I feel like the question https://rpg.stackexchange.com/q/94713/8610 has an answer, but even considering the question—and bracing for an onslaught of similar questions like How did Gygax's narcissism influence AD&D? or whatever—makes me uncomfortable.

Are questions that ask users to connect the dots between a designer's personal life and his game on topic?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for asking this question. I think it's an important one, and could easily be overlooked in the face of the other issues that question raises. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 4:27

2 Answers 2


Game design influences are on topic, but personal ones most often hard/impossible to answer

I don't think it's necessarily off topic, just usually a poor question. That sort of thing is often going to be difficult to impossible to answer, and could be asked just as productively without so narrowly focusing on that one specific source of a game's influence.

I think it's still technically on topic because the history and nature of the development of an RPG is on topic, and the influences of a game's design is on topic. It's just that the personal qualities of a designer that are among those influences is going to be a really hard question to answer. And it's probably an unnecessary question to ask (unless you have unusual motives, like our example question does).

So maybe there are interviews that cover a designer's personal life influences on their games, or maybe there aren't. A more productive question would be to simply ask what a game's influences are — in general — since a complete answer to that will cover any personal influences, if any.

Despite topicality, attracting speculation would still merit closing

Regardless of topicality though, It's also a likely bad question in many cases simply because most such questions would be phrased in a way that they would attract many answers that speculate about any possible connections.

And that's a reason for closing, since despite even good intentions in a question, Primarily Opinion-Based is a valid close reason even when it could be objectively answered, but will mostly tend to not be:

answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

A note on “probing”

It almost goes without saying that only publicly available information is relevant in this context. Digging into a designer's personal life more aggressively than that in order to merely answer an RPG.se question is the sort of thing we aren't OK with.

But this particular question is unsalvageable for other reasons

The trouble with that question goes deeper than merely being self-hobblingly narrow though, as the up-front reason to even want to focus so narrowly on one source of influences is being openly repulsed by the designer. That kind of thing may be the reason for wanting to focus on one kind of influence, but the stated reason itself is unacceptable to even express here per our code of conduct.

If they'd been clever, researched the site they were posting on, and thought about it, they might have been able to write the broader question and got answers that would have allowed them to privately make the determination they had in mind. They weren't that clever though, and just tracked mud all over our carpets while barging in blindly, so we're not going to un-see the violation of acceptable behaviour and try to rehabilitate the question.

Though we could polish this turd, we shouldn't.

All people are welcome, but to ensure that is true, not all ideas are welcome. In particular, ideas that some people shouldn't be welcome because of who they are, are especially unwelcome ideas here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think question is salvageable. OP could ask about games exposure to the specific views regarding sexuality with examples which they expect to see in heavy influenced case. But I still agree with you that polishing this turd is not rewarding or beneficial in any way. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 4:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RollingFeles To be clear, I think it is technically salvageable, as I described in the post. But it's not salvageable for other reasons, most particularly that we should not be welcoming to questions that need to be whitewashed in order to fit our acceptable behaviour policy, especially when the whitewashed version would still enable and help that behaviour. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 4:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 don't work to salvage something per se bad. Work to salvage honestly slightly askew questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 5:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 I found this question a strike on both counts. It's hate speech against queer individuals, and "SJW" tends to be a term used to dismiss & belittle people interested in any arbitrary sociopolitical cause or form of activism -- they would've done better and made it answerable if they'd actually described the sociopolitical cause they were concerned about in any other terms. (It still probably would've been pretty bad though, I don't like to imagine what they were pinned as a SJW for.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 10:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm... this makes me uncomfortable. I think the querant is evil, and intends to use the answer to do evil and make the world a worse place. However, the question doesn't seem to violate the 'Be Nice' policy. It's not worded angrily or offensively (e.g. it uses the term 'queer' rather than some kind of slur) and while I think the querent is bigoted and the question is entirely founded in their bigotry I definitely don't want to disallow questions like rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/51721/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 22:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ which I'm not sure is any less alienating, though I am sure it's much less bigoted. The site's definition of bigotry refers exclusively to offensive or alienating content and while evil discriminatory jerkass question is evil and discriminatory it doesn't conform to that explicit definition any more than some really, really GOOD questions touching on sensitive issues like gender, religion, class, etc. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 22:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess I'm ok with going 'I know it when I sees it', but I'm only ok with that because I'm a part of the ruling caste here. This answer basically puts us high-rep users in charge of deciding what's morally ok and what's not and if a question is clearly intended to be used for evil we get to shut it down on that ground alone. I'm not against us being the moral police, it just grinds at odds with the larger community. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Yeah, but we're humans and not robots, so we can tell the difference between a respectful question about sensitive topics and a thorough violation of Be Nice's purpose. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 22:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie My point is that this is a respectful question. The only thing disrespectful about it is that the querent lacks respect for people. It's like if I asked "Does Dumas being black make the Three Musketeers less good?" There is nothing disrespectful about the question except that it implies that I fundamentally disrespect black people. In fact, this question is even less disrespectful in that it basically asks "Does Dumas being black make the Three Musketeers more black? Asking cause I hate black people and don't want to read it if it does". \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 23:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Now, I would want to close those as 'evil' as well. But that's because I oppose uncompassionate belief systems and see the destruction of these sort of discriminatory cultures as totally ok. Basically I have no problem forcing my beliefs on people, but I was under the impression that this site doesn't like that so out of respect for the site I'm expressing reservations \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, we have good alternatives, like frame challenges and stuff. This answer in particular I really like how we dealt with. A negative 42 score post really helps make it clear what, exactly, the community thinks of your discriminatory beliefs. Maybe that's something to discuss in another question though \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 23:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Outlawing being disrespectful to people is the soul of Be Nice, so we needn't worry about how to justify closing such questions — they're straightforwardly contrary to acceptable use policy already. All people are welcome here, but while here they must check any ideas they have about being unwelcome to others at the door. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 23:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer As BESW put fairly eloquently in chat: 'Hateful rhetoric doesn't usually jump up and down and scream "I'm hateful!"' One can express enormously hateful language in totally respectful terminology; it's the ideas embedded in the writing that are hateful and worth concerning ourselves over. For an extreme and recent example, a recent advocation of genocide used respectful reasonable language -- the ideas, not the language used, are the problem. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 15:26

I don't think so.

Personal life is personal. And although every creation is affected in one way or another by a persona of it's author it's not constructive to dig into another person's life. Especially, from point of view of personal judgement towards the designer.

Also, there are myriads of things that can affect the game starting from co-authors and editors and going to events and political situation at the moment of the game's birth.

It can be interesting in a historical way. Just like writers lifes are researched in order to understand what influenced their creations at given time. But I'm sure that this kind of things will be off-topic, because it's still a subject for theories and discussions and won't fit well in Q&A format.

Still, questions like this are salvageable.

It's unclear what's OP consider to be a manifestation of designer's views. If the question was like "Does this game have this or that?", "How does it handle that thing?" or in any form that asks about what OP would like to know about product regardless of it's authors, it would be answerable.

And question like this should be more specific. I'm afraid that in most cases questions like "I'm a conservative. Is this game is influenced by liberal political views?", even though disconnected from game designer's persona, will be too-broad and unclear to have high quality answers.


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