Going Gold

Going Gold: Gaming Doublespeak

Christian Ward | 13 Jan 2010 17:00
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The games industry is beloved of rather unnecessary cool-sounding jargon such as "blast processing," "parallax scrolling," and, er, "going gold" for that matter. But it's remarkably poor at saying what it really means. As an industry, we have a lexicon of cobbled-together Jap-lish phrases, meaningless PR speak and fanboy nonsense masquerading as our vocabulary.

(The primary reason for this likely being that there are far too many fans, journalists and business people in influential positions who are pretending very hard to seem like they know what they're talking about... but I digress.)

In an effort at reeducation, then, I've compiled a list of the weasel words, doublespeak and downright nonsense that's been annoying me in this industry lately.


You might think it means... "Games made for an adult audience."

It actually means... "Games with tits, swearing and violence made for 12-year-olds."

I guess the blame for this can go to whoever it was set out the ESRB definitions back in 1994. Rather than defining videogames by their content ("Violent", "Sexually Explicit" or so on), or by audience ("17+", "Restricted"), the ESRB chose to use the subjective term "mature" to define towering works like Night Trap and Mortal Kombat.

We most often encounter this doublespeak when it comes to the issue of "mature" games on the Wii, which are defined as titles like MadWorld (find entertaining ways to kill people while Bender and Greg Proops offer hiii-larious commentary), No More Heroes (be an otaku who slices people in half with a lightsaber) or The Conduit. (Alright, I haven't played this one but it looks from the cover like a kids' sci-fi novel. From the 1980s.)

In most other media, works with these base themes are generally viewed as the very opposite of mature. In gaming, it means putting in more swear words to make sure you get your desired ESRB "Mature" rating.

I'd swear my teacher told me that swearing was not a sign of being mature.

There is actually a genuine problem with this. The use of this word to define violent or sexual videogames has left us without a word that we can use for the few games that are genuinely for an adult audience - what I hope Heavy Rain will be, for example. What are we to call these games? Adult? Grown-up? "Brain Required"? Sigh. Who am I kidding? It's not like we have enough of them for it to ever be a problem.


You might think it means... "The gaming literati, the core users and trend-definers of gaming."

It actually means... "The people with most time on their hands to play and comment on mainstream games, i.e. teenage boys."

Working in this industry, you come across a lot of obsessive personalities. Talking to these people can be a real education on subjects that you thought you understood. But what I'll never understand is why only gamers seem to have such narrow tastes.

Cinema lovers will usually scoff at Hollywood and instead proclaim Kazakhstani post-modern film the future. Music buffs enjoy nothing more than knowing about Polish Polka-techno-fusion before anybody else. Any gourmet worth his salt wouldn't be seen dead in any restaurant you've even heard of. But our "hardcore" are like people who eat at McDonalds, and refuse to recognize the existence of anything else.

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