Talk Gamer to Me
Are you a librarian that runs a gaming program?
Do you have a gamer in your life that lapses into the alternate dialect of gamer-ese and you want to understand them? (Hi Dana!)
Then this post is for you!
What follows is a collection of different smatterings of gamer speak. It is a combination of a lot of different factors, many of which cannot be “taught.” Hopefully this opens up some small understanding to the sub-culture of gaming.
LOLspeak and 1337speak
This is my own personal history unsubstantiated by facts, but I think it’s pretty close. Tell me if I’m wrong.
Back in the early days of computers when you had the truly die-hard computer users and hackers, there evolved a type of speech or code developed for that particular sub-culture, known now as “Leet Speak.” I put it in quotes because it is actually 1337sp33k to those who understand it.
Leet is a shortening of the word “elite”, and the rest of the word “1337sp33k” just has the letters replaced with numbers that look about the same.
Here’s a modern example:
If you were really hard core back in the day, you could write whole sentences without using any letters at all. 17 15 \/3|39 |>@|3<| 7|-|0 (It is very hard tho). Takes a long time to write too. I am not all that good at it. There are also a lot of links in many types of 1337sp33k to programming terms, of which my favorite is “not equal to” (!=). Red != blue.
The more popular version of communicating on the internet is now LOLspeak. LOLspeak, like 1337sp33k, is a sub-dialect of language that really shows community and belongingness to that community (in this case, the internet). Boingboing had a great post on it that said
LOLspeak has a lot to do with establishing identity… the serious identity of “knowledgeable Internet user”.
Just like the number of o’s in “lol” matter on youtube, the ability to use 1337sp33k and LOLspeak can easily mark insiders and outsiders on the internet (and in games).
Speaking as a Gamer with Gamers*
*Disclaimer: What I’m talking about in terms of “speaking with gamers” is used in the context of gamers talking with other gamers who are close friends. Communicating with other anonymous gamers is a completely different beast altogether.
Gamers take LOLspeak and 1337sp33k and use it as their own (as they are denizens of the internet), but there are many subtleties that make it specific to being a gamer. The difference is in vocabulary, not in the way a gamer speaks.
I have a few examples (that are a couple of my favorite):
Ding! – When playing a game (especially MMOs), leveling up is generally accompanied by a sound, colloquially referred to in the gaming community as a “Ding.” So “Ding” is shorthand for: “I leveled up!” If you are a regular reader, you know that this is our traditional sign-off for the blog. It is a tongue in cheek reference, but from our first blog post it established that Diane and I should be heard and listened to by the gaming community (because we are gamers ourselves and we can talk the talk).
Woot! - A cry of joy. “I beat teh boss! Woot!” In my experience, the use of “woot” changes when used as: “Woot!” “\/\/00t!” “woot” or “wewt”. Generally contextual.
Teh - A common misspelling of the word “the.” When used it particular ways it can emphasize a point being made. “I am teh awesome!” (Which is a grammatically correct statement in gamer speak)
All of these may or may not have originated with gaming, but they take on very different connotations when being used within a game setting or within a game community. Participating and becoming a part of that community is really the only way to get a true tacit understanding of how gamers speak. (It’s really like that with any sub-culture of tight knit group. I can’t understand anything when I’m around a group of people who love Indie Music or who love to crochet).
Ok, I understand the background of the vocabulary, but I still can’t keep up with a gamer conversation!
Speed of mind is the essence of gamer conversation, and being able to talk by reference. Think of wikipedia and the references that are made by links: this is how the internet (and therefore: gamers) talk. Being off-topic in a conversation is the only way you are on topic. Conversations are very fast and organic in nature, and being able to follow and participate is half the fun.
I think this has to do with the nature of games. Playing a single player game is difficult because of the many facets that are involved in it, but if you add the social and communication components onto that game (i.e. multiplayer), an individual is then playing a game, while talking about the game to others, while also holding a normal “how was your day?” kind of conversation.
And don’t forget, it’s all for the lulz! Don’t be offended, it is meant to just be fun. When talking with gamers in a casual atmosphere, it is very easy to be offended by the language being thrown around, and the casual nature of insults. The best comparison I can think of is a locker room, except the locker room is the internet. And coed. With less towels. And it usually smells better. Of course there is a line that can be crossed, but refer to my disclaimer.
Gaming has spawned its share of memes as well.
Chuck Norris – I am unsure, but I think the Chuck Norris meme started in a video game. Mainly as a way to troll public chat, and to kill time while playing. This one was big enough that everyone knows Chuck Norris jokes now, but there was a time when it was confined to the virtual world instead of the real one.
Arrow in the knee – This is the latest installment of gaming memes. I actually used this meme in a post a few weeks ago, because it appeared in a graphic that I thought was hilarious. The meme was based off of stock NPC commentary from the game “Skyrim” and went viral.
Why does all of this matter
It is important to note that understanding all of these concepts on an intellectual level is great and good, but if you are doing in depth research or really wanting to communicate on the internet or with a gamer, you need to be able to talk the talk. It is very easy to tell when someone is not of the community because of the lingo.
I believe this is especially important for many librarians, (background info here) because being able to speak directly with a population you want to influence makes the goal that much easier to obtain. It’s like when anthropologists join a community/culture for study; they don’t have to “go native,” but they have to understand the intricacies and subtleties of the culture at its core. Being a part of the culture a little more also allows for more influence on that culture, so you can battle trolls yourself, but IRL, not in a game.
Ding! (I just explained why we do this, do I have to say the whole thing again? Ok, fine) You’ve leveled up! Please see your local librarian for training.
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