Code of conduct
The gaming world is made up of many different people and all of them are equal. Everybody’s views are worthwhile and deserve to be heard (unless you’re of the opinion that Fable III was the best entry in the series), so discussion on all aspects of our hobby from every member of the community is encouraged here.
Understanding and tolerance are therefore key, and readers are respectfully asked to bear in mind the points opposite before posting a comment on the Later Levels blog, associated social media channels or Twitch chat room. This isn’t an attempt to shut-down healthy debate – just a way of making it a friendly environment where everyone is welcome.
Respect and consideration
Everybody is entitled to their opinion and is welcome to to comment if they don’t agree with the views expressed in a blog post. But please be respectful, and don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your parents to see: they’ll ground you and take away your controller.
Negative comments won’t be deleted (although those displaying inappropriate material will be – see the next point). Instead, I’ll take a deep breath and have a cup of tea before responding in a constructive manner, if I feel it’s appropriate to do so.
You wouldn’t go out of your way to ruin someone’s day in real life, so why do it on the internet? I reserve the right to block anyone who displays aggression or intimidation from access to the Later Levels blog and related social media channels.
You’ve got nothing to worry about if you’re not the sort of person who insults others or acts like a douchebag. I mentioned above that negative comments won’t be deleted. But those containing racist, sexist or homophobic abuse, personal abuse, libel, copyrighted material, excessive swearing, references to illegal activities, requests for pirated software or slurs against Monkey Island will be.
Format and audience
Clear comments left on blog posts and social media channels are very much appreciated. I’m far too old to be down-with-the-kids nowadays so I find shouting capitals, text-speak and the overuse of emojis really hard to process.
Community and collaboration
These two things will do more for your own blog than a dodgy SEO company ever could. I extremely appreciate your support, but please don’t follow only in the hope of a follow-back: it’s never going to happen and you'll just waste your time.
In addition, out-of-context comments left on posts only for promotional purposes or blatant advertising will be laughed at and then edited. Leave a link to your site and it will be changed if it’s not appropriate – and it will end up being pointed to somewhere you don’t want it to go.
Code of ethics
Later Levels has been around in one form or another since 2013 and has always been a project of love, adventure games and ice-cream. I’ve neve been paid for what I do here and while I’d love to get rich from playing video games, meeting likeminded friends in the community is way more important.
Sourcing video games
Digital codes for video games are sometimes sent to me by developers and publishers so I can preview or review their projects. However, the way in which I receive software will never influence my opinions or content, and the source will always be revealed in the post if I haven’t bought the game myself.
Adult responsibilities mean I don’t have time to respond to every request and I’ll only accept a free code if it looks like a release I’ll appreciate playing. Life is too short to spend it on video games which aren’t your cup of tea and blog posts you don’t enjoy writing.
From time to time, I may choose to back campaigns on crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter. This is particularly likely if the promotional material happens to feature pixel-art or mention inspiration taken from Myst, the works of Ron Gilbert or Twin Peaks.
This is done using my own money and my decision to back a campaign is a personal one. If I decide to publish a review of a video game obtained via this method, or one for which I’ve made any other kind of financial or personal investment, it will always be disclosed in the post.
Events, affiliation and independence
To gather content and see what’s going on in the gaming industry, I sometimes attend events and meetings. I’ll always fund the cost of travel, accommodation and tickets myself – although it would be great if someone wouldn’t mind upgrading me to a five-star hotel.
But seriously though: I don’t accept any kind of cash incentive or gift, and don’t use paid advertising or affiliate links. These things would only jeopardise Later Levels’ independence and so the answer to such requests is always no. Information provided via URLs in blog posts is simply there to be helpful, because that’s the nice kind of person I am.
There are no personal relationships with developers, publishers or advertisers here at Later Levels as I’m not sure my husband would approve. But saying that though, if Ragnar from Red Thread Games ever gave me a call, I wouldn’t turn him down.
Revenue and supporting the blog
No revenue is generated from Later Levels and I don’t get paid for what I do here. As mentioned earlier, I don’t accept any kind of cash incentive or gift, and don’t use paid advertising or affiliate links. I will however accept a hot-chocolate and chat if you fancy one the next time I see you at a UK expo.
You won’t find a Patreon or any other kind of membership platform here: everyone is welcome and there’s no charge. You don’t need money to start a blog and the cost is on me if I choose to pay for something to maintain or upgrade the site. If you’re looking to make a donation, why not give it to one of these great gaming charities instead?
Neutrality and accuracy
A lot of gaming blogs state in their code of ethics that they have a policy of staying neutral. I’ve never understood this: having an opinion removes neutrality, and what’s the point in blogging if you’re not going to share your opinion on a subject? Our individual tastes and experience mean we can never truly be unbiased, but you can be sure I’ll be honest and explain my view.
It’s the video games that matter and so I won’t write anything about a developer, publisher or other member of the community personally. I also don’t usually report on news but if I choose to do so, I’ll get the research done so I can be as accurate as possible and link to sources wherever I can find them.
Titles will be reflective of the post, humorous whenever possible and usually contain a pun – but never clickbait. I’ll add a highlighted note if I become aware of an article that contains a serious error or incorrect information, while small spelling or grammatical errors that don’t affect its meaning will be silently corrected.
Charity events and donations
Later Levels actively supports several gaming-related charities. I’ve taken part in streaming marathons, fun-runs, pub quizzes, volunteering on stands at expos and conventions around the UK, and you can find out more about the organisations on the gaming for good page.
Donations made during charity events such as marathon streams are taken online via JustGiving. They go directly to the organisation I’m supporting so I don’t see any of the money – and nor would I want to. Playing video games, meeting new friends and making a positive impact on the world is all the benefit I need.
Competitions and giveaways
When I hold a giveaway, a winner is drawn at random based on the entry rules specified. This is usually done by tallying the number of entries and using the random number generator at random.org.
You’re able to enter once unless the rules state otherwise, and if you violate those rules, you’ll be disqualified (along with your 50 aliases). I can’t be held responsible if an item gets lost in the post or is delivered to a wrong address, and occasionally it may be necessary to substitute a prize with something of comparable value.
Sense of humour
As you can probably tell from the Later Levels’ policies, I’m rather partial to a spot of satire and a few sarcastic jokes. I hope it’s obvious when something is written for humour rather than factual information – but if that isn’t the case, please do get in touch so I can clarify and update the site as I feel is necessary.
Although I write about the video games I’ve played here at Later Levels, I wouldn’t necessarily call them reviews. There are plenty of professional gaming websites where you can find that kind of content if that’s what tickles your fancy. If I do choose to write a critique though, here’s what you can expect.
As mentioned in the code of ethics, I’ll always confirm how a video game was sourced. The majority are personally bought or received through pledges to crowdfunding campaigns, always with my own money, and occasionally I’ll accept preview and review codes from developers and publishers.
My contacts are open to anyone who’d like to get in touch about their project. Please be aware that I’m unable to respond to every request and the answer to anything which isn’t related to either video games or escape rooms will always be no, regardless of how much your amazing new cleaning product is going to revolutionise the world.
If I play a demo or beta version, the post will be classified as a preview. Reviews are strictly reserved for games which are already available in full to the public. Doing it any other way just wouldn’t be fair and there’s always the possibility a title could change significantly before release.
Other than that, there’s no set format for reviews. But whether I decide to assign a score out of ten, provide a bullet list of positives and negatives, or give my final opinion in the form of interpretive dance, one thing you can be sure of is that I’ve been honest. I won’t be persuaded to take a particular line and my opinions are always my own.
If I’ve really not enjoyed playing a game, I probably won’t write about it. This isn’t because I’m afraid to share a negative opinion: it’s because there are thousands of other reviews out there if that’s what you’re looking for. I’d rather use my time to write about the things I’ve appreciated.
Regardless of how I choose to score (or not score) a review, this shouldn’t be the end of the discussion. Everyone is welcome to leave their thoughts after each post and to chat to me via the Later Levels’ social media channels, in line with the code of conduct. Let’s keep the conversation going.
Contributions and collaborations policy
As mentioned in the code of ethics, no revenue is generated from Later Levels. I therefore don’t agree to paid topic insertions in order to maintain independence, and to keep the blog as a creative space where I can focus on gaming-related subjects which appeal to me.
While I love being a member of the blogging community, I don’t accept contributions or take part in article swaps. This is purely down to personal preference: I’ve learnt over the years that I enjoy blogging most when I feel as though the site is something I’ve built with my own two hands and on a diet of ice-cream.
But please don’t think that makes me as grumpy as LeChuck. I love getting involved with other blogs so if you have an idea for a project we can work on together or a question you’d like me to answer in the form of a post, give me a shout and let’s see what creative things we can come up with.
I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to participate in every event but I’ll definitely consider all suggestions. And even if it’s not something I can take part in due to adult responsibilities getting in the way or a lack of knowledge in a certain gaming area, I’ll help you spread the word among other bloggers.
The sad fact is that there are some people out there who want to copy the great content produced by others and claim it as their own. They don’t care how awful the authors feel when they see their work on another site without permission, and they certainly aren’t concerned that benefitting from somebody else’s effort is just plain wrong.
Let’s get one thing straight: this is theft. It’s the unsolicited taking of a bloggers’ hard work and creativity; awareness for their subject and potential readers; and the positivity they receive from blogging and being a member of their community.
You’re welcome to quote sections of my posts providing appropriate and specific credit is clearly given, along with a link back to the original content. I don’t consent to full or extension sections of articles being copied and posted on your own site without my prior written approval, whether you claim credit for the work or otherwise.
If I become aware of something I’ve not given permission for, I’ll contact you to request that the offending content is removed as quickly as possible. If you don’t comply, my next step will be to submit a takedown request under DMCA – and I may even send my stepson over to tell you everything he knows about Fallout 4. You’ll be stuck with him for days.
In return, I offer the same rights to others. If you become aware of something I’ve written to which you don’t consent, please get in touch directly in the first instance and we can talk it through over a hot-chocolate. I’m a nice person: it’s highly likely I won’t have done it on purpose and I’ll agree to immediately removing the content in question.
You came here for cookies? Before we crack open the biscuit jar, let me say that Later Levels is committed to providing readers with a blog which respects their privacy. I therefore don’t rent, lease or sell your personal information to third-parties and will only disclose details if I’m required to do so by law.
All data is managed in accordance with obligations under the UK’s data protection regulations. It should be noted however that the Google overlords may transfer your information to third-parties if you’ve been naughty, or if those third-parties process the details on their behalf while they relax with a piña colada.
To make any comments, ask questions, raise concerns or request for any comments posted by yourself to be deleted, please get in touch. This statement may be updated from time to time to reflect feedback received or any new legal obligations.