A new gaming dictionary?


[Editor's note: themizarkshow evaluates the New Gamer Dictionary. -- CTZ]

A few weeks ago, the HAWP video, "New Gamer Dictionary," posed as a solution to the issue of gaming not being taken seriously. Immediately, my brain started assessing the situation with all that philosophical/theological vigor I haven't gotten many chances to use since I got my BA, was forced out of the dorms, and decided to be a lazy college grad with a job before addressing the options of grad school.

The video, with it's agenda of entertainment and humor, raised a good point and at least started us off in the right direction of a viable solution. 

The problem? Gaming isn't taken seriously as an art form, storytelling mechanism, or even respected as a valid source of entertainment by many people. The proposed solution? Come up with a common vocabulary, as would happen in science, philosophy, history, art, etc, to further validate and further expand the community.

As a Philosophy BA, this solution sounds like something straight out of American Pragmatism as put forth by Richard Rorty. For those of you not in "the know" ... Pragmatism, as a theory, more or less says we don't need the pesky, problem-ridden metaphysics to explain the world because it can never be proven: the conversation is always an abstract one, not a practical one. Instead, they focus on what is "most workable." Rorty wasn't just a philosopher, however, but an avid linguist who believed that it is in language that we find truth. He went as far as to say that "Truth cannot be out there —cannot exist independently of the human mind— because sentences cannot so exist, or be out there. The world is out there, but descriptions of the world are not. Only descriptions of the world can be true or false. The world on its own —unaided by the describing activities of humans— cannot.”

Having read that, I assume you see why the "New Gamer Dictionary" gave me flashbacks to my Postmodernism/Pragmatism Seminars.

(Rorty is a total badass, in case you didn't know)

If we are to take this idea seriously, we have to first admit that there is already a sort of Gamer Dictionary in place. Common gaming terms like FPS, MMORPG, console, LAN, pwn, frag, noob, camping, lag, backpacking, and many more have even made their way into much of our wider culture and cannot be ignored. Terms such as these are fairly easy to come up with and, if catchy/accurate, will of course be picked up by the gaming community. Since the HAWP dictionary started with terms like those listed above, I feel that they started this new linguistic process in the same place as the one which is already established; thus, expanding on an already existing dictionary rather than jump starting a new one ... and that is perfectly fine, if you are willing to admit that is the goal. All vocabularies and dictionaries can use some refinement and redirection at points, but if you are after something "new," then there is an immediate problem we must first address: We, as gamers, are not creating, discovering, or experimenting. We are, instead, using what others have made for us and exploring it.

If we are to ignore the fact that the game worlds are created by men/women, it is our description of them that provide truth/meaning to them, something the worlds are void of before we put it into words. This leans in the direction of meaning that the creators of those worlds/games, would have less say than the public because, as in most artforms, intention isn't what matters as much as the reality of how things plays out. But, because the creators opinions do matter and, thanks to blog/news sites such as this, that information is easily spread and accessible. We are thus, more akin to movieaholics, avid readers, and art appreciators than scientists, philosophers, historians, etc. If this is taken as a truth, it could mean that we have more of a gaming theology/mythology in the works rather than a philosophy/science. We are playing as creatures (creations) within a created world made by developers (deities of that world) who can now even interact with these lower lifeforms via online multiplayer, coop, interviews, cons, and DLC/patches (avatars).

(this kind of avatar ...not the Rare Ware ones. Although that works too, I guess.)

So, we are not the ones pushing gaming forward, and thus aren't the ones in charge of the fields direction. However, we aren't just those benefiting from the artform/science which others are crafting/creating, either. Unlike the sciences, the mainstream has a huge say in what will be popular and for how long. Yet, unlike most artforms, the gaming experience is an interactive one, meaning we do get to participate in the experience and possibly enjoy it much more than those who created it. We aren't in control, yet we are. We don't create, yet it is not beyond our abilities to do so ... making the overall field of gaming, a very unique and interesting one.

So, if we are to create a new vocabulary, or even refine our current one, where/how do we start? Must we start from the ground up, assuming nothing about the realm of gaming at all? Science does this by trying to work from outside the object(s) they are studying, leaving behind preconceptions, biases, etc, so as not to interfere with the natural habitat and the realm of possible conclusions they could draw from this observation/experimentation. If that is the case, should each game/series be its own field of study/inquiry, set apart from others existing in the same genre? If so, we have a rapidly growing and largely unmanageable field at hand (a possible reason for the lack of respect for gamers, since it is fairly difficult for newcomers to get into the culture). Should we first start by looking at how we classify games, ourselves, what our beliefs about games are, etc? Before we can start naming instances, we should have already built the categories within which the names will fall. Or maybe we should first try to refine and expand the current vocabulary until we have an understanding of why it doesn't work, or where it fails, so we can then move forward successfully.

Or, maybe the problem lies with people, like me and probably you, who take ideas like this far too seriously and fail to just respect gaming as a form of entertainment and enjoyment. Maybe trying to force gaming to fall across the realms of literature, science, history, and philosophy doesn't work because gaming is its own thing and we need to just let it be and fully develop into that thing by sitting back, enjoying the experience, and not worrying about what others opinions of us and of the gaming culture/industry actually are.

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Mark 30 Philosophy, Communication Design Milwaukee Digital/Motion Designer __________________________ (as of mid-2016) Pokemon GO Mini Metro Really Bad Chess TripleTown Inside Doom Ov... more + disclosures



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