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Subject: Full Disclosure rss

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Richard Ham
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I know some folks worry about whether my videos are free from publisher influence, so I figured I'd start this thread to explain how I deal with publisher provided preview & review copies. FULL DISCLOSURE MODE... ACTIVATE!

Prototypes
Regarding previews of Kickstarter prototypes, I don't ask for any compensation for these from the publisher. They send me a prototype (after I first read the rules to determine whether it's a game we have a chance of enjoying). Once we've played it, if Jen & I enjoyed it, then I'll film a runthrough and post it, and that's that. If they want to give me a copy of the game afterwards, that's *AWESOME*, but they're not required to.

What happens when they send me a prototype, we play it, and find that we don't like it? Well, I contact them and explain how we feel, and ask them if they still want me to make the video, knowing what I'll say in the final thoughts. Sometimes they say "sure, go ahead", and a few times now they've said "hmm, I guess we'll pass on a runthrough. Thanks for the feedback about the game!"

Retail Copies
First of all, when a publisher says they'll send me a full retail copy for a runthrough, before accepting it I work hard to try to figure out ahead of time if it's a game that Jen and I are going to like. If not, I tell them right up front "You know, we general don't like 3 player/war/abstract/party/memory/etc. games, so I'm not be the right guy to cover this for you," and pass. I basically don't want to have to spend the time playing/filming a game that I don't like, and so I say 'no' to around 9 out of every 10 games that people ask me to film.

If I do get sent the copy, and it turns out we like it (as hoped), then yay, I film and post it with no compensation from the publisher, and everybody's happy! But if we don't like it, I'll once again tell the publisher and ask if they want me to go ahead.

Anyway, just wanted to let everyone know how I'm handling these sorts of situations. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know!

And now, for the ongoing-ly updated list of all the retail copies of games that have been provided to me by publishers (just so there's no confusion about where games came from):

504
7 Wonders Duel
Adventure of D
A Feast for Odin
Akrotiri
Alchemists
Alchemidus
Ancient Terrible Things
Apocalypse Chaos
Archon: Glory & Machination
Arkham Horror The Card Game
Ars Alchemia
Artifacts Inc
Athlas: Duel for Divnity
Ark & Noah
Arkwright
Asgard
Attack on Titan: Deckbuilder
AYA
Augustus
Automobiles
Back to the Future Adventure Through Time
Bastion
Battle at Kemble's Cascade
Battle for Souls
Between Two Cities
Big Book of Madness
Black Orchestra
Bloody Inn
Bora Bora
Bretagne
The Capitals
Canterbury
Carson City Horses & Heroes
Castaways
Citrus
City Council
Clank!
CliniC
Coal Baron
Coal Baron Great Card Game
Colony
Concordia
Concordia Salsa
Core Worlds + Galactic Orders
Covert
Cthulhu Realms
Cubist
CV: Gossip
The Council of Verona
Cafe Melange
Capital
Capo Dei Capi
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Castles of Mad King Ludwig Secrets
Castelion
Celestia
City Council: Disaster Deck
City of Spies
Codenames
Commissioner Victor
Council of Four
Cottage Garden
Craftsmen
Cthulhu Realms
CVLizations
Cypher
Dairy Man
Daxu
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Destination Neptune
Deus
Dice City
Dice Heist
Dilluvia Project
Dingo's Dreams
Discoveries
Dragonflame
Dream Home
Dream Spires
Drum Roll
Dungeon Bazar
Dungeon of Fortune
Dungeon Petz: Dark Alleys
Eight Epics
Eminent Domain
Eminent Domain Escalation
Eminent Domain Exotica
EXIT: The Game
Expo 1906
Euphoria
Evolution
Fabled Fruit
Fallen
Fantahzee
Fantasy Frontier
Favor of the Pharaoh
Fields of Arle
First Class
Five Seals of Magic
Flamme Rouge
Fleet
Flip City
Florenza the Card Game
Freedom: Underground Railroad
Fuse
Galaxy Defenders
Galaxy Truckers: MIssions
Glass Road
Goblins vs Zombies
Going Going GONE!
Golden Sails
Gold West
Grand Austria Hotel
Great Western Trail
Greed
Grog Island
Guilds of London
Gunrunners
Haithabu
Hangtown
Haspelknecht
Healthy Heart Hospital
Heir to the Pharaoh
Helionox
Hellas
Heroes
Histrio
Honshu
Hostage Negotiator
Hull Breach
Inhabit the Earth
Isle of Skye
Isle of Trains
Istanbul Mocha & Baksheesh
Johari
Jorvik
Jump Drive
Kanban
Kepler 3042
Keyflower: The Farmers
Key to the City: London
Kill Shakespeare
King of Clubs
Kingdomino
King's Pouch
Kraftwagen
Kune v Lakia
La Granja No Siesta
Lagoon Land of Druids
L'Aeropostale
Lap Dance
Last Will: Getting Sacked
Le Fantome de l'Opera
Legacy: The Testament of Duke De Crecy
Legends of Andor New Heroes
Legends of Andor Star Shield
Legends of Andor Journey to the North
Let Them Eat Shrimp
Letter Tycoon
London Dread
Loony Quest
Los Incognitos
Lotus
The Manhattan Project & The Second Stage
Madeira
Mangrovia
Mansions of Madness 2nd edition
Martians: A Story of Civilization
Mask of Anubis
Mechs vs Minions
Medici
Meduris
Meteor
Minerva
Mombasa
Mr House
Musee
Myth
Mythe
Mysterium
Mysterium Hidden Signs
Mystic vale
My Village
Nations
Nations Dynasties
Nations: The Dice Game
Neaderthal
New Dawn
New Haven
New York 1901
Nippon
Not Alone
Octodice
Oh My Goods!
Oh My Goods!: Longsdale In Revolt
Order of the Gilded Compass
Orleans
Orleans Invasion
Orleans Trade & Intrigue
Outcast Heroes
Panamax
Pandemic Iberia
Pandemic In the Lab
Pandemic Legacy
Pandemic Reign of Cthulhu
Pandemic The Cure
Panthalos
Papa Paolo
Paperback
Paradise Fallen
Pasha
Patchistory
Patchwork
Peloponnes Card Game
Pentos
Penny Press
Phalanxx
Pirates of the 7 Seas
Piratoons
Planes
Porta Nigra
Portal of Morth
Port Royal
Port Royal One More Order
Praetor
Project Mars
Pursuit of Happiness
Qin
Quadropolis
Quilt Show
Race! Formula 90
Race for the Galaxy: The Ambassadors
Railroad Revolution
Rampage
Rattle Battle Grab the Loot
Rattle Battle Grab the Loot Angry Oceans
Relic Runners
Robinson Crusoe 2nd edition
Rockwell
Rokoko
Rolling Japan
Runebound 3rd Ed
Run Fight or Die
Russian Railraods: German Railroads
Saloon Tycoon
Scoville
Shadowrun: Crossfire
Shadowrun: Crossfire High Caliber Ops
Shadows over the Empire
Shakespeare
Shakespeare: Backstage
Signorie
Simurgh
Slush Fund 2
Small City
Snow Tails
Solarius Mission
Space Cadets Away Mission
Space Sheep
Spectaculum
Squirrel Rush
Star Trek Frontiers
Steam Park
Steam Works
Stockpile
Stronghold 2nd Ed
Subdivision
Suburbia 5★
Suburbia Inc
Super Motherload
Steam Time
Sylvion
Tash-Kalar
Tash-Kalar Everfrost
Tash-Kalar Nevervoid
Terraforming Mars
Tessen
The Ancient World
The Captain is Dead
The Colonists
The Dragon and the Emperor
The Gallerist
The Golden Ages
The Great Dinosaur Rush
The Grizzled at your Orders
The Flow of History
The Front Nine
The Oracle of Delphi
The Perfumer
The Prodigals Club
The Ravens of Thri Shihashri
The Speicherstadt & Kaispeicher
Theseus: Bots
Theseus: The Dark Orbit
Tides of Madness
TIME Stories
TIME Stories Prophecy of Dragon
TIME Stories the Marcy Case
TIME Stories Under the Mask
Touria
Tragedy Looper
Tumult Royale
Tzolken: Tribes & Prophecies
Ulm
Unlock
Upon a Fable
Uruk II
Walled City
Watson & Holmes
Wildcatters
Valley of the Kings
Via Nebula
Viceroy
Village & Village Inn
Vikings the Board Game
Viticulture
Voluspa Expansion
Warhammer Quest Adventure Card Game
Warlock
West of Africa
Yamatai
Yedo
Yellow Jersey
Yikes
Yokohama
ZhanGuo
Zombie 15'

If a game I've runthrough isn't on these lists, it means either it was a prototype, or a retail game I've bought with our own money.
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Federico
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rahdo wrote:
Retail Games
[...]
Kaispeicher
[...]
The Speicherstadt & Kaispeicher

Did they send two expansions and one base?
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Richard Ham
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Fede__ wrote:
rahdo wrote:
Retail Games
[...]
Kaispeicher
[...]
The Speicherstadt & Kaispeicher

Did they send two expansions and one base?


Aaargh, the only thing I've really disclosed here is that I'm an idiot!
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Eirik Johnsbråten
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I don't feel that I needed a full disclosure from you, Richard. That trust is reinforced now.
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Jer Wolfe
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Hear hear!
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Bryan Thunkd
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I'm fine with you getting free copies provided you do disclose that fact. I think that doing so here isn't sufficient though as most of your viewers will never read this thread. I think you should include something in the video even if it's just a line of text at the end of the video saying "Game provided by xxxx company"
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Eirik Johnsbråten
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Or just link to this thread in the description on YouTube...
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Richard Ham
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Thunkd wrote:
I'm fine with you getting free copies provided you do disclose that fact. I think that doing so here isn't sufficient though as most of your viewers will never read this thread. I think you should include something in the video even if it's just a line of text at the end of the video saying "Game provided by xxxx company"


(sigh) My full disclosure is not full enough... Man, I so regret ever giving my opinion in any video. I should have from the get go simply runthrough the games and left it at that!
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Jason Speicher
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i really value your opinion in games. I'd really like you to continue to do so. It's helpful. Most people can have an understanding that your opinion won't always align with theirs.
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Darth Ed
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jwspiker wrote:
i really value your opinion in games. I'd really like you to continue to do so. It's helpful. Most people can have an understanding that your opinion won't always align with theirs.

I couldn't agree more!
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Michael King
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rahdo wrote:
Man, I so regret ever giving my opinion in any video. I should have from the get go simply runthrough the games and left it at that!


I really appreciate you sharing your opinion on each game. Though your enthusiasm for the game generally comes through while filming the runthrough, it's nice to hear what things specifically make the game stand out as well as things that potentially bring it down. I add this information to my decision process and find it helpful even when I don't agree. Of course you're in charge of how you film, but I would really like to see the final thoughts section continue.
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Richard Ham
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I know, I know, everyone likes the final thoughts. I won't stop doing them, don't worry

It's just that if I didn't give subjective opinion on every game I run through, everything I'd do would be basically objective reporting, and it wouldn't matter who gives me copies of the game, and I'd be able to cover a lot more games besides.

Right now I tend to avoid running through games I don't like, because I don't want to trash anyone's hard work. So "final thoughts" stifle me there.

And now that I do this disclosure thread to be more forthright with information than *any* other boardgame video guy out there, and I still get "it's not enough", so I just want to stop with the opinions even more and make things simple.

I'm just kicking myself over ever starting out that way... the first video I did for Helvetia was a total whim and I just happened to give an opinion about the game, not thinking to how it would affect me 16 months later... Is there a world's smallest violin smiley I can use now? I guess this'll have to do:

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Sean Mitchell
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This is my first post on BGG and not sure there will be too many more, but I do want to say that the reason I enjoy your final thoughts is that often it isn't related to a negative in the game, but it is related into how it doesn't work well with the way you and Jen play or what you both like along with if it doesn't work well with two players. Being someone who often doesn't fall into the two player game category as I play with a group and we don't mind some of the war/exterminate type of games, I still feel like your reviews work best on if a game may be for us or not. We all are rather different in our tastes of games so it can often be hard to find the "Perfect" game for all of us, but in the end we always enjoy playing together so as long as a game has decent mechanics and exciting interactions, it doesn't matter if it fills my buddy's love of Ameri-trash, my co-op love, or my other buddy's Euro love, as long as we can get together and have fun each week, that is the key. I simply just say all that to say that you are my most used guide into what we bring to the table and it stems from how you run through and review a game because it always seems fair and the run through is just the facts for whomever to determine for themselves. So keep it up and hope the encouragement helps.
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Badger
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Couldn't have said it better myself, Sean.
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Andrew Foerster
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rahdo wrote:
I know, I know, everyone likes the final thoughts. I won't stop doing them, don't worry

It's just that if I didn't give subjective opinion on every game I run through, everything I'd do would be basically objective reporting, and it wouldn't matter who gives me copies of the game, and I'd be able to cover a lot more games besides.

Right now I tend to avoid running through games I don't like, because I don't want to trash anyone's hard work. So "final thoughts" stifle me there.

And now that I do this disclosure thread to be more forthright with information than *any* other boardgame video guy out there, and I still get "it's not enough", so I just want to stop with the opinions even more and make things simple.

I'm just kicking myself over ever starting out that way... the first video I did for Helvetia was a total whim and I just happened to give an opinion about the game, not thinking to how it would affect me 16 months later... Is there a world's smallest violin smiley I can use now? I guess this'll have to do:



I think on some level most of us understand that a reviewer who's become so productive and high-profile as you is going to get the attention of publishers and get some review copies. Your even acknowledging this is great on your behalf.

People who become overly fussy about things such as this really make the review process and etc. just really cumbersome for the reviewers and lead them to retire (remember Drakkenstrike's great overviews?).

In short, fussing too much about disclosure is why we can't have nice things.

Keep it up, Richard! Love your output!
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Bryan Thunkd
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First, let me say I love your reviews. Second, I hope you don't take my comments as anything against you personally. This is an issue that I believe is important for any public figure to acknowledge.

rahdo wrote:
I do this disclosure thread to be more forthright with information than *any* other boardgame video guy out there, and I still get "it's not enough"

A couple of points here. If you are getting free review copies then your audience deserves to know that fact when they evaluate your review. My personal opinion is that your reviews are you unbiased opinion, but it's a bad path to go down when people don't disclose those types of relationships. Regardless of how you behave there are others who would, and in fact those who have taken advantage of the situation. I'd think you'd want to be as upfront about that as possible to avoid any appearance of improper behavior.

Additionally, in the US there are legal issues that come into play. My understanding is that the FTC is now regulating bloggers and requires them to disclose these relationships. Both the blogger and the company can be fined if the disclosure isn't publicly made. (A quick google search found this link about it...
http://diannej.com/blog/2012/05/new-ftc-rules-on-writing-rev...) I know that you're outside the US, so perhaps that isn't a concern for you.

rahdo wrote:
It's just that if I didn't give subjective opinion on every game I run through, everything I'd do would be basically objective reporting, and it wouldn't matter who gives me copies of the game, and I'd be able to cover a lot more games besides.

From the legal perspective I mentioned above I'm not entirely sure that leaving out your subjective opinion would sidestep the issue. I think you'd still be required to disclose the relationship or risk fines.

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Federico
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OT: Why should United States laws have effect on someone who lives in Malta and has (unless I misremember) a British passport?
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Jestin Jund
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As someone who has been following since nearly the beginning, I will just say this: Do what makes you happy and never let this become a stressful thing. I'm just happy to have someone on BGG who covers Euros, teaches me how to play board games, and seems very honest.

I just wish I could come to Malta and kick your ass in The Castles of Burgundy!
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Matt Utting
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Fede__ wrote:
OT: Why should United States laws have effect on someone who lives in Malta and has (unless I misremember) a British passport?

I'd assume on the basis of the Youtube TOS:
You agree that the laws of California, excluding California’s choice of law rules, will apply to these Terms of Service.
But I'm not a lawyer, nor American.

But from my point of view I don't really think it's an issue. I've assumed anything that's currently on Kickstarter has been provided and anything that he says someone has sent him is.

But he's playing through the game... I don't think if he paid for it or got it for nada that he's going to play it differently. Maybe I'm naive though.
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Chris Smith
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I don't see why people think the source of a game being shown needs to be stated. I think that's entirely irrelevant being as we watch to find out how the game works and to hear Richards opinion of it.

The fact he's chosen to let us know here what games he's been sent is above what's necessary, and is pretty cool to see nonetheless.

Final thoughts is awesome, keep up the awesome work Richard! =)
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Bryan Thunkd
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Smoothsmith wrote:
I don't see why people think the source of a game being shown needs to be stated. I think that's entirely irrelevant being as we watch to find out how the game works and to hear Richards opinion of it.

This is a common issue for reviewers. What if a big publisher stops sending him games if he doesn't give a good review/gives a bad review? Or what if when he gives a glowing review they send him free copies and all sorts of goodies like an iPad? There's the possibility that he'll start giving that publisher more favorable reviews. It might not even be a conscious decision.

Reviewers, insofar as they have an audience, have influence. When someone with influence has a financial interest in promoting one view over another it's only ethical to disclose that fact. If a reviewer takes free games but doesn't inform his audience that he's doing so, I'd consider that very shady.
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No-one is unbiased.

Sure, one might appreciate a reviewer that states where the game is from, if this review is due to a VIP-kickstarter asked for it (which will create a bias), a free prototype from the designer (which I always presume when there is a prototype review) or only because the reviewer likes the game. But we, as consumers, need to be a bit more aware and critical.

We can not blindly consume and expect that everything (anything) we see and hear is the objective, unbiased truth, we need to take some responsibility as consumers.

It would be a bit different if a reviewer went out of their way to say they have no affiliation with game X when the reality is that they have invested in the game, since that would be lying. But if you see or hear something you should be sceptical and research the source, in this case this thread would not be too hard to find and here you have some more info.

Sure, this thread could all be lie, but it is up to every consumer to weigh the relevance and truthfulness of information they take in. Unfortunately there is no objective reporting in this world, the market chooses and a reviewer without viewers will not be a reviewer for long.

Sorry, this might be a bit cynical, but I feel that telling a reviewer, that tries to disclose information, that he is not doing it well enough is trying to avoid responsibility, and there is already too much of that in the world.

TL DR take a review for what it is and try to think a bit yourself and not believing everything you see. A run through of a game is probably pretty neutral, skip the final thoughts if you have a problem with opinions, since they will never be objective and unbiased.

PS. Disclosure: I enjoy Rhados runthroughs, we have quite similar taste, only I also like games with direct conflict and 2+ player games, so I am biased in this post.
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Joao Henrique
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Smoothsmith wrote:
I don't see why people think the source of a game being shown needs to be stated. I think that's entirely irrelevant being as we watch to find out how the game works and to hear Richards opinion of it.

The fact he's chosen to let us know here what games he's been sent is above what's necessary, and is pretty cool to see nonetheless.

Final thoughts is awesome, keep up the awesome work Richard! =)


That's just Richard's way of being an awesome guy.

That's why i like him so much.
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Richard Ham
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Thanks Bryan for bringing the whole legal FTC thing up. It's patently ridiculous, of course, and I'd bet that even if it could apply to me being outside the US and a British citizen, this isn't something that the FTC is pursuing with little mom&pop bloggers like me.

I did mention it in the video I just did for Los Incognitos that it was donated by a publisher, and I suppose it doesn't make a difference in the grand scheme of things, but I just hate having to point out "btw, this review copy was provided gratis from the publisher, so by implication take everything i say with a grain of salt because maybe I'm on the dole - how do you know? I'm only telling you this because I'm required to by law, afterall" because if I didn't say that, I suspect the casual viewer would not think or care about it at all, and just take the video at face value. But as soon as I do call attention to it, then it becomes "a thing" and someone who might not have cared before now looks at the review with suspicion, because why else would I have made this disclaimer unless I wasn't to be trusted?

The full disclosure in this thread, I thought, would be enough (and again, is more information disclosed than *any* of my contemporaries do), because if anyone is suspicious, it's easy to find this information (and in fact, I have pointed people on Youtube who ask towards it). That seems to me to be the best way to handle it... if you suspect me of malfeasance, the information is here. But if you're not bothered one way or the other, why muddy up a nice video for 99% of the audience with the equivalent of medical disclaimer small print that makes you suspicious of my motives where you weren't before?

Warning, watching Rahdo Runs Through may result in impulse control disorder, empty wallet syndrome, and gameshelf overflow. Use only as directed by your significant other.
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Michael Gerstbrein
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I am so smart. S M R T !!!
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rahdo wrote:
Warning, watching Rahdo Runs Through may result in impulse control disorder, empty wallet syndrome, and gameshelf overflow. Use only as directed by your significant other.


And this sir, your sense of humor and realistic take on life, is why I love watching your walk-throughs.

Bottom line is we all make our own purchasing decisions. Whether you get a game for free or not should have no influence on the viewer. We are watching your videos and reading your posts as a way to gather information about various games and the gaming community as a whole (love the math trade stuff!). Even if you started wearing t-shirts with company logos or got a designer's name tattooed on your forehead, in the end it is up to us viewers (and consumers) to make our own call on if WE will want this game.

Bravo to you for even bringing up the topic because in my eyes, it shows you care about what you do and what you contribute to our community.
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