Table Top Media Code of Ethics v0.2

A set of ethical guidelines for content creators in Table Top media.

Table Top Media Code of Ethics v0.2

The following is an aspirational document.
While this initial version was authored by one person (myself), my hope is that as this initiative grows it becomes more refined by many more voices than just my own, a living document, a collaboration.
So rip it apart, spread the word, let's talk about what it is missing. Let's fix this and get back to playing some games!

UPDATE to v0.2, 6/16/23:

  • Clarified conflict of interest language for enthusiast media content creators who also are employees of another company.
  • Added distinction "advocacy" to journalsim in the journalism clause.
  • Changed disclosure recommendation for paid youtube content to include through entirety of the video.
  • Added that paid previews should not include opinion based content.


The Ethics in Table Top Media Initiative believes that it is time for the way we cover games and game related culture to change, that it is time for us to become more proactive and positive in how we contribute to the table top gaming industry. We need to accept and embrace the responsibility we have not only to our readers and viewers, but to publishers and designers as well. By putting forth best practices for the coverage of table top games, we hope to get everyone on the same page as to what ethical coverage should look like, define when it is and isn’t appropriate to accept money and goods in exchange for content, and establish stronger bonds of trust between content creators, publishers & designers, and the people who consume table top media.

The Initiative declares the following principles as the foundation of ethical media and encourages their use in its practice by all people who create content in this space:


  • Clearly distinguish between fact and assertion or opinion.
  • When possible, a thorough understanding of a game’s rules should underpin assertions and opinions made about the game.
  • When provided rules are insufficient to clear up issues, in some cases it may be appropriate to voluntarily seek help outside of what came with the product:
    • For previews or other content that focuses on the product while it is in an incomplete state, we recommend reaching out directly to the designer or publisher for clarifications, as rules may be one of the aspects of the product that is still in an incomplete state.
    • For reviews, the general rule of thumb is to stick with what came with the product, as that is what the average consumer would be exposed to. However, it may be appropriate to include any errata that has been published and posted online by the publisher. In such cases, we recommend including it with the caveat that these rules won’t be found in the box and provide a direct link to it for the reader/viewer. Reaching out directly to a designer or a publisher for rules clarifications for a review is something we recommend only for preview content (as above), however if done in the context of a review it should be kept to a minimum and the source of the information should be disclosed.
  • Always defer to official rules provided with the product when learning and troubleshooting. While it may be tempting to rely on other third party media content such as ‘how to play’ videos, there is always a chance that the content creator who published it may have been in error.


  • Treat those you deal with in your work with respect and courtesy. Always follow the Golden Rule: treat others how you wish to be treated.
  • Do not plagiarize


  • Most table top media published does not fall under the definition of advocacy journalism. We believe that true advocacy journalistic content should adhere to the code of ethics brought forth by the Society of Professional Journalists. The four principles in the SPJ code of ethics fall under the following categories:
    • Seek truth and report it
    • Minimize harm
    • Act independently
    • Be accountable and transparent.
      These guidelines are explored in greater detail in their full code of ethics:


  • When a product is provided by another party for the purposes of review, the review should contain a disclosure statement as to how the product was provided.
  • Content that is created as part of a financial agreement with a third party (publisher, designer, or PR firm) must disclose that the content is sponsored or paid for by the third party.
  • Working relationships between the content creator and a company or individual(s) should be disclosed when any content is created about/for the company or individual(s).
  • Enthusiast media content creators should avoid creating enthusiast media content about a company, a company’s products, or individuals at the company on if they also are employed by that company. This does not preclude content created as an employee of the company on behalf of the company.
  • All disclosures need to be clear and concise, this is not a time for ambiguity. For video content, we recommend including through the entirety of the video as well as in the description (if on Youtube or another service). For written content we recommend a disclaimer at the beginning of the article. For social media we recommend including it in the post description as well as using an appropriate hashtag (#paidcontent, #sponsored, etc.)

A lot of the confusion around what can or cannot be paid content largely focuses on how content is defined. What follows are definitions of content informed by industry norms from other forms of enthusiast media (such as video games, tech, etc.)

  • Impressions- Impressions consist of opinion based content posted after a brief time with a game or product. While this can and will vary according to the product in question, it generally indicates that a short amount of time has been spent with the game/product (possibly a single or partial playthrough if a game). Impressions may include opinions, though it should be communicated that not enough time has been spent with the product for a full review. Impressions can be given of a retail product or a prototype, but it usually makes more sense to characterize the coverage as a preview instead.
  • Interviews- Interview content consists of a dialogue between the content creator and the representative of a company or product. This content can be paid or unpaid content, though if paid content appropriate disclosure must be made.
  • Previews- an in-depth look at a product or an aspect of a product that isn’t yet available or is still in prototype or in an otherwise incomplete state. The defining characteristic of a preview is that the product featured in the content is not available to the viewer yet. Previews can be paid or unpaid, as long as there is appropriate disclosure for paid or sponsored content. Paid previews should not include any subjective editorializing.
  • Reviews- a critical assessment of a product. At its heart, a review is an opinion piece, and uses objective facts to back up subjective assertions. For game products, an appropriate amount of playthroughs and_or hours played should factor into preparation of the review. The appropriate amount may vary from game to game, and is largely up to the content provider. We recommend a baseline of 2-3 plays minimum, and also suggest that the amount of playthroughs and_or hours played should be communicated in the review so that readers may make their own judgment as to how appropriate the time spent with the game was.
    If the product being reviewed was provided by a third party, it must be disclosed in the review. For some this may represent a gray area in terms of payment and any biases that may result, however this is a standard in enthusiast media and is often necessary to provide timely critique of the product.
    Finally, Reviews should never be paid or sponsored content. Ever. We believe that this does engender bias and simply disclosing the relationship is insufficient. This should apply not only at the individual content creator level, but also at the outlet or channel level. Paid reviews erode trust with the community, both with the content creators and the designers/publishers. Opinions, both positive and negative, should be honest and not predicated on payment or contractual agreements.
  • ‘How to play’ content- Can be sponsored content, but should not include any subjective editorializing.
  • Streaming/pre-recorded playthroughs- Can be sponsored content, can include subjective editorializing within the context of the play session.
  • Social media- While some content creators leverage social media to syndicate their work from different sources, many content creators work primarily within social media platforms. Often this content may resemble smaller, more bite-sized versions of longer form content found on Youtube or websites, and when it does, we recommend following these guidelines when able. As new platforms arise and new methods of creating content come forth, we will provide additional guidelines as necessary.
    As a final note, any source of revenue or reimbursement associated with content should be transparent. This includes but is not limited to traditional advertising, sponsored trips, gifts, etc. Also, paid content should not include any subjective editorializing.


  • Attribute external content to original source
  • Byline should accurately represent the content creator(s) who created the content.

The ETMI Code of Ethics is a statement of abiding principles designed to provide transparency and honesty in the field of table top enthusiast media . It is not a set of rules, rather a guide that encourages all who engage in table top content creation to take responsibility for the information they provide, regardless of medium. The code should be read as a whole; individual principles should not be taken out of context.