James Portnow, the creator of the pretentious YouTube channel Extra Credits, has voluntarily stepped down from his position as a board of director at the Global Game Jam.
The news comes courtesy of a tweet by the official Global Game Jam Twitter account, which made the announcement on September 4th, 2019.
The Global Game Jam, Inc. Board of Directors announces that in order to avoid disruption in the community, James Portnow has volunteered to step down. The board wishes him well and thanks him for his service.
— GlobalGameJam (@globalgamejam) September 5, 2019
The outfit helps organization game jams around the globe, broadcasting events and independent teams working on smaller projects.
They didn’t explain why James Portnow was practically ousted from his position, but it comes just weeks after they appointed former International Game Developers Association executive, Kate Edwards, as their new executive director. The announcement about Edwards took place back on August 16th, 2019, as detailed on the official website.
Just under ten days later, Global Game Jam was censured for having James Portnow on their board of directors after various allegations of abuse had surfaced regarding Portnow.
Re: game industry abusers, remember when James Portnow of @ExtraCreditz was outed as an abusive harasser to little-to-no outrage? And then @globalgamejam put him on their board after repeatedly warnings about him? This is why victims expect nothing to happen when they speak out.
— Ashton (@ashtonc) August 28, 2019
It wasn’t just a one-and-done thread, though. Various others also took to Twitter to utilize the cancel culture platform to bring Portnow down a notch.
Just one day after Ashton made his tweet about Portnow, an illustrator and concept artist who used to work for Extra Credits took to Twitter to write a lengthy thread about the channel’s founder. You can read the full diatribe below, which was published on August 28th, 2019…
“100% this. The attitude @ExtraCreditz had while I worked for them was: “We like to think of ourselves as one big happy family”.
“Breaking News: Big Happy Families don’t treat one another the way I found out James Portnow did. A thread.
“I saw how he harassed a woman out of her job, silenced her from addressing the company as a whole, and then proceeded to send a company-wide email detailing his side of the harassment as soon as she left.
“You deserve to hear from me.” We deserved to hear from her too, jackass.
“I saw him let an employee go by putting him on vindictive blast in the doing of it, and offer zero support when speculations about his dismissal turned vitriolic. I participated in a third party HR investigation he instigated on himself regarding the harassment, the results of which would be sent directly to him only. I was encouraged to give a statement, and was assured I could do so anonymously.
“I was lied to. The HR investigator I spoke with over the phone was insistent I give my name, otherwise my statement could not be taken. I gave it anyway. I naively thought that if he knew I did not think his actions were okay, things might change. I know better now.
“Then in the first all-hands meeting in Extra Credits ever, James announced the HR firm cleared him of wrongdoing because he did not violate any company rules.
“Extra Credits did not have a company code of conduct or handbook for the investigator to compare against, sooooo…..”
This actually wasn’t the first time that allegations of misconduct and abuse surfaced against Portnow. A year ago, it was all over Reddit, including the Extra Credits sub-reddit, where a post compiled multiple instances of allegations against Portnow from former staff or contractors.
Despite the allegations, Extra Credits continued to produce videos talking down to the gaming audience, pushing forward as representatives of the Social Justice community. This earned them quite a bit of ire from normal people, who systematically tore them a new one, like YouTuber Smudboy.
However, the jeremiad against Portnow from the former staff member continued on, where they detailed how difficult it was to get paid and get out of the Extra Credits “family”, writing…
“Then the topic of encouraging people of marginalized communities to apply with the company was raised. His response? ‘We have to be careful how we phrase that because we don’t want to get into legal trouble for excluding people who aren’t of color.’ This was said this in my presence, a proud person of color. He did not fight, deny or shoot it down. He supported it. And I was too shocked to say anything.
“I received an updated work agreement from their lawyer containing alarming terms and conditions, including a gag order that prohibited anything negative to be said about him or the company, retroactively and in perpetuity. Wonder why you haven’t heard from anyone?
“I wasn’t given a deadline to sign the agreement by, but was expected to continue submitting work in the meantime. So I did, and did the only other thing I could do: think about what this all meant for me.
“I invoiced them as I did regularly each month, only to be suddenly told that I would not be paid until I had signed. I asked if parts of the agreement could be revised, and they said no and continued to withhold the money for work they accepted from me until they got a signature. I sought my own legal counsel, and was assured that holding my pay like they were was completely illegal, and I relayed this information with my counsel’s help. I then received an instant message from James a short while later, asking if I had a moment to talk.
“I told him that if it was about work stuff to email me as my working hours were closed. He told me it wasn’t about work, and then proceeded to tell me about how I would absolutely get paid for my work. Basic Boundaries for Beginners 101. Grade, F.
“I did receive payment, but the whole process took a month and 2 weeks to sort out. I put in my two weeks notice. I promised to finish the art I’d already been slated to do for them, and then I would be out. I received a Separation Agreement that was similar to the Work Agreement, but with the gag order deleted, a larger signing bonus than what was offered for me to stay, and a clause stating that all requests for professional references could only be directed to James. I said I would not sign this. Their lawyer again told me they couldn’t pay me for the work I was doing in the meantime until I did. I actually had to remind them that was illegal! Finally, I was compensated and free from further obligation to them.
“I was hopeful when I started working for Extra Credits. I had felt important, valued, like I had the space to become the professional I wanted to be. It never occurred to me that I would be treated the way that I was, like a nuisance instead of a person. I am ashamed of how I have struggled to speak up. I am ashamed of how long it has taken me to do so. I am ashamed of my own cowardice at doing anything I could to make sure this man was not given another platform to find victims with. I am sorry I took this long.
“I sat for so long thinking that what was happening to me wasn’t as big a deal as what others have gone through, and frankly, I still don’t. But I now firmly believe that we can’t set new standards for behavior without knowing every single way in which abuse can been perpetrated.
“Extra Credits touts inclusiveness, understanding and communal support. Mine and many others’ experiences turned into anything but because of James Portnow and the position of power he has gotten at Extra Credits by abusing others, both emotionally and professionally.
“For all the progressive values he encourages the industry at large to internalize and promote, he only stepped in to denounce the way I was being treated (read: how he was treating me) when I made it clear I had sought other legal counsel. That he’s been elevated to another position of power with @globalgamejam despite multiple accounts of his abuse further diminishes my own experience at Extra Credits, and discourages much needed dialog about abuse that needs to happen if we want this industry’s culture to change.
“In another way: in elevating him and abusers like him to another position of power, this sends the message that the industry prefers to protect abusers rather than protect their communities from being future victims.
Well, days after the screed was published on Twitter, Global Game Jam announced that James Portnow was stepping down.
This also comes shortly after Night In The Woods co-developer Alec Holowka committed suicide after being accused of sexual abuse by Zoe Quinn.
The reasoning for Global Game Jam coming to the decision they did wasn’t readily expressed, but given that they mentioned that they wanted to “avoid disruption”, I can only presume that the cancel culture crowd was breathing down the necks of the organizers to oust Portnow. But unless there’s a public statement from the accused, the exact reasons will remain a not-so-clouded mystery.
(Thanks for the news tip Guardian EvaUnit02)
(Main image courtesy of TrondheimDC)