Hello, all. If you’ve been following The Thoughtful Gamer for a while you probably know that I’ve bought up the issue of publishers paying for reviews a few times, and I’m still kind of astounded at the ways this discussion progresses (at least in the corners of the board game media internet I frequent). I was shocked when I first saw this was a thing via a facebook group for board game reviewers where there was a lengthy discussion about what kind of prices people charge, and I think there were some positive changes as a result of the backlash of that (probably some negative too, sadly).
Honestly, it’s annoying to have to re-explain and re-argue the same things over and over, particularly when the position I have is mischaracterized as “reviewers shouldn’t earn money”, which is ridiculous. No one is arguing that–only that there should be a clear distinction between promotion and criticism, and that the latter should be financially independent from the creators of the game.
Anyways, a few weeks ago I was contacted by friend of the show Michael Heron, who runs the outstanding Meeple Like Us site, about a Code of Ethics he was writing to set in stone the principles that we’d like to see among the board gaming media. It’s drawn from a large number of related media ethics sources, and Michael himself has written academically about the subject. I’m going to adopt it, and I hope others follow along, so we can have more transparency and honesty about this. In the grand scheme of things, some people buying a game because of an overhyped, financially interested review isn’t really important, but if we’re not committed to acting honorably when the stakes are small, what happens as the hobby grows and the stakes get larger?
If you’ve got any other game reviewers you enjoy, maybe point this out to them as something they’d do consider adopting. I’d love to see a long list of folks opt-in and give it wider exposure.