And with the forums -- and to a lesser extent, comments on blogs, Twitter, and telegraphs -- comes a shocking array of linguistic conformity. You see, when people are upset or eager to prove a point, they have no time to sit down and calmly think of a way to fully communicate their perspectives. No time! Instead, they reach deep into the well of the same overused words and phrases, give them a hearty kick in the direction of their post, and feel as though they've conjured up a masterful work of literature.
So today I'm going to exorcise 10 of the most overused, abused, and tired forum terms seen daily in your local MMO forum. Then I will move on with my life and suggest you do the same.
Few terms irk me as much as this one. It stands for "too long; didn't read" and usually shows up after someone writes a lengthy -- and sometimes thoughtful -- post. Have a deep thought about a game system or want to take the time to type out a balanced critique of the latest patch? The post will be resented for it, and you will be dismissed with four letters and a semi-colon that looks like it's making a winking, happy face in the middle there. Hopefully next time you'll learn your lesson!
It just exemplifies how lazy forum posters are on a couple of levels. The responder is saying, with a complete lack of shame, that his mind is so weak that it has no ability to digest text that comes packaged in lengths greater than two sentences. Even worse, the fact that he sloppily throws out an acronym instead of typing out four words is only acceptable if his demise -- perhaps by rampaging dinosaur -- is imminent.
So you have a dire problem: Another poster has written something you violently disagree with, but you have no logical response to him because it's a matter of opinion, taste or playstyle. How will you ever put him in his place -- under your boot heel, to be precise? Why, merely ignore what he said and go after the poster personally!
And thus, dozens of derogatory labels were born, all with different flavors but the same goal of putting down the person so that his post is rendered inert. Is this person not as hardcore as you? She's a carebear! Did he dare point out a criticism in your beloved title? HATER! Does he have the sheer gumption to actually like this game? FANBOIIIIIIIII!
When I polled the Massively staff about overused forum terms, I was deluged by a number of "FAILs" I received in response. At first I thought they were talking about me and my stilted writing style, but I quickly realized that they -- like you, perhaps -- were sick and tired of the well-worn FAIL. Yes, it's an internet thing, and it'll die the same day that LoLcats do, but it's annoying just how much the MMO community's co-opted this term to sling at anything that meets its disapproval. Oh, don't tell us why you're upset; just belch out a big ol' "FAIL" and call it a job well done. Bravo.
Now, I will agree that people who feel the need to leave an MMO by self-destructing on the forums are a tad narcissistic and come from the Drama Llama School of Quitters. So I do understand the natural response may be to slather on the humor and have some fun with it all. But a wrung-out joke that's had the funny bleached from it years ago isn't the way to go, my friends. "Can I have your stuff?" was once, if not the pinnacle of savvy humor, at least zing-worthy. Now it's become another half-hearted dance step as we waltz to the same old dirge.
Besides, studies show that 98% of posters never, ever give you their stuff. I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you that.
Just like every person is an amateur doctor at heart, every player is a well-intentioned if completely uninformed developer. We know all, we see with a clarity that is denied to lesser beings, and our forecasting abilities measure into decades. Ergo, we have the ability to tell instantly if a game is dying, which is something that happens more often than you'd think. Oh, the games we label as "dying" don't ever seem to, y'know, die, but it'll happen! One day! And on that day, we will be vindicated for predicting it and then drink the wine of the gods while our laughter booms across the planet.
In other news, we are all dying. Shhh. This is just between you and me.
There are few terms more universally hated than this one. In these two words you have a faulty thesis wrapped around moldly presumptions and a viewpoint that really isn't used anymore. Once upon a time, sure, a dev might've labeled his game a "WoW-killer," but this hasn't happened in the last half-decade or so. Nobody does this, because it's a ridiculous claim (not a ridiculous clam; that's something different) -- how does one game kill another, exactly?
So here we have an instance in which players throw around this term as if other players and/or devs have made the claim that Game X is a "WoW-killer" even when no such claim has been uttered. Are MMOs competitors? Sure. Are there developers who march into a boardroom, throw a foot up on the table like a conquering hero, and proclaim, "Gentlemen! Today we shall make a WoW-killer, and it will kill WoW with smoldering righteousness and DirectX 11 graphics!"? Only in your dreams, mon frere.
I'll admit that this is a personal pet peeve of mine. You see this a lot when one poster wants to insult another in a weirdly civilized manner. It usually goes along the lines of "You, sir, are an idiot" or "I know elite Hobbits, and you, sir, are no moxie-enriched halfling."
Throwing in the honorific tells us that you are somehow physically restraining yourself from a good and proper insult and are lavishing knighthood on another player out of a sense of irony. Well, irony as you understand it.
At the risk of gross overgeneralization, I think every dev hates this phrase deeply. Well, except the slap fetishists, but that's for a completely different type of column. It tends to happen when a player is upset about a change to the game or some action (or inaction) on behalf of the dev team and sputters indignantly, "This is a total slap in the face!" Cue collective eyerolling.
It's a silly phrase because at its core is the assumption that devs are deliberately and maliciously plotting against their own players -- you know, the people who pay their salaries. It's silly because it's someone taking a business decision incredibly personally. It's silly because why "slap" when you could say "a bazooka to the face."
If we're to include honesty and realism into our MMO discussions, we'll all have to admit that the concept of "balancing" an extremely complex online game is an ongoing and nigh-impossible task. This doesn't stop 65% of forum posters who rant about such-and-such needing to be balanced, or how this skill is unbalanced, or whether the devs even care about balance.
Unlike the other terms on this list, "balance" and discussions about it are often legitimate and worthy of discussion. The problem is that often these words are used without any larger context, specific examples, or concrete data; it's just "this class is unbalanced!" without telling us who, what, where, why, how, and to what extent.
I don't know who started this pointless trend, and I don't quite understand what you win by posting First! as the first reply to any thread. Can't people see that you were, indeed, the first poster? Is there a hidden achievement for this? Do women select their mates based on how many times they were able to be First! in a comment section?
Whatever the answers, First! is so dead that it's long since crumbled into dust and gone back to the earth. It's time to move on. "Second!" anyone?
To help me illustrate the many fine points this article made, our crack team of Massively commenters will now use these phrases in the section provided below. Do not fret; this is a sociological experiment!
Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at email@example.com or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.