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A question was posted today, asking for us to define a group of terms in Overwatch.

The terms are as follows:

  • Health
  • Life
  • Armour
  • Shield

Anyone that has experience with games can tell you that all four of these terms are incredibly common, in video games. It is fair to assume that a person who plays video games would understand the analogy, as the concept is as common as "press START", "Game Over" or terms such as "multiplayer" and "1UP".

Further to the point, we generally close questions regarding terminology across multiple games, and tend to favour questions specific to the game the asker is specifically asking about.


So what do we do when we take a question concerning terminology that is so basic, that it comes up in thousands of games, with the exact same meaning?

Should we allow questions such as "What does health mean", and any thus spawned duplicates that relate to alternate games providing the same mechanic?

This also bleeds over to other terms.. should we post questions asking "What does NPC mean?", "What does multiplayer mean?" or "What does 1UP mean?", for the various individual games that they come up in?

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    I glanced at the post earlier and it seemed mainly concerned with what the different stats mean/do in Overwatch, how they are affected by damage etc, and less so about the general terminology of "Health", "Armour" and so on – Robotnik May 26 '16 at 5:05
  • @Robotnik, it appears the user has posted a "guide answer". The body of the question is iterally "Overwatch has many sources of health. What do all these terms mean?" – user106385 May 26 '16 at 5:07
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    Asking and answering your own questions is not only allowed, but encouraged, especially so if you're sharing expertise or collating disparate data from all over into useful information that fits our format. Hell, I've done this plenty of times to overwhelmingly positive effect, half my Pokemon XY and ORAS scores can attest to that. The whole 'guide' thing is also not a point you bring up in the meta, which seems mainly concerned with the idea that this question is asking about the terms in general (which, again, it's not, it's asking specifically about Overwatch) – Robotnik May 26 '16 at 5:30
  • @Robotnik, I would ask you to read my question in its entirity, as your only bringing up parts that are not in my question, and arent because they are not related to my question. I am not asking if we should self answer, I am not asking about guide answers. I am not concerned with the answer at all, and we do not look at the answer when considering if a question should be closed. I am asking if we should accept questions such as "What does health mean?". – user106385 May 26 '16 at 5:37
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    You seem to be worried about the topic of the question being "self evident". But as far as I can see, only the "life" part ended up being so. Armor and shield are not universal concepts, not in the level of details of implementation at least. (Which is how the answer manages to spend bulk of its length on them.) I was also surprised by the not-so-self-evident defenition of "health" given by the answer. – DJ Pirtu May 26 '16 at 5:51
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    @Timelord64 "What does health mean in gaming in general?". No, we shouldn't allow that, and I agree with you on that point. But that's not what the OP of today's example question is asking, which amounts to: "What does health and these related stats do in Overwatch?". The fact is that asking for a specific meaning from a specific game is fine. It honestly sounds like you're trying to take this question, broaden it to apply to multiple games, and then close it for being too broad? – Robotnik May 26 '16 at 5:58
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    To be fair, some of those easy questions probably have some use. I wouldn't say everyone automatically knows the origins of 1UP or Game Over. I'd say they would likely be heavily downvoted questions, but I can't see how they would be off-topic under the terminology tag. – user101016 May 26 '16 at 11:17
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    I have about 50 hours in Overwatch, and I didn't know that's how armor works, or that the game (community?) distinguishes "HP" from "Life." So the answer is not self-evident at all. Did you actually read the answer @Timelord64? – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft May 26 '16 at 15:52
  • @BlueRaja, you did not know that health is your hitpoints, and that shield and armor provide some sort of damage absorption? The question asks for the definitions of the terms, the answer just adds a bunch of additional information, and it is a good answer but it is the question I have a problem with. – user106385 May 27 '16 at 4:00
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    @Timelord64 - I just read the question, and it doesn't ask for definitions. It asks what is the difference between 4 elements of the health system. Essentially, the OP is asking how the health system works. Its a question of mechanics and not terminology. – user101016 May 27 '16 at 9:33
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The question is very clearly bounded. It wants to know about specific attributes of a specific game. And the well written, extensive answer makes it clear that there is a lot more to it than just "health is how much life you have and when it runs out you die".

I really don't see a problem with this question, nor do I think it is any sort of slippery slope precedent. It's clear that the author felt like they had some information to share, and it was well written and very clearly explained. Stuff like this question and it's self answer are pretty much why the self answer feature exists and is a very good thing.

I don't think we need to punish this person for trying to make the game easier to understand. There is not any attempt to do anything here but share some well thought out details of the game that might be confusing for newcomers.

  • Alot of people are focusing on the answer, but the problem is the question. I have always been told we do not even consider the answer when looking at a questions viability. In this case, health is actually quite literally 'how many points you have, and when you run out, you die'. It is the addition of the other two functions (which only differ when you go into actually explaining the mechanic) that makes the mechanic (not the definition) differant. – user106385 May 27 '16 at 4:08
  • Im also confused in how a question reading "what does these terms mean.." does not warrant a terminology tag.. – user106385 May 27 '16 at 4:11
  • The reason people are focusing on the answer is because this is a self answered post. So they were posted, basically, together as one unit. – Ash May 27 '16 at 4:14
  • It is pretty obvious it was a self answer, why do self answers absolve the usual rule for not looking at the resulting answer when judging a question as being ontopic or not? – user106385 May 27 '16 at 4:19
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    @Timelord64 "which only differ when you go into actually explaining the mechanic" You seem to gloss over this as tough it's an insignificant point, while it's actually the whole reason why question such as these should be allowed. You, quite Frankly, seem to be so narrowly forcused on a techicality that you are ignoring everything else, inclusing (rather clear) asker's intent. – DJ Pirtu May 27 '16 at 6:15
  • @Timelord64 - what do these terms mean is an element of the question . The title itself asks for the differences between each element of the health mechanic. This is a question to do with explaining the mechanics as opposed asking for a dictionary definition. – user101016 May 27 '16 at 11:22
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I've broken this answer down into 2 parts. One that specifically addresses the question you are referring, and one that attempts to address points that can be applicable to any question.


Specifically Concerning the Original Question

Firstly, I could not find the original question in your meta. I believe you are referring to this question:

What's the difference between life, health, armour and shield?

I don't think this question is off-topic. The title is as follows:

What's the difference between life, health, armour and shield?

The question has been tagged with . Therefore, the OP is asking for the differences between these 4 terms in the game specified. As it stands, the question may be weak if you assume that these 4 terms are the same as most other games. However, I see "life" and "health", so straight away I am thinking "What is the difference between life and health?". Regardless of whether the question is weak or easy, it is still on-topic.

On to the body of the question:

Overwatch has many sources of health. What do all these terms mean?

  • Health
  • Life
  • Armour
  • Shield

The OP has identified that there are 4 different sources of health, and wants to know what each source means. This isn't really a terminology question. The answer would need to explain the mechanics specific to the game.

For a terminology question you would find the asker giving an example of where they heard the term, and then asking what it means (or where it came from).

In summary, the question is asking how the health system works in Overwatch.

I think you are being harsh on a new game that is asking how a fundamental mechanic (health system) works. The whole point of this site is for questions like this. A new game is released then this site gets flooded with "how does this work?" type questions. We get quality answers (like this example shows), we take the information in and then move on with the game.

Are you saying we can't ask how fundamental mechanics work in a game?


General Points Regarding Any Question

Should we allow questions such as "What does health mean", and any thus spawned duplicates that relate to alternate games providing the same mechanic?

Yes. If I want to know how the health mechanics work in a game I should be able to ask on this site. Good questions get voted up, bad questions voted down. If the answer is obvious then it will most likely get downvoted. A downvote isn't a close vote, nor a reason for being off-topic.

This also bleeds over to other terms.. should we post questions asking "What does NPC mean?", "What does multiplayer mean?" or "What does 1UP mean?", for the various individual games that they come up in?

The same as above... if they are different for a specific game, then this term/mechanic may warrant such a question. In regards to any easy question, I would say that we already have a policy to answer such questions (no matter how easy).

Further to the point, we generally close questions regarding terminology across multiple games, and tend to favour questions specific to the game the asker is specifically asking about.

Well, that isn't exactly true. The meta you refer to doesn't appear to actually specifically concern asking for a change on policy for questions that span multiple game. The meta is asking if we should allow for questions that are in the form "Is there a term for x?".

One further note, I wouldn't say everyone automatically knows the origins of 1UP or Game Over. I'd say they would likely be heavily downvoted questions, but I can't see how they would be off-topic under the terminology tag.

  • the The meta specifically says "if the question is about one term in one game than it should be allowed". There is also several references to examples that span multiple games, and reasons on why these are bad questions. – user106385 May 27 '16 at 3:50
  • also, the meta you link ends with 'these are valid questions if the user is actually curious. If they are posted for the point if asding content, that is bad'. I do not think that applies to this question, as the asker is asking about a single mechanic in a poor way. – user106385 May 27 '16 at 3:53
  • @Timelord64 - I tried to find that quote but it doesn't appear in the meta. The meta is regarding the style of question, and problems it introduces (e.g. people coining new terms to fit the question). There is 1 answer that says we should limit terminology questions to a game, but that isn't what the meta is actually about. – user101016 May 27 '16 at 8:45

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