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On Bias and Pay in Board Game Media

Abotu 10 games from different publishers, all purchased by the author on a shelf
Board Games on a Shelf

There are games which you don't immediately connect with and yet they grow on you. Other games start out fun and lose their charm after several plays. Both of these are reasons I play a game several times before I write or record a review. There are other reasons too. For example, I get rules wrong and need to correct them on later plays. My personal rule is that I need to play a game at least 8 times before I write about it.

For some, that number of plays seems high. For other people, that number is woefully low. I am a limited person who mainly does most of this side (previews, photos, social media, reviews, etc.) as a hobby that I highly enjoy and it relates to my job. I love meeting people and sharing games with them. That's my primary motivation. I also enjoy intellectual puzzles and the joy of solo discovery through play.

With the recent controversy about the possibility of extortion, I wanted to make clear where my values, costs, and benefits are located.

On bias. We are all biased. I certainly am. I tend to write and record about things that I can find something positive to say. If I can't say anything positive I probably won't share because I think the world already has enough negativity. Even my most negative review had some positive notes in it about the possibility of fun; I ended up giving that game to a friend I thought might get more enjoyment out of it.

I sometimes get free games and always mark them as sponsored content. Why? That's a relationship with the publisher. Ethically, I think I should always disclose that information. I'm not making a statement about anyone else- I just think it's the right thing for me to do.

Most games I review or talk about are ones I have paid for with my own money. This website costs me money every year. The Meetup I run costs me money to keep up to date. There are lots of other costs related to what I do.

On the positive cash flow side. I have charged for a few How to Play videos. I charge far less than the market rate (I charge about $10 an hour). I've also got paid a few times to run events and work at conventions. I also have rates for board game photography, but I haven't been paid much for that service either.

I share all this to be as transparent and show my bias up front. I think that all relationships between a publisher and someone who creates videos, photos, etc should always be disclosed.

For those that can make a living out of it, go for it. However, my hope is that people are honest and forthright about their relationship to the sources. If we don't do a better job in bord game and tabletop media, it is going to continue to be something where people don't trust us.

I'm not perfect, but I'm going to do my best to keep acting in ways that adhere to media ethics standards.

Let me know what you think.


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