Welcome to “Palaver” – a monthly discussion where the Another Dungeon team answer a question presented to them. If you have a burning question you’d like to ask you can post a comment below or send us an email.
This month, we answer the grand question of:
What gaming term do you like/dislike/are confused by?
I really dislike the terms “casual”, “core”, and “hardcore” when used to categorise gamers. From a business perspective I fully understand the need to have a distinguishing metric however I find the “internet mentality” use of the terms abhorrent. From a business point of view, it pays to identify and categorise gamers and the types of games that will appeal to them. How much time does a person spend gaming in a week? How often do they buy games? How much do they spend? Are they likely to spend money on micro-transactions, DLC, sequels, etc? This helps a business ascertain the economic viability of potential projects and is a useful measure for justification.
Now take the terms as interpreted by social gamer groups. Initially “casual gamers” was a term used to describe a gamer who only played games with simple gameplay and/or a low level of commitment. This stems from the term “hardcore” being used as a measure of difficulty. It didn’t take long before “keyboard warriors” were using the term in a derogatory fashion (usually on forums or social media) to refer to any gamer who played a game they perceived as “not hardcore”. A Candy Crush player would be ridiculed for liking a “filthy casual game” despite dedicating more time, effort, and money to their chosen game than the accusing gamer. Perhaps it’s less the term that I dislike and more the fact it’s frequently misappropriated (used to measure social acceptance rather than difficulty) and reveals the toxic attitudes many gamers have nowadays. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the term itself – it’s even given rise to some moments of mirth (Tim knows I dislike it so calls me a filthy casual at every opportunity he gets).
I guess I just dislike any term that gets twisted into something derogatory and is used in a negative fashion.
There’s not really any term that I dislike, and certainly none that I’m confused by (well… as far as I know – maybe I’m just wrong about some of them?), but I think that “tech demo” is a term that is way overused, and often inappropriate. The term refers to an actual existing thing – a tech demo is often something that is shown behind closed doors or in development in order to show off (or “demonstrate”) an idea.
For whatever reason, this term was once used to describe an underdeveloped game or a one-trick pony, and it’s become a common term to use when referring to something people don’t like, and it annoys me far more than it should.
For example, back in the day, this term was bandied about in regards to a game called Super Rub-a-Dub on the PS3. This game required players to guide a rubber ducky through a water-filled environment, avoiding sharks along the way. Some people called it a tech demo for PS3 water physics. I called it highly addictive and more complex than it seemed at first glance – and the water DID look nice. I have a feeling that a lot of people out there didn’t give it the chance it deserved, and it’s the misuse of terms like this that can be blamed for it.
Oh, and Tim. Tim can also be blamed for most things.
For some time I’ve very much despised seeing the use of OST in place of simply stating that you’re listening to a game soundtrack. Call me an old fogey (I’m totally not), but using a term that sounds hip too often makes it sound tacky. Often I feel like the gaming community does things like this to solidify their identity, when there isn’t a great need to continue to highlight our individuality from other cultural pastimes. It’s interesting that many of us do things like this still, as I feel it’s a remnant of games being viewed as an illegitimate entertainment medium. Proof that we, as consumers and creators of games media, are so used to being on the defensive when discussing our medium.
I’d say the gaming term that annoys me the most is either pixel art or 8bit graphics. The thing that frustrates me most is it seems like it’s become an excuse to make games with straight up poor graphics. There’s some titles that do it well and are a nice throwback to older games, then there are titles who just have poor graphics and use it as a term to try and sell their games. This annoying trend seemed to pop up a few years ago and looks like it isn’t going anywhere soon. I’m usually not a fan of these sorts of games anyway, but for some reason it still annoys me.
Mine would have to be “casual”. What about a game determines the amount of time you spend playing it? Or your attitude towards playing it? I can understand some games, with specific energy systems, enforcing a “casual” approach to playing it, however I cannot understand how this can be determined on games without these mechanics.
When considering games like Call of Duty, widely said to be “core” or “hardcore” (two more terms that are next-to meaningless in game design) next to games like Candy Crush, there are very few metrics by which you can judge “casualness”. Generally, the term is used to describe a game based on its players, however often in the industry a game is created to be “casual” before it has players. Therefore, presumably these designers have in mind features of a game which make it “casual”. I’d be very interested to know if these markers match those that most “hardcore gamers” attribute to people they believe are “casual”… I’d also like to know why they consider this to be derogatory.
The thing I like about many “gaming terms” is their organic conception, without much consideration for language rules or conventions. I’ve always found the term “pwned”, amusing. It supposedly originated as a typo in “owned”, which in itself does not make much sense, but has a nice ring to it when slaughtering your foes. Having said that—as someone who has not played a lot of MMOs, I’m confused by most MMO related terms. When I come across the term “MMORPG” (massively multiplayer online role-playing game), it always seems too long to be an initialism, yet too awkward to read as an acronym… let’s play some mmoarpegehs!
There are quite a few confusing gaming terms I’ve heard in my headset while playing online with strangers, but my mum won’t tell me what they mean until I’m older.
While it’s easy to be a negative Nancy and go on about how the idea of procedurally generated content is frustrating and appears to lack innovation, I won’t be negative because that gets you nowhere. Instead, I’ll focus on the confusion that stems from the term ‘roguelike games’. The desire to pigeon hole games into specific genres has helped create a bunch of different genres that are bizarre – take the ‘walk-em-up’ genre for example. The most perplexing – for me at least – is the term ‘roguelike’. For starters, if the ‘rogue-like’ genre is such a prolific type of game, then why does it have to be like something? Why can’t it be its own thing?
I understand the origins of the term with links back to RPG’s, but nowadays it seems that anything that involves exploration and dungeons is suddenly slapped with the ‘roguelike’ label. I’m not saying it’s a bad term, it just confuses me given the sorts of games that it represents – Spelunky, Faster Than Light, Shovel Knight. To me, Spelunky and Shovel Knight are mostly great platformers, and that’s probably all I would call them. Maybe I’m just an old man who shakes his fist at all the dank bae’s who are so woke with their on fleek selfies, that when a word that comes around like roguelike, well, I can’t help but be confused. (Sidenote: I’m aware it’s a much, much older word than fleek.)
I don’t have any one term that I passionately dislike, but there is a convention in games discussion that I dislike – unnecessary abbreviation. The place that I see this most commonly is in the discussion of new titles. A recent example is the Kickstarter title ‘A Place for the Unwilling’, which I saw abbreviated as ‘APFTU’. I understand why people abbreviate titles for ease of communication when discussing a range of games at length, but in some instances it can just be confusing. I’m all for abbreviations that make communication clearer, but in the case of short articles there’s often no need for them!
I also greatly dislike people using the term ‘pixelart’ as a slur which equates to ‘bad indie game’. Art should not interpreted as an indication of the quality of a title’s gameplay and/or mechanics!