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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.

Any game that cannot be won or lost is considered an "activity" and is out of scope.

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.

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 setup) 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 randomised setup that will lead to a different game every time (i.e. it's unlikely that you'll run into the same setup 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.

Hybrid games, that mix physical components with electronical elements are in scope.

Exceptions and Clarifications

Listed here are various clarifications and exceptions for specific categories.

Books

Books should not be entered as a game entry. Instead, the individual games included in the book get an entry. For example, Scarne's Encyclopedia of Card games should not be listed, but the individual games whose rules are contained therein should be (and most or all are).
Books (or chapters) about game strategy, or catalogs and pictorial collections of historic games are not content for the database.

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.

Drinking Games

Many drinking games do not have conditions for winning and losing, and thus are out of scope. For those that do have such conditions, they are only in scope if they also work without alcohol.

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 puzzles that has to be solved. To be considered an escape room game, an item should explicitly list that it is for more than one player, and it should have a way to win and lose the game, or have a scoring mechanism. Furthermore, the puzzles should be interlocking or overlapping in some manner - it should not simple be a series of unrelated puzzles (as is the case in a solitaire puzzle like Rush Hour or a regular puzzle book).

Gift Exchange Games

These games are out, unless there is a clear winner and loser in the game, disregarding the (perceived) value of the gifts that are exchanged.

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.

Sex-Related Games

Many sex-related games do not have conditions for winning and losing, and thus are out of scope. For those that do have such conditions, they are only in scope if they also work when you leave out any sexual activities.

Sports Simulations

Games that simulate a sports event (a match or several matches) are included in the database, even if 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.

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