Top: Official logo as of July 2013.
Bottom: Theus, Floyd and Portnow in the show's art style.
Video game and industry analysis
|Created by||Daniel Floyd
|Written by||James Portnow|
Allison Theus (2010-2013)
Elisa Scaldaferri (2012-present)
Scott DeWitt (2013-present)
|Narrated by||Daniel Floyd|
|Opening theme||"Penguin Cap"
|Country of origin||Canada
|No. of seasons||7|
|Production company(s)||Extra Credits LLC|
|Distributor||Extra Credits LLC
|Original channel||Original videos:
kirithem on YouTube
The Escapist (2010-2011)
|Original run||Original videos:
February 17, 2008 – April 16, 2010
July 28, 2010 – present
Extra Credits is an ongoing Canadian-American online lecture series presented by game designer James Portnow, animator/narrator Daniel Floyd, and artists Allison Theus, Elisa "LeeLee" Scaldaferri, and Scott DeWitt. The series of videos discuss issues pertinent to video games and game studies, particularly discussing issues concerning the development of video games, addressing the legitimacy of video games as art, and creating intellectual discourse on important issues in the video game community.
The series was developed from a series of lectures by Floyd and Portnow, informally known as Video Games And..., which ran from February 17, 2008 to April 16, 2010.
The series originally aired on The Escapist from July 28, 2010 to August 10, 2011, before being split off over a financial dispute. Since September 7, 2011, the show has aired on PATV, a distribution channel hosted by Penny Arcade. In addition, the episodes have been syndicated on many websites, including ScrewAttack and the creators' own EC Network.
The series began in 2008 when Floyd created two video presentations for his art history and media theory classes at Savannah College of Art and Design. Floyd states that the style of his presentations was "loosely modeled after Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's Zero Punctuation reviews." Floyd then contacted James Portnow, who was referenced in the early videos, and they agreed to work together on more videos with Portnow attaching episodes to his articles on Edge. These were not part of an officially-named series, though this early collection (or portions) eventually went by Video Games and..., with secondary titles including "Talking About These", and "Game Design Corner". One episode also features journalist Leigh Alexander from Gamasutra in a discussion about video games and their female audience.
In July 2010, an announcement was made that the series would be a featured series for The Escapist, where weekly episodes of the series began, as well as the introduction of the new title, Extra Credits. Since Floyd had started working at Pixar Canada at the time, Portnow also enlisted Allison Theus (a colleague of his) to handle the art. The first episode, "Bad Writing", debuted on July 28 and would since be on The Escapist for the next year.
In May 2011, Extra Credits hosted the Extra Credits Innovation Awards at Login 2011, which was meant to praise developers who were willing to take risks and push the boundaries of video games as a medium. Awards were intentionally nonstandard compared to other awards frequently awarded to other award series, focusing on ingenuity rather than success, including categories such as: Innovation in Game Design, Innovation in Narrative Delivery, Most Unbelievable Awesome Fun, Genre Buster Award, Positive Impact Innovator, LOGIN Special Award for Innovation in Multiplayer.
Dispute and Revival
On June 28, 2011, Portnow announced through the show's Twitter account that Theus had a radial tear in her shoulder (likely a separated shoulder) that could potentially end her career. A two-month crowdfunding project on RocketHub was created with a goal of $15,000, which eventually raised around $104,000. The crew, overwhelmed at the response, decided to start an independent game publisher with the excess profits.
Around the end of July, The Escapist privately contacted Portnow with a disputing claim for the funds. Alexander Macris, content director for The Escapist and current general manager for Alloy Digital, led the claim and stated the money should have been used to create more episodes of Extra Credits and to compensate parent company Themis Media for donation incentives, such as premium memberships and T-shirts. As a result, Extra Credits ultimately broke ties with The Escapist, and after a brief four-week stint posting directly to YouTube, the show was picked up by Penny Arcade's PATV network.
The indie fund would ultimately be created under Extra Credits LLC, which was started on November 18, 2011 and holds the show's unregistered IP rights. Starting with episode 100, Elisa "LeeLee" Scaldaferri (creator of former Escapist webcomic Name Game) became an official staff artist for the show, to rotate episode productions with Theus. Later, Theus departed from the series to work full-time at Retro Studios (though she still contributes to spin-off mini-series) and was replaced by webcomic artist Scott DeWitt.
July 1, 2011 marked the creation of a fan-dictated community surrounding Extra Credits with a Steam group indirectly started in response to Theus' injury, and which was supported by Portnow. Group chat sessions ultimately led to the creation of a web forum, Extra Curricular, during the night of the 15th. The forum was publicly acknowledged by Portnow on July 21 and August 25, and was re-launched on the official EC Network domain around January 10, 2012. Meant for PAX East 2012, a tribute video to Extra Credits was also made featuring some fans and colleagues of the crew. This was the basis for an independent testimonial program.
During the show's run, the creators have been requested to create game-specific mini-series based on Extra Credits. The first one was Extra Credits: Firefall, which spanned 5 episodes and was requested by Red 5 Studios to help reinforce the game design decisions in their video game Firefall. In addition, the team was requested by The Creative Assembly to create Extra History, a series of lectures dealing with the Punic Wars, in which the video game Total War: Rome II was set. Both mini-series featured art by Allison Theus.
Extra Credits is written by Portnow, and is narrated and edited by Floyd. Previously, the art was primarily made by Theus, but is now tasked to Scaldaferri and DeWitt. Occasionally guest artists have substituted for Theus, most notably Erin Siegel, who has made repeated appearances. Videos are presented in the style of a lecture hall, and address the topic of the week with "doodles" and random imagery from various sources on the internet, with a strong focus on visual puns. The tone of the videos are generally light-hearted and often humorous, but always didactic, intended to educate the audience and begin to foster dialogue on the presented subject. Generally, the show is presented from the perspective of a game designer rather than the average gamer. Ending songs vary between episodes, but are generally sourced from OverClocked ReMix, where Floyd was a former contributor.
While Extra Credits discusses new topics every week as they apply to games, there are some topics which are more frequently addressed than others, including: poor narrative creation, level design, gamification, tangential learning, sexuality and gender discrimination both within games and in the gaming community, and diversity in games (including gender, sexuality, and racial diversity). The show is also frequently critical of the triple-A video game industry. Extra Credits is also a big proponent of independent developers, although it has frequently stated that they don't want to see only "art house" games either. "No one on this show wants every game to try to be gaming's Ulysses or even gaming's Blood Meridian. But we really would like to see a few more Mass Effects, Portals, Bioshocks, even Call of Duty 4s."
Since partnering with PATV, all official episodes have been recategorized into seasons of 26 each for technical constraints on their site. The only videos to not follow this format are the pre-Escapist lectures, which are exclusively held by Floyd but have been incrementally replaced by updated official episodes.
- Force, Sebastian. "Extra Credits: The Web Show That Changed How I Think About Games". BnBGaming. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
- Floyd, Daniel. "Video Games and Storytelling". YouTube. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
- Floyd, Daniel. "Video Games and the Female Audience". YouTube. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
- Floyd, Daniel. "BIG NEWS! (Escapist Announcement)". YouTube. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
- "Extra Credits Innovation Awards recognizes awesomeness in video game design".
- "Extra Credits Innovation Awards at LOGIN 2011".
- Portnow, James. "Because Games Matter". RocketHub. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
- Bevier, Alexander (2011-08-10). "Extra Credits Leaves the Escapist". Joystick Division. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- Macris, Alexander (2011-08-09). "A Response on Extra Credits". Facebook. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
- Greene, Gavin (2011-08-10). "Extra Credits Team Leaves Escapist Over Alleged Back Payment". Elder Geek. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- "Extra Credits". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- "Extra Credits". PATV. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- "Extra Credits LLC - Registration Details". WA Office of the Secretary of State. 18 November 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- Salas, Jacob. "The Story of Extra Curricular". JS* Media. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
- "Extra Credits: Firefall". Red 5 Studios. Retrieved 2013-09-23.
- Eisen, Andrew (2011-02-24). "Extra Credits Chastises EA's Marketing". GamePolitics.com. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- "Art Is Not the Opposite of Fun". Extra Credits. PATV.