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

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
....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.
It depends on the field. Big business is notorious for coming up with new buzzwords that everyone has to use every few years, even when they're completely stupid and just replacing equally common words.

There are definitely fields where the terminology is required -- I think it turns into "jargon" when it's not required for anything other than social reasons, to demonstrate being in the club, rather than out of it.


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.
Note that I am NOT talking low or high agency. I am only talking about "player agency" as per the original thread's title and as per all other people in that thread who are discussing the topic of "player agency." If people want to lump me in with others for the purposes of creating "sides" in the debate, then I can't say that I find that a good or productive approach to take.

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.
Ignoring your decision to make this personal, I do agree that I could have chosen a better example to make my point, and I do regret my decision to present it in that way.

That said, I do not believe that I am shifting burden to the offended mainly because in the conversation in question, it's my own interests, play preferences, and games that are being excluded by the more narrow definition or understanding of player agency that was put forth by others. As I said, I am less sensitive to the feelings of gatekeepers that exclude and marginalizes the games and experiences of others. The expressed purpose of my argument has been for the inclusion of all tabletop games, play styles, and preferences.


Mod Squad
Staff member
Note that I am NOT talking low or high agency.

What about it not being about you in particular didn't come across?

You are trying to communicate within a larger context than your own writings. To not take that into account, and insist that your use should be considered without that context, is a fundamental failure in the most basic element of practical writing communication - Know Your Audience.


My point with bringing up videogames wasn't to say that no-one argues about terminology, it was that you don't see the same vociferous complaints about the use of jargon itself. Especially when you move away from genre definitions, which are naturally prone to snobbery.

If I call a game a 'skinner box', it's pejorative, and probably stretching the original meaning of the term. It's also a strongly descriptive term that lots of people will immediately understand, and no reasonable person will call me a gatekeeping elitist for using it (though they might think I'm wrong).

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.
And yet, thousands (sometimes millions!) of people watch youtube videos of game industry professionals give talks at GDC.

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