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I recently saw that this question about a song that plays on GTA Online was closed as Off-topic, with Wrigglenite saying in the comments:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about Christmas songs, not video games

If you ask me, this question is about video games (in this case Grand Theft Auto Online). The asker posted a YouTube link showing the song in question inside of the Doomsday Facility, showing that is actually present in the game.

I did a quick search and found the following questions:

Is this type of question on topic? I don't see any reason why they would not.

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  • I'm kinda on the fence. On one hand, some of these come from the games themselves, so it falls into our expertise handily. On the other...the vast majority of music doesn't, and we're not a music site. I feel like it sort of matches my feelings on font identification. – Frank Dec 20 '19 at 16:40
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    This is most certainly an edge case. It could be original music commissioned for GTA Online (I haven't watched the video), or it could be a classic that the OP just doesn't recognize. If we take away the Christmas aspect I think most of us would agree that the question is on-topic. – MBraedley Dec 20 '19 at 16:42
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    I voted to have it re-opened. I am for having music identification requests be on topic regardless if it's an OST or not, as long as it's tagged to a specific game or series. Since it is tagged to a game, I think the fact that it's Christmas music shouldn't really have bearing on whether it's on or off topic – Wondercricket Dec 20 '19 at 17:02
  • @MBraedley A question asking to identify a real life song playing in an ingame radio would be off-topic as well. – Wrigglenite Dec 20 '19 at 17:27
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    @Wrigglenite is that the consensus or just your opinion? I don't think we've really discussed this edge case other than for fonts. – MBraedley Dec 20 '19 at 17:39
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    @MBraedley It simply doesn't have anything to do with video games. Just because something appears in a game doesn't mean it's on topic to ask here about. – Wrigglenite Dec 20 '19 at 22:39
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    Related. – Joachim Dec 22 '19 at 11:17
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    Regardless of its origin or original purpose music is often an important part of the game, so I'd keep that on topic - even if it's just a song in some ingame radio. – dly Dec 23 '19 at 8:32
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    Would this be considered a game mechanic as per the help center? If it's not discussed in the "don't ask" pages and there's no meta on it, I think it should be discussed indeed. This meta can actually set the policy, did you know? And just because the questions have been allowed in the past, doesn't mean they fit the scope. – Mast Dec 26 '19 at 9:23
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    A similar case, about Bioshock Infinite: What “futuristic” songs play during the game and when? Also asks about real-life music featured in the game. No need for videos if it is evident that the music is found in-game. – galacticninja Dec 30 '19 at 10:01
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I think questions asking for names of in-game music should be on topic.

Music is such a a big part of the videogaming world. For a lot of people, a good song or soundtrack can make or break the game experience. It's so popular in fact, game music has even ended up ranking on music charts. Some games have had their OST released (physically and digitally), others have included it as part of the installation of the main game files, and others offer it for purchase as 'DLC' on stores such as Steam (Octodad and FTL are two that spring to mind).

So the popularity is there, how about that sort of in-depth gamer knowledge that we could help with?

  • Some game music is listed with very generic naming (e.g. 'Track 1','Track 2')
    • You see this in a lot of older games' 'sound' options like Streets of Rage or Tony Hawk, but also in games like Pokemon X/Y - selecting battle music in multiplayer for example. The expertise would be knowing what each track is, and being able to identify it, or give a more common name for it. (e.g. 'Music 1' is 'Trainer Battle')
  • Some games feature tracks that are very melodically similar to one another
    • Portal 2's You are not part of the control group and Forwarding the Cause of Science both share a similar basic riff and play in the same sections of the game. As quite a large game with 3 volumes of OST, it is easy to mix them up if you're hazily remembering a track from playing the game and not intimately familiar with the soundtrack.
  • Some games feature tracks that were not included as part of their official OST.
    • A gamer's expertise would be knowing how to find this or what the track is named (officially or unofficially). (As a personal anecdote: it took me digging through Starcraft 2's compiled files to find this track and its 'No Lead' version).

These sorts of questions require the sort of gaming expertise that we can and should provide. In a way they are similar to (good) Game Identification questions but they start with a good leg up: we aren't left second-guessing if a linked source is actually from a game or not. So yes, I think they should be on topic here.

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  • "These sorts of questions require the sort of gaming expertise that we can and should provide." but not the GTA V question. We're not better at answering that than the average internet-goer, so that question should be off-topic. – Wrigglenite Dec 29 '19 at 15:43
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    @Wrigglenite - I disagree that there should be a on/off-topic distinction between 'game music' and 'non-game music', when the track in question is present in the game and can be discovered, either in the game's credits, documentation, wikis, or by digging through the game assets. Lots of games use licensed or public domain tracks without modification, others take a track and make covers/remixes of said track to fit their game (as is likely the case with the GTA one). I think we as gamers are in a far better position to answer that than a non-gaming person. – Robotnik Jan 1 at 5:21
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    I'm going to mark this as the answer as accepted because I saw the creation of the [game-music-identification] tag – Lemon Jan 3 at 7:22
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Questions about game OSTs are easily on-topic, Robotnik's answer addresses everything there.

For the linked GTA V question, the unknown song is played together with real life songs, and is as such presumably also a real life song. Real life songs are not our area of expertise, and one is not more likely to get an answer to a question asking to identify a real life song here rather than on, say, Cooking.SE. For that reason, questions about real life songs used in games, such as this Christmas tree example or in-game radios, should be off-topic.

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    Saying that asking about a song in a video game would be just as useful as asking it on Cooking SE seems like a pretty bad argument here IMO – JMac Dec 29 '19 at 20:43
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    @JMac Real life songs, please don't misquote me. We're not any more likely to recognize a Christmas song than anyone who doesn't specialize in Christmas songs. – Wrigglenite Dec 29 '19 at 21:59
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    I'm not trying to. The point is that the song is appearing as part of a game, regardless of if it is exclusive to that game or not. – JMac Dec 29 '19 at 22:40
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    @JMac And just because a song appears in a game doesn't make us any better at identifying it. We're just as likely to know the answer as any other random internet community. – Wrigglenite Dec 29 '19 at 22:49
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    If the song actually appears as a part of a game, it's likely referenced somewhere within the games documentation at the very least. I'm pretty sure it would need to be for legal reasons, unless it was a song outside of copyright. I don't see how "We're just as likely to know the answer as any other random internet community." is a really great reason against it. We want to be a good Q&A resource online, so I don't see why it hurts for us to be that internet community. In my opinion, the music in a game relates to the game itself, original or not. – JMac Dec 29 '19 at 22:52
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    @JMac We are a community of video game passionates and experts, and our questions and answers reflect that expertise. If we're not more likely to answer a question than any random community, then it's not related to our expertise and should not be allowed. – Wrigglenite Dec 29 '19 at 23:02
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    And I would argue that as experts who are passionate about video games, that passion and expertise would also extend to the music included in those games; whether it is original music or not. – JMac Dec 29 '19 at 23:04
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    @JMac That is not any more true than us being experts of in-game fonts, or in-game animals, or in-game mathematical formulae. If I wanted to ask whether something I read in a game makes grammatical sense, I'd go to English.SE, not here. If I wanted to ask if a game's rendition of a historical battle is realistic, I'd go to History.SE, not here. – Wrigglenite Dec 29 '19 at 23:17
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    If I wanted to ask what a specific thing in a game is, I would typically go to a game-related site, not a music related site. I would think other GTA players could be curious about this, and they would be more likely to find it on a gaming site with GTA questions than they would on a music identification site, IMO. I would also consider asking about in-game music more similar to asking about credits than fonts – JMac Dec 29 '19 at 23:24
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    @JMac Asking about a non-original song found in a game is not the same as asking about an original cover created for a game. The "original" in "original soundtrack" is all the difference. – Wrigglenite Dec 29 '19 at 23:33
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    How is someone who doesn't know a song supposed to know if it's original to the game or not? Correct me if I'm wrong, but GTA: Vice City had both original and real songs on its radio, and made no obvious distinction between them. – Ryan_L Dec 31 '19 at 17:07
  • @Ryan_L When a song is playing out of a Christmas tree together with other real life Christmas song, the reasonable assumption is that it's another real life Christmas song. We can use common sense in these cases, like we do with game identification questions, where the question needs some reason to believe that the thing that is being identified is in fact a video game. – Wrigglenite Dec 31 '19 at 17:17

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