Well, this is not board or card game, but it has same purpose. Combination/logic puzzles like Sudoku, Mastermind, etc. should be on-topic?

In Programmers.SE we embrace some related proposals to avoid too narrow sites.

Is there any real valid reason to Rubik's Cube be off-topic? Can we be inclusive before the SOIS team tell us to be so?

  • 2
    Programmers.SE embraces anything and is worse off for it IMHO :P
    – Jon Hadley
    Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 8:15
  • 2
    @Jon Hadley, not anything, questions are closed there too. Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 7:18
  • 1
    And I am attacked every time to close questions there :-)
    – Maniero
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 11:08

5 Answers 5


Rubik's cube is exactly the examplar case that gives me trouble. I think emotionally we feel the cube is a puzzle. But it's hard for me to deny that 'produce a cube with solid-coloured faces' is a victory condition for a one-player game, and there are a clear set of legal moves to use to achieve it. (That there is a known algorithm for achieving it is clearly not an obstacle; there's a known solution to Connect 4 as well but it's clearly a game.)

Pace gomad's answer, I think single-player games and puzzles usually both possess a defined winning condition (a goal), and a legal sequence of moves to attempt to achieve it.

Proposal: A single-player activity with a goal and legal moves is a game, as opposed to a puzzle, if it also possesses a clear losing condition; that is, a game-state under which the goal can no longer be achieved.

This rules out Rubik's cube, crosswords, and other puzzles where you can always keep trying. It allows Freecell and other solitaire card games (they usually have a can't-try-any-more-moves end-state). And importantly for my peace of mind, will always allow solitaire games such as, say, solitaire Pandemic or Death Angel, which we clearly do wish to be on topic!

  • Thank you for putting your finger on the issue! A game is a separating event - at the end of the game, players are divided into winners and losers, even if there is only one player to begin with.
    – gomad
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 18:54
  • Very interesting proposal. I like it!
    – Pat Ludwig Mod
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 21:35

The Rubik's cube is an interesting case. I would generally classify it as a puzzle, rather than a game.

However, we generally consider solitaire variations of games to be on topic, and might consider solitaire only games (like Klondike or Freecell) to be on topic. I'm not sure how you could draw a line between solitaire and a Rubik's cube in any meaningful way.

I have tried to provide some criteria for distinguishing puzzles from games in my answer to another question; the one I offered is that if it has a dynamic or random setup, or random events during the game, then it could be considered a solitaire game, while if it's static unless someone or a computer creates a new instance (like a crossword or sudoku), then it's a puzzle and off topic. But by this definition, solving a Rubik's cube would be on topic.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has any better way of distinguishing a solitaire game from a puzzle, or if we just want to say that solitaire games are off-topic, or that puzzles are on-topic.



I think there is a difference between puzzles and boardgames. I'll admit that there is some overlap, but I do not believe that we should expand to encompass every puzzle activity.

Update, so far we've had 1 topic on Rubik's Cube and it has been closed by the communityRobert Cartaino.


I wouldn't mind if puzzles are included. But I can imagine that they don't fit the general concept of the site.

But then again, you can see a puzzle as a one person game.


A Rubik's Cube, like many puzzles, is a toy, not a game. A toy is something you can play with, but it has no ruleset. A game is a rule set that defines an action framework. Actions within that framework constitute playing the game.

  • A deck of cards is a toy
  • Rummy is a game

If there was some game - a ruleset defining a framework of actions - involving Rubik's Cube, then that would be on topic. The cube itself is not.

  • Wouldn't you agree that given a scrambled cube, finding the solution is a goal? The rules being, you can switch a layer clockwise or ccw. There are even variations where you want to go to flower configuration instead of solid color.
    – eipipuz
    Commented Nov 7, 2010 at 9:16
  • Concure with eipipuz; this point is exactly why Rubik's cube gives me trouble. I think emotionally we feel the cube is a puzzle. But it's hard for me to deny that 'produce a cube with solid-coloured faces' is a victory condition for a one-player game, and there are a clear set of legal moves to use to achieve it. I'm trying to think of something that in principle distinguishes this from, say, solitaire Pandemic, and I can't. EDIT: Wait, yes I can. Answer submitted.
    – Tynam
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 10:59

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