I am looking to learn more about RPG theory in general and am considering posting a request for an overview here just like one would on Christianity.SE. I am unsure whether such questions are allowed here because we generally require people to only ask questions directly related to play experience. Below is the proposed form of my question (I actually already posted it accidently, but I deleted it. I'll undelete it if it's allowed.)

In what different ways do experts break up the different playstyles people RPG with into classifications and what are the key features and differences between the dominant schools of thought on the different ways of performing such categorization? I am not looking for a thorough analysis (though if you could recommend one should I or another reader be interested that would be appreciated), I am looking for an overview of the subject matter.

I note that we do have a tag, so I am hopeful that the question type might be allowed, but Are RPG overview questions in general on-topic and is my question in particular acceptable?


2 Answers 2


It will depend on the merits of the specific question — because this type of question is not inherently outside our scope — and on whether any recognised theory work on the desired subject actually exists.

Overview questions related to RPGs are…

  • on topic, certainly. They're about RPGs. Our most prominent open overview questions are

  • not inherently primarily-opinion based (unless the core of your question is for evaluations of the theories! don't do that here)

  • sometimes too broad, but sometimes not—this will vary with the specific question.

    Go for tightly-defined, clear categories of things and it should be OK. RPG theories is kinda waffly and imprecise enough to be too broad—asking for major, well-known RPG theories is probably precise enough to not be too broad as the set that qualifies then is small and fairly clear-cut. (Examples that don't qualify, if they're mentioned by answers, will be weeded out by the judgement of voters voting on such answers.)

    Avoiding a list question is not too hard since an overview is a singular, integrated thing. Historically, we've had no trouble with questions asking for an overview, as they usually get responded to with one very good answers. Any small answer that is just a single thing and a description of it are fundamentally not answering the question; so the question being responded to as if it's canvassing for list items wouldn't be the fault of the question, but of answerers missing the point.

    However, no matter how tightly you categorise the overview subject, some subjects in RPG theory simply don't have any widespread agreement or recognition, due to the youth of the field. Such questions will probably be closed as too broad (or opinion-based), because of a wide field of lackluster candidate theories and/or dispute over which, if any, are even worth calling "theory."

  • not unclear (unless the specified set of interest as mentioned above is poorly-written or -defined)

  • whether it's a duplicate of any existing question will depend on the subject. We don't have an overview of RPG theory frameworks that I know of, but we do have an (sort of†) overview of player taxonomies.

So, a priori, such questions do not have an inherent problem that voids their acceptability in all cases and all ways. Such questions can easily be put on hold on the merits of the specific question, of course, or because of the non-existence or youth of the desired subject within RPG theory (which is generally unlike even esoteric subjects in religious studies), but questions of this general type are not inherently outside our scope.

† I say sort of, because it's not a singular overview so much as a failed experiment in finding a valid use for listy questions. We don't have a singular overview question of player type/behaviour/style taxonomies, but there's no widely-accepted rigorous discussion of such that would qualify as theory anyway.


It would probably get closed as a duplicate of this question, which went to pains to incorporate GS/BS criteria. Tabletop Play Style Classification Schemes But it was eventually historical locked. It attempted to replace Tabletop Player Styles which was previously closed for being too listy. Look into the gaming-style tag, which predates the rpg-theory tag by a wide margin.

An "overview" should be legitimate, but be careful to word it so it's not a list question, perhaps history-of-gaming would be a better angle.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why was that question locked? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 20:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Too broad, no single right answer \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 22:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I retract my objection. I don't know how I misread the question to be about RPG theory frameworks instead of playstyle taxonomies—it's pretty clear about that when I look at it now—but somehow I did. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 22:52

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