When I run into a computer based "why doesn't this game run properly" question, I immediately check the users reported system requirements against the minimum system requirements reported by the manufacturer. From time to time, I will also compare the users graphic card with the minimum suggested card, if the problem is graphics related.

In almost all of these situations, the user was in fact reporting that they were attempting to play the game on a computer that did not meet the bare system requirements for the game.

My action in the past was to vote to close the question, with explicit information on why their computer does not meet the system requirements. Whenever I look back on one of these questions, in the past, they have been closed under my reason of 'asking why a game doesn't work when the system does not meet minimum system requirements'.

Today I noticed that one of these questions, My screen goes partially black after closing a menu in Team Fortress 2, was not actually closed. One of our new mods, Robotnik, suggested I simply use my close reason as the answer. I assumed, initially, that this question was left open due to the greater broadness of the system requirements. As Team Fortress 2 does not have as severe graphic requirements, the only requirement is a card compliant with the version of DirectX being used. However, the user was using a basic integrated card, which still would not meet the basic requirements.

However I have since noticed another question, Why is my Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 not loading, is currently in the process of being reopened. The initial closure was due to the question being unclear, but as addressed in the comments, it is an obvious case of trying to run a game where the system simply does not support it; User is again using an integrated card, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 requires a dedicated graphic card.

While it can be assumed that users are simply looking at the original close reason, and agreeing that the question is infact very clear, I am also under the impression that we do not reopen questions to re-close them under a more accurate close reason. So I thought I would ask, here, and get the opinions of the other users.

Should we accept questions asking "why won't this run" when the users computer is quite clearly below the minimum requirements?

In further discussion, should we deliberately address the problem? For example, should we be taking a differant stance if the users graphic card is specifically the 'below par' part, but the problem is not graphics-related?

up vote 18 down vote accepted

How should we handle “why doesn't this game run” questions, when the askers posted specifications do not meet the minimum system requirements?

tl;dr Answer them (and potentially downvote for lack of research).


Wait what, you say?

This is a case of needing to know the answer to the question in order to vote to close, which is never a good starting point. You took the time to read the question, request clarification of the user's PC specifications, compare them to the game's minimum required specifications, come to the conclusion that their PC is woefully underpowered for the task at hand and your response is... to close as off-topic/duplicate? There's rep that you're missing out on here man!

Regarding the duplicate that Dragonrage/Trent Hawkins are discussing: I have to disagree that marking "Why wont <game> run" questions as a duplicate of How can I check if my computer's powerful enough to run a certain game? is a viable solution. "Why wont <game> run" is not the same as the too-localised "Can my PC run it?" type question, because the answer to a 'Why won't my game run" can be different from "your PC isn't up to the task". Answers to these questions can be useful to more than one person:

  • What if the game isn't running for a reason other than the system specifications?
  • What if there's a way around said system specifications?

In your own answer from the TF2 one, you make mention of a mod that drastically reduced the required specs by cutting down on a lot of the graphics. Future question OPs would miss out on this sort of useful information if we just blithely closed as duplicate. Just because the answer might be similar does not mean the questions are duplicates.

This situation is akin to the whole 'Teach a man to fish' adage. A user has come to us, with no knowledge of these 'pee cee spek' things, just a game that wont run (or runs poorly) and wants to know why. Closing these questions because 'your PC can't run the game' is akin to beating someone over the head for not knowing how to fish. So why not answer the question and help someone out? Something like this:

Your PC specifications as listed do not meet <game's> minimum required specifications. At a minimum, you need:

<game's minimum requirements>

In future, if you need to check if your PC is powerful enough to run a game, you can use the 'Can You Run It? tool.

would work well. Not only are we giving the user a fish (the first sentence), we're teaching them how to find out for themselves (last sentence). This also allows you to add additional information (like the aforementioned TF2 mod) that will help both the OP and future viewers work around the issue. This is what differentiates it from the too localised 'Can I run it?" question, which is only relevant to the OP and anyone with exactly the same specs.

So in conclusion: we can (and should) answer these questions. Nothing special needs to be done here.

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    +1 Agreed. If there's nothing more to the question than that the user didn't check the specs before asking the question then that would be "lack of research", which is reason for downvoting a question, but not closing it. – Wipqozn Jun 25 '16 at 14:37
  • I agree with you on the basis of the team fortress answer. that said, I do not feel my mod answer was adequate, I just wanted to ppint out "this exists if anyone else can give a better answer". Coming from a programming background, I see a lot of potentially differant questions that could be grouped under the same banner, in regards to the close as dupe. Might I recommend we expressely mention the "how do I check system requirements" question in these answers? I think its it's fairly obvious the askers are not considering checking system requirements – user106385 Jun 25 '16 at 15:17
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    Furthermore, in regards ro graphic card comparison, I am often still "educating" the user. It appears common assumption that graphic cards are easily comparable through dedicated memory, where there are actually many many many areas of comparison. I often have to explain "it has more ram, but it uses far less for [this feature], which is what your experiencing" – user106385 Jun 25 '16 at 15:19
  • I wholeheartedly and completely disagree with this answer. Tech support is freaking hard enough when they do meet the system requirements. We will, absolutely guaranteed, get people wondering why game X can't run, but Y does, even though they don't meet the minimum system requirements for both. There's no point in allowing them. Who cares if they didn't know the answer? They don't meet the system requirements. Close and done. – Frank Jun 25 '16 at 16:44
  • @Timelord64 - Might I recommend we expressly mention the "how do I check system requirements" question in these answers? We can recommend it to answerers and of course add it in our own answers but it's the sort of thing that's hard to enforce. At the very least you can make it a comment on another person's answer or, of course, add your own answer if you feel the current ones lack important info. – Robotnik Jun 26 '16 at 0:43
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    @Frank - "I wholeheartedly and completely disagree with this answer." I'd be worried if you didn't :-) "Tech support is hard enough when they do meet the sysreqs." Yes, but we're actually pretty darn good at checking sysreqs, it's tech support that 99.9% of the time we're sure of the answer and can vote accordingly. "We will get people wondering why game X can't run, but Y does..." Leave a comment to the effect of "Well, congrats, you've managed to outplay those sneaky developers who set their sysreqs higher than the actual minimum, that doesn't change the fact that [game 1] won't run" – Robotnik Jun 26 '16 at 0:51
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    @Frank "Who cares if they didn't know the answer?" I think you're 'fundementally and completely' missing the point of a Q&A site here. We're here to teach, we're the experts. There's no point "building a library of useful Q&A" if we're not teaching anyone anything in the process of it. We optimise for answers, not for closures. – Robotnik Jun 26 '16 at 0:52
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    @Robotnik I think you're the one who's missing the point. We're hear to build a repository, yes. But teaching is completely a side effect. It's about building the knowledge, not teaching. Not ever. If teaching was what we were here to do, there would be a much greater focus on helping users. We gamify providing answers, not helping users. – Frank Jun 26 '16 at 3:21
  • Allowing these questions means we just get a torrent of, "Why does my game not run on this system?" Of which, every single system is different. They're the epitome of too localized. Questions are supposed to help the internet at large, and these are literally the opposite of that. – Frank Jun 26 '16 at 3:22
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    @Frank If we were going to get a torrent of these questions it would have happened already, but it hasn't. Besides, that's not relevant even if it was. Question volume isn't within itself a problem, and people need to stop claiming it is. Furthermore, these questions are just technical support where the OP has provided their system specs as additional information and the answer is "Get a better PC". Technical support is on-topic on the site, and we don't start closing questions based on what the answer is. – Wipqozn Jun 26 '16 at 12:23
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    @Frank I don't see why we can't close multiple questions like these as duplicate of each other. If the problems different users are facing are similar, and the solutions also are, then what's the harm? – badp Jun 26 '16 at 13:37
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    @Frank: Question has to be asking the exact same thing? I've seen valid questions closed as dup where I'd disagree they were even very similar, but somehow 5 people came to that conclusion! If anything, I'd say there is a bias to closing not-similar Qs as dup, not leaving open ones that should be closed as such. – Alok Jun 28 '16 at 20:13
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    Meh, I would just downvote them and move on... people should at very least read the requirements of the thing they are using, and that's something that can only be taught the hard way... – Braiam Jun 29 '16 at 1:01
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    @Braiam - They absolutely should, but that doesn't change the fact that they didn't know they had to. Which brings us back to the 'teach them to fish' point. How would only leaving a downvote 'teach them' anything, hard way or otherwise? – Robotnik Jun 29 '16 at 1:16
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    @Braiam - Yup, and how many new users are going to know to read an obscure tooltip by hovering over the downvote button? My point is: downvote all you want, but if you're not going to answer, at least leave a comment telling them to check their system specifications. Your point was downvote to "teach them the hard way", but in terms of "teaching the user", A downvote by itself is meaningless – Robotnik Jun 29 '16 at 2:18

In the past (way before I registered here), these questions seemed to have been closed as too localized. Now, obviously we don't have that close reason anymore, but I have seen a number of questions, since I have joined, that say game X doesn't work for me, here are my specs closed as a duplicate to this question (I am 90% sure it is this question, but hard to confirm on a mobile). To me that makes sense, as they are effectively asking how can I tell if my computer meets the minimum requirements to play this game, they just want us to check the specs and tell them instead of looking them up.

TL:DR vtc as dup of the can I tell if my computer meets the minimum requirements to play this game.

  • Related meta: Can I ask if a specific game will run on a specific computer system? I could have sworn we already had a meta specifically regarding tech support when the user does not meet the minimum requirements, but I can only find the discussion that suggests we close "can I run it?" questions as a dupe. – Trent Hawkins Jun 25 '16 at 8:23
  • @Trent Hawkins, I had thought the same thing tbh – user106385 Jun 25 '16 at 12:34
  • I believe they are not asking "does this meet minimum", but rather are just including requirements incase. In some, the asker is asked to post the specs in comments. I back VTC as dupe 100%, though. – user106385 Jun 25 '16 at 12:36

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