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What’s In A Name? The Shifting Language of Games and Culture

Sid Meier is a man for whom I have the utmost respect as a game designer, and when I saw that he had a talk on “Interesting Decisions” on the first day of the Main Conference during GDC, I felt not only a desire, but a strong obligation to attend. But something struck me during his talk: the language he was using to describe games felt somewhat antiquated. All content aside, he was characterizing his games and players as “awesome”, “epic”, “bad-ass”, and he was trying to get designers to think along these parallel lines using the aforementioned ‘interesting decisions.’

What it indicated, and why I felt it strange, was a highly insulary and limited usage of language within game-spaces. Without an expanded vocabulary, how are games able to truly grow as a medium? And it seems I wasn’t the only person at GDC with this in mind. Development, both externally and internally, surrounding the culture of language and games was my largest takeaway at GDC 2012. It’s this movement which is beginning to chip away at the social stigma of games and help propel it as a leading cultural pillar of the current century.

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