Could not find this on here, sorry if it is. As a specific example, this question about the earliest game with a major escort component.

OP even doubts if it fits here, however, the question seems to have a well defined scope and the potential answers, though they might be less specific than some others, could be expected to be also fairly well defined and precise.

I can see how 'major' is up for interpretation, but 'earliest' surely isn't.

As questions go, I myself like these kind of questions, as they give me some knowledge about how gaming as a whole evolved, or some unexpected insight on the evolution or conception of a certain game mechanic.

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The problem, yknow, is actually answering them. How can you tell your game is the earliest? –  badp Aug 26 '11 at 7:40
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@badp - The same might be asked of any question with a single ambiguous correct answer, such as this currently-featured question about scoring in Dungeons of Dredmor. There is an answer, but it's extremely difficult to determine who could tell us what it is. All we can hope for in the mean time is a progression of increasingly exact guesses. –  jsnlxndrlv Aug 26 '11 at 7:50

3 Answers 3

I don't like these questions, and I'll do my best to articulate why below.

I think the main issue with these questions is that it's not a real-world problem that you face, requiring a solution. It's instead just a bit of trivia that you find curious and would like to know more about. To quote the highlighted part of the FAQ:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

From here, what you want to do is think, "Can this question be rephrased as a problem requiring a solution?" Is this a good question in disguise, or is it really a bad question that should be closed?

In this case, I can't think of a practical question requiring a solution that gets at the same goal as this original question, so I would close it as "not constructive".

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The answer to the question doesn't provide anyone with any real information. Just a sort of useless tidbit that holds no real value in advancing gaming or bettering one's self. So I agree with Strix –  Bravo840 Aug 26 '11 at 16:28
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I agree with everything here, and would like to add in a comment that these questions could potentially feel endless in regards to the highlighted FAQ section. In asking these questions, one could ask any number of "What was the earliest game-type with game-element?" It almost feels like a masked Identify-This-Game question but without a specific target in mind, leaving the accepted answer to be ambiguous even to the user who posted the question. –  TheQ Aug 26 '11 at 17:54
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I disagree that questions of ambiguous history are "not a real-world problem". It may not be a pressing problem, but knowing where the escort mechanic originated, which games expanded on it, and how it has changed over the years has concrete value and utility to game designers who wish to employ a similar mechanic in their games. It's true that such a person could just ask about the relative pitfalls and merits of such a mechanic, but learning about the history and cross-franchise mechanical interrelationships of games has its own value that shouldn't be demeaned as mere "trivia". –  jsnlxndrlv Aug 26 '11 at 23:55
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I would like to add that the question jsnlxndrlv quotes in his comment also is not so much an actual problem as much as it is a request for "a bit of trivia". I realise eventually the answer could be used to formulate an optimal strategy, but at this time, that particular question has nu such use (and thus would not qualify to be on gaming.SE). –  Zsub Aug 27 '11 at 11:41
    
@jsnlxndrlv If it has concrete value and utility to game designers, that's for game-dev, not for us. –  StrixVaria Aug 27 '11 at 14:39
    
I think @TheQ has hit the nail soundly on the head. –  Raven Dreamer Aug 28 '11 at 0:05
    
I took the liberty to quote you in the related question Is it on-topic to ask if [a specific game] “invented” [a specific feature]? –  unor Feb 9 at 4:19
    
@unor For reference that specific argument is pretty lame in the current meta. –  StrixVaria Feb 9 at 4:23

As the person who posted the example question, it shouldn't be a surprise that I'm more in favor of including this as a permissible question type. Questions of history, trivia, and the like strike me as fair as long as

  1. we can reasonably assume that someone knew the answer to this at some point (even if that knowledge is now effectively lost to us), and

  2. guesses are either verifiable or comparable such that one answer is always "more correct" than another.

So long as those two conditions are met, I feel like such questions fit within Gaming's scope.

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I do agree with this. Well, those two conditions and the others that make it fit for gaming.SE, of course :) –  Zsub Aug 26 '11 at 8:05

We apparently never came to a consensus on this question. Personally, I agree with Strixvaria's answer, which also received the most upvotes here. I'd been running on an assumption since this discussion that we were leaning towards disallowing trivia-style questions due to reasons he and @TheQ stated in the comments.

Does the "wife" mode cooperative mechanic exist outside of Super Mario Galaxy 2?

The above question was asked today, which was initially closed on grounds of asking for recommendations for others like it, but was then reopened when that aspect was removed. There was a short discussion in chat regarding whether or not the question was on-topic under the current policy, but the only conclusion we could come to was that the current policy is unclear.

What do we want to do with these questions? The community seemed in favor of Strix's viewpoint, due to the number of votes, but as @Jason Berkan pointed out in chat, the trivia question linked is still open. The number of community members who are for keeping the question open, despite the results of this discussion skewing otherwise means our policy is unclear.

We need to clarify our stance on these questions so we know what to do with the current trivia-style questions and how to handle these in the future.

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I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I don't think the two questions are related. This meta question is specifically about questions regarding the history of a game mechanic (i.e. what was the first game with x), which are not real problems. The SMG2 question is "what is the official name of game mechanic x" and "are SMG/SMG2 the only games with that mechanic". The first is a real, answerable problem with regards to terminology, and I think the question should be allowed. –  Jason Berkan Feb 3 '12 at 16:37
    
As far as the actual history of x questions, I also agree they should be closed and that it would be a good idea to find and do that now, while we are thinking about it. –  Jason Berkan Feb 3 '12 at 16:42

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