So I’ll provide a brief recap before sharing Jim’s video with you. Jim does a series called Jimpressions, where he downloads and plays games to get a first impression of them. While doing this one day, he played a game called “The Slaughtering Grounds,” which was, at the time, just another shitty game in a long list of shitty games that The Steam Cleaner had been trying to protect gamers from. The people who put The Slaughtering Grounds together, in their confusion, mistook the first impressions video as a review, proceeded to shit themselves in ways shockingly glorious for those who weren’t involved, and ultimately filed a lawsuit against Jim Sterling for ten million dollars.
Now that it’s over, Jim can finally talk about it, and the above video is spectacular, and a long time coming. Since the suit was filed, we’ve all known that it would ultimately be dismissed, although–having been hit with a frivolous suit myself in the past–this is of no consolation to the defendant, who has to lawyer up and deal with the possibility of a judge being in a bad mood. I actually lost the frivolous suit filed against me. An ex-girlfriend had given me a guitar, and six months after we broke up showed up at my house to ask for it back. I no longer had it, as I’d traded it for a new amplifier. She decided to sue me. Seeing as she was asking only for $300, I did not seek an attorney, and I instantly lost the case the moment that I told the judge I’d sold the guitar–which was technically true. Someone bought the guitar from me, and I used the money to buy an amp.
It was immediate, and my father watching from the back saw exactly the same thing: the judge’s demeanor instantly changed. It was no longer a simple matter of someone having given something away and then decided half a year later that they wanted it back. Suddenly, the judge saw this mean boy–I was 18 at the time–and this poor, impressionable little girl who had left her guitar at her boyfriend’s, decided one day to go get it, only to learn that the ex-boyfriend had spitefully sold it. It did not matter that I could prove the guitar’s value was only $75. The judge said, and I quote, “She can say it cost however much she wants.”
This, of course, is Mississippi, so it’s hardly surprising. This case that should have been instantly thrown out as soon as we both said the same thing–that she’d given me the guitar and then decided she wanted it back–yet I lost it anyway. The very fact that I’d sold it painted me, in the judge’s eyes, as a dick ex-boyfriend being a dick to this poor, sweet little girl. It was the most audacious thing I’d ever heard until he found for the Plaintiff in the amount of $300 and I objected, saying, “Your honor, here is the official listing of the guitar from the manufacturer–it’s a $75 instrument,” and the judge replied, “She can say it cost however much she wants.”
Life is funny sometimes, because I ended up marrying her.
So I know first-hand that stupid, frivolous lawsuits are never a sure thing, and even the dumbest lawsuit represents a very real danger to the defendant, especially since legal costs get exponentially more expensive. I could certainly have appealed the decision, but it would have cost well over the $300 I was demanded to pay–and never did pay, by the way. We ended up getting back together less than 3 months after the lawsuit was over, and neither of us ever mentioned it again. That is how frivolous and obscene the lawsuit was.
Knowing this, I was worried for Jim. I like Jim, and I don’t want to see anyone have the legal system weaponized against them, much less in a way that is blatantly unfair–even by normal societal standards–and aggressively stupid. But I also knew that Jim had gotten a lawyer, while the idiotic James Romine was exercising his right to represent himself.
In a lawsuit for ten million dollars.
And this is where, at least for me, the imminent uprising of fascination truly begins.
James Romine: A Study in Sheltered Delusion
I absolutely cannot believe that no one close to James at any point in this utter stupidity told him that this was horrendously stupid. Watch Jim’s video above for the full recap, but let’s keep in mind that James attempted to sue one hundred anonymous users on the Steam platform, which caused Valve–the company that manages Steam–to remove all of his games from their store. We have to marvel, we rational, thinking, non-delusional adults, that someone who reached the age of adulthood somehow got it into their head that it was not only possible but a good idea to attempt to file a lawsuit against one hundred anonymous people on the Internet.
It’s a downright shocking detachment from reality.
I’m perhaps unusually able to see just how remarkably stupid the lawsuit was. Not everyone got sued for stupid shit when they were 18, of course. Not everyone got to spend a 25 hour period in solitary confinement at the age of 17.
A Story About a Dog
One day, I was called to a client’s–Revid Realty in Memphis, Tennessee. They had this big ass dog who walked the office as he pleased. I’m very familiar with dogs, so I did what everyone is supposed to do: I presented my hand for the dog to sniff. And, for whatever reason, the dog bit me and drew blood. At that very moment, I had a lawsuit against Revid Realty. But I’m not that kind of person. Their employees freaked out, washed out the wound, put some Neosporin on it–no doubt, they were all thinking the same thing: they had to make me very happy, or I was going to sue them. Of course, I had no intention of doing so.
The owner of the realty company, and the person who “owned” the dog, decided to keep the dog in his office. I continued going about doing my job and went into an office to check the network settings. While I was behind the desk connecting the toner to the ethernet jack, I heard growling behind me. I jumped up and turned around, and the big ass dog was right behind me, growling. It attacked.
I immediately left the site. For several hours afterward, the owner attempted to go through who was then my boss to contact me, but I had nothing to say to him. He knew that his dog had attacked me, and yet he let the fucking animal back out to walk around freely anyway. That is not only grossly offensive, it is indisputable, classic legal negligence. Any attorney in the tri-state area would have taken that case, and I’d have owned that realty company by the end of it. Perhaps if the dog had attacked me once, there wouldn’t have been much of a lawsuit, though there probably would have been, in today’s overly litigious system.
However, after the dog had bitten me once, it absolutely crossed a line that he allowed the dog out unsupervised, where it attacked me a second time, this time far more viciously than the first. It not only tore open several bites on my arm, but destroyed my shirt in the process. I looked like I’d been attacked twice by a fucking dog. And I had been. And it was 100% the owner’s fault, and 100% gross negligence since the dog had already attacked me. This was actually such a jarring experience that for years afterward, my sister’s pit bull scared me, even though the pit bull had never done anything even remotely aggressive toward me. For years, big dogs scared me. I’m still hesitant around them.
It only takes once.
Based on that alone, that I’m still dealing with a fear of large dogs, I could probably still sue. We have email records and phone records of how it all transpired, and the owner admitted fault. He attempted to appease me by offering to buy me a video game, and then said the most shockingly offensive thing yet: “Look, kid. I’m a millionaire. I mean, how many times in your life do you think you’re going to have a millionaire apologize to you? So just accept this and let’s put it behind us.”
There, on site at another client’s premises, I replied over the phone, “I don’t give a fuck how much money you have. You’re a piece of shit and your money can’t fix that,” and I hung up.
But that’s what an actual, valid lawsuit looks like. It takes someone being a total dick, and usually not just once. A reviewer saying that your video game is shit… does not qualify. And attempting to sue an independent video game reviewer for a sum of even one million dollars is exorbitant and would never, ever be awarded by any sane judge.
James Romine’s detachment from reality is nothing short of shocking. Not only did he truly believe–clearly, as he not only filed the suit, but he stood against Jim Sterling’s lawyers and amended the suit after having stood before a judge–that he had a chance of winning, but his understanding of finances are so bewildering that I think we can piece together a clear picture of Romine and the background he comes from.
He’s spoiled as fuck.
He’s not simply spoiled, though. He’s also sheltered. One or both of his parents has almost certainly babied him through most of his life. If I told my father that I was going to file a ten million dollar lawsuit against someone who said some mean things about one of my articles on the Internet, once he stopped laughing he would probably finish disowning me. And while, clearly, James is an adult or he wouldn’t have been able to file a suit in the first place, I still have to wonder why he never asked either of his parents about this. One of my parents was murdered when I was 12, and my father is a drug-addicted, pathologically lying amoral sociopath, but even so there are plenty of older, wiser, more experienced people of whom I could ask about this lawsuit, if I didn’t already know that it was completely retarded.
It’s not James Romine that I pity. It’s his brother, who was not a party in the suit, and, though I can only speculate, I would wager these things:
First, the other Romine brother is the older one. This is because younger ones tend to be the babied ones, and I’m sticking with that contention: only someone who was ridiculously sheltered through their life could ever think that “someone saying mean things about my game” justifies a ten million dollar lawsuit.
Secondly, the other Romine brother probably wanted nothing to do with any of this, and has probably taken great care to separate himself professionally from James.
We can’t speculate too much about people based on things they say, but we can make pretty good speculations based on the things people do. And filing a ten fucking million dollar lawsuit against a YouTube personality because he didn’t like your game… That doesn’t even qualify as “delusional.” By the time you reach that point, “Delusional” is twelve miles back in the rearview mirror, and the next exit involves a straight jacket. I am a linguist, and we don’t even have a word for that level of delusion.
Clearly–and I do mean clearly–James Romine does not live in the same world that the rest of us live in. His understanding of the world and the roles that other people play in the world is so James-Romine-centric that his vague and wild conspiracy theories about collusion between a foreign company called ECC and Jim Sterling, and between Jim Sterling and Valve, is substantial enough to be put in an actual honest-to-fuck legal document. You know–to go to court. Where people are innocent until proven guilty. Where evidence is required. Where you can’t just say “Jim is conspiring with Valve. Trust me, I totally know what I’m talking about, and I’m not a lunatic, like totes 4 real” and expect the judge to say, “Ah, well shit. Seems legit, bruh. Pay up, Jim.”
I hate that Jim–one of the few people I consider worthy enough to personally sponsor on Patreon, by the way, to give you an idea of how much I respect the man, his opinions, and his work–had to put up with this, but what is “this?” What, exactly, did Jim have to put up with?
The insane, delusional ravings of a spoiled, sheltered baby who appears to still have no idea of how the world works, or what his place in that world is. I had a clear, easy-to-win, demonstrable lawsuit against an actual fucking millionaire, and I didn’t pursue it. As an aside, we did drop the client for it. Conversely, James Romine acted out his delusion on an epic scale, for all the world to see, throwing a temper tantrum through the legal system and trying desperately to find some way–some fucking way–for baby to get what baby wanted. Because that’s how it’s probably always been for him.
Being just totally honest here, I think we can take it as a given that, if not literally every single person, then at the very least almost every person to whom James Romine talked about this nonsensical lawsuit surely advised him against it, and surely told him that it was the dumbest thing they’d ever heard, that it could not possibly end well for him, and that now was as good a time as any to sack up and stop being a baby. I cannot make myself crazy enough to even fathom the possibility that everyone around him told him to proceed with this. My brain cannot detach itself from the real world enough for me to even imagine the hypothetical scenario where friends and family are saying, “Yeah, man! His saying that there isn’t enough popcorn on Earth–that’s totally libel against you!”
And yet… He did it.
He proceeded with it.
Once he stood down Jim’s attorneys, he continued pressing with it, and allowed the stupid thing to actually go to a court. An actual fucking court. And here the judge’s hands were bound: he could not fully dismiss the case because it could be amended to be compliant, and the judge couldn’t deny Romine the opportunity to amend it. Rather than going, “Oh, shit. I don’t know fucking anything about law, do I? I’ve sent my evidence to the opposing attorney. I’ve initiated proceedings in the wrong order. I’ve sorta asked Jim’s attorney for legal advice, when you really get down to it… And now a judge has told me that I didn’t even properly do the thing right! I should just let this go!”
Rather than doing that, he amended the thing nonsensically, having decided that because he checked the sole proprietor box on PayPal, this meant that he was actually the owner of a sole proprietorship.
No, James. That’s not how this works. PayPal doesn’t have the legal standing to declare you a sole proprietor.
As the sole proprietor of an I.T. firm–with an actual bank account and business phone lines and stuff–I can tell you that it’s a bit more involved than checking a box on PayPal. In fact, the process is so convoluted that I’d recommend anyone wanting to do it to go through LegalZoom. Seeing as I’ve got an actual DBA with an actual EIN and an actual tax identifier, I could sue someone as <the I.T. firm that I own>. You checked a box on fucking PayPal.
The sheer scale of the misunderstandings shown by James Romine–not to even mention how he interpreted “fair use” to mean that the reviewer had to be “fair to the game,” rather than actually, you know, having anything to do with copyright–are absolutely astounding. Granted, I lived a childhood and adolescence bad enough to write an actual book about, so I’m about as far from sheltered as a person can get, but I still cannot comprehend how someone could reach the age of adulthood–but clearly, not actually adulthood–and misunderstand things in such fundamental ways. And not just misunderstanding, but misunderstanding them in a way that is noticeably skewed in his own favor. His understanding of how “fair use” is applied clearly works in his favor. His understanding of how libel laws work is clearly bent in his own favor. His understanding of sole proprietorship is similarly skewed so that he understands it only through the lens of how it benefits him, instead of understanding it as an actual thing with an actual legal existence, which is odd considering Digital Homicide is [allegedly] an LLC.
Jim and Jim’s attorney had to face this sad, pathetic man’s delusions and James Romine-centric understanding of the world head-on.
I have no doubt in my mind that James Romine still believes that he is right, and that the only reason things turned out the way they did is that he couldn’t afford an attorney. Because that’s the end result when someone is so sheltered, and so babied through their entire life, that they honestly think that there is the smallest chance in hell that suing someone for libel because they said on Twitter that there wasn’t enough popcorn on Earth will be successful. I don’t know how else to explain that level of delusion, that level of reckless detachment from the real world, and that level of ego that interprets everything solely through a filter of how it can benefit him.
By the way, James, if you found this by Googling yourself, this isn’t libel, either. But you’re welcome to try.