coverage.
Pitts has been happy to address some of those issues via Twitter, and made it known that they would not be diving into the political ball pen where some of the other journalists and gaming outlets have taken their coverage. Across a lengthy series of tweets published on July 26th, 2018, Pitts explained…
“I’m going to stay in “listening and trying to hear” mode for a while on the Escapist Magazine announce. Responses are so far OVERWHELMINGLY positive, but there are some very good points being made re: concern about “leaving politics at the door” that I want to try to address.
“First, I very specifically did not use the word “apolitical”. That word has a specific meaning and that meaning was not my meaning. Anyone suggesting Escapist Magazine (or I) will be “apolitical” is misreading or misrepresenting my editorial.
“Second, there’s no way to deny that Escapist was very recently extremely political. That’s a legacy we will have to address, confront, and from which we must try to move on.
“Third, I don’t agree that there is only one reasonable direction in which to move on from that. I believe there are several. We have chosen a direction. That direction does not necessarily reflect our personal views, and is not intended as tacit support of any political actors.
“i.e. I can disagree with you about one thing and still want to talk with you about another.
“I understand and respect the point of view of those for whom certain political disagreements are impossible to look past, or avoid. And as much as I might personally agree with that point of view, I don’t believe acting on it is a requirement for writing about video games.
“Escapist Magazine will certainly address topics that have a political connection. We will definitely not do so in a way that intentionally exacerbates a culture war. And yes, that’s going to be a fine needle to thread.
“If any other journalist were to say to me they intended to launch a website with this agenda in 2018, I’d be skeptical af. If you know me and know my work, you probably already know this is where I’ve been coming from for over a decade. If you don’t know me or my work, then I can understand you might be skeptical af. To those of you in that camp, all I can say is stay tuned. We’re Doing the Thing ™. It will be a work in progress. And we will be listening to you and trying to hear the whole way.”
We’ll see if Pitts sticks to this policy when The Escapist relaunches under the Enthusiast Gaming umbrella.
Right now a lot of gamers are just hoping that it won’t be another situation where the outlet is pumping out lots of Leftist propaganda the way Polygon, Kotaku, and almost every other major gaming news outlet has been doing lately.
(Thanks for the news tip Blaughast)