Article Edit | History | Editors

Game Criteria RSS Feed

Most of us feel that they know what a board game is. But there are various items that are hard to classify, and that not everyone will agree on. Moreover, some activities that some people may consider games are out of scope for BoardGameGeek. Here, we list the criteria that are currently used to determine if a game is in scope. Likely, as new items come up, new criteria will be added.

See also: BGG Guide to Game Submissions

Core Criteria

These are the main criteria that are used to determine whether or not a game is in scope. Note that there is no criteria that says a board game has to have a board - so card game, dice games and other games without an actual board are in scope (provided they satisfy the other criteria).

Winning and Losing

To be in scope, there should be rules that structure the game, and that indicate when the a player (or team) has won the game (and other players have lost). This includes games where all players work together against the game. In those cases, it is important that there are also rules for losing the game. (It is insufficient if the players can only lose by giving up.)

For solitaire and cooperative games, a scoring at the end of the game may take the place for an actual win condition.

Requires components

The game requires some sort of components to play. So, Rock Paper Scissors is out of scope for BoardGameGeek. (Though derived games that do use components, such as Rock Paper Scissors, Rock Paper Scissors Game, Rock Paper Scissors: The Card Game, and Rock, Paper, Scissors, Inc. are in scope.)

Played on Tabletop (More or Less)

To be considered a board game, a game must be playable on a tabletop, or failing that, within a room.
Any games that require play in or movement to the outdoors are virtually automatically outside the scope of BGG.
Any games which require a wide area that still comprises an indoor space are still likely to be deemed out of scope.

Portable

The game should be easily portable, which includes being small enough to be carried. Billiards is out for being too large, but Crokinole is an acceptable size (and portable). Foosball is out, but Kineti-Go Magnetic Shuffleboard and Le Passe-Trappe are in (and are portable). Dart Wars is portable, but for practical purposes Traditional Darts is not.

Public Domain Games Are Out of Scope

In general, public domain games are out of scope, unless they are available in a physical form (that is, a set consisting of all the material needed to play the game, and a rulebook).
Many public domain games are variants of games that are in the database; those can be posted to the variants forum of the related game.

Solitaire Puzzles are Out of Scope

BoardGameGeek has a prohibition against solo solvable puzzles, such as Rush Hour or Rubik's Cube. A puzzle is an item such that a problem is presented for which a programmed solution is available. In Rush Hour, each of the puzzles has a solution. For a Rubik's Cube, there is a series of programmed moves for any configuration that brings about the end solution.

Note that solitaire games are in scope. If a game has random elements (outside of set-up) or hidden information, so that no programmed solution, it is not considered a puzzle, and may be in scope (if it also complies with the other criteria).

Also, if a game has a randomized set-up that will lead to a different game every time (i.e., it's unlikely that you'll run into the same set-up twice), it is also not considered a puzzle.

Roleplaying Games Are Out of Scope

Roleplaying games are collected on RPGGeek, and are out of scope for BoardGameGeek. However, board games with roleplaying elements may be in scope.

In general, if the game allows players to take actions that are not explicitly covered by the game rules, and that require players (or game masters) to improvise, the game should be on RPGGeek.

Electronic Games are Out of Scope

Items that are purely electronic (e.g. DVD games, video games, handheld electronic games, apps) are not within the scope of BoardGameGeek. These items can be submitted to Video Game Geek. Likewise, games that have (only) been published on a digital board gaming platform such as Tabletopia or Tabletop simulator are also out of scope.

Hybrid games, that mix physical components with electronical elements are in scope, as are web-published games that come with clear instructions on how to assemble or create a physical game.

Structured Activities Are on the Edge

A structured activity uses game rules to structure some other activity: acting, learning, drinking, sharing personal details, etc. Many structured activities do not have conditions for winning and losing. Often, they also lack a clear end, continuing for as long as the players want to continue. Such activities are out of scope.

If a structured activity has clear winning and losing conditions, and a clear ending, then it is in scope. The conditions for winning and losing have to be objective, and follow from the game's mechanisms. So, a condition like "The winner is the player who has learned the most" is not sufficient. (Winning and losing may depend on subjective mechanisms like voting or a player judge.)
The end trigger should also be specified in the rules. It may involve the players setting a limit at the start of the game, and it may be implicit from the win condition (i.e. the game ends as soon as someone wins it.)

The win condition (and the game's end trigger) should be explicit in the game's rules. It's not sufficient if players could easily come up with their own rules for winning the game or ending it.

Exceptions and Clarifications

Listed here are various clarifications and exceptions for specific categories.

Books

Books (or chapters) about game strategy, or catalogs and pictorial collections of historic games are not content for the database.

For books which contain multiple games:
- If it comes with additional game play components: book itself gets an entry - individual entries for the games are optional.
- If it comes without components: individual games get an entry - book itself entry is optional.

Conversation Games

This is a general class of turn-of-the-century items that featured cards with questions and answers. The function was to ask a question from one card and respond with the answer from a different card, with Mad Libs-style hilarity as a result. Most of the time, these games lack conditions for winning and losing, and thus are out of scope.

Competitive Puzzles

Any (solitaire) puzzle can be turned into a competitive game by using multiple copies, and seeing which player is the first to solve the puzzle. Some solitaire puzzles come with the suggestion for such a variant on the box or rules. For our purpose, these items still count as solitaire puzzles, and are therefore out of scope.

Digital Expansions

Though purely electronic games are out of scope, hybrid games that mix physical components with electronic elements, are in scope. Such games may have expansions that are purely digital. Such expansions are also in scope, provided they still require the use of physical components from the core game.

Drinking Games

Many sex-related games are structured activities, as described above. That means that in order to be in scope, they need to have clear conditions for winning and losing and for ending the game.
The winning condition cannot be something along the lines of "the last person standing wins the game" or "the first person to throw up loses the game"; it must be something that is tied to the game mechanisms and could also be reached if someone is not actually drinking alcohol. It is fine if your ability to win is affected by drinking.

Escape Room Games

Even though they are closely related to puzzles, Escape Room Games are considered in scope for BoardGameGeek. An escape room game consists of a collection of linked puzzles that have to be solved.

Gamebooks/Choose Your Own Adventure

Gamebooks are books in which the player is able to influence the story by making choices. Many of these books can be considered to be solitaire RPGs, and as such, they are out of scope for BoardGameGeek and should be added to RPGGeek instead. However, exceptions may be made for gamebooks that are published by a board game publisher, or that are part of a line of boardgames.

Gift Exchange Games

Gift-exhange games are structured activities, as described above. That means that in order to be in scope, they need to have clear conditions for winning and losing and for ending the game.

Oracles

Divination products, such as ouiji boards and divination tarot cards, usually do not have win and loss conditions, and as such are out of scope. This is true for most things that say they will tell the future.

Periodicals

Periodicals should not be entered as a game entry. Instead, the individual games included in the periodical get an entry.
An exception is made if the entire periodical forms an expansion to a game, such as Spellcaster: the Frostgrave Magazine #1.

RPG/Boardgame Crossovers

Sometimes, a RPG supplement is a boardgame (or boardgame expansion) in its own right. For examples, the combat rules for a RPG might also include instructions on how to use them as miniature wargame rules. In such cases, the item may be listed on both BGG and RPGGeek.

Sex-Related Games

Many sex-related games are structured activities, as described above. That means that in order to be in scope, they need to have clear conditions for winning and losing and for ending the game.

Sandbox Games

A sandbox game is a game that does not specify a win condition, allowing the players to pursue their own desired goals or to "just see what happens". The focus is on the game and the game's mechanisms and story; the game is not meant to support or structure some other activity, such as acting, dancing, drinking, learning math, or getting a kid to bed.

An example of games that fall into this category are sports simulations that simulate a sports event where the player(s) don't have a team of their own, and thus cannot win the game.

Storytelling Games

Collections of components that are used to merely create a story are included in the database, even when they do not lead to a winner.
This does not apply if the game is not about creating stories, but about telling stories about oneself (with the goal of getting to know each other).

A Note on Existing Database Entries

The database contains items that, based on the guidelines above, are out of scope for BoardGameGeek. They may have been entered when the policy was different or less specific. Others may have gotten added in error. Often, these entries are allowed to remain, to avoid destroying user data. This means that existing items are not always a good example of what is in scope for BoardGameGeek, and an item may be deemed out of scope even if there is a similar item in the database.

As much as possible, these items are included in the Admin: Outside the Scope of BGG family. There is also a placeholder entry for items that are out of scope: Outside the Scope of BGG. This item can be used when wanting to include an out-of-scope item on (for example) a GeekList. The entries also list various examples of items that are deemed to be out of scope.

[What Links Here]