Manifesto of the Tabletop Underground
Tabletop gaming is no longer a “niche” hobby. The major publishers have propelled the industry to mainstream success, and while some might find that lamentable, we see it as an unprecedented opportunity for us, the independent & DIY gamemakers. With popularity and accessibility comes something far greater—the potential for democratization. The tabletop game industry, as it stands now, is a blank canvas waiting for a painter.
We have a choice to make:
we can be passive and follow the rules, let old traditions become mandates, and let the industry consolidate itself until self-expression and playability become an afterthought to market trends and profitability
- or -
we can work together and seize this opportunity to remake the industry in our own image—open, diverse, unique, disruptive, and unbound.
The Tabletop Underground is a decentralized, voluntary, and cooperative affinity group of game designers, indie publishers, artists, graphic designers, videographers, writers, playtesters, merch makers, and other creatives dedicated to providing resources, support, and promotion to one another and to anyone who is passionate about independent gaming.
Join us in the Underground, and together we can be the change we want to play.
- We believe games are art and art is for everyone. We do not discourage anyone from profiting from their work, but we do encourage indie publishers to make games as accessible as possible to all people, regardless of their income level or means. (Providing free Print-&-Play versions on your website; Donating copies to libraries, hospitals, and other community centers, etc.)
- We do not believe there is any “correct” way to make games or art. Genres are meaningless barriers. Marketability is irrelevant. Failure is a learning experience. Rules and norms are stifling. Blacklisting is unethical and authoritarian. There’s nothing that can be done that we can’t do ourselves and together.
- We won’t hold it against you if you decide to leave the Underground to pursue the traditional route of corporate publishing, but the collective resources and backing of the Underground are always prioritized for those who go indie, DIY, nonprofit, educational, artistic gamification, or just for fun.
- We believe in the concept of mutual promotion. We won’t ever discourage you from promoting your own work, but we do expect you to support and promote the rest of us too, as we’ll do the same for you.
- We believe in the power of a unified front. Most of us can’t afford to travel to conventions to promote our work, but this collective network enables any member of the Underground to act as a representative and recruiter in their local area. Instead of flying across the country (or globe) and spending hundreds of dollars on a booth, anyone interested in being represented can simply use THE NETWORK to get in contact with fellow Underground members near the convention and pitch-in for them to be our collective surrogates. Together we can tear down the financial barriers designed to prioritize Big Publishers and keep the rest of us in the shadows.
- The infoshop forums are meant to serve as a virtual mecca for advice, discussion, constructive criticism, collaboration, networking, tips, resources, and everything else related to tabletop game creation—without all the nitpicking, bitterness, bootlicking, and exclusion that are so often prevalent in other forums.
- All information and posts in the infoshop are free and public. All people will have full and equal access to all posts/forums in the infoshop, and all Members of the Underground will have the ability to contribute anything they wish. [see MEMBERSHIP below]
- We believe in free creative expression and the free-exchange of information and ideas. We encourage constructive debate and oppose artistic censorship, with only the one caveat that we treat each other with respect and take to heart the Golden Rule of satire & provocation: always punch up and never down.
- If a contributor to the infoshop engages in harassment or harm of other members, or otherwise use the forum for destructive purposes, they’ll first receive a warning from the moderators. We understand that sometimes debates can get heated, people can say things without thinking, and sometimes bad jokes are made by otherwise decent people. We believe in second-chances and making amends. But if that contributor continues to abuse the forums after being warned, they will be banned.
- All members have the option to list their games for sale in our DISTRO—a completely decentralized, anti-systemic catalog which loads all items in a random order with no prioritization of any specific games/designers—so even the smallest creator will have the full visibility of the collective.
- The DISTRO is not a store. All games listed in the DISTRO are linked directly to the creators’ own external websites. Nothing is bought or sold on this website, and creators retain all individual rights (and responsibilities) associated with anything they list in the DISTRO.
Qualifications for a game to be added to the DISTRO:
o The game must be complete and available for sale on-demand.
o You must have your own storefront which can be linked directly to the listing.
o You must be a DIY and/or independent game designer/publisher. It’s okay if you’ve sold designs to publishers in the past, but any game listed in the DISTRO must be one that you produce independently.
o Each submission will be reviewed by the Tabletop Underground Organizers [see ORGANIZERS below]
o Submissions are approved by consensus of unanimous consent
The only requirements for membership in the Underground are:
o Sign-up for an account in the infoshop
o Read this manifesto
o Participate in the forums whenever you can
o Support your fellow members to the best of your ability
o Don’t be a fascist dick
- Organizers are indie/DIY game publishers responsible for maintaining and moderating the website.
- All organizers are members like any other and have no special privileges outside of moderating the forum.
- The website is paid for and managed by Ryan & Brad of Craft Fair Games in Denton, TX, USA. If you have any issues with site access or just have some succulent Tim & Eric gifs you want to share, you can email us anytime.
- If you want to become an Organizer, CLICK HERE to submit an application.
Qualifications for becoming an Organizer:
o You must be an indie/DIY game publisher.
o You must be a member for at least one month and have an active presence in the forums.
o You must be willing and able to moderate forums in accordance with the tenets of this Manifesto.
o Your application must be approved by the consensus of the other Organizers [unanimous consent]
o Organizer status can be revoked by the same process.
NOW LET’S GO MAKE SOME ART