Influences – Writers

Gil “Stanley Bing” Schwartz

“To Adam Smith and Joseph Stalin, both of whom have informed my understanding of corporate culture.” – Dedication for The Big Bing

“To all the guys I rolled over to get here. Thanks.” – Dedication for Lloyd: What Happened

“Lloyd knew of an occasion in their San Francisco office where a woman who periodically began morning sales meetings with the announcement that she had ‘fucked her brains out’ the night before later sued the general sales manager for creating an unfriendly working environment where such statements were all too welcome. She won.” – Lloyd: What Happened

“I’m also not interested in hearing that there’s ‘No problem.’ Know what? There better not be.”“Log Off, You Losers”

Stanley Bing is my favorite author. I came across “100 Bullshit Jobs and How to Get Them” on a family trip to Barnes and Noble during my sophomore year of high school. After flipping through a couple of the brief examples in the book, such a one-page tutorial on how to become Donald Trump, I was hooked. My white, middle-class high-school self was drawn to his characterization of corporate-life as a sitcom-esque zoo of Scotch-swilling hedonists. His novels read like a season of Frasier with boardrooms in place of opera houses.

Bing’s identity is the self-titled “worst kept secret in Corporate America”. Gil Schwartz is featured prominently on CBS’s Executive Team page as Chief Communications Officer next to billionaire Sumner Redstone. In the interview below, Bing explains how one man can lead a double-life with a pen name in the modern age.

The only comparable modern business humorist is Dilbert’s Scott Adams. But where Scott Adams was a man of the people, Stanley Bing helps people become The Man. I am grateful for all the humor he has brought to my life and all the Executricks he has taught me.

The Escapist Editors: Shawn Andrich, Joe Blancato, Russ Pitts, Susan Arendt

“Boy how these past two years have flown by! It seems like only seven hundred and forty-five days since I first walked through these doors. Then, I was a relatively inexperienced young man, fresh off the bridge, with dreams of breaking into the fast, glittering world of Technology Television. Now, as you all are probably aware, I couldn’t care less if the entire building spontaneously filled with eagle semen.” – Russ Pitt’s Eagle Semen Email

Most people I’ve met since high school do not know that my first job was as a reporter for The Escapist, a videogame “e-zine”. The Escapist established its reputation by producing print magazine-quality PDFs freely available for download every week. The PDFs have since been discontinued, but The Escapist published one last commemorative edition. The art costs were too high to sustain the weekly releases, which is sad, because I consider the early Escapist issues to be works of internet art which I haven’t seen since.

I wrote for the Escapist for three years. In that time I had four different editors, who each left an impression on my writing and career. An archive of my old articles is still available at The Escapist.

Shawn Andrich:

Shawn originally hired me as a freelancer at The Escapist when he was first put in charge of its new “News Room” in the fall of 2006. The story of how I found Mr. Andrich is a tale deserving of its own essay at some point. It’s a story which crosses through the videogame community GamersWithJobs, which Andrich stil manages.

Shawn had tried to launch an insightful gaming news site in 2006 called the GamersWithJobs Press Pass. His site held open auditions for unpaid news writers based on a writing sample submission. Being a 15 year old male with a lot of time on his hands for playing games and actively analyzing them, I wrote a brief article without revealing my age.

Before the Press Pass could get off the ground, The Escapist picked up Shawn and his team of cheap writers to add daily content in between the weekly magazine issues. At the time, I did not and could not anticipate it would turn into a three-year paying gig. I was just happy to be writing about my passion. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the videogame industry and especially its die hard fans. I haven’t met another community on Earth driven by pure, unfiltered passion as gamers.

The demands of his full time job in IT and having a life outside of games forced him to leave The Escapist. I owe Mr. Andrich more than he’ll ever know for giving me my first job, which happened to be every teenage boy’s dream job.

His insights into the gaming industry can still be heard every week on the GamersWithJobs Conference Call.

Joe Blancato:

Joe stepped in as the editor of the Escapist News Room after Shawn left and was my editor for the majority of my time there.

Joe was the first person with which I got to develop an extended working relationship. During the year and a half he spent managing the News Room, the stable of writers, breadth of coverage, and quality of writing all improved. He built great rapport with his writers. If a major story broke on a weekend (during the era when Joystiq, Kotaku, and other “gaming news blogs” were on the rise) or if someone had an original idea for an article, a quick weekend email or phone call was gladly answered and efficiently discussed. Working for Joe was a great joy and a huge boon for myself and the Escapist.

Joe is currently a Project Marketing Manager for Riot Games, developers of current gaming sensation League of Legends.

Russ Pitts:

After Joe’s departure, Russ Pitts spent a brief period managing the News Room. Russ was the Editor-in-Chief of the site and an old videogame podcast co-host with Shawn Andrich.

Russ is a virtuoso at online video content. His primary coup was signing Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, whose Zero Punctuation game review series became an almost overnight sensation. He’s a fantastic writer in his own right, continually pumping out insightful feature stories for the magazine back to its PDF days. Russ’s expansion of The Escapist’s content coverage and distribution mediums did wonders for the site’s relevance in the gaming industry.

Russ Pitts is currently the Features Editor at Polygon, a new videogame publication owned by Vox Media.

Susan Arendt:

Susan took over managing the news room from Russ during a turbulent time for the videogame journalism industry. The financial crisis of 2008 devastated the field, with some of my personal favorite media outlets, such as, going bankrupt or going to new corporate owners in firesales.

Susan, along with Russ and the rest of the staff, helped navigate the Escapist through these turbulent waters by pushing the news team in new directions. She advocated for the team to break more stories, interview direct sources, and focus on articles which promoted pageviews and community commentary.

Susan is currently the Managing Editor of The Escapist.

An honorable mention must also go out to Andy Chalk, a fellow news writer who joined six months after I did and is still writing for the Escapist today. Having to compete against his wit for page views is one of the most challenging tasks I’ve had in my life and I am better for it.