A Suggested Improvement on the Guidance for Game Rec Questions
With many thanks to @mxyzplk for the time and effort put forth to preserve game-rec questions, the following is an attempt to distill the guidance post into something like what's on our help page for question "how to" or "this is what we expect."
Feedback/review of this is desired. Wherever it fails to fit the original guidance post will hopefully be identified. Edits to clean it up shall be made. Comments very much desired.
Game Recommendation Questions (draft)
The following guidance shall be adhered to for Game Recommendation questions and answers on RPG.SE. This guidance covers questions, answers, and voting to ensure that SE quality standards are maintained.
- Questions must be specific enough that there can be a single or best
answer. The purpose of RPG.SE is to help people with their actual
- Don't just ask about games. Add context about what your needs are
that a game is expected to fulfill.
- Avoid Lists
- If your question is looking for a list, rather than a “best choice,”
it's a bad question. Polls or lists, or "community wiki" for game rec
questions are not acceptable questions. Quizzing people for the sake
of doing it or idle curiosity generate poor questions … which will be
Examples of poor questions:
- “What are all the medieval fantasy RPGs?"
- "What's a fun game?
This kind of question will be immediately closed as "too broad" and/or "primarily opinion-based."
Outline of a good question:
I want to try a game that has these specific attributes (or covers X genre)
- List attributes (1)
- Describe genre
I want to use it in this way.
- Describe style of play you seek, or kind of story you want this game
Who has done this?
What game would you recommend and why?"
The importance of listing requirements / attributes / criteria.
If you don’t establish what it is you want the game to help you do, the SE community cannot provide a high quality answer.
This Wild West game question is a good enough question to be answered.
It is specific about the kind of game it wants. It would be a better question if it explained more about the asker's needs and predilections. If the person asking this question wants "gritty combat" then explaining what is meant by “gritty combat” in some detail is necessary.
Game recommendation questions shall be tagged [game-recommendation].
Answers MUST adhere to the "Back It Up!" principle set forth in the SO blog post Good Subjective, Bad Subjective
- Something that happened to you personally
- Something you can back up with a reference
Under the SE premise of expert guidance from experts, you may only answer a game rec question if:
- You are familiar with the game you are recommending.
- You have actually done it or seen it done, or
- If you have a detailed reference from someone who has actually done
it (with details like how and results).
Example of an unacceptable answer:
FATE would be great for your ultra gritty combat system needs. I've
never done that or seen anyone that has, but it is SUCH A GREAT SYSTEM
that I'm sure it will do it.
Answers of this sort can and should be vigorously downvoted, and even deleted.
If you have never even read the game, don’t answer.
Anyone can Google "Wild West RPG" and offer something they've vaguely heard of but never done. That isn't expert advice from experts.
This is not an appropriate answer.
I know someone put out a Western supplement for game X
This the best kind of answer.
We played a Wild West game, used system X, and here's how that turned out"
Stay on topic.
It doesn’t matter if you don't like a particular kind of gaming. If someone asks for gritty combat and you want to reply with "people don't like gritty combat" - move along.
The querent is looking for a particular style and needs a game to do it. If you don’t have experience and sound recommendations for how they can do it, and with what game, then you aren’t the one who can help them.
You can make a parenthetical warning about pitfalls as part of an
otherwise legitimate answer if you want to, but first craft the
acceptable answer, then add warnings and caveats.
Your answer will be down-voted and / or deleted if you do not follow these
Voting on Game Rec Answers
Answers should be voted up based on the specific expertise they demonstrate.
- Someone who played that kind of game for a while should be heavily
- Someone who says that they have a game like that and has read it
somewhat should be downvoted
- Someone whose answer shows that they just know about the existence
of a game should be downvoted.
- Someone recommending their pet system with no supporting points
relating to the requirements in the question should be nuked.
"But what if I just want anything I could maybe hack to my requirements?"
Questions that try to be "flexible" (e.g. "anything I can conceivably adapt to my goals") are too broad.
When asking your question focus it down on the exact thing you want to accomplish - don't worry, people will suggest things that don't hit your criteria 100% as it is.
To prevent a game-rec questions from becoming a litany of "everyone's favorite game," you, the person asking the question, need to narrow down your needs - think about it a while, you probably are assuming some requirements you're not conveying.
But what if I just lie (or pull out of my backside) about having experience with their requirements?"
Review Good Subjective, Bad Subjective requirements.
An answer cannot just recommend a game for the poster's desired use; it must also explain how using that game for that purpose worked out.
- Just saying "and I did it myself" isn't sufficient to help the
poster. We at RPG.SE require more explanation than that,
- We assume good faith here on RPG.SE. If you think lying about a
game, or lying about your own experiences, will help someone else you
How close does my experience need to be to their target requirements?"
If the request is well formed, then you don't have to have used a game in the exact specific way they intend to use it, but you should have hit the major points and need to address in detail your deviations from any of their requested attributes, requirements or criteria.
Someone wants a "Wild West game with mechanics that help reinforce the genre, medium crunchy, with Indian magic and stuff, undead, and grey-type aliens,"
It would be fair to say
"I've played a lot of Deadlands and it addresses most of your points
(include detail); they don't include grey aliens out of the box but
did have an adventure with mi-go, you could easily re-skin them as
The key virtue of this answer is experience.
This is not OK:
"I have played GURPS and know they sell a Wild West supplement and
supplements for Undead and aliens both too, so I bet you could use it
to do that"
This lacks relevancy of experience.
Your need to be hitting near the bullseye, not just getting somewhere on the target. If you're not addressing at least 2/3 of their requirements or criteria, you shouldn't be posting an answer.