This question came up recently and it's primary focus is to provide market research information to the querent.

I'm unclear if this is similar to problem player/interpersonal crossover, but some of this question seems very much out of our scope.

At a high level, I think the question is currently too broad. The three questions listed are different enough that each should have it's own. But looking at them more carefully, the first one seems outside of our scope as it entirely lives within the world of market data. The only interaction it has with RPGs is the overall topic.

The 2nd and 3rd questions are more on topic, but it's unclear how it can be answered meaningfully to be useful data for the querent(or others finding the question.)

I'm not entirely sure all of the contents of that question are within our domain here.

The first question:

In which countries is it more usual and how common is it in those countries?

This one seems very broad and opinion-based. How are 'usual' and 'common' defined? How does one answer this with objective data that would be useful? This seems more like a general market research business inquiry then something we can, should, can answer well here (unless we have more definitions to narrow the scope of an answer.)

2nd question:

What is the usual length of a gaming session with a hired GM?

This is answerable, but I'm also not sure about how useful it is. Depending on the potential data set, having a few respondents isn't a good indicator for an overall average time spent to determine business viability.

3rd question:

What is the average cost for this type of service?

This can also be answered by users here who have utilized these services. But again, it's a limited dataset that may be not all that useful in business planning purposes.

Or are none of the above the question and OP is just asking where to find this data?

In which case, this is a question about how to do market research. Folks may be able to answer more specifically here given the association with the end-user for this type of service.

Are questions about general market research on topic?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You ask if this question is on topic, but then you never say why you might think it might be off-topic. Can you add that information in so as to better address your concern or maybe make it more prominent? A lot of the concerns you bring up seem to be able to be solved simply by asking OP to clarify. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mod Jul 1 '19 at 15:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I added more detail on my concerns around topicality and usefulness. But I'm not trying to push for one way or the other, that's why i asked "is it on-topic" not "WHy isn't this off topic?" \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 1 '19 at 15:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch This question isn't about "how" to find the data. It is more on the line of "does anyone have this dataset laying around which I could use?". I don't want an explanation about the method I should use to do market research. If the dataset doesn't exist and the answer goes on unanswered, that's fine. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 1 '19 at 16:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ In other words - asking if there is a study about gravity that tackles quantum-mechanics isn't the same as asking about "how to do physics research". The two are very different things. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 1 '19 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ More so, the goal of my question is "finding the data", not helping me decide if a business is viable or not. What I'm going to do with isn't really relevant to the question, so please don't push the idea that the goal is to create an RPG-related business. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 1 '19 at 16:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar Fair enough - I've removed the points on being useful for creating a business. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 1 '19 at 16:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, it was uncomfortable to see this question pop up while I was discussing this on the chat with you, even more so after I said I was going to give some thought to your words. You could have at least invited me to discuss this on Meta. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 1 '19 at 16:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar My apologies, but the main chat discussion was getting too deep into it and it was recommended it be moved to meta. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 1 '19 at 16:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I'm a bit frustrated right now and I don't want to engage with the site for a bit. I may come back to take a look at this later tonight. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 1 '19 at 16:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I've removed the question. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 2 '19 at 11:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar Completely your call, but as you can see from the answers there's definitely some, if not all, of the question content that can fit here. It's not that we're trying to not help, but that we want to make sure the question is most applicable and the answers you get are useful. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jul 2 '19 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I'll change my question a bit to make it more on-point and undelete it to see if fares any better. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 3 '19 at 14:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Relevant question: rpg.stackexchange.com/q/59827 \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Jul 3 '19 at 23:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl Well, it was put on hold again, even after I narrowed it down to a single system on a single country. I'm deleting it for good, now. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 4 '19 at 17:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar It’s probably premature to delete it. It was already starting to gather reopen votes. It’s usually best to give the open-close voting cycles plenty of time to settle instead. Deleting it whenever it gets closed just prevents reopening. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 4 '19 at 19:36

Yes, questions about RPGs and the RPG industry are on-topic here

Even though the vast majority of our questions deal with issues that can be answered by GMs and players, our site serves the entire RPG industry which includes more roles than just "GM" and "player" (eg publisher, writer, etc.) and we have historically considered such questions on-topic here. You can see that in tags like and . We don't get many questions about them, but we do accept them when properly scoped to RPGs.

"Market research inquiry" isn't really a topic, it's an end goal and that doesn't really matter if the actual content being asked about is about RPGs and meets our other conditions for being on topic.

Yes, this specific question is also on topic (though could be improved and is probably currently impossible to answer)

Right off the bat, I think OP might be better served to split off the second two questions into a separate post because I suspect that they will be easier to answer than the first.

In which countries [is GM-for hire] more usual and how common is it in those countries?

Is clearly asking about an RPG topic exclusively about the RPG industry. Being able to find, parse, and contextualise this data will take understanding of the RPG industry which means it benefits greatly from expertise that the RPG community has.

It is likely that this data will be hard to come by in the amounts and specificity that is being requested, but the availability and ease (or lack thereof) of answering does not affect how on-topic something is. Just because the data doesn't exist doesn't mean someone can't ask about it.

Your concerns about how "usual" and "common" should be defined and measured are something that should be worked out with OP and might make the question inclear, but not off-topic. As for broadness, it does seem to ask for a lot of data. Perhaps limiting it geographically could help get answers more easily, but even data from every RPG-selling country could be formatted to fit within the confines of our answer field and thus it doesn't seem Broad enough to me to warrant closure.

What is the usual length of a gaming session with a hired GM?


What is the average cost for this type of service?

Seem like on-topic questions for the same reasons as above. Probably a bit more answerable because the pool of people with access to a portion of this kind of data is larger. On the other hand, it still will be incredibly hard to find comprehensive data internationally for this.

How useful the answer is to OP is really up to OP. If a (potential) answerer thinks that it is useless to OP they can always simply not answer. Or, they can provide the information and then contextualise why they think it won't help OP. Or, even better, you can try to work with OP to fine-tune the scope of the question such that they do get useful answers. Either way, whether or not the end data will be useful to OP isn't really a core concern for determining if the topic itself is on-topic.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I changed my question to focus on the later two questions for now. What do you think? \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 3 '19 at 14:26

I think market research is on topic (with some qualifiers I’ll touch on below), but I don’t think this question is market research and I don’t think it’s on topic.

I think we should look at two tests for whether this is on topic, and I think both need to be met for a question to pass.

  1. The question has to be about something within our topic.

  2. The question has to be reasonably expected to have relevant experts/experience within our theoretical membership.

This seems like a market research question, but I don’t think it is. When we think of “market research” in the industry, none of the normal kinds exist: large population surveys, focus testing, and that kind of thing doesn’t exist. “Market research” in the RPG industry is things like “I’m an independent game designer; how do I learn about design trends / how do I decide who my audience is / is Kickstarter a good idea”.

Basically, nobody with industry has the access or money for access to large datasets, and nobody within industry is compiling them. It’s not part of the RPG industry’s activities, so doesn’t fall under our inclusion of the RPG publishing in our topic.

When businesses don’t do these large kinds of surveys, we don’t call it “market research”, it’s just plain research. Science.

We’re not scientists. Nobody within our topic area engages in this kind of large-scale data collection, analysis, and distillation. Nobody within our topic scope sciences the RPG population.

Basic research science is outside our topic. People doing this kind of research work are scientists, who are not in our scope.

The industry, and the activities of designing and publishing games, are both on topic. Actual market research questions that real game designers have experience with are on topic.

Since this is both outside what people do in the RPG industry (test 1), and because those who do do the sorts of market research specific to RPGs don’t do the kind of research the question is about, our theoretical membership can’t be expected to have relevant experience (test 2).

(And although GMs for hire are obviously theoretical members doing something within the topic of RPGs, individual GMs for hire existing doesn’t mean they are doing large-scale, full time science research about themselves.)

So I think market research is on topic — as market research is actually done in our industry. I don’t think this question is market research, isn’t on a topic we can have experience in, and isn’t part of our industry.

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    \$\begingroup\$ rpgstudies.net \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 1 '19 at 17:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ books.google.com.br/books?isbn=1317607023 \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 1 '19 at 18:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ researchgate.net/publication/… \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 1 '19 at 18:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar Cool, social scientists are starting to study RPG players! The point remains that social science is not our topic, and our membership isn’t expert in doing or locating social science even if we are its target. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 2 '19 at 2:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ This list is by no means extensive and the articles go back to 1985. They aren't starting just now. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 2 '19 at 11:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @T.Sar Then set aside my misplaced enthusiasm, which I’ve removed any mention of from the answer. It remains that social science of any kind is not our expertise, and is not being done within our topic scope of [playing RPGs] + [activities of RPG publishers]. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 2 '19 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ We aren't experts in statistics, cartography, psychology, interpersonal relationships or writing either, and we still tackle all of those questions with absolute glee if they even remotely relate to RPGs. I understand your argument, but I do not agree with it. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 2 '19 at 20:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Still, I already removed the question, and I do not intend to pursue it any further. I won't pester you anymore with stuff related to it. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 2 '19 at 20:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ To the contrary, those are central to the RPG hobby. That’s why they’ll never be declared off topic. I understand it’s frustrating, but I do think the same principles that makes those on topic makes this off topic. It’s not personal, it’s trying to be truest to the site’s purpose. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 3 '19 at 1:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ So you think getting statistics on game mastering for hire is off-topic, while an advanced method of getting complex number distribution on exotic dice combinations is on-topic? The latter is only on-topic here because we can "use" those distributions on your tables. I fail to see how understanding how some people are offering services on the hobby is off topic for a site about the hobby. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 3 '19 at 2:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ My objection to your point is that it is arbitrary. You're cherry-picking what things are "related enough" to the hobby and saying which ones are on-topic and which ones aren't without any quantifiable criteria. If my last example is on-topic, why my question isn't? My question is a subset of that one. More so, that last example disproves your point of "nobody is doing research" - Wizards obviously did, and so did many others. \$\endgroup\$ – T. Sar Jul 3 '19 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Incorrect. That’s not why campaign research is off topic. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 3 '19 at 13:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Still not right. Right now you’re angry and just yelling the same things over and over again at me. Come back when you’ve spent some time reading the existing writing about campaign research — when you’re actually thinking about categories instead of just what you want to hear. Trust me, the campaign research issue is very similar to this one, and studying it will give you real ammunition that might change my mind. Yelling at me with knee-jerk replies isn’t going to get anywhere. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 3 '19 at 13:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Now you’re starting to engage with the domain this answer lives in. Okay. So I don’t think the RPG-centric test applies to help us decide this kind of question’s topicality: the two problems I outline above aren’t fixed by something being RPG-centric. For example, a question about the casting process behind the old D&D cartoon wouldn’t be on-topic: though it passes the RPG-centric test, it fails the experts test and the inside-industry test I outline above. That’s properly a topic for TV experts, not us. I think this is similar: RPG-centric, but not in our expertise, nor in the RPG industry. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 3 '19 at 14:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 3 '19 at 14:37

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