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A recent question asking for advice about what the boss in their video game should be tagged their question . The tag has no summary and no wiki. The first question tagged with the tag was a submission to the Anatomically Correct Series back when we allowed video game creatures to be posted to that series.

NOTE: We no longer allow video game creatures to be submitted to the ACS.

Of the 18 questions tagged with ...

  • 5 are ACS entries. Not surprisingly, they are the first 5 questions to be tagged with and 3 of them are from the same person who was known to habitually ask the same type of question over and over and over.
  • Most of the remaining 13 questions are of the form, "I'm making a video game...." In other words, the tag isn't used in a way that means anything to the worldbuilding process. It's just identifying the reason the world is being built (if there's a world at all).
  • 50% of the questions tagged have been closed.

The lack of a wiki for the tag is likely 90% of its problem, but the original purpose of the tag (to identify the nature of a creature submitted to the ACS) is gone.

Should we burn this tag? Or can we come up with a description that actually makes sense from a worldbuilding perspective? I do have the following feelings on the matter:

  1. People tend to not read tag wikis, which means that the majority of people using the tag will continue to use it in the context of, "I'm writing a game...."

  2. I honestly don't see how "I'm writing a game..." has any value to asking a question here. Would it make sense to have tags for , , , , (as in a music record), , etc.? I don't see how the reason for building a world helps to understand how to answer any question.

Oddly, we do have a tag. A consequence of this vote may be to burn that tag, too, for the same reasons. Does the fact that you're writing an RPG change the nature of the question? Do we want a tag? Would it lead to specific RPG tags like and ?

  1. On the other hand... I could (maybe...) be convinced that users may want to follow questions tagged . Maybe they build games themselves and they want to see what worldbuilding problems other game developers have? Assuming that game developers have intrinsically different worldbuilding problems from all other worldbuilders. Which is a strong argument against this particular feeling. (Then I look at all the alternative tags that are rationalized by keeping this one and remember why burning the tag is a good idea.)
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  • $\begingroup$ "I honestly don't see how "I'm writing a game..." has any value to asking a question here." There's a purpose, in that it's much easier to write a one page description of a world element than to show it (like in movies), or worse, create meaningful interactions with it (->games). But... It would require lots of extra-information to answer with that medium's codes. Afaik it won't be easy to squash that into a single SE post, nor no-one has really made the effort to, nor many are willing to due to how secretive the game industry can be (NDAs, etc.). $\endgroup$ Apr 23, 2023 at 17:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I considered that, but it boils down to, "when writing a game, the amount of worldbuilding you need is less," but would that factually change how a question is presented or answered on this Stack? How many users would see the video-games tag and think, "OK! This person doesn't need a really involved answer. He/she needs just enough for... um... well, they just need less." Can you come up with an objective and quantitative connection between the querent's needs and the respondents' behavior that justifies this tag? Or the rpg tag, or any of the others I mention? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 23, 2023 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ That's more or less what I meant; Tags alone are not enough. I just don't entirely agree that more game mean less world. It's more adding the troubles of game design in harmony with the world. You don't cut from the world in its globality, though in the small space of a SE post... You have to share space in detriment of it. Often too much to be viable as a world question anymore, alas. $\endgroup$ Apr 23, 2023 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ Would folding both tags into a "Game World Mechanics" tag (or something similar) be a reasonable solution to both? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 24, 2023 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Traditionally we've closed questions about game mechanics because they're not about the world, but about the interface between the game and the player. The world may be limited by game mechanics (which would need to be included as conditions and restrictions), but the mechanics are not about the world. Long story short, I still don't see the benefit of such a tag. A professional game designer could address whether or not someone tagging a question game-world-mechanics would be useful, but I can't address it further. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 25, 2023 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH The interface game/player is more the 3C (camera, character, controller). Nevertheless, creating mechanics from the world (off-topic) is much more intuitive and common than the world from mechanics. Compare adding poisonous mushrooms players can explode (mechanic) because we're in a toxic swamp (world) vs setting the level in a swamp (world) because we want players to move around large and flat dangerous areas (mechanic which would end with crocodiles and leeches in the water here. Or just toxic water) $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2023 at 23:17

3 Answers 3

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Burn it

Yes, I am heavily biased towards games and yet I believe this tag and the RPG one are superfluous here.

"video-game" means anything and therefore nothing. Video-games can be your relaxing -yet ironically time-limited- modern farming life simulator or the last stand of humanity with all odds stacked against you. Anywhere in between you can breed cube-shaped sausage dogs together, radio in discoveries during your treks, making surgeries with one hand in the back or complain that your teammate fed again the enemy1, 2. Note that I'm not even talking about game-like worlds like most isekais often relying on roleplaying games.

Speaking of RPGs... Even if you restrict to Role Playing Games, you can find your classic action RPGs in which you take down dragons and cyclopes in batches... Or the complete opposite, where you calmly investigate crimes while your attributes tells how powerful your (insane) inner voices are3. This all the while recycling bottles just to pay for another night at the hotel. The term is that wide, and I'm still missing some of its subtleties.

Any of those terms are far too-broad if we look at it as worldbuilders. Video game stores now gives at the very least 5 tags per game because any genre are now so wacky and broad. Even with a whole page description it's sometimes barely enough to know what a video-game is about. We can't nor should spend so much time describing what kind of game we are speaking about here when we are "just" worldbuilding.

And if we tried to rename/subdivide them?

The only way out is to create tags from the creator's point of view, not the audience's : Game mechanics, tutorials, challenge and reward systems, game loops, etc.. Those are pretty well-defined behind the scenes: If I want to explain better why my player should want to do that, we know it's part of the tutorial regardless of what kind of game world we're in. Those game elements could earn from being supported by its world, like explaining why you don't take fall damage even though you fell for 10 minutes through two portals linked together4. It brings glue that helps the player feel more involved in the game, more at one with it.

However, if we do that -and manage somehow to not make it a "Game development SE v2.0"-, I don't see why we wouldn't do it for other medias as well : movies, novels... It could be interesting to push forward the freedom and constraints of your medium, but it's going to be a prickly topic if we delve into that, for sure.


1 : In order of appearance, I am talking about Stardew Valley, The Last Spell, Wobbledogs, Firewatch, Surgeon Simulator and well, most MOBAs. I let you scout what these games look like on the web and see for yourself the variety :).
2 : Don't do that though. If you are becoming constantly angry at either a game or its players, you're missing out the whole purpose of it : enjoying the experience. I'd rather have you relax knitting socks than screaming at any of my games, thinking it will somehow "get more fun" for the 50th time.
3 : Dragon's dogma, Disco Elysium. Of course there are others, but I think the gap is pretty self-explanatory with those two alone.
4 : Portal. Yes, this game design choice is explained in game by the prototype boots the character is wearing.

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Rename & Refocus It


I'm going to play devil's advocate and suggest either making a new tag, Game World Mechanics into which all these other gaming tags would be folded, or else rename one of the existing gaming tags to this and fold the remaining ones in.


Rationale: I actually concur with JamieB (*) that it is useful to understand what the underlying purpose of a fictional world is, and I do think that this tag (and even those suggested by JBH) would be useful in guiding respondents in crafting their answers. Jamie brings up a good point about magic mushrooms that eat other magical things. For me, creating a world simply to express creativity, my needs are different from the game designer.


I would be curious as to science- and metascience-based issues, questions of folkloristic and mythic representation, and ultimately the "how did I do" kind of rate my system questions. A game designer might be more interested in practical questions of how does a magic mushroom eat a magic rabbit anyway? And if a PC enters the magic mushroom field, how many hp does the PC lose or can he debuff the shrooms in any way on rolling the dice. Yes, that's a delicate balance between game mechanics and game world mechanics, but I think it would be a worthwhile category to explore.


Essentially, I need to write an encyclopedia article about thaumophagic mushrooms and then fit them into their biome's relevant folklore and mythology; whilst the game designer needs to consider whether or not such a thing makes sense in the game world, and how such a thing actually interacts with other things in the world.


Discussion: I suggest Game World Mechanics simply with an eye towards collecting questions that focus on the special needs of the game developer, regardless of the type of game. This tag is not meant to circumvent the third party rule. As with any question here, the world has be the OP's work.


If the video game tag makes sense at all, I'm simply saying that we should ensure to the best of our ability that all video-game related questions here come from OPs who are actually building their own game and also that the questions relate solely to the game world itself. Since the existing tag has no summary and no wiki, I'm recommending that we either rename it or create a new tag into which the existing tag can be folded and also that it be given a description & wiki entry that makes clear what the tag is for.


As for other parallel tags (RPG, etc) the value that I see in them lies simply in the needs of the querent. Such a tag might prove useful to the respondent in that she could tailor the response to the game maker. Creating a world for book series might involve a Tolkienean labour involving really deep research into a wide variety of specialist topics. Creating a world for a game might be much more restricted. The game developer might not be so keen on years of research for highly detailed worldbuilding when what he wants might be a simpler solution.


I am not suggesting that a whole bunch of game sub-type tags be created. I do suggest that any such tags as already exist (or end up getting made in the future) all be directed to or synonymised with this main tag.


This tag should not be used to ask questions about the game as separate from the game's world. Questions about "how to gamify the rules of the world" are as I see it more a matter of "gamebuilding", and like "storybuilding" is off topic here. Simply put, gamifying the rules gets more into how to translate the rule of the world into computer code, whereas we are focused on the rules of the world and how the various aspects of game design might affect or restrict the development of the world.


Tag Usage: The Game World Mechanics tag would be focused thus:

For questions whose solutions are predominantly dependent on them being applicable to games of any kind RPGs (Role-Playing Games), video games, board games, etc. Questions of course must focus on the mechanics or underlying rules of the game world itself as they touch upon the creation of a game, rather than focusing on the mechanics, the rules, or the making of the game.

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  • $\begingroup$ I might try a question in the sandbox under that scope if I'm feeling courageous, because I agree WB:SE could earn from gaining a meta-level of thinking. Let's just hope it doesn't become too much game-design focused... $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2023 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena --- I'd like to see such questions! Do you think I wrote the tag description sufficiently to (at least try to) avoid game design focus? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 27, 2023 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ Besides that I couldn't have written it better, I have absolutely no idea. It's all about people being able to understand that mechanics can be abstracted from the world... Which ain't guaranteed, since some of them are unable to describe why they want something as authors. Meta-level thinking is an hard skill to acquire, let alone be mastered ^^". $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2023 at 7:37
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm... We have an existing policy against 3rd-party and/or commercial worlds, so any question about (e.g.) Dungeons & Dragons would be off-topic here. I worry that this tag would encourage questions about how to play the game and not how to express a world within the game. I'm still having trouble believing we'll have sufficient control over this. The tag wiki(s) will need to be very clear and precise so we can have a hope of controlling all this. Otherwise we'll have the same mess we have today after all the effort of trying to fix it. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2023 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ Hmmm. "World-Mechanics", maybe? Really it comes down to a request to help turn an idea into something that can be precisely defined by rules. Like I think this question could qualify for "World-Mechanics" even though it wasn't for a game: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/244040/8902 $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Apr 27, 2023 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH --- Obviously, this tag is not meant to circumvent the third party rule. As with any question here, the world has be the OP's work. I don't share your concern that such a tag would invite a flood of 'how to play' questions. But, we do have in place means of dealing with them! Is there anything you can suggest to make my suggested description more precise? $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 28, 2023 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @JamieB --- A good suggestion, though isn't that essentially what every tag points to? "We're here to help you build your world" is a pretty close to synonymous helping people work on world mechanics. I'm suggesting Game World Mechanics simply with an eye towards collecting questions that focus on those special needs. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 28, 2023 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas My concern is more along these lines. If the video-games tag makes sense, so does rpg. If rpg makes sense, then it can only be used for an RPG of the OP's own creation, otherwise we'll end up with the d-and-d tag, which would violate the 3rd party/commercial world policy. Given this chain of reasoning, an employee working on a video game for their employer is, by definition, violating the policy. In other words, I see nothing but pain coming from a tag that still appears to me as having intensely limited value. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 30, 2023 at 5:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH --- I don't understand the concern about an employee asking a question here. As far as I understand the situation, we don't allow anyone to ask about a fictional world that isn't their own work. Naturally, the employee is working on something that belongs to someone else. I'm sure that to do so would be a violation of the employer's NDA at the very least, to say nothing of our own rules or the very unethical nature of the action even without a contract or NDA in place. (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 30, 2023 at 16:39
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) If the video game tag makes sense at all, I'm simply saying that we should ensure to the best of our ability that all video-game related questions here come from OPs who are actually building their own game and also that the questions relate solely to the game world itself. Since that tag has no summary and no wiki, I'm recommending that we either rename it or create a new tag into which that tag can be folded and also that it be given a description & wiki entry that makes clear what the tag is for. (cont) $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 30, 2023 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ (cont) As for other parallel tags (RPG, etc) the value that I see in them lies simply in the needs of the querent. Such a tag might prove useful to the respondent in that she could tailor the response. Creating a world for book series might involve a Tolkienean labour involving really deep research into a wide variety of specialist topics. Creating a world for a game might be much more restricted. The game developer might not be so keen on years of research for highly detailed worldbuilding when what he wants might be a simpler solution. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Apr 30, 2023 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Let's recall that the video game industry is extremely secretive; To-be-published game leaks are generally thought to be marketing disasters (and a valid reason to fire in some countries), so employees almost never talk publicly about them. When it happens, the game is already half-way done and in marketing stage, where worldbuilding isn't the main concern anymore (crunching crunches often are). $\endgroup$ Apr 30, 2023 at 22:46
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Perhaps create a more general tag?

I do think it can be useful at times to know what the purpose of a question is. I feel like "video-game" is more specific than we have a use for but "gaming" might be a better tag, encompassing both video games and rpgs, or perhaps just "rules". (Note: neither of these tags exist at the moment.)

Example of a good use of a gaming tag: How to limit the growth of a magic item that eats other magic items to gain their abilities?

This has the RPG tag. As a question for writing a novel, it would make little sense: just do whatever you want. It's your magic system. Fly! Be free! ....but as a roleplaying game, this question is really about how to gamify his rules. Answers should specifically talk about how to gamify the solution, and the accepted answer does this. Just as a "hard-science" tag constrains answers, so too should "gaming".

The only question, then, is whether it's somehow important to distinguish types of games. Do we need rpg, rts, fps, vr, table-top tags, etc? I can't think of a reason to have multiple gaming tags, but I can see reasons to have one.

tl;dr: Rename it. (Sounds like we can create a new tag, merge video-game into it and then merge rpg into the same tag and repeat if there are any other general gaming/rules tags to merge together.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Most of the time we work with the world's rules. I doubt this will help much if we can now tag a lot of the question's catalog with the "rules" tag. Also, I'm not sure how "video-game" doesn't encompass "RPGs" already (by contraction, people tell they're on their latest RPG, rather than "RPG video game")? I feel I'm missing something from your point. $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2023 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena "not sure how "video-game" doesn't encompass "RPGs" already" an RPG need not be a video game. And a video game need not be an RPG. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Apr 25, 2023 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Vlaz I'm a lot more used to see people specifying they're playing a tabletop game (for the few that follow the RPG codes) or pen & paper roleplaying game, since they're more niche nowadays than the video-game ones. It's often about the most common usage having the shortest words. $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2023 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ The problem I'm having is that tags are supposed to have a point. At the top of the list, they give users the ability to follow question types that interest them. I mention that in my post - but I'm enough of a programmer to know that the questions asked here in that context won't have a followable value. I'm happy to rename it - if we can rationalize its existence at all. Compare it to, for example, biology. Users want to see examples of how biology is expressed in imaginary worlds... but I can't see that value with video-games given how it's currently (and expected to be) used. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 25, 2023 at 17:05
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    $\begingroup$ Ah. One more thing. Perhaps the biggest danger with generalizing the tag is that it dilutes its value. At a really rough guess, 15% of the questions that come here are specifically posted as relating to a game of some sort. Were I making a game, would reading through those questions help me? That's the problem, I can't see how they would because worlds are usually (in my experience, always) window dressing over the game mechanics, which can be used for almost any world-story you want. I guess my point is we need to explain why to keep the tag before we worry about how to keep it. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 25, 2023 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena It's just like the science tag in the sense that it's meant to frame the answers. If someone tags a question with science, they do not want an answer based on magic. Similarly, if they tag a question with gaming, they need an answer that is easily quantifiable for gaming purposes (not too hand-wavy). Whereas a question with neither of these tags could well be answered with magical hand waving. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Apr 25, 2023 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ @vlaz Yeah, exactly why I think "gaming" has value but specific game types doesn't (that I can imagine anyway -- either you need specific rules, because it's a game of some type, or you don't). To me, "gaming" as a tag is exactly as useful as "magic" or "science-based". It's simply framing the type of answers they want. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Apr 25, 2023 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @jbh Maybe this is a good example: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/106517/… With the RPG tag (or my proposed gaming or rules tag) we know the answer is meant to be something that can be gamified. As a book question, it's not a good question: just do whatever he wants, is the answer. As a gaming question, he's seeking help defining how, very specifically, the rules should work, like in the Player's Handbook. The tag should help define the question, and constrain the answers. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Apr 25, 2023 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ @JamieB I see your point, but I'd need to see a proposed wiki with clear rules that we could hold the OP to. The question you link to would be just as valid without the rpg tag (or either of those you suggest). I'm thinking through Elemtilas' answer about how it could be used to provide a contextual restriction, but that would mean the question would need to be about the world and the game (or, the limitations on the world due to the game). At the moment, I still see this as almost meaningless because people rarely read tag wikis. (*Continued*) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2023 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ ... I would like to point out that I must disagree with the bottom half of your comment. There is already an Role-playing Games Stack that deals specifically with "seeking help defining how, very specifically, the rules should work." I'll need to go read their Help Center to see if they embrace questions about new games. But I don't yet see value overlapping with them and we already have a policy against questions about 3rd-party and/or commercial worlds, which existing RPGs are. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2023 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH also, RPG.SE does have world-building tag of their own. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Apr 27, 2023 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ In another meta discussion, someone made a point I agreed with, which is that RPG.SE is another website, no different than Reddit or Quora. What other websites do shouldn't impact us. The question should be if something is Worldbuilding or not. If so, it can be handled here, if they choose to ask us. There's like 3 different SE's you can ask Ubuntu questions on (Linux, Ubuntu and ServerFault) so overlap isn't uncommon anyway. We usually take a stab at physics questions, as long as it's worldbuilding, even if the Physics SE could have also probably answered it. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Apr 27, 2023 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ @JamieB How remarkably disloyal. We serve at the pleasure of the owners of this Stack, Stack Exchange, which also owns other Stacks, and whose interest is not served by diluting the value of those Stacks in an attempt to increase the value of this one. I'm disappointed by your calloused disregard for the owners, but not surprised, you've advocated wholesale ignorance of the rules established by others before. The fact that specific Stacks grew out of general Stacks is not a rationalization for why we should become less specific. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 30, 2023 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ @JamieB And while we're on the subject of you ignoring history, the only reason why we consistently answer Real World questions today is a moderator-sponsored policy set in 2018 after years of debate. It has not always been that way and it has had undesirable consequences - one of which is that we no longer regularly redirect users or migrate questions that could (and probably would) get a better answer on another Stack. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 30, 2023 at 5:17
  • $\begingroup$ @jbh Seems like you're just going with intentional misinterpretations and personal attacks now and no longer have any interest in the debate. Let me know if you have any relevant comments and I'll be happy to discuss them! Until then, please review the Stack Exchange Code of Conduct. Someone with your rep needs to understand those rules first and foremost. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    May 1, 2023 at 4:44

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