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The notion that questions about science fiction and fantasy video games should be cultivated on this site was first introduced to me with this comment on the Topic of the Week page. Gilles made this sound like an even better idea by commenting:

Gaming is the hot site in the network at the moment. A game-related topic could draw in a lot of visitors if we advertise there.

I now wonder what kind of a traffic and profile increase we could have seen if our site capitalized on the release of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or Mass Effect 3, both of which gave big boosts to Gaming. To test the waters with this, I have the week starting April 30th designated as Video Game Week as part of the Topic of the Week contests. On top of that, both myself and my fellow CHAOSer Lauren, who currently works with promoting the Gaming site, are trying to figure out an event that would unite both Gaming and SciFi & Fantasy, and hopefully attract users from the massive Gaming site to our awesome site.

The big conundrum is, what type of gaming questions are on topic for Sci-Fi & Fantasy? Judging by our current crop of questions tagged , it seems like only questions about lore, plot and mythology are on-topic here. Is that the case? Do we want that to be the case? Are questions about gameplay off-topic here?

I want to get the community's input so Lauren and I can craft something that will work for both sites and be fun for all users involved.


EDITED TO ADD that, duh, this has pretty much been decided already here. So I will refine the scope of this question to instead discuss what type of event would make sense for Sci-Fi, gaming wise? Would an event here even work? Is there enough plot and non-gameplay minutiae in video games to base an event around? Is this a good idea?

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We actually talked about this on Gaming the other day: the advice given on Gaming was that if it's in-game lore, it's on-topic, if it's out-of-game/expanded-universe lore, it's off-topic with SciFi.SE being the best place to ask. So I think, particularly with game franchises, there's a lot of cross-promotional opportunity as people want to know why X was Y, but it's only explained in a random novel and not in-game.

In terms of whether there's a lot of lore for games, Blizzard and Bethesda games are known for the world-building the designers do and have a ton of lore SciFi.SE could capitalize on. And the obvious choice for a game to target right now is Diablo III: large amount of lore that isn't as public as Warcraft because the last Diablo game came out in 2000, and it releases on May 15th. I'm sure there are going to be a lot of questions about what the heck is going on in the series up to that point, as Blizzard doeesn't particularly like a lot of recap exposition (Warcraft III and World of Warcraft both assumed you were familiar with the earlier installments).

If hitting May 15th is too soon, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (MoP) is going to be released in the next few months, and Warcraft has a veritable mountain of lore. MoP is also a good one to hit with questions about lore because it's such a drastic departure from the story so far. Also releasing this year will be Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, although Starcraft II's lore is more self-contained.

Outside of the Blizzard franchises, there are a few other games coming out in the next few months that have rich lore:

If you're looking to attract gamers (or Gaming.SE users), I think the event should be a progression-based game, not a sweepstakes or something where only the top-viewed/top-voted question gets a prize. ME3 Missions looked like it did really well, and since that seems to be one of the default types of contests, I'd suggest SciFi.SE does something like that. If you take Diablo III, the levels could correspond to the difficulty levels in game: Normal, Nightmare, Hell, Inferno.

After talking about this in Gaming.SE's chat and discussing how you'd get the Gaming.SE audience interested in a contest on SciFi.SE (besides just the fact that the contest is about a game), a thought I had was to have a contest where the requirements for success hinge on having activity on both sites.

So, let's say you have a ME3 Missions-style event for the launch of Diablo 3: instead of requiring 10 questions of 5 score in the tag on Gaming, require half the questions to be on SciFi.SE. The people who will do well are the people who are both gamers and lore wonks, just the type of people you'd want to attract from a promotion like this.

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  • As another lurker of gaming I can say this post makes the most sense to me. We can start shifting the individual questions to this site as they come up but it seems we have 49 total, ever.. A contest based around a game that is run concurrently between both sites would make the most sense as people who are interested in the gaming contest would be shown the twin contest over on SFF.. I know to most gamers that is going to look like a second opportunity to take a stab at the phat lewt from the contest. Could even add a third tier to it, combined winning (best of both sites) and the like. – James Apr 24 '12 at 22:43
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    One concern I have is that come May 15th, I may be too glued to my copy of Diablo 3 to visit SE :P – Beofett Apr 25 '12 at 0:18
  • Mild nitpick: Your Diablo difficulties are slightly out of order. Nightmare is below Hell, not after. :) – Gabe Willard Apr 25 '12 at 0:32
  • @GabeWillard Fixed :P – user366 Apr 25 '12 at 0:34
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    @Beofett Depsite the stress testing of the beta/demo, it is likely a safe bet that the Battle.net servers will be down for at least 15 minutes sometime after the launch of D3. Spend them wisely. – Xantec Apr 25 '12 at 14:43
  • Ya know, it never ceases to amaze me how much the differences in the skinning of the SE sites can make me do double takes :) – James Apr 25 '12 at 15:59
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Extending on the answer of the question you linked; The distinction whether a question should be asked on SFF or on Gaming should rely on whether it's story or gameplay related. Of course it should be about a game that features some sort of science fiction or fantasy plot (so, popular games like Counter Strike should remain off-topic on SFF).

A perhaps silly example would be: "How do I turn the pages of my Hitchhiker's XY edition book without breaking them down?" This question would relate to how the medium is used properly, just as a question like: "How can I aim to defeat the Cyberdemon?" would be. Both are off-topic, although both HHGTTG and doom seem to be on-topic, because they feature science fiction plots.

As a rule of thumb, I think, a question should be on-topic regardless of its medium of distribution. So, as a special case this could include, as you say, lore, plot and mythology but exclude specific gameplay considerations.

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To address your edit:

Yes, I think an event here would work. While some video games have little-to-no plot and lore, other games have huge repositories of lore, ranging from in-game "flavor" elements to entire series of universe-expanding novelizations and other products.

Just off the top of my head, Elder Scrolls, Warcraft, Diablo, and Mass Effect are all popular, current titles that have significant volumes of lore that is independent of direct gameplay elements.

The presence of so much related lore, particularly the published novels, indicates to me that there are plenty of fans who are drawn to this, and therefore an event focusing on video game lore absolutely has the potential to be a major source of new traffic.

That being said, I am not personally a real aficionado of game lore, so I'm not 100% certain of the best type of event.

However, it would be cool if we could work out some way to entice people to link questions between the gaming site and the scifi site. Perhaps a bonus prize randomly selected from questions that are linked?

For example, if I ask a question about Diablo 3 on gaming saying "I found a Black Mushroom that doesn't seem to do anything... what is it for?", a qualifying answer might say "It can be combined with x, y, and z to give access to the secret necro-cow level. The black mushroom is a reference to Leah's mother, the witch Adria.", with the link pointing to a question on scifi.se about what evidence exists that Adria really is Leah's mother.

Even if the logistics of that are problematic, I think it would be great if we could have the event cover both sites in some way. Perhaps questions about where, in the game, particular pieces of obscure lore could be found, or (if applicable), how the lore impacts gameplay, would be appropriate for the gaming.se, and questions about the lore itself, plus exanded sources such as novels, comics, webisodes, etc. would be appropriate for scifi.se, with appropriate questions on either site qualifying for differing pools of prizes (just like with the Avengers vs. X-Men event).

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