The Escapist Magazine is returning, with former editor-in-chief Russ Pitts at the helm.
Pitts announced the news today, which has seen Canadian company Enthusiast Gaming — the company that purchased Destructoid last year — acquire the site for the relaunch with Pitts himself at the helm. Pitts previously worked at the site from 2005 until 2011, with him leading the site from mid-2009 until the end of his tenure when he departed to play a vital role in launching Polygon.
Pitts published a Medium post discussing his return to games writing and the Escapist, and mentioned that he was currently putting an editorial team together ahead of the big launch. The site will still cover the gaming industry, but it will now also cover movies, comics, TV and other areas in entertainment. As part of his announcement, Pitt stated that he Escapist Magazine is "not going to be what it was before" because "We’re leaving politics at the door."
The Escapist Magazine is perhaps best known in the industry as becoming a bastion for those aligned with the Gamergate harassment movement ahead of its collapse in 2017, which makes the claim that politics will be left at the door somewhat controversial, and the news is being criticised widely across Twitter in the wake of the announcement. Russ retweeted several of these statements, and later clarifiied that he didn’t mean the site would be apolitical, and would "certain address topics that have a political connection."
"We will definitely not do so in a way that intentionally exacerbates a culture war," says Pitts. "And yes, that’s going to be a fine needle to thread."
The use of phrases like culture war and leaving politics at the door will likely be seen as a metaphorical dogwhistle, and as a result the relaunch is currently being targeted for some stern criticism. Many people will be watching the relaunch of the website closely to see which tone the magazine strikes out with.