By ahoodedfigure 5 Comments
(Thanks to BeachThunder for the idea for Boss)
Wherein Hooded breaks out a few modded gaming terms and examines them, at the end of a ten foot pole, at least.
Probably one of the most commonly known gaming terms, Boss evokes a confusion of images for me. The first time I learned this term I think was through a friend's Nintendo Power, and I thought that the big guy at the end of the level that you had to beat was somehow the local ruler or whatever. Strictly speaking, a boss is just a tougher-than-average encounter, often yielding access or greater rewards, but at the very least it's some sort of obstacle that needs to be bypassed, usually through violence.
The real-world word suggests a simple leadership role, and often, at least to me, suggests unofficial, possibly criminal connections. Crime boss, all that. Whenever anyone says boss with regard to a game, and I don't have an image already in front of me of what they're talking about, I imagine the massive Kingpin from Marvel comics, because in games you'll often get bosses that aren't only tougher, but also bigger. I assume that's to help communicate their toughness to the player and make the player feel like this encounter is more momentous.
I don't mind either interpretation, really, and in games they can sometimes overlap. You occasionally get a boss in games that can't defend itself too well and lets their minions get carved up instead, which more reflects the all-too-human traits of fragility, stupidity, and cowardice.
The first time I heard the term "mob", I had NO CLUE what was being talked about. It was the first time anyone had described a Massively-Multiplayer Online RPG to me that wasn't in text (see MUDs and the like for history, if you're curious). Since all I had was my imagination, I imagined a 2D sprite in a dusky 3D hillside coming toward the player. It was a bit fanciful, I don't think it was a serious attempt to understand what she was actually talking about so much as some sort of coping mechanism of my brain to try to parse what she was saying. Now, for the first time in recorded history, I will attempt, with the magic of a cheap paint program, to depict a facsimile of what I imagined she was talking about:
I assumed that if I was in any way correct, you'd actually know what this "mob" looked like if you ran into them. They're really called mobs, according to Wikipedia, because in the delightfully negligent world of computer shorthand it was short for mobile, as in a monster or group of monsters that moved around a dungeon, as opposed to staying in one place.
I'm personally not a big fan of specialized MMORPG terms leaking out into general gaming. It doesn't really apply to real life, so at least there's no leakage there, but when someone calls what is clearly a monster a mob, with no clear connection to its original Multi-User Dungeon meaning, it's probably the same feeling others get when someone new to games describes things strangely. It's fine with me if all monsters in a world are reduced to this word in an MMO, I guess, but I like to think that we've come far enough in gaming that at least in some games, even in MMOs, we look at these creatures as individual or group creations rather than ALL part of the same class. Ruins the fantasy for me to think of them as boring old piles of bytes and behaviors, even if that's what they really are.
Any terms you all can think of that have taken on new meanings in video games? You find these changes irritating, or improvements, or something else entirely?