Jesse Anderson's Quackalope video.
Image: YouTube (@Quackalope)

Several days ago, a controversy involving Quackalope exchange with Into the Unknown, the publisher and developer of Aeon Trespass: Odyssey, was brought to the attention of fans. A comment by the studio left on the Kickstarter page for the game suggested some implied unpleasantness between the YouTuber and the company. Soon after, a BoardGameGeek forum thread appeared.

Since then, Quackalope owner Jesse Anderson has made an apology video, addressing the matter in a heartfelt message shared on his channel. He went on to reflect on the timeline of events and took personal responsibility for the poor timing of the whole ordeal. He further stated that it is not Into the Unknown’s fault, and asked for the entire community to be kind and considerate to one another. Anderson also promised that Quackalope will continue to grow, provide future content and clarify the narrative of the situation.

He also promised changes, which include being exceedingly careful in the way the channel presents, introduces, and acknowledges paid contracts in its videos. And while Quackalope will continue taking paid contracts, they will not contact any publisher with such requests – including asking for free games, products, or special deals – promising genuine relationships between Quackalope and said publishers.

While some readers may take the idea of Quackalope continuing to take paid contracts, it is important to note that, as they stated, everyone has the right to fair pay and to make a living doing what they love. The YouTube landscape is extremely harsh, especially in the world of board game reviews – that’s just a fact, and Quackalope did put five years building up their channel.

This does still raise questions of whether or not a paid promotion is genuine. It is important to note that Quackalope did promise to distinguish videos including a paid contract, and those done purely out of passion.

The Redemption Arc of Quackalope and the Importance of Trust

At the end of the day, however, it’s extremely important that all content creators are beyond doubt. After all, community trust is key for their survival, and the hobby’s survival as a whole. Quackalope and other board game dedicated YouTube channels are pillars of the community, and as such, need to be unwavering in their ethical standards. We state this with all due respect, but controversies like these send tremors across the board game world and make many angry and disappointed.

Anderson has understood this issue and is promising changes to Quackalope, and the way they conduct business in the future. His apology video seems heartfelt and honest, showing a willingness to learn and grow as an influencer and as a channel.

He and Quackalope’s team most likely have the best intentions when they produce content and seek to bring value to the board game world in general, but yes, the communication presented in the way it was, was understandably not well-received nor it could have been. And yes, sponsored content and sponsorships are key to a channel’s growth. But it is also worth mentioning that passion and business don’t necessarily go well together, especially in email correspondence – or if they do, there must be clearly delienated.

A true, message of passion needs to take the edge over the “standard business practices and communication” – this is something any community quickly detects and detests when it’s lacking. Ultimately, Quackalope will bounce back on the condition that Anderson keeps all the promises made in his apology video.

We remind the community that while objective criticism is welcomed, layering vitriol, mean-spirited barbs, and stereotypical expressions, does have a real-world impact on the Quackalope team who are trying to move past this issue as good as they can. Providing useful feedback is one thing – piling hurtful and demeaning wording is a whole different ballpark.

There is also the question, as mentioned, whether Into the Unknown should have released the emails in the way they did.

A self-proclaimed warrior-poet, Krasen is a man of many hobbies – ranging from combat sports training, LARPing, to writing poetry. One of those many hobbies happens to be board games. Be it with a fist, pen, sword or keyboard – he aims to be just, merciless and effective.