Currently the tag exists on three questions:

The last question (the oldest at 5 months old) has the following two comments below it:

What is the new "reality-check" tag you just created for?

A "reality check" is (or at least used to be) one of the core principles of GURPS -- used to check whether a rule or ruling made sense. Perhaps they're irrelevant with the emphasis on "cinematic" play in recent editions, add-ons, and "powered by GURPS" publications. To me, the question appears to be as much about "would this even work" as it is about "how can I model this in-game."

A tag description was made 9 hours ago, and it states:

Questions relating to how closely a given mechanic (or, rarely, some part of lore) approximates the outcomes expected in reality (or of what reality would be with adjustments that are part of the premise), and/or how such approximation be improved, as distinct from concerns of balance and of emulation of genres of fiction.

I'm honestly just unsure what (if anything) should be done about this tag, I haven't seen other similar tags and I'm a bit confused as to where the description came from. I'm unsure whether the tag should stick around or not; though perhaps it's just a lesser-used tag.

I'm especially confused given that the tag exists; its description states:

For questions relating primarily to simulation in RPGs, the aim to approximate situations, creatures, or actions in a realistic-seeming manner, as a primary focus or virtue of an RPG.

Simulation, simulationist, or simulationism refers to games or play styles that focus on rules that produce consequences that approximate observed reality. Rules of the game generally result in events or consequences that could occur in observed reality, or reality given some modification, like magic.

Simulationism is often contrasted with narrativism and gamism. There are three significant RPG theory models that deal with the relationship between and application of these terms: the Threefold Model, GNS Theory, and The Big Model.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm just going to point out the [simulation] tag which is related if not a dupe/synonym \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil I'll edit that in now \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2020 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is a reality-check tag on worldbuilding.SE (here), I would have imagined it to be like it is there. Maybe redirect questions to WB.SE? \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 14:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Szega: Interesting find. I don't think the tag would be feasible here if the intent were for it to serve the same function as on Worldbuilding.SE; questions simply asking "if a given concept is realistic in a given context" would almost certainly be closed as primarily opinion-based here. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 23:42

2 Answers 2


and are actually somewhat different concepts, and the tag description for needs improving.

tends to be interpreted in the context of simulationism/narrativism/gamism. GURPS was not designed or revised within that kind of model, and doesn't fit it very well.

Simulationism is an semi-abstract philosophy about how a game should be run. GURPS' reputation for simulating reality is exaggerated; the numbers have always been assessed with an eye to dramatic tension, rather than simulation (source: Sean Punch, line editor for GURPS for more than two decades). What it strives for is emotional impact via an impression of plausibility.

was coined as a GURPS term-of-art for actually and physically trying some action in the real world to see if it worked. That's one way to make something seem plausible, by showing that it actually works. It has become somewhat more metaphorical, as GURPS has grown to include settings and genres where that's impossible, but it's still about a specific action, rather than a philosophy of how to run a game. Making this tag an alias of would tend to conceal this distinction.

I don't know the conventions for revising tag descriptions that are under discussion, but I'd change it to something like:

Questions relating to how closely a game's rules' modelling of a particular action or activity approximates the outcomes expected in reality, and/or how such approximation be improved, as distinct from concerns of balance and of emulation of genres of fiction. Originates in the early GURPS practice of actually trying things to see how they worked; has become metaphorical for dealing with things that are impossible or impractical in reality.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ While the [simulation] tag was likely conceived with reference to the GNS model, I don't think a game necessarily needs to have been designed with that kind of model in mind in order for the tag to be appropriate on it. Could you expand on that point in your answer to explain how the [simulation] tag itself (not the GNS model) is inappropriate for the concept in question, and more clearly explain how your conception of the [reality-check] tag is distinct from the [simulation] tag? (I'm not saying you're right or wrong, just trying to get a better understanding of your position.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast: How's this? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 23:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a bit clearer, thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 23:40

and are the best kind of distinct: only technically distinct.

Simulation stipulates that it is a game play style (or rather, for questions about such a style) where the desired outcome is the logical outcome given a set of rules (of reality, not of the game), with the real world only being a possible set of rules.

Reality-Check, as defined in the tag wiki, is just simulation with the rules (of reality) set to the real world exclusively.

Given those are the only differences I can see between the two... Burninate reality-check, possibly alias it to simulation.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Just so you're aware, the typical term used on SE for what you're suggesting at the end of your answer is "synonymization". See the [synonymization] tag on meta for examples: rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/synonymization \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Simulationism has two issues: (a) it seems to be a term that is meant to be about genre simulation, while reality checks do not concern themselves with such fictional constructs and (b) simulationism is, as I have recently learned, associated with a 'brain damaged' playstyle, which isn't a nice thing to tag people's questions with. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 22:37
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @vicky_molokh: I'm not an expert on the topic, but I don't think "simulationism is [...] associated with a 'brain damaged' playstyle" is an entirely accurate phrasing. It seems to be specifically how Ron Edwards described games that didn't clearly forward one of the three pillars of GNS. Still certainly Not Nice, but it's not necessarily tied to the concept of simulation as the tag refers to it. Consider that the predecessor Threefold/GDS model also referred to "simulation" as one of its pillars. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 23:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Copying from my comment on the other answer: "While the [simulation] tag was likely conceived with reference to the GNS model, I don't think a game necessarily needs to have been designed with that kind of model in mind in order for the tag to be appropriate on it." (I'm not taking a position one way or another on the two tags, just trying to clear things up.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Burninate is an older term of art in tag discussions here, and on other stacks, and synonymization is only one possible outcome of burninating a tag. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tritium21: I was referring to this: "possibly alias it to simulation." That's the one I said the typical name for was synonymization. I'm aware of what "burninate" means :P \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 19:38

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