Without putting too many words in their mouths, I think I can sum up the bare bones of their arguments as follows:
- Jon believes that Sci-Fi color is all that is required to make a game Sci-Fi.
- Joshua is taking the stance that SF (quoting from a post of his at Story Games) "is a genre in which human conflicts take place that can only happen in the environment of the story."
Interestingly, I think Burning Empires can straddle the divide and come down on either side depending on the priorities of the players. By default, Burning Empires is a space opera game, which would align it with Jon's Sci-Fi argument (as Guy noted, Star Wars is a fantasy, not science fiction, unless you accept the Sci-Fi argument).
On the other hand, the World Burner and Technology Burner allow Burning Empires players to focus on how particular technologies and environments might affect human conflicts, if that interests them.
Joshua's Shock:, on the other hand, is designed to provide a laser focus on that particular type of story.
So, with that as a primer, let's open this topic up for discussion. We don't need to restrict ourselves to science fiction either. Feel free to discuss what it is that is essential to establish a particular genre, and why.