D&D General Jargon Revisited: Why Jargon is Often Bad for Discussing RPGs

Thomas Shey

Legend
....well, I don't think that it's particularly contentious in professional areas (such as law or medicine). But that's because they are usually technical terms used to describe something- not terms of (implicit or explicit) criticism.

And even that can be questionable when you get out to certain parts of those. As an example, if you include psychiatry there are plenty of contentious terms (and its not been unknown in medicine if you go back a ways).
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Thomas Shey

Legend
in my experience, people rarely call their own terms that they use “jargon” but are quick to call the terms of others “jargon” when they want to accuse them of something.

Its actually amazingly self-referential. Its why I try to use "term of art" instead when I'm referencing something that is about that (especially if its a term that has a different meaning in different contexts).
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Yeah, but there's a bottom-limit to how good that can be; this is particularly visible when it comes to defining genres, most likely because there's a strong hostility in such areas to include certain types of works in certain genres, even though the similarities can seem very pronounced to the outside.

That's the gig: its fundamentally the same problem where no one really wants to use anyone else's definitions, and the definitions presented can often be, or at least seem, self-serving on various grounds.
IMO. Discussing where one thing ends and another begins is always going to be contentious. Ship of Theseus and all. But that’s not what’s happening in most of the jargony discussions here.

We aren’t agreeing with 90% and arguing over the remaining 10% of edge cases. We start out in a position where we might agree on 10% of the jargony definitions if that.

What we need to do is not just assert different definitions for the same jargon but to ask which definitions produce more intuitive, more descriptive, less contentious results and choose that as the way we are going to define this jargon.

This won’t always be possible but it should be the goal.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
IMO. Discussing where one thing ends and another begins is always going to be contentious. Ship of Theseus and all. But that’s not what’s happening in most of the jargony discussions here.

Maybe not on all of them, but I'd argue strongly that's what happens with a lot of sandbox/railroad discussions.

We aren’t agreeing with 90% and arguing over the remaining 10% of edge cases. We start out in a position where we might agree on 10% of the jargony definitions if that.

What we need to do is not just assert different definitions for the same jargon but to ask which definitions produce more intuitive, more descriptive, less contentious results and choose that as the way we are going to define this jargon.

The problem, I think, is people don't even agree on those questions.

This won’t always be possible but it should be the goal.

I'll be honest: I think you're overoptimistic if you even think it would happen most of the time. I'll freely admit my feelings about this are based on kind of a cynical view of the postures at least some people in these discussions come in with (which is, basically, hostility to the topic of the discussion out the get-go).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
IMO. Discussing where one thing ends and another begins is always going to be contentious. Ship of Theseus and all. But that’s not what’s happening in most of the jargony discussions here.

We aren’t agreeing with 90% and arguing over the remaining 10% of edge cases. We start out in a position where we might agree on 10% of the jargony definitions if that.

What we need to do is not just assert different definitions for the same jargon but to ask which definitions produce more intuitive, more descriptive, less contentious results and choose that as the way we are going to define this jargon.

This won’t always be possible but it should be the goal.
The reason professional jargon works is people are taught the jargon in some kind of educational or apprenticeship setting and just accept it. The wannabe professional is open to learning. In fact actively wants to.

That will never happen with amateurs. They will endlessly argue. As we can see here. You can’t learn anything if you think you already know everything.

Consensus is not possible. Both the language used and the population involved shift over time.

As for people arguing over video game jargon, don’t look to the fans or the journalists for definitions. Look to the professionals. The developers and others inside the industry. Read what they’re writing, listen to what they’re saying. There may be some edge cases where they disagree, but there’s far more agreement than disagreement. Mostly because they’re too busy actually doing something while the amateurs argue.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
You mean like "player agency"? Because that is precisely what I mean in plain English: i.e., the agency of the game's player. ;)

So, with respect, this discussion isn't about YOU, personally and in particular. How you, personally and in particular, use a word doesn't constitute a jargon, which is shared nomenclature. In addition, your goals in a discussion may not match the goals of others in that same discussion.

Note that Snarf's OP discusses not just the definition of a term, but goals of the term's origin, and goals and effects of use. If others in similar discussions are focused on discussing how some games they like are "high agency" and others they don't like are "low agency", and how High Agency is awesome... well, it is going to be hard for you, using the same term, to differentiate yourself from that.


I agree, but it's not like I can control whether people feel slighted by the idea of heliocentrism just because they may perceive an insult or judgment to their geocentric models.

Really? That's how you want to present it?

So, right here, you have a HUGE problem. Even if we set aside the non-apology approach of shifting the burden of offense to the offended, your example models have connotations. "It's not like I can control if people feel slighted by my correct view, just because they may perceive insult or judgement to their incorrect models."

If this is how you talk, then I think there's a LOT you can do to avoid insulting people or expressing judgement on their way of doing things. This paragraph shows far too little consideration of how the presentation will come across.




(Note: heliocentrism is also not entirely accurate, but the broad perception stands.)
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Or whether “walking simulators” are even games. Video game discourse can be incredibly toxic.

While I think that technical and academic discussion of videogames is much more advanced that TTRPGs (personal opinion ... because there's money in it), I have to agree ... when it comes to the fan community, we are the minor leagues in terms of toxicity compared to videogames.

IMO, YMMV, etc.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
Nope. Look, if people don't have a baseline to talk about things, then we can't actually move on to the more substantive arguments.

To use your hobby horse, we can only argue about the existence of Qualified Immunity because we have a shared understanding of what that means. For that matter, within the law, if I tell someone I'm filing a motion to dismiss, that means that there is an argument about the merits of the motion to dismiss; not about "What is this ... 'motion to dismiss.'"

If I am in front of an appellate court, and I say that the standard of review is de novo, the other side might disagree and say, "No, the standard of review is actually abuse of discretion." Do you know what absolutely will not happen? An argument that "de novo" is inappropriate jargon and a disagreement about what the means.

Jargon in professional fields is almost always uncontroversial, because it aids in the communication between professionals. If it didn't ... it wouldn't be used. But sure, if you want to explain what I misunderstand about these topics with shrugs, I can't stop you. :)
This kind of jargon seems like it occupies the same space as mechanics in RPGs. If I ask for a skill check or call for a saving throw when we’re playing D&D, that’s jargon, but the other people at the table should (hopefully) understand what that means and not find it contentious. There are other things to come to mind (such as “originalism” or medical terms that are politicized or epithets), but I expect discussing those in any detail would get dangerously close to violating the board’s rules (on politics and inclusivity).
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
While I think that technical and academic discussion of videogames is much more advanced that TTRPGs (personal opinion ... because there's money in it), I have to agree ... when it comes to the fan community, we are the minor leagues in terms of toxicity compared to videogames.

IMO, YMMV, etc.
Mostly due to the orders of magnitude smaller tabletop RPGs are in comparison. If this fan community were that size, it would be just as toxic.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top