Recent conversations on meta and in chat have suggested that we don't do a particularly good job of scoping questions to the asker's approaches to gameplay. We have an established pattern of tagging questions based on specific systems both because this narrows the scope of good answers and because it makes it easier for answers surface questions that are in their purview.

Example tags could include:

  • When the game takes the system as-is, and does not wish to modify or extend it with house rules or unofficial content.
  • When the game is concerned strongly with emulating the real world in a believable way.
  • When the game is concerned strongly with presenting an engaging story.
  • When the game is developed with equal influence from all players.

I have included here because it is most accurately a description of a style of play. I think some of the wrangling over the purpose of this tag has been caused by the fact that it has lived on as the only game style tag, and thus we haven't properly figured out what to do with it.

Should we encourage the use of such tags to distinguish different game styles in support of explicit game style definition in the question itself?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Previous discussion on the subject: Should we tag for play style and mode, more often? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2014 at 20:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ The idea that RAW is a style of play is actually one of the more toxic misconceptions we've got running around. Plenty of RAW questions are about learning the baseline so it can be changed from a position of knowledge, rather than about a need to toe that line. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Dec 6, 2014 at 21:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW I guess that's true, though I do think there is still a style of play that corresponds to this. legalism seems accurate for that, though perhaps offensively connotated. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2014 at 21:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ imo these are a bunch of terms that people cannot and will not agree on. By using them all we would do is invite argument after argument about what should apply to what question \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Dec 6, 2014 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phil I do not think these terms are themselves ill-defined or overly ambiguous. There have certainly been debates in the community as to whether any particular set of them actually covers the whole spectrum of game styles, but that's not a requirement of using these tags where they can be applied. Moreover, I am not suggesting that every question must be tagged with one of these, I am suggesting that we should apply these tags when they are relevant to the question. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2014 at 21:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ My current best-fit model for playstyles is actually multi-dimensional, making any of these terms just a rough approximation of a certain combination of points on those axes, that doesn't always clearly correspond to actual individuals' playstyles. So even if everyone agreed on their meaning, edge cases will always defy our attempt to categorise with single terms. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2014 at 23:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie As these tags are a classification of a specific question, and not of the game as a whole, they should more closely map to each of your dimensions, not some combination of them. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2014 at 23:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Those dimensions aren't separable, they're orthogonal and one person is somewhere on all of them simultaneously, in the same way that something in space can't have just a Y coordinate and must also have X, Z, and t coordinates (at least). But my point is that I doubt the value of any new tags that haven't been created organically. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 7, 2014 at 3:35

2 Answers 2


No. If we can't even agree on what RAW means we sure as shootin' aren't going to agree on what simulation or other more contentious terms mean to construct our Custom RPG.SE Mandatory Taxonomy of Gaming Styles.

In general, tags are supposed to be EMERGENT from real questions asked by real users, who are welcome to (and have) used tags like simulationism when they think it's important. In almost all cases a desire to proactively build out a tag taxonomy is prima facie inappropriate. We only do it when large scale confusion is resulting otherwise (like the D&D versions taxonomy.)

In this case querents are welcome to describe in their question or use a tag. Coming up with "must apply" style tags will run afoul of a dozen obvious problems stemming from askers who don't understand the term, disagreements over the term, etc,


Yes, game style tags provide valuable categorization of questions

Game style tags provide another layer of information about the querent's goals. While for some systems which clearly target a specific game style (such as Roll for Shoes), they may be redundant, in systems with a larger, amorphous community (such as D&D) distinguishing different approaches to the game is extremely valuable.

Like system tags, game style tags can provide a framework that commenters can use to request more information about an unclear question. They also provide a more descriptive identification than the current question, which is often used as a label for questions which address issues bigger than a single system, but frequently fail to account for assumptions on the part of the querent about the breadth of the RPG ecosystem.

Recommended usage

These tags should be used to summarize existing statements in the question

Like all other tags, we should not allow these game style tags to add additional information to the question which is not present in a reading of just the question text. Tags' main value is navigational, allowing related questions to be explored together, not as a method for shorthanding a question.

These tags do not exclude frame-challenging answers

Just as it is sometimes valid to answer a question tagged with a system tag with a suggestion that a different system may be better suited to the goal at hand, so it is valid to answer a question tagged with a particular game style with a suggestion that a different style may improve the situation. These tags suggest the scope of answers a querent is seeking, but not necessarily the scope of answers which are good for the question.


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