Do we permit questions about games which can be defined as video games in the technical sense of the world, but that serve as a true-to-source emulation of real-life games? And if we do permit them, under what conditions?

For instance:

  • Any video-game implementation of Chess, Checkers, Go etc.
  • Any true-to-source video-game implementation of more complex and recent board games such as Settlers of Catan or various wargames (see this previous discussion).
  • Card games that can be played without a computer (e.g. Klondike solitaire).
  • Card games that represent games that were not around before computers and may not necessarily be playable without one (e.g. specific shuffle of cards needed).
  • Collectible-cards games (e.g. Magic the Gathering) in which the gameplay is completely identical to real-world gameplay.
  • True-to-source emulations of electronic or mechanical games such as pinball machines (see this question about them).
  • Games that just facilitate playing a real-world game - e.g. a web application through which you can play a game with friends.
  • Video games that have later inspired board games which contain the exact same rules and gameplay (I don't know of anything like that, but for some video games - especially puzzle games - it is certainly possible).
  • etc.

Some of these topics were already covered in the links above, but I wanted a more general question to cover these cases as well as potential future ones.

Also, do we also care about how many people are playing the digital version of a game as opposed to the real-life one? e.g. if a new popular indie puzzle games for iOS comes out and it turns out later it's actually a true-to-source implementation of an ancient Incan board game played by ~150 people worldwide, should we suddenly declare it off-topic? Then again, the number of people playing Klondike on a computer is probably orders of magnitude higher than the number of people who ever played it with real playing cards, yet we have migrated a question about it to the Board and Card Games StackExchange.

Finally, what about video games that do have some differences from their real-life counterparts, but those are very minor and/or affect only specific parts of the gameplay?

  • Are they or are they not videogames?
    – badp
    Apr 11, 2012 at 7:36
  • 4
    Very interesting question. A good example that comes to mind is asking questions like "When is it a good idea to castle" or "Is there point in promoting a pawn to anything other than queen" and tagging the question to concern Chessmaster 3000. Apr 11, 2012 at 9:53
  • 2
    Heads up, BCG.SE has also posted a meta topic concerning this so we may want to try to coordinate our efforts so we don't end up with unacceptable migrations in either direction.
    – FAE
    Apr 12, 2012 at 15:15
  • I voted up as it made me think. Then I read the best answer below. It is good, and has settled in my mind that this isn't an issue. Self-selection is the way forward, within reason. :)
    – Asdafgh
    Apr 28, 2012 at 0:28

1 Answer 1


In all honesty, I find this to be a bit contrived and mostly an edge case that doesn't need a comprehensive policy.

Speaking in generalities, the way Stack Exchange works is that sites are segmented by the types of audiences they attract. Here on Gaming, our audience is people who are video game enthusiasts, not board game enthusiasts or sports enthusiasts.

If someone's coming here to ask about the finer details of Chess or Soccer or what-have-you, they're in the wrong place and should be directed to the appropriate Stack Exchange. But if they're asking about a video game representation of a board game or sport, and asking about the mechanics of that video game, they're in the right place.

And that's why I find this to be an edge case: while I don't want to make a universal claim and say there are no video games out there that are perfect representations of board games or real-world sports, it's exceedingly rare.

For example, you mention Magic: the Gathering as being completely identical, but that isn't accurate: the two current Magic Games (which are also the closest to the actual card game)—Magic Online and Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Plainswalkers—are not perfect representations of the physical game. They have different rulesets and mechanics to make the game usable in a digital setting, and in the case of the latter, feature AI that obviously don't exist in the real game. Even basic mechanics like choosing which lands to tap doesn't translate. So it's hard to even make the claim that strategies for the physical game would be useful in the digital versions. They're similar, but not the same.

And I think the same applies when you get into sports games like FIFA Soccer or Madden: while they are similar and are clearly inspired by the physical game, they have different, video-game specific mechanics and rules that a person who's an expert in those sports would not necessarily be familiar with or understand.

I think the closest you get to a "perfect" translation are in classic board games like Chess and Solitaire. Even then, when you're playing a video game representation, you're dealing with things like AI, tweaks in rulesets, etc. that would be the expertise of us, not board game enthusiasts. A competitive chess player isn't expected to know how to answer questions that are specific to Chessmaster 3000, nor is a real-world Settlers of Catan player going to know how the AI works in the iOS version of the game.

So the only time I would see there being a problem would be when someone's asking about the mechanics of the actual board game and the fact that they are playing a video game or using a digital device is tangential to the question:

  • Understanding the rules of a game outside the context of the mechanics of any particular video game (like understanding how a specific Chess opening works)
  • Playing a real-world game outside the confines of a video game (like using email or Facebook to play an asynchronous game of Scrabble or Chess)

Both, I think, are easily identifiable when seen as not really being about the video game and more being about the physical, real-world game, and I think it's reasonable to allow people to use their best judgement. If there is any ambiguity, a quick comment like "are you asking about a specific video game, or just the game in general?" should suffice.

  • 11
    +1. With game-rec and ITG being out of the way, I think we need to focus less on blanket banning policies and more on using discerning judgement on a case-by-case basis to judge the quality of acceptance here. Those former topics had some egregious problems in our system. In the examples @Oak brought up, I don't see any of them suffering from the same kind issues with stuff like inaccurate voting schemes, NARQ problems, or ambiguity over answer acceptance on such a large scale that it would create the cleanup/maintenance issues that game-rec/ITG did.
    – FAE
    Apr 11, 2012 at 13:35

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