Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Please Stop Feeding....

Today's title should sound familiar to anyone who plays League of Legends, Dawn of the Ancients, or any of the games of that like. It is a common complaint heard in public games, and to put it in context for the non-initiated it is basically asking "please stop getting killed." Not directly related to table top gaming, sure, but it is an aspect of gamer culture that a lot of people don't seem to look at, and I wanted to take today to explore it a bit.

Before I begin, I want to mention something. For the past few years I've had an issue where, at times, I get really hung up on the literal meaning of words. This has led to a small fascination with "actual meaning" versus "implied meaning", and this post is going to have a lot about that in it. If that isn't your cup of tea, this may be a post worth skipping. That said, if you want to look at an area of gamer culture not many blogs seem to be discussing, stick around. Also, I am not trying to assign blame or tell people how to talk. I am just curious how many are actually aware of what they may be saying.

Please Stop Feeding...
Back to the title. You know why this phrase fascinates me? Because it has a clear assignment of what is going on that is contrary to how most people would describe it. Think about it for a second, when you're playing a game (RPG or otherwise) do you say "He killed me," or do you put the act of death on yourself? Because that is what this line is doing. The death of the player is not on the killer, it is on the victim. The killer didn't "earn" the kill (whether or not that is true is irrelevant) the victim fed the killer. Do you see the point here? It is just 3 words, X fed Y, but it completely reverses who the active party was - and thus blame - from Y killed X.

In Table Top
There are lots of examples of this in Table Top RPGs as well. The most common one I can think of is the TPK. TPK, again for the uninitiated, means Total Party Kill. It is a phrase used for when the GM kills the entire party with an encounter. Sometimes it is used as a joke, sometimes it is a sign of old school gaming - the Angry GM has an entire online persona based around going for the TPK all the time - and sometimes it is a sign of a problem with threat balance or adversarial gaming. However, the words themselves are putting blame for the action on the GM. Why? Because the phrase kill means that someone killed you, and that someone (in a Total Party Kill) would be the player not in the party.

Now, this isn't inherently a bad phrase or thing - again, I'm not trying to point fingers - but it is interesting. There is an implied blame on the killer, which means that innocence is granted to the players. It isn't that the players made bad decisions, that they rolled poorly, or that the cleric decided to try to cast offensive spells instead of healing the main tank. Sure those are potential reasons for a TPK, but they don't exist inside the phrase itself.

Silly And Facetious
This is definitely an accurate accusation of what I am talking about here. I am nit-picking words. This is politics and law speak when you really think about it. However, politics and law speak are also useful in games. I am not sure what I am trying to get across with this post, aside from that I've been mulling it over for a while, and felt like writing about it.

The joke phrase I use in my own group a lot is "words have meaning!" However, as much as it is used as a joke it is true. So keep this in mind - especially when you're playing, or watching politicians - and try to cypher out what someone is actually saying versus what they appear to be saying. Or, use it in game to be more insane. If you want a real world example btw, "I'm really sorry you caught me doing this." Sounds like an apology for what I'm doing, is actually me expressing regret that I was caught doing it. You hear things like that a lot in political apologies.

No comments:

Post a Comment