Joe Golton's recent question asks for examples of gateway games. In a comment, he says:

I expect (and encourage) debate as to whether this question is suited to the stack exchange system, and even if it is, whether we want it for Board and Card Games.

So, before debate begins in comments there, let's ask ourselves on meta. The faq mention as off-topic questions:

Game Recommendation/Shopping questions, this includes all questions that could be phrased like:

  • Best game for ... ?
  • Which game is like ... ?

So is Joe's question an example of an off-topic game recommendation as defined in the faq? Even if it's not, should it be within the scope of the site? (Note: this said" on-topic before, but I edited to avoid unnecessary discussion, since what really matters is site scope.)

  • P.S. In that section of the faq, could "this includes" be changed to "including" so that it's not a comma splice? There are also some missing spaces (e.g. "Magic:The Gathering", "Axis&Allies").
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:23
  • Can we protect the original question till we get a result from this??? I mean to avoid noise on it until we know what to do...
    – gbianchi
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 17:08
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    @gbianchi Pat already closed the question. I voted to reopen it but I think you have a great idea - make this protected and requiring a significant amount of reputation to participate in (like over 300?). I think this is a reasonable experiment to conduct. If it demonstrates that even this restricted form of "recommendation" question (which I think of as a "well defined list" question) doesn't work well, then I can just delete it. What's the harm in conducting the experiment? There was no mechanism to comment on my "reopen vote," but this is what I would have written.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:15
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    My main problem with "list" type questions (be they game recommendations or other) is that the question is asking for a list, and logically for any answer to be accepted it would need to provide such a list. All posted answers in such questions tend to be, in essence, only 1/10 or 1/20 of the "real" answer; allowing such seems to be sending exactly the wrong message for a Q&A site which seeks canonical answers to real questions. Whether it's on-topic or not is secondary to the fact that, as posted, the question is ill suited for this Q&A format.
    – goldPseudo
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 22:09
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    What I've learned from the various responses below and @goldPseudo's comment above is that the word "recommendations" is a bit of red herring. The norm is actually "Any question whose answer is a list or a solicitation of opinions is not welcomed here." The "opinions" part was always obvious to me, but not the "list" part. So it's okay to ask for what defines a game as being a certain type of game, so long as a list (of more than a few examples just to illustrate) is not associated with the answer. Maybe the FAQ could be revised to make that clear?
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 22:28
  • 2
    A couple related meta discussions and blog posts: Meta Stack Overflow, multi-answer questions (seems dated to me), also Blog: Real questions have answers Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 23:48

5 Answers 5


In my opinion, this is a canonical game recommendation question, and therefore off-topic. It's a fairly well-defined one, but nonetheless, it is asking for examples of games satisfying certain constraints, which is pretty much the definition of a recommendation question. (The fact that the sole tag is "recommendations is a pretty bad sign too.) And of course, the reasons game recommendation questions were banned apply to it: there are far too many possible answers, and it will encourage similar questions. That is, even if it weren't off-topic simply for being a recommendation question, it'd also be off-topic because it's too broad (which is one of the standard close reasons).

  • If there were a tag called "defined-list" or something similar, I would have chosen that tag. Recommendation was the only tag that was remotely close. If the group ends up believing this is a good type of question to have, then I would suggest adopting a "defined-list" or something similar to that to imply the well defined and (close to) objective nature of the question.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:31
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    @JoeGolton: The tag is a side note. The substance of my answer is the fact that the question is essentially exactly what's described as undesirable in the decision not to allow game recommendation questions.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:34
  • Some examples of (closed) well-defined recommendation questions: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Despite having specific requirements, they're all still subjective recommendation questions. If we take out the recommendation bit, then we're just trying to make comprehensive lists of games with certain properties, which is not very interesting. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 21:16

We need to be clear about what Board & Card Games isn't: it's not a site for soliciting people's opinions on game quality, nor is it a database of board games.

As soon as I read the "defined-list" argument I thought of all the closed questions we have of the form "What's a good game for n players?" When I first started participating on this site, I was tempted to ask such questions; I was excited to find a group of experienced gamers and I wanted to find out what their favorite 5-player games were. Now I agree that they're not good questions, so I'll try to use them as a context for my answer.

  • Bad question 1: What's a good game for 5 players? (Frequently seen with: Community wiki! One question per answer, please!) This is extremely subjective.

  • Bad question 2: What games can you play with 5 players? This is just boring. It's objective, but it's a database query, not a good Q&A question.

For both of these you can do a Board Game Geek (BGG) search and sort by ranking. In the event that you're looking for a field that's not recorded in BGG's database then you could head to their forums (BGG: Gateway Board Games). BGG is a site for discussion and opinions.

  • Good question 1: What is a "5-player" game? Okay, so this particular question isn't great because it's so obvious, but the type of question is good: terminology. The original "What is a Gateway Game" question is an example of this type. It's a good question.

  • Good question 2: Five can be a difficult number of players to find a good game for. You can't have even teams, and turn-based games can feel slow unless turns are short. What characteristics can a turn-based game have so that it doesn't feel too slow with 5 people?

A good answer for this last question should cite some games (after all, answer from experience!), but specific games should not be the answer. For example, games like Dixit or Apples to Apples have have everyone involved on every turn, 7 Wonders uses simultaneous drafting so that people are taking their turns at the same time, and Citadels has very short turns, many of which have some interaction and suspense for everyone. But the examples are just that, they provide back-up for the main points of the answer.

  • 1
    Interesting answer. I think what I've learned from all this is that the word "recommendations" is a bit of red herring. The norm is actually "Any question whose answer is a list or a solicitation of opinions is not welcomed here." The "opinions" part was always obvious to me, but not the "list" part. So it's okay to ask for what defines a game as being a certain type of game, so long as a list (of more than a few examples just to illustrate) is not associated with the answer.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 22:25
  • Thanks! Perhaps this needs a specific mention in the FAQ (assuming the community agrees with me). Though I have seen some exceptions on other Stack Exchange sites (they tend to be "protected" and "not an example of a good question"), I think what we want is questions where there's a strong possibility that one answer can be complete enough to be accepted. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 23:28

It's not so much that this is a terribly bad question in and of itself, as that I can already think of a million other questions which become askable if this is allowed. "What games contain meeples?" Any game with meeples is an objectively correct answer to such a question, but it's still not am interesting question except for the purposes of garnering a million upvotes and downvotes. Disguising a recommendation question with a hint of respectable "objectivity" doesn't change its nature. Recommendation questions are NOT bad because we hate recommending things to people! They're bad because they turn the site into a wearisome free-for-all.

Why not just ask "what is a gateway game" and be done with it, if you want a definition of them? This question is just designed for the purpose of having a million answers, when it doesn't need to be; that was my initial reaction anyway...

  • 2
    It does seem like the question would be better as "What makes a good gateway game? Please provide some examples!"
    – Alex P
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 17:56
  • I did ask the question "What is a Gateway Game" and I got a pretty good answer, but not good enough to tell me whether Monopoly, Race for the Galaxy, Ra, etc. are Gateway Games, though the comment stream following the accepted answer helped me get closer to determining what a Gateway Game actually is. I guess I could take @AlexP's suggestion and ask a new question, "What makes a good gateway game? Please provide some examples" and see what happens.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 19:22
  • Ok I did take @shujaa's suggestion to edit my original question: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/7399/… . I requested a more precise definition that handles borderline cases - we'll see how it goes.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 22:19

This is not a bad question, but could be potentially bad in time. The list could go forever and it could be very subjetive.

Take for example that next month a new game appear, the list should change, and voting on that list will represent something like a pool, where people vote for the best game (not answer). So How could a new user that comes to the site could get a representative view of the site itself?? Also it will lead to a lot of questions that pools for answers.

I think this is like Chuck Norris Fact! You will not have a answer for this.. I should said that this maybe come to meta and be public?

Also I would like to add, How the user will vote for the answers. And another thing to add is maybe (if this go on) we should protect the questions to avoid flooding of comments.


I came up with this idea in the context of How do we get questions per day count up? My answer is buried there so here it is again, as it is a possible answer to the above question:

Game recommendation questions were (are) so popular that I think it's worth brainstorming what kinds of templates could be used to solve some of the issues they bring up. I think there's an objective type of question here that is being completely ignored: an answer which is an objective (or nearly objective) list.

Example of non-game question: What towns are within 4 miles of London, England?

The answer to this is objective, right?

Example of very objective game question: What games were made by EON before it went out of business? Please provide one game per answer with either a brief description of the game (this particular Q is low value because you can easily find the information elsewhere).

Now for one that has a little subjectivity creep in (and for which I actually want to know the answer!):

Which games are obviously Gateway Games, where gateway games are defined as . . . Please list one game per answer so the answer can be voted up (if it's a Gateway Game) or not voted if it's not a Gateway game.

I know that stack exchange mechanisms are not particularly well suited to this type of question, but if you can nail down a precise definition for "Gateway Games" (which was attempted here), then the answer to this is actually an objective list, just like the answer to towns within 4 miles of London. Not only that, the objective list would be roughly ordered by popularity and degree of adherence to the definition, which adds additional value.

I would love to see questions like this. Other examples:

Which wargames offer simulations on a squad level that are on par with Squad Leader?

Which games have had the largest influence on Game Design over the past 40 years? Please list one game per answer and describe the influences this game has had on the industry?

What games can be enjoyed at various levels of complexity, such that both a 6 year old and a game-loving adult parent might enjoy playing together? Candyland does not meet this criteria as it is boring for game-loving adults. Bridge neither because it is far too difficult to learn. Rat-A-Tat-Cat, Backgammon, and Checkers are good candidates for this list because they can be enjoyed immediately at a very simple level but actually have significant strategy components that can be mastered over time and are therefore of interest to game-loving adults. Please list one game per answer and provide some reasons for both the adult and the child to enjoy the game. If there is a way to handicap the game, please include that information (i.e. Checkers - adult can start with 1 or 2 pieces removed).

TLDR; Can we do a restricted form of Game Recommendations where the questions have answers that are lists that are objective or close to objective, because they adhere to well defined criteria?

  • 1
    You seem to be suggesting that the main problem with game recommendations is that the constraints aren't well-defined or that they're subjective. I'm not sure this is the case; see for example the question I linked to in my answer.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 16:32
  • @Jefromi I did read that and thought that perhaps there could be a way of addressing some of the valid objections to recommendation questions. Namely: Objective - with careful definitions the answers can be objective. Learning - I still don't have a crystal clear definition of Gateway games. It remains to be seen - but I think it's possible I will better understand what makes a good Gateway game after my new question is up for a week or two. It's an experiment and it may fall flat - or it may lead to an entirely new set of possible, objective questions.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 17:29
  • Give up. You mean well, but the community here is all about rigidly following rules rather than trying to make something compelling.
    – rrenaud
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 2:51
  • Not only do I think that list questions cause all sorts of problems for the SE engine, but I think trying to "build the site" on the basis of questions that ask for a list of games will clearly fail when compared to the existing site whose entire interface is centered around creating lists of games.
    – bwarner
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 22:03
  • @bwarner There ISN'T any site whose entire interface is centered around creating high quality, well defined lists. I've even been looking into it and the only thing that comes close to being good is goodreads.com/list which is for books only. I'm aware of and very underwhelmed by BGG game lists. From the reaction I've received here, everyone is convinced that stack exchange can't be adapted to questions whose answer is a well defined list. I'm not convinced of that, but there's no point in me trying any more experiments given the strong resistance to the idea.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 15, 2012 at 22:29
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    @RobRenaud: It's not really that simple. Site after site has tried to allow certain kinds of list questions, generally in formats very close to this, then realized that they just don't work out - they tend to become unwieldy, unusable, outdated lists. (Yes, there are exceptions, but this is generally true.) This isn't really the community's fault, it's just the way things go with the StackExchange format. If they had something more like Google Moderator, for example, it might work better. But in the meantime, responsible communities avoid it.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 2:46
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    If you want some convincing of this, try searching for "answers:11" to see questions with more than ten answers, on any stackexchange site, and ask yourself how well the system really works on those questions.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 2:47
  • @Jef Tried "answers:11" search (thanks for that tip!) on B&CG. I thought the top few questions had useful results. What was especially interesting though was that the set of questions with the most favorites overlaps heavily with the set of questions having 11 or more answers. This suggests to me that for B&CG in specific, reasonably well defined lists are extremely useful, and that the stack exchange system, while not perfect for it, is better than many other systems out there (i.e. BGG system for lists). I have noted that product rec Qs on bicycle stack generally suck.But seems good on B&CG.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 3:19
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    @Jefromi Something about B&CG seems fundamentally different to me than most other stacks. One of the keys to enjoyable gaming is understanding why you enjoy certain games and occasionally buying more games like them. Anything that helps with that is really valuable. Good help for that is friends, funagain.com, BGG, and yes, B&CG stack (the closed questions). None of these are perfect, but I've actually found B&CG to have the highest quality lists among these 4 sources. I'm not going to push it here. But seems like there's a great idea for a "well defined list" startup. Maybe I'll do it.
    – Joe Golton
    Commented Jun 17, 2012 at 3:26

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