Extra Curricular

The Story of Extra Curricular

So I’ve been watching the recent Extra Credits live Q&A and I noticed that one of my old threads was set aside from the forums. Specifically, the one in which I explain the entire backstory of how Extra Curricular came into existence. So for those of you who’d still like to know, here’s my full account of the whole ordeal:

I first knew of EC after I was linked on the Steam forums to their Free Speech episode. Before then, I was only on The Escapist during that year’s March Mayhem, when I helped vote Valve to victory. From then on, I was pretty much hooked.

In fact, I posed a question to them in February about making a Steam group for the show. I knew that they needed gamers talking about games in a gaming setting, much like how the Steam forum-goers have been set up. I then got a reply from James in about April, saying that he would consider setting one up if they had more people in the crew.

Then at the turn of July, my chance came. I saw James’s tweets that Allison needed surgery, and immediately made the Steam group a reality. When James got back online on the 1st, I took the opportunity to get him to tweet about it, and got a ton of people on it. I managed to bring together a weekly “episode release cabal” filled with people who’d later make up core ranks on the forums. Some of them even got a spot on the EC tweet wall.

In those first 2 weeks, Ikono and I were quiet. I didn’t even know about Ikono until about the time the forum ideas were shaping up. At that time, we had a pretty vocal guy named Lucent who led most of the conversations. And it was the night of the 15th when the forums were started under the domain extracurricular.tk (someone else should remember who made that name). Ikono offered to whip up a forum in under an hour, and lo was it so. (Ikono likes to say it was started on the 16th because that’s when the welcome thread was started.)

At that time, it was just a little forum using a green version of polyethylene with a blackboard background. It was just a few people having fun talking about games. Oddly enough, we managed to briefly pick up Yug from Game Damage (a close friend of EC influence Yahtzee) on the first full day of operation. Yeah, it was fun. Though Lucent had a bit of a falling-out and had to run.

Even though we were still a fan forum at the time, I wanted to at least let EC know that we existed. So with our core group’s consent, I tweeted James a link after an episode release (on my 16th birthday, no less) and he was down with sharing it. And from there, we got our first real influx of people.

By the end of July, it became clear to me that James’s RocketHub for Allison’s surgery was even more of a success than he could’ve ever imagined. But what I could not see coming was the dissent with The Escapist that followed. I became grateful that we had a forum and a Steam group up, so that our fellow fans could not be denied the chance to talk with each other. Actually, I managed to find out in retrospect that Drinking Games was being buried prematurely during everyone’s Spartacus moment.

I figured that they couldn’t stay on a YouTube slump forever after that, so I hoped for them to see the opportunity to make Extra Curricular official. Sadly, James was again preoccupied, though they did let us set aside a game addiction sub-forum for them. By that time, PAX Prime rolled around, and they made the announcement that EC would be hosted by Penny Arcade’s PATV on Wednesdays instead of Thursdays.

And that was a perfectly good trade-off. By this time, Ikono had set aside a WordPress space for episode archiving, and I had been documenting the ever-vital “about” pages. And who could forget the hugely successful Extra Curricular podcast?

Time passed, and by that fall, James had started talking to Ikono and me about setting up an official site for EC. To do that, it took a season’s worth of work (I was hindered by school basketball filming and parental concern) and tons of accidental spilling of evidence. Luckily, we got it done just in time, a week before the infamous Stand Together video.

In addition to making that official, I managed to start a few social outlets in other areas. These included the deviantART group (an idea I had in relation to podcast artist midgear) and the ECur Twitter and Facebook pages.

PAX East Poster
Promo poster for PAX East 2012 panel, featuring James and Jaclyn

I wasn’t able to leave my city, but I vouched to at least get involved in EC’s panel for PAX East 2012. I formulated the idea to have the panel open with a tribute to Extra Credits made up of testimonials from their friends and fans. My first Skype interviewees included some of my kind friends on Mumble, and I was later to move up the chain with guys like MovieBob and the guys from No Right Answer. At the time, I didn’t know much about the logistics of a panel, so not much happened at all. Regrettably, I got into sorta a fit, but oh well. I ended up just posting my tribute video and the individual testimonials on a forum thread, and it got some positive feedback. I managed to get a few more testimonials out of it, and I’m still taking offers and submissions on its official page.

Around this time, I was also able to set up a few game servers for Extra Curricular. This was for the same reason I started the Steam group: to let people who like games as art actually play the games they like. We got a few game nights to go well, and we got especially high traffic on the Minecraft and Terraria servers. Admittedly, those servers were just as full of spammers as the forums were, but they managed to live for a few more months.

Sadly, I started meddling in some affairs I wanted to make sure would go smoothly. For instance, the store was up in the air for about 2 months before the first solid hints were dropped. Nobody knew what they should sell, even though a suggestion thread came out and I had submitted several high-resolution designs. I even made a 100th episode title card for EC a month in advance. Ikono decided to start a design contest to get some ideas for T-shirts, and I ended up making a smart-ass remark (later removed) assuring everyone that my designs wouldn’t be part of the competition.

One of the things I’ve asserted since the site became official was having a copyright notice on whatever need be, whether it’d be the site or the captions. I asked Dan in advance about getting transcripts for captioning the episodes. I would’ve liked the requisite to include crediting the transcribers and translators as well as posting a copyright. Sadly, it was not to be.

Finally, I’m assured the knell was sounded when I asked if making a Tumblr blog would help at all. That same night, I happened to have Skype on my school MacBook over the summer, so I was asked if I was okay with the call being recorded. I knew it didn’t matter what the talk was about, as long as anything important was kept on record.

I was dropped from the “official” billing of Extra Curricular, and I didn’t care. My stakes in ECur’s social pages were revoked, aside from the dA and Steam groups. They said I’d be better off only running the Steam group, though I doubt they could’ve taken them over either way. I only cared when I watched the next week’s episode (episode 100) and saw an entirely new title scheme that I was never told about.

I managed to start playing a Mario Kart TF2 server around this time, and I joined their clan to see if I could help them out in any way. After all, I did manage to help run my family’s own clan by ages 9-12. After some offers to improve the map and the website, I rose through the ranks of the clan in as little as 2 months.

As for Extra Curricular, who knows? I heard nothing’s changed about the show or the forum, except for the absence of the site’s About pages and many of my informative threads. I’m sad to hear that our longtime friend vvp has voluntarily left the ranks of ECur, though, and I wish him well. I’ve been too busy with basketball season and high school to bother turning on Mumble anymore, though I still voluntarily follow all my old friends on Twitter. I’ve even offered my full support to midgear for keeping relevance in Overzealous StudiosTransgamer, and her own impending surgery after they were left in favor of that role-play thing, which I couldn’t attend because the first one took place during my birthday weekend.

In the meantime, The Escapist tanked for about a month after EC left, then got salvaged by Alloy Digital, the ever-omnipresent monster that also runs Smosh and some teen fashion sites. Al Macris, the guy behind the dispute, was hailed as a hero and rose straight to the top of Alloy’s food chain. Today, The Escapist has its own convention, Smosh Games has a couple shows on there, and somebody had the brilliant idea to have Yahtzee be poetic outside the Wolfenstein review.

So that’s how a vision of pure greatness turned into a memoir within a short 2.5 years, and how being too young to sign an NDA might protect it from attracting cease-and-decist e-mails. Thank you.

Banner and poster art by Terra Snover.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>