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

gorice

Adventurer
Are you kidding? Videogame jargon is incredibly contentious! Metroidvania is a prime example, with a devoted crowd that still resists using any particular game as the basis of a genre, prefering to find some kind of gameplay loop descriptor instead, leading to endless articles about whether or not we should keep saying Soulslike or Soulsbourne. We're just starting to settle the question of what differentiates Roguelite from Roguelike.

Have you seen the debates playing out over the correct genre name for the games derived from Vampire Survivors and similar? So far we've got Survivors-like, Survivors games, bullet heaven and busted/broken build games just off the top of my head.

To say nothing of how fractious criticism can be in videogames! There was the whole "objective review" concept from a decade ago (which admittedly led to dogwhistling for misogyny and then just outright misogyny) to the contentious question of scoring.
I guess I don't hang out in the right places. In any case, it's the fact of jargon that's accepted in vidoegames, not whether a particular genre label is appropriate. No-one accuses you of gatekeeping for writing 'uncanny valley'.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Precedent is often reduced to a line of jargon. Qualified Immunity is a popular one.

....again, without violating the rules of the board, Qualified Immunity is a term that everyone understands in the law. You can agree or disagree that it can or should be applied, but no one disagrees on what it stands for. If someone says that they are moving to dismiss based on QI, I understand immediately what the arguments for and against that will be.

People might say that QI shouldn't exist, but they aren't arguing with the jargon. They are arguing with the concept. Just like everyone understands what a fee tail is, even though it doesn't exist in most of the United States.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Aren't they? 🤷‍♂️

No.

If I think that the world would be better if we got rid of leukemia, I am not saying that I disagree with the jargon. I just want to get rid of the disease.

No one cares what practitioners call Qualified Immunity- we could call the doctrine, oh, "Scrooge McDuck." People are arguing about the substance underlying it.

To give an easy example- in federal court, you file a motion to dismiss. It used to be under one standard (notice pleading, the Conley standard). That changed to something called the Iqbal/Twombly standard (plausible claims, not notice pleading). The reason for the change isn't because people disagreed with the jargon behind a motion to dismiss, it was because people had an issue with something underlying it.

I think you might be confusing different concepts here.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
No.

If I think that the world would be better if we got rid of leukemia, I am not saying that I disagree with the jargon. I just want to get rid of the disease.

No one cares what practitioners call Qualified Immunity- we could call the doctrine, oh, "Scrooge McDuck." People are arguing about the substance underlying it.

To give an easy example- in federal court, you file a motion to dismiss. It used to be under one standard (notice pleading, the Conley standard). That changed to something called the Iqbal/Twombly standard (plausible claims, not notice pleading). The reason for the change isn't because people disagreed with the jargon behind a motion to dismiss, it was because people had an issue with something underlying it.

I think you might be confusing different concepts here.
Sounds like splitting hairs to me. 🤷‍♂️
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Sounds like splitting hairs to me. 🤷‍♂️

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. :)
 
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Thomas Shey

Legend
@Aldarc mentioned videogames upthread, and I think it's instructive to look at them for comparison. Agency, sandbox, uncanny valley, skinner box, frag, lag, metroidvania, soulslike... Videogame discussions are filled with jargon, and no-one gets their nickers in a twist over it. The complete inability, or refusal, to agree on even basic terminology to describe play is specific to RPGs. It's not an internet problem, or a jargon problem, it's a hobby problem or an industry problem.

I think you're being overly charitable regarding videogames here; look around for discussion of what is or isn't a roguelike sometime for a stark example.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
So, I tend to disagree with the OP about jargon being bad for discussion of RPGs. Though, I can think of a recent example of the bad effects jargon can have on lines of thinking. There was a thread recently about having a non-linear, but not sandbox game. It also had to have full player agency, but work with milestone advancement. It was important that all mechanics were narratively consistent. It sounded like torture to me trying to thread this idealistic needle for the game to work.

In that case, I just saw it as jargon overload. Folks get so caught up in maintaining the extremes, they cant see the forest for the trees.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Even in the arts that descriptive binning can be tested. All you do is take an example and see if the descriptive binning places that example in the bin you would intuit. The better the descriptive binning the more it’s going to mesh with most peoples intuitions in most cases.

For example: If you created a descriptive binning that was wholly unintuitive I’d expect it to get rejected outright.

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.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Please take a little time to step back from your desire to moralize at me and listen to me. I beg you. Because I fed like you are defending gatekeepers.

I’m not talking about things in terms of lack or presence. I’m not trying to belittle other games. I’m not trying to elevate my own. I’m just talking about player agency in terms of what players can do when playing different games. Some other definitions of agency are excluding other things that I can do when playing a game.

Edit: You know what, never mind. My response is going to come across as unnecessarily confrontational, so I'm just going to walk away from this exchange.
 
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