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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Gaming Lexicon

"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use them." -Philip K. Dick

I must say that I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by the proliferation of the new wargaming vocabulary.  It's hard to place exactly where this frustration is coming from.  I've been exposed to buzzword heavy corporate cultures that drove me nuts, many bits of the gaming vernacular have been shamelessly and lazily stolen from other places, much of this vocabulary is built on flawed metaphors or analogies, and the more something is said, the more baggage it begins to carry.  These things are all kind of compounded into a big fat ball of annoyance for me.

True story- many years ago I was a store manager for a middle tier Sandwich Franchiser, working at a corporately owned store.  During my time there, I saw some of the worst abuses of overusing buzzwords that I have ever and hopefully will ever see.  It got to me over time.  Before I knew it, I was sending out e-mails in which I tried to see how many times I could use certain buzzwords just to be- well- a dick.  I once sent an e-mail t the VP that used the term "setting up for success" at least 15 times and as much as 3 times in one sentence, in response to an e-mail he'd sent out earlier that used that phrase at least 5 times- unsarcastically.  Sadly, I don't think anybody got it, I just looked like another automaton yes man.

Great story; it looks like you've always been as asshole, did it have a fucking point?  Well maybe it did.  What I'm trying to get at is that the mindless repetition of phrases and words coined by others stifles creativity and independent thought to some extent.  While it can help us to express difficult concepts quickly, it gets tiresome to hear or read the same things over and over again.  This is one of many reasons that languages evolve in the first place.

That's not the half of it though.  Over time words and phrases start to carry a lot of baggage- as much or more negative than positive.  Spam, for example, is one such word.  It has gone from a canned meat product to in indiscriminately sending junk e-mail or the e-mails themselves to repeating the same units in an army list.  Ignoring for now the fact that this metaphor makes absolutely no sense in any of its incarnations, spamming carries the negative connotation that a spammer is a WAAC (don't me started on the baggage there, lol) gamer or uncreative or a douchebag.  If we instead say the spammer is using unit redundancy, copy/pasting, or stuttering (just made that one up) we can say the same thing with varying degrees of negative associations. 

Maybe it's just human nature to play god and give names to things.  It can certainly make conveying emotions or concepts easier  in some cases.  If I say the word bubble wrap, you'll probably know what I'm talking about in the context of gaming, even if I am getting sick of seeing that word. 

What do you guys have to say?  Are there any words or acronyms you're sick of?- spam, bubble wrap, competitive gamer, snowmobiling, leafblower, loganwing, douche, etc.

19 comments:

kennedy said...

I am kind of baffled by why everything is a something-wing. I know where it comes from (Deathwing, Ravenwing), but I'd really like to see something a little different.

I'm sure there are others that irritate me. That's probably why I suggested a rebrand a while back. However, I'll leave the rants to you for today ;)

k.Blas said...

Personally, I don't understand the need to simplify everything into an acronym in general. Its getting to the point on Dakka for instance (yeah I know) that everything is a DE, WH, BA, RzB, WAACBATL, and other asinine ways to write out unit names.

Tinkling Koala said...

WAAC is an acronym that pisses me off to no end. Not the acronym itself, but the lack of idea conveyed and the simple philosophical blindness inherent in those who use it. I'm convinced that the anti-WAACers are all secretly Marxists. :p

This all reminds me of Josef Pieper's Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power.

On a slightly less serious note, when I started getting back into 40k I went 6 months without knowing what bubblewrap meant and I couldn't find an explanation.

Dethtron said...

well incontinent koala, you raise an interesting point in your last paragraph. I forgot to mention that accronyms and jargon assume a certain level of knowledge that new players or players who are new to a concept may not posses.

perhaps somebody should actually compile a 40k lexicon. any takers? you guys should do something with your lives since I haven't gotten any project mayhem submissions yet....

kennedy said...

Somebody did Project Mayhem. They had closed the entry and removed the email address by the time I got around to posing as you, Dethtron ;)

I may have to take you up on that idea, as it seems like something geared towards my general bent. I'll put it on tap for next week, I think.

Gonewild said...

The word "cheese" used to describe something silly, overpowered or false really grates on my nerves (see what I did there).
Bubble wrap is still a mystery to me, although I think it has to do with protecting a more expensive unit with a less expensive unit?).

The one slang term I do like, however, is speed bump or speed bumping. I think it adequately describes using a unit to specifically slow down an opposing unit or force.

I like the idea of a definition of terms. Jawaballs posted a list of acronyms he commonly uses on his blog. Having to google a bunch of slang and acronyms in order to get through a post, story, or bat-rep sucks and is a great way to lose a reader's attention fast.

clt40k said...

I don't care for the word "broken" -- it makes me want to do violence to the writer...

BTW - Lets call Kirby's list the blood-wing... ;)

Ishamael said...

The gaming vernacular has been a subject of my hatred lately. In my ANTH 101 class we were going over the term noob because we had to do a project in Second Life, and I wanted to rage on how derogatory that term is, and that led me to feeling damned silly because it held weight on me.

I hate our gaming lingo. We're a bunch of dumb asses that can't even agree on what terms mean in the first place, let alone have the terms be sufficient.

Brother Loring said...

I've had countless arguments about how stupid terms like 'rock', 'paper' and 'scissors' are.

I use a load of them unfortunately... The one I hate the most, the one that makes me want to grate my eyeballs every time I see it, the one that makes me want to go for another STI test *joking - that's just stoopid* is lol. Yes. I use it. But I want to stab myself every time I do.

I don't mind 'bubblewrap' as it seems sensible to me. I'll agree on Cheese, OP, Broken etc... STD test anyone?

Mobious said...

A bit off topic, but I hate when people just straight up misuse a word. The word "competitive" is the best example. Apparently people think a competitive event is one that has good opponents. And also believe that competitive gamers are the ones that are very good, have to win every game, and can never play casually.

Honestly I think vocabulary issues like these are the root of all evil in the 40k internet world. Everyone is talking in their own personal language, and everyone gets hot and bothered because of it.

Von said...

@ Mobious - and then, when you raise the point about personal languages and communication crises, they wail and froth about how they're not interested in arguing semantics? At least, I hope they do - I'd hate to think it's only me that happens to.

Messanger of Death said...

In my time on forums I have watched as negative connotations develop for several words.

Without a doubt the most irritating notion that people seem to have is that competitive gamers don't know how to paint. Has anyone actually looked at some of Sandwyrm's stuff. He is a fucking genius.

And my second least favourite notion is that tournaments are all competitive. So if you win a tournament the army list/codex must be good. Or the winner was a WAAC/cheat.

And since we seem to be venting our spleen. Here is another thing that bugs me. Bad punctuation. I don't expect to see something amazing because I know that my writing isn't great. But atleast use full stops, capital letters and the Enter button... basic stuff learnt in primary school.

Messanger

Anonymous said...

Maybe stop looking for shibboleths amongst a geekitude who view language less as a tool of communication and more as a way to inflate dicksize and gaming acronym.

I come to places like your preposterous hipster 'indier than thou' blog to see entertaining discussions. When I can get past the 'I like Bongwater/Kramer' hipsterism, I have to deal with a new dib dib dob dob.

But I always feel like the uncool have found the New Geek Cool.

Just talk to me, just have a chat. Don't find refuge in acronym audacity. Talk to cats like me who would buy you a beer and make you a mix tape and talk rules with merry nerd smiles.

Drunk

Jazz Devil

Zheilt said...

I hate WAAC the most. I have no problem with the phrase itself, it's a valid description of the way some people play the game, I just hate the way it's so overused. It seems like anyone that takes a duplicate unit, or who likes to play tactically, or anything else remotely "competitive" is automatically a WAAC asshole who is ruining the game for everyone else because they don't play for fun*.

In my opinion, WAAC-cryers are more WAAC than tactical gamers. I play a hard game with my statistically superior army list and win. You whine about how the only reason I won was because I wasn't playing for fun and it wasn't a fair game. Arguing yourself into invalidating my win and granting yourself the moral victory? How is that not winning at all costs? (even if the cost is actually losing the game!)

*Actually, screw WAAC, "fun" is my least favorite thing in this hobby. Please tell me some more that I'm not playing for fun. In a game with such a huge time/money investment as this one, why would I ever be playing for anything but fun? Dear internet, FUN IS SUBJECTIVE!

Brother Loring said...

Jazz Devil - could you translate that into something we can all understand?

It sounds like I want to laugh along with it, but it may be a personal attack for all I know!

Dethtron said...

@Jazz Devil- kudos to you for making the most derogatory compliments I have seen in some time. I feel like we need a new word or acronymn to describe that :)


ps bongwater bad; kramer good

Brent said...

I'm late to the game, but I detest the term Unicorn.

Which is ironic, since I'm pretty sure Jawaballs coined it and I've been net-stalking him for a year now.

It's why I did my anti-girl-gamer 'No Such Thing as a Unicorn' articles... which got me in trouble for my language.

You can't win.

The_King_Elessar said...

I hate James Corden. Well, not HATE...but he isn't funny.

Off-topic? Like I care. lol

Hoagy said...

Mathammer.