Words Mean Things

The Forge :: The Provisional Glossary — a definition of terms used on the Forge.

My goal, as I stated above, is utility for others, especially those who haven’t been involved in debating these issues for years. So bear that in mind ? it’s not supposed to represent your sophisticated understanding of controversial nuances. Evaluate it from the eyes of someone who needs it.

Given that a lot of folks that read this link will be folks who haven’t spent the last five months boning up on Forge-speak, your reaction to this glossary (especially those of you getting some of it second-hand through me) would probably be very insightful — comments appreciated and I’ll pass them along as needed.


  1. My personal favorite, which has been rocking my boat for a few months now:
    Impossible Thing Before Breakfast, the
       “The GM is the author of the story and the players direct the actions of the protagonists.” Widely repeated across many role-playing texts. Neither sub-clause in the sentence is possible in the presence of the other.

  2. I found it impossibly opaque. I’m reading it, and I’m like, “Dammit, I’ve been a gamer for years, dealt with all sorts of games and people, and I can’t figure out what the hell this is about!” It’s too internal, inward-turned, and none of the (what I assume are thread names) are links, so even if I wanted to try to figure out what context a word lives in, I’d be lost.
    When you mention Forge words, though, I get them immediately, because they come in as part of gaming, with examples. “I was deprotagonized when my marksman couldn’t hit a barn due to a bad roll.”
    So, if the author wants the glossary/the-wisdom-of-the-Forge to better disseminate into the world, he’d do well to add examples.

  3. Which is pretty much what I’d expected. In fact, it’s almost EXACTLY my response from five months ago to the essays on the Forge differentiating Simulation, Narrative, and Gamist agendas. “Opaque, and… so what?”
    Luckily, they’re not really trying to get these terms out into the rest of the world. The point of the thing is, apparently, to point it out to someone who’s coming into the Forge forums and trying to ‘get caught up’ has a means of translating some of the internally-developed phrases that get tossed around a lot.
    Which means it’s pretty much useful only if you’re reading a lot of Forge stuff (like the Essays, which I now find much more approachable).
    Glad to know that you find my use of Forge phrases more palatable and understandable.

  4. I forwarded that comment on to the people working on it though, because really you are the sort of target audience they’re aiming at, and those sorts of responses are valuable and important.

  5. Actually, in re-reading the introduction, I note that the author stated:
    “I haven’t included the actual links to the indicated threads, mainly because that would delay this posting by at least a week, and it’s time to get it off the ground. They’ll get added in the next iteration.”
    So there you go 🙂 Instant gratification.

  6. Yeah, I have to admit that my eyes glazed over by the time I hit the second page …
    I acknowledge that jargon is necessary, especially as shorthand for complex concepts. But, like LitCrit, I find a lot of GameCrit stuff to be wildly secondary to, well, actual gameplay. Some basic concepts (Gamist vs Simulationist vs Narrativist) are useful (read “easy to explain and immediately applicable), but, um, a lot of it seems self-referential and ultimately as meaningful as, well, a lot of LitCrit is.
    (Except, I’ll note, that a number of folks in the GameCrit field seem to be actually producing enjoyable and intersting games, whereas a lot of folks in the LitCrit field couldn’t write an enjoyable story if their life depended on it, and don’t even see that as something they should be striving for. So perhaps there’s hope. 🙂 )

  7. jargon: a questionable use of language that uses language that can only be understood by experts in the field or members of a particular group to hide meaning or intimidate others.
    I’d say that the last bit… the reasons for using jargon are probably broader than that:
    1. Shorthand
    2. Obfuscation
    3. Exclusion
    4. Mystification
    5. Delusion
    6. Discursive Expansion (borrowed from other discourses and re-applied)
    7. Conservatism
    8. Authority
    9. Essentialism/Reification
    10. Laziness
    I think that, on the Forge, it’s usually reasons 1, 6, 8, and 10… although some like 3 and 4 as well (unfortunately).
    It would be better if it were just 1… or if there were no jargon, but that’s unlikely, just because people like jargon — “megabyte” was listed as computer-geek jargon for 16 years before people got used to it.
    The Forge has alot of it because of the prevailing opinion on that site that 1. More arguments started when common terms that had different meaning to different people were introduced than did if new terms were introduced. 2. Old gaming jargon was mired in certain specific ideas about gaming that the authors fundamentally disagreed with (such as the “impossible thing before breakfast” statement I mentioned above).
    There’s a lot of talk going on on the Forge right now about its Jargon and how helpful or harmful it is to getting new people involved and invested in the site.

  8. I’m with you. It doesn’t help me game or find like-minded gamers better than a coffee shop.

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