Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Three Rs and All That

No, this is not about a pirate convention.

As you may have noticed, the blog's sidebar looks a little different now, with a little area for friends' blogs. This is because, well, it seems to be spreading. First was the Karinth Updates one (since moved to the forums), then mine, then that encouraged the Owl, then that further encouraged another little creature who I shall refer to as the Sage. I have also affixed there a link to Fern's shopping blog, which has all kinds of special deals and so on. I have no idea who the next will be, but there you go. And here's the connection: first Karinth, then the Karinthadillo, then the Owl (another animal), then the Sage (Owls are wise, too)... then the Fern (Sage is a herbish plant thing as well). So, to carry this along, we should have another plant-related contributor. Of course, everyone is welcome, and may find themselves added to the list, plant-life or not.

Why has all this sprung up? Well, I believe that writing is therapeutic, and it's definitely improved my mood as of late, thinking of things to share. Of course, it doesn't hurt to know that people actually read it, a little ego boost there, maybe. The text-gamers among us are fully aware of the pleasures of writing (and the frustrations too, sometimes), because that's what it is all about when you get down to it. Expressing thoughts, feelings, ideas through words, and enjoying the process. Like a connoisseur, sipping the words, savouring the way that certain things are said, noticing the subtle nuances of language, the usage of words often overlooked in everyday speech, the way that tones and knowledge can carry across through the medium.

This is important, of course. As everyone knows, the text-based genre is slowly being squeezed by the advancement of graphical technology and the commonly-available hardware required to harness it. I have previously written about how it is my firm belief that text games can continue to survive in a market that is dominated by graphical ones, much like books have survived when (arguably) the big bucks are in Hollywood, plasma televisions, thousands of cable channels and so on. But it is not a given, we have to continue to remember why we will survive, and not take it complacently.

Due to the nature of the medium, foremost among these reasons is the language: to those who appreciate good prose, poetry and all forms, the non-graphical medium forces attention to the words, encourages their appreciation and for others to contribute with their own thoughts. In a game such as ours, where there are few visuals to assist, grasping a subtle hint in the words can make the difference between success and failure in a great quest, perhaps even the life of one's character. It is why we place such a great deal of emphasis upon the descriptions of rooms, creatures and so on. We appreciate the language, and wish to share that with you; those who have already indicated their appreciation for the same, by playing the game.

What does this all mean? Without getting too dramatic, I believe that our text medium symbolises one of the great bastions of language within the gaming world. We have all experienced the deterioration and misuse of language, and even the formation of deliberately grammatically-incorrect dialects: none moreso than within the realm of popular graphical games. Clearly, some of this is done for good reasons, as these games tend to be fast paced, with a great deal of action to draw the eye, and as such some variation of shorthand is required in order to keep up and get the message across. We do not have these limitations, and I can only see the differences growing. In order to maintain one of the real foundations for the text game's future, we must maintain the integrity of the text and language.

It may be old-fashioned, passé, whatever popular culture wishes to label it as: but let us be proud of it.


Sage said...

I was rather looking forward to reading about a pirate conversation! ;)

Well put though. I'm very much in agreeance with your outlook.

Writing has been my gateway and my torment since the fourth grade, but I would never give up this artistic gift for the world. Now, if only I could draw!

Owl's perch said...

I'm not sure that text games are being squeezed, per se. They may not seem as popular, but I wonder if the population has really decreased or if just our share of the (growing) population has?

But, for words... A good crafter treats their tools with respect so as to produce quality work. For those that work with language, it is important to respect the use of words and their care. Of course, thanks to the Babel effect (Actual term, just derived from the biblicial rather than cited as source), langauge is always changing. We can't keep it in what we consider to be a "pristine" form, but we can make sure it's properly used and cared for in whatever form it is in.

Karinthadillo said...

Absolutely, and we can't stay in the way of changing language. However, there's a big difference between artistic license among writers, and things like "leet". Sadly, it seems more and more like text games are the only ones where people actually bother to spell their words out, and even then it has begun to erode here and there, hence the motivation for the post. If we don't (gently) educate newcomers to the game and the genre as to how one is expected to form their language, then it will only continue to erode. Personally, I couldn't stand to play a game where the other players conversed in the whole "text messaging" language, regardless of how good the actual gameplay might be.

Sage said...

I realize my first comment up there is a little vague.

When it comes to things like 'leet speak' and other forms of language butchering, I find myself feeling insulted. Not for any personal slight, that is, but for what has happened to the english language. I occasionally can't help but view the people who use 'leet' on a regular basis as childish and lacking a necessary respect for writing. I can understand short cuts, especially where 'texting' might come in but when I see things like 'ru ok' 'how ru' on a regular basis, I just...kinda, grind my teeth.

I've had more people get upset at me and insulted by any attempt I make to explain that I'd rather they not use that sort of thing with me, so I generally keep to myself now. I -have- been impressed by what I've seen on various MUDs and I do have hope that eventually, things like 'leet' will fade with time (and only return in spurts).