About Aikea Guinea (again)

22 June 2008 at 21:59 (Random Randomness, Sims 2) (, , , )

I just came across this thread on PMBD and something has happened which I thought impossible: my opinion of Thoma$$ has got even lower. This is by Aikea Guinea, explaining why she left FA at TSR (and also solves the mystery of why she and Gelydh didn’t get listed on the retired artists page, which I was wondering about before)

I wanted tell you ‘my story’ and explain why I left TSR. This is in by no means a cry for attention, I’m just tired of staying silent to ‘protect’ someone else. I’ll skip a long and stupid intro and just jump right into the long and stupid story.

Back toward the end of last year I began to get increasingly burned out on the creating aspect of being an FA. There’s a constant pressure to make complete and unique sets, and on top of that I was trying to deal with learning to be the FA Artist Manager while constantly having to do ‘battle’ with Anita in the forums. She was constantly overstepping her bounds in ways that were causing other FAs to avoid the forums all together. There was a clear and mounting tension in there, and I found myself having to make myself check the forums for any ‘cries of help.’ By November I had to take a month-long hiatus just to keep from giving up completely, so you see how long this has been in coming.

At the end of January/beginning of February (not sure of the exact date), I received a disturbing PM from one of the FAs (I’m leaving names out of this completely) concerning Anita’s behavior not only on TSR but on other sites as well. I’ve never gotten along with Anita, but I’ve always been professional in my dealings with her as she was a fellow FA. There was evidence of her talking about the FAs behind everyone’s back, and information from the private FA forum was being leaked. I was disgusted to say the least. I’m a very private and quiet person by nature, and as such have a very difficult time opening up anywhere. To think that things I may have said in what was supposed to be a private forum were leaked didn’t do much for my desire to become more social.

What I ended up having to do was send out a carefully worded PM to several FAs asking if they were having any problems with anything they felt they couldn’t discuss in public, and if so please let me know. When eight out of thirteen contacted came back with complaints against Anita’s behavior, I contacted Thomas. This wasn’t Anita’s first time being reprimanded, in fact I could remember several occasions in the past well before I was made the FA AM when she was called out on her actions. I was even told privately that Cyclonesue stepped down as the AM because of having to deal with Anita. (I want to mention now that we were publicly told she was stepping down from her AM position for very different reasons. Keep this in mind for later.)

After what felt like weeks of back and forth arguing (it may have only been days, at this point things are starting to blur together), I finally decided I’d had enough and told Thomas I was ready to quit, not only as the AM but as an FA as well. I’d been considering this for several months, and things had finally reached a point where I felt I was ready to go. When I told Thomas this, he decided he would convince Anita to step down as an FA, but still be allowed to carry on her SA AM duties. At that point, I was worn out from everything and said that would be a good compromise. I was told she was very reluctant to give up her FA status. Imagine my surprise when a few days later the story is completely covered up by Thomas with a nice patina of ‘Anita has chosen to step down as an FA in order to concentrate on her work as the SA AM.’ There was a similar post by Anita herself in the SA forum and her blog. So essentially she gets to have a little slice of martyrdom while I’ll feel as though I’ve been slapped in the face. The truth of why she was forced to step down was completely covered up, with only a very small handful of us knowing the real reasons behind it.

I will take a moment now to point out that none of this was in any way a personal vendetta of mine. I was doing my job as the FA AM and bringing the concerns of a large portion of the FAs forward. Though I’d been annoyed with Anita in the past (things like posting on every single thread brought up in the forums, being generally snippy and flat-out rude, etc.), I wasn’t going to start trouble. I thought that perhaps it was just me who was feeling this way, and was startled to find out I wasn’t alone.

For several weeks after, things still felt very unsettled to me. The place that had once seemed so inviting now felt off-kilter and often times downright hostile. I’d long since been seeing signs of paranoia, and now I began to notice other disturbing patterns as well. There had always been a strong feeling of ‘us vs. them,’ and the definition of ‘them’ seemed to waver between ‘the pirates’ and the SAs. There was also a continuing air of ‘who can we trust,’ and I get the impression that no one was above suspicion. In short, it wasn’t an environment I could relax in and be able to focus on my creations.

Things continued along these lines for several more weeks, and I slowly began to realize that it wasn’t just my sims stuff that was suffering. I couldn’t focus on writing or playing my violin. I was feeling trapped, and as time progressed I began to realize more and more that I was caught in the crossfire of battles that I never really wanted any part in. Once again I tried to quit, and was once again talked out of it for the time being.

Raychael and I decided we’d start our own site so we could have an outlet that was separate from TSR, just a place we could put things that didn’t come in complete sets, were older creations, or were too violent for TSR’s PG13 rating. We wanted our own space where we could create things just for the fun of it, without any pressure from anyone. What we got in return was a series of what felt like accusatory emails from Thomas, questioning our motives on more than one occasion even after being given what I felt was a thorough and honest explanation.

Finally, on April 19th we emailed Thomas telling him we no longer wished to be FAs. After some back and forth, I was finally able to make it clear that I was serious and set on retiring. I’d had enough of being in the ‘paysite debate’ spotlight, and all I wanted to do was have a little piece of the internet where I could put the things I created for fun out there for ANYONE else who wanted them. I’m not anti-paysite, I’m not anti-freesite, I just want to have fun and live & let live. I could no longer do that if I was an FA. I will say right now that until that Saturday when we quit, neither Raychael nor I had ventured over here since probably sometime in late November or early December of ‘06. (The only reason we even went back on Saturday was due to an unrelated PM we received about something going on here where we were mentioned in a screencap of a PM from Anita.) So as you see, the decision to leave was based almost entirely on what was going on at TSR, and only a very small amount on what anyone on any anti-paysite site may have had to say about me/us.

Sadly just stepping down wasn’t quite the end of it; we continued to have to deal with things at TSR. When it was clear we were serious about quitting, Thomas didn’t want us to announce it anywhere. He asked us to just sort of ‘fade away’ rather than taking the time to tell anyone we were leaving. I refused to do that, because I will not lie to people. As you’re all well aware, both Raychael and I made our announcements in our blogs, and then were taken off the FA list. Then there was the attempt to keep our files subscriber only. I’m still literally angry with rage over the attempt to guilt us into allowing them to keep it locked, and the ridiculous attempts to convince us it was normal to do this. Thankfully the situation was resolved and now all our files are freely available.

I suppose that brings me to where we are now, which is with Raychael and I greatly enjoying our new-found freedom and rediscovering what it’s like to create just for the sake of creating. The response to our decision has been overwhelming, and we’re still a bit in shock over it.

I’m not telling you any of this just to make TSR look bad or anything of the sort; I just wanted to tell my side of the story, and to give a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve been quiet about this for way too long. I couldn’t continue to be part of a group that so readily tries to sweep all its problems under the rug and contradicts themselves at almost every step, not to mention lying as easily as breathing.

Raychael said this over on GoS, and I felt it would end this fairly well:

“So I suppose what I’m try to say is that I’d like you to give us the benefit of the doubt; we’re not stuck-up, egotistical maniacs, just incredibly anti-social and somewhat uncomfortable with talking to people. We’re really glad to see so much support over our decision to leave TSR, and it’s greatly appreciated and has helped a lot (it’s also a bit weird, we honestly didn’t think people liked our stuff that much to care!).”

-Danielle/Aikea

And more:

Ahh… now I have more time to vent, and have had such a wretched day that we can go ahead and call the venting therapy. (Though my bad day is completely based on Real Life stuff and not simulated… we can pretend, though.)

Firstly I just want to make it clear that we’ve had pretty much zero contact with the ‘higher ups’ at TSR since we got our things made free, and that’s completely fine by me. So there hasn’t been any overt attempt at making us miserable; that’s all been me being irritated just by stepping foot on the site. falln_angel, you’re so very right about there being some really nice people there caught up in the muck. It makes me deeply sad, really. I really liked 99.9% of the people I worked with on that site. (The .1% I didn’t I still remained professional with, even if I was grumbling to myself.)

So, onto the venting and some further expansion on to the goings on around the time we left… I apologize in advance if I end up repeating things I said in my initial ‘why I left TSR’ statement.

As many of you have already guessed, it was Windkeeper who was the ‘well-known FA’ I spoke about earlier. Whether this is true or not I can’t say for certain, but Thomas’s exact words to me were ‘What I’m asking you to do is what windkeeper did,’ which was to ‘fade away’ from TSR without actually coming out and saying she’d left. Whatever the real reasons for wanting someone like her to just fade away may be, I can’t help but feel (as I’m sure many others must) that it’s just another way to milk a bit more money out of someone. Otherwise why wouldn’t you just let her retire with dignity and set her items to free?

Speaking of, that brings me to Tiko. Just before we left, we were told that he’d recovered from his appendix bursting but wouldn’t be able to return as an FA. What completely pisses me off to this day is that there’s been no mention of this anywhere on TSR as far as I’m aware. There are still a hell of a lot of people who are worried sick that he never recovered at all, and for what? To get more money out of his work? You don’t have to give out tons of personal information to let people know he’s unable to continue his work as an FA.

On to Anita now. One of the first things Thomas said to me when I’d emailed him that Gelydh and I were quitting was ‘So I thought get rid of Anita and we’ll solve the rest.’ I assume that was when they’d worked out the whole ‘let’s say you’ve stepped down from TSR and the sims completely’ bull****. Gelydh and I didn’t want to leave TSR just because of her, so this had almost zero effect on us whatsoever. Obviously, she’s still around, which many of you have gathered from the lack of ‘dramallama explosion’ on other sites. She’s still there behind the scenes trying to talk people into becoming FAs and telling them not to talk to me. (Really, though… how ‘elementary school’ can you get?) I’ll cut this short because that woman doesn’t need any more attention than she already gets.

Speaking of which, you guys here at PMBD have more pull at TSR than you think. Back when I’d lodged several complaints against Anita on behalf of the FAs, Thomas’s response was more or less ‘What will the pirates say if we fire her?’ I got the impression that anything TSR did was based off that same mentality. In other words, what you all might say held more sway than what a large group of FAs felt.

I’m afraid the wine I’ve had is kicking in now and I’m starting to lose focus, so if you have any questions or whatever go ahead and ask. I’m so beyond caring at this point. I’m sick to death of being judged based on where I chose to post rather than the interactions I’ve had with people ‘face to face,’ too. Just because I’m ‘venting’ here doesn’t make me any different than I was three months ago. (Well… not in any huge sense. My ‘paysite vs. freesite’ standing has changed somewhat…)

ETA:
redisenchanted, it makes us both so stinkin’ happy that everyone can use our stuff now if they want to! Thank you so much for your compliments on our work! Honestly I still can’t believe so many people like our stuff… *blushes like mad*

You go, girl! T$R don’t deserve you. Thoma$$ is a… b*****d, what else can I say?

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1 Comment

  1. Leah said,

    Well, that’s more or less what I thought already…
    How come I’m not surprised at all?

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