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The consensus on Are we including LARPs? seems to be Yes!. Should I update the site help to remove the words "pen and paper"?

If so how should we distinguish between our RPGs and all the other RPGs (computer, MMO, etc) out there?

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I don't think there's a real slipperly slope here. We're not going to be taken over by LARPers, hence there is nothing to slip on if we accept LARP questions. Ditto for questions about indie publishing, Scandinavian home-brew, or any other fringe of the roleplaying community.

CRPGs and MMOs, on the other hand, would crush us. Hence, CRPGs and the like represent a slippery cliff, with sharp rocks and stinging hornets at the bottom. Hornets with lasers strapped to their heads, with sharks strapped to the lasers.

Given that, we should be expansive as possible concerning fringe RPG elements, because there's no risk and all reward as a result. The only things that we should be careful about including in the site scope are things that could potentially take over. If something is firmly in the fringe and has no hope of displacing questions about D&D 4e, then it's not going to be a practical problem, ever.

For those worried about dilution, consider: if something is very fringe, there are only so many people who will ever view, upvote, or answer those questions, let alone ask them in the first place. They're going to be a blip among the scores of questions about RPGs that you're more interested in.

Also, we need more people. Being exclusive and cutting out fringe roleplayers is likely not going to increase our appeal to less fringe roleplayers, but word getting out that we're exclusive and picky about what kind of RPG we think "belongs" is sure to turn people off. And we want the network effect to work for us, not against us. The flipped situation—we welcome a broad range of RPG players—isn't going to drive off the core traditional roleplayers because it simply won't make much of an apparent difference to them compared to the site as it is now, while it would enhance our image as the place to go with any RPG question you have. And we do want that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Very well put sir. Though I don't think broadening scope will solve our traffic problems, your argument about risk/reward is excellent. \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Oct 20 '10 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ My original comment about it being a slippery slope meant that as soon as we start cutting out LARPs, we run the risk of cutting out tabletop RPGs that seem like LARPs. Really, the types of games are pretty similar, especially when you start looking at jeepform or games like Montsegur 1244. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Dray Oct 27 '10 at 15:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Adam Yeah, and I caught that. Here I'm addressing the slippery slope that people seems to be implicitly concerned about, rather than the slippery slope into deletionism that you pointed out. (And I totally agree on that point too.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 28 '10 at 19:13
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Arguments in favor:

  • Some of our most prominent and active community members have identified themselves as LARPers.
  • LARPers opens up a new demographic of potential users, which can increase views per day, which is something we need.
  • LARPing and pen & paper RPGs have in common that they are much more oriented towards creativity, imagination and personal interaction between players; as such - while there is no term to bind them while excluding computer games - they are cohesive.
  • It's a slippery slope. There are games that call themselves RPGs that are very much like LARPs: e.g., Montsegur 1244 and It's Complicated.
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think we should just say that this is the stack exchange for RPGs. Then in what not to ask include computer games since those belong on the gaming stack exchange. \$\endgroup\$ – Eric Weilnau Oct 15 '10 at 16:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Adam Dray - "It's a slippery slope" could just as easily be perceived as argument against, no? \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Oct 18 '10 at 22:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think there's a real slipperly slope. We're not going to be taken over by LARPers, hence there is nothing to slip on if we accept LARP questions. (CRPGs and MMOs, on the other hand, would crush us. Hence, CRPGs are a slippery cliff, with sharp rocks and stinging hornets at the bottom.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 19 '10 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie - I like those points. +1'd \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Oct 19 '10 at 22:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm going to make that a full answer… \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 20 '10 at 16:42
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Having run and played a LARP for over a decade (NERO Pro, NERO ARGO) LARP issues are distinct from tabletop despite their being a roleplaying game.

The reason for this is that Live Action dominates LARP issues. Whether you are a player or running event. It is also much more collaborative especially on event management. The only area of tabletop that comes even close would questions on managing living campaigns. Only because you have to keep track of players and their characters in between sessions and there some overlap in what is considered good scenario design.

To give a specific example is that because it is Live-Action event directors are much more constrained than tabletop referee. You can't shift things around as a tabletop referee. Yet people succeeded in running fun and interesting events despite this.

I am not in favor of expanding this to include LARPs. If there is enough interest it should go through the Area51 process. As it is one of the big three of roleplaying (MMORPG, LARP, tabletop) there a chance it will get through the process if promoted.

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Arguments against:

  • There are less than 5 users who have identified themselves as LARPers on the Are you a LARPer? question... but the community is 700+ users.
  • There are currently (10/2/2010) a total of only 5 questions that turn up in a search for LARP on the parent site, and none of them are specifically about LARP topics. Further, there are no questions that use a LARP tag.
    • This may or may not be due to the current inclusion of the "pen and paper" specification.
  • Rather, the consensus I see on Are we including LARPs? is not so much "yes" as it is "why not?"
  • Including LARPers makes the site less cohesive; there are generally 3 categories of RPGs; pen and paper, live action and computer. Even wikipedia lists those as the 3 categories and "Everything Except Electronic Media Role Playing" makes for a weak site concept.
    • ie the inclusion of LARPers undeniably affects the cohesiveness of the site, but only potentially brings substantial increase in user base.
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    \$\begingroup\$ We are generally advised by the SE movers-and-shakers to not try to scope the site tighter than we have to. More scope is good in the long run and is apparently not a problem in the short run. We should avoid questions that would drift the site into the "wrong kind of site" (like computer games would), but LARP questions wouldn't violate the site's identity. It's not like LARP Qs will suddenly outnumber everything else (again, like CRPG Qs would). \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 15 '10 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie - Feel free to edit my answers and add that as a point for "arguments in favor". \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Oct 15 '10 at 23:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think more than 5 users weigh in on most of the meta site questions. I count 7 users who posted responses or comments on this one (myself included). Meta is almost certainly not as high-traffic as the main site. \$\endgroup\$ – RMorrisey Oct 16 '10 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RMorrisey - Pondering: Is low meta interest reflective of a larger community problem? \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Oct 18 '10 at 22:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LeguRi: We need to increase site traffic, but I doubt meta is a good indicator of site traffic. We should expect the bulk of site traffic to be people interested in the "answering questions" aspect of the site. Meta is primarily for those SE junkies who are into the site's "community" aspect. Compare stackoverflow: hot question: 46k views. meta.stackoverflow: hot question: 11 views. \$\endgroup\$ – RMorrisey Oct 19 '10 at 2:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RMorrisey - You make a god point; meta involvement is not indicative of traffic... but I wonder if it's a good indicator of interest. \$\endgroup\$ – LeguRi Oct 20 '10 at 13:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think what LeguRi is trying to say, is the people that really care about the site, Meta. I agree. \$\endgroup\$ – Iszi Oct 20 '10 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LeguRi - I see your point too \$\endgroup\$ – RMorrisey Oct 21 '10 at 1:48
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We could update it to say something like, "for players and gamemasters of all RPGs, from tabletop to live-action to freeform and all shades between." (And with "no computer RPGs" in the very next section, we don't need to be more restrictive in that sentence.)

The advantage being that an explicit call-out like that is a good start to making gamers at the margins of the hobby feel included and welcomed. Otherwise it would be easy for someone to look at a generic "all roleplaying games" statement and wonder whether we really mean it, or whether we're just ignorant of the variety of RPGs and would have excluded LARPs (or whatever) had we known about them when the FAQ was written.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I like the idea of saying "No computer RPGs". I can't think of a better way to restrict it than that. \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Oct 18 '10 at 21:21
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So IMO the problem with including LARPs is that it's become a pretty large, wide-ranging niche now. If we were just talking about the old school LARPs that are essentially outgrowths of specific tabletop games, like Cthulhu Live or Vampire Stand Around With Arms Crossed Thing (whatever it's called), I'd be OK with it. But what about stuff like Amtgard? Do we want questions on how to best construct your boffer weapons cluttering the site? There's a growing new segment of alternate reality games (ARGs) that are LARPish, but often tied to movie marketing schemes etc... Does content around that really help the vast majority of the site?

I believe content like this will make this site LESS desirable to its core audience, tabletop roleplayers - just like adding shared fiction or computer games would. You go to a site like this to find useful info related to what you do. If it's a fundamentally different hobby, the crossover is harmful. Don't do it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ LARPs are related to normal RPGs, and ARGs might arguably be related to LARPs, but that doesn't make ARGs related to normal RPGs. I don't think such scope-creep is a practical problem we will actually face. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 16 '10 at 23:24
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I am all in favor of LARPers of any kind and genre, as long as we protect ourselves from potential deviation into this or much, much worse, this (although I approve the former for other reasons, but it's beyond the point).

Ok, ok. A drift towards cosplay is very unlikely, but just to be clear that the "game" component is fundamental, otherwise is pure cosplay (regardless of the subject).

... Although according to the definition I gave above, I wouldn't know where to classify this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think we have to worry about the SCA or cosplayers invading RPG.SE. Consider the dynamic we have here: We haven't had a problem with voters being too lax, only too conservative and scaring people off. People will vote to close things that they think is off-topic. The key thing we have to do is to give people guidance on what to not vote to close. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 18 '10 at 22:01

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