Saturday, June 23, 2012

Terms in the Industry That Are Overused Revisited

Hello there. A weekend article? It's more common than you think. I was reading an old article published on February 18, 2009 (see the embarrassingly bad writeup here) regarding industry terms that I was sick of hearing or reading. The article was written in the first year of SuperPhillip Central, so the quality was lacking and my current self didn't deem it as looking anything resembling something close to professional (since I am such a shining beacon of that... not). So I have spruced it up and have added a few more recent words to the list. I hope those of you who have seen this article in the past enjoy it now or enjoy it again. To those seeing this article for the first time, please share your thoughts.

Me doth think you use that term too much. There's plenty of words and terms used in professional reviews, sites, and message boards that just get obnoxious and/or boring after a while. Most of the time because they're just used improperly by the happily ignorant. Let me preface this by saying that I'm not saying that these words need to die. I'm just hinting at it heavily (and then blatantly saying that they need to die). Let's get to the list!


It seems some of us are just getting lazy. Why bother trying to categorizing the big differences between pointer control, gesture motions, and just plain shaking the Wii remote like an idiot when we can just classify it all as the off-putting term "waggle"? I find it very easy to discern who takes the Wii seriously and who thinks it's a joke by how many times they use the word waggle. Waggle means to shake back and forth. I am not shaking back and forth when I taking a swing in Tiger Woods 09. I am not shaking back and forth when I flick the Wii remote upwards to catch a fish in MySims Kingdom. Nor am I shaking when I throw a ball at a tower of blocks in Boom Blox. However, I am shaking back and forth when one of those charging zomb-- er-- mutants grab me in House of the Dead: Overkill. Now that is waggle. If motion-control is too big of a term to type, why not just use "motion"? Same amount of letters, less sounding like a jerk when saying it.


AAA. Are we talking about an auto club? Are we talking about a battery size? What are we talking about here? Actually, we're talking about gaming budgets, but the term has lost so much luster over the years with developers saying their game is AAA. So what? What new features does it bring to the table that I can't get anywhere else? If all your game is marketed on as being AAA, I really don't care. I'm sort of over getting on the hype train and being wowed by the marketing blitz. Wow me with engaging gameplay, show me something special that no other game has, and make it entertaining. I don't need to know how much money you sunk into your game. If you did a lot, you most likely need to sell millions of copies just to recoup the costs, right?

next gen

A term that seriously means nothing to me anymore. It's just misused all the time. Some people get it in their heads that next gen only means more power while completely ignoring and/or shunning new features or ways to play. Some consider the Wii U to be current gen, even though it will be the first "next gen" console on the market. These people are in denial, and I have set up a special help group for these diluted men, women, boys, and girls. I yearn for an age of gaming where generations are decided to all by release period and not processing power, graphical input/output, and RAM. 


Sometimes generic is good. Like for instance, go down to your local pharmacy and get the generic of that anti-diarrhea medication you need for less than the brand name kind. (Yes, I still do pitiful lowbrow humor here.) But many gamers take the term "generic" and just run with it. Oh, the art style is generic. The gunplay is generic. The character design is generic. Sometimes they are right on the money, but most often than not, the word is misconstrued and wasted. I find a game like Mickey's Speedway USA on the Nintendo 64 to be a generic racer. Let me explain myself. You have the ho-hum track design with your typical range of items and weaponry, and you have your standard fare of modes to play. It just screams "I need some originality and not just Mickey Mouse in a go-kart!" That's what generic means to me. Not "Banjo-Kazooie's new art style is highly generic-- it looks like something out of Chuck E. Cheese." 


A lot of people just seem to just get off on misusing this term. It basically now boils down to "this doesn't appeal to me or my group of gamer so it's shovelware" more than a genuinely shoddy game. I've read and heard this term for everything from MySims to Manhunt 2 to Beautiful Katamari to Wii Fit to Animal Crossing: City Folk to Dynasty Warriors Gundam to so on and so on. There's a difference between a bad game and shovelware just like there's a difference between accidental death and murder. That difference is intent. Hey, I watch enough Law and Order!

Regardless, the thing that really killed me is when an editor at IGN called Wii Music "Nintendo shovelware". So great. Now a "professional" is tweaking the meaning of the word because the game didn't appeal to him? Goodness, journalists should stay away from the call of Internet gaming forums.. No, I view shovelware as your Ninjabread Mans and your M&M Racing. Not as games like Wii Fit that I just don't care for and have no interest in.


It's sort of like anything with a color palette deviating from black, brown, or gray is considered kiddie nowadays. Wait. You got a gun, sex, naughty words, and lots of violence? Why the hell didn't you say so! I really dislike the ESRB rating "Mature". It's a total misnomer. Most games rated Mature are anything but. Some of these titles are just too immature. They use the F bomb fifty times in ten different ways! I can blow off someone's face with my sawn-off shotgun! Oh, I can see someone's ding-dong because the developer decided they want to continue "pushing the envelope" and "expanding the boundaries of gaming" and getting attention just like some professional video game-making 4chan! Awesome! Case in point, they're stupid terms, and you should reevaluate yourself if you put down a game by saying it's too kiddie and juvenile while going to mow down hookers with your car in Grand Theft Auto and mass murder enemy soldiers in Call of Duty afterward.


Basically, this boils down to a game that someone didn't get the hype for and called it overrated. Some might call Grand Theft Auto IV overrated because of the game's inflated scores (relative to how fun the actual game was to some). Some might say Zelda is overrated just because it doesn't appeal to them, whether it is the actual series, a game in said series, or the actual genre. It's generally a term utilized to slight the game or series being spotlighted. I don't see this in the press; it's typically a message board gamer type of response.  


Maybe one of the reasons I dislike Epic Games is because they called their company "epic." Nah, maybe it's their game output that appeals to the college dude gamer, if you will. Anyway, the word is used everywhere, and it's not just in gaming. YouTube comments, Reddit posts, it goes on and on. "That game looks epic." "That fall was epic." "That lighting is epic." Go on. Expand your vocabulary. Use bigger, more impressive words, and use them correctly! Otherwise we have another word that will just lose its luster quite quickly and grow to mean "it's good." I guess we've already reach that point...


I get that a thesaurus isn't always handy. It isn't always nearby. But there's a site that is weirdly called where you can find synonyms and antonyms to all of your favorite words. If it's dark or edgy gameplay, it's a visceral experience. If it gets your emotions churning, it's a visceral experience. If it stars Nathan Drake jumping out of a helicopter and clutching onto the side of a building while hailstones fall from the sky, it's a visceral experience. If Batman takes one of the Joker's goons and smashes his head into the wall, it's a visceral experience. PR and the press really need to search for a word other than visceral. I mean, come on.


If anything, these two terms need to die. Casual, core, tomato, to-mah-to, potato, po-tah-to. It's all bullocks. Why am I using British jargon? Who knows. Anyway, these words are meant to divide up consumers, some of which only buy a few games a year while others buy dozens, but what it is usually meant for some gamers is "games for stupidheads" and "games for smart farts like me." Casual games are seen as not worth anyone's time to the most vocal gaming enthusiasts. We're at the point where people are just wrongly classifying games as casual when they are still core, or saying games have been dumbed down for the casual gamer. When I was a younger gamer and before the Wii (it's always the Wii's fault, isn't it?), Madden, Halo, and Call of Duty were considered the casual games. Now, it's Wii Fit, Just Dance, The Sims, Mario, and more. What qualifies as core and what qualifies as casual? It's such a stupid distinction, and they are words that do more harm than good nowadays.


The way I understand it, and I'm not hip on these types of things, but an "emo" is someone who stereotypically wears tight jeans, wears bangs to one side of their face, dyed black, belt buckles, skate shoes, tight shirts, and is very shy, angst-filled, and listens to effimenate guys who people like you and me "don't understand" but they say it in a whiny girl-type voice. If nothing else, I have a whiny girl-type voice. True story. At least on the phone, for Goodness sake. Now answer me this: when did the term "emo" come about?

Regardless, lots of people throw the word around when describing Final Fantasy protagonists. Cloud? Okay. Squall? Sure. Zidane? ...No, you didn't. Tidus? Now he's not emo unless we ARE replacing that word with fruity. Now I don't know about you, but I prefer the word fruity to emo, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way.


I understand that terms are created from popular sayings, and that is how language works. The language lexicon makes words that have a distinct definition so everyone knows what a given person is talking about when they say them. However, at times we wrongly use these words just to spite what we're actually talking about. This is where we have a problem, and that's what this article represents.

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