Boss, Mob (Games' Alteration of Terms)

(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.
 

Boss

 
 
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.

Mob

 
 
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:
 
 "Oh shit! Two pitchforks and a shovel? That's too high level for me." (This almost looks like it could be a flag.)
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?
5 Comments
6 Comments
Posted by ahoodedfigure

(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.
 

Boss

 
 
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.

Mob

 
 
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:
 
 "Oh shit! Two pitchforks and a shovel? That's too high level for me." (This almost looks like it could be a flag.)
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?
Posted by RaikohBlade

I've never heard of the term Mob in regards to gaming, and I already hate it now that I know what it represents. I love Boss, though. It's too essential of a gaming word. Kind of like Grinding.

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@RaikohBlade: Grinding! Excellent :)
 
It's still sort of a niche thing, mob, but every once in a while it creeps into places I feel it shouldn't really tread. Sorta like actual mobs do on occasion, I suppose.
Posted by Astras

I prefer the term "Trash" rather than "Mob". Funny blog tho :)

I have a feeling MMO's as we know them are on their last legs :) Everyone I know has been saying that they are sick of the "grind"... sick of the "Drop rates"...

My favourate MMO lingo has got to be from wow.. forgive me if I remind you of a few if you ever played:

  • LFM OT ICC must have Achiv
  • WTS Dirge *constant spam
  • Kite the mobs
  • Watch your DPS, you are pulling too much Aggro
  • How many Epic's have you got
  • Check out my Gear It's imba

Jeez if you look at the kind of shite it's totally ridiculous

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Astras: I haven't heard trash used very much as far as monsters, but I do hear it a lot with regards to loot.
 
I wonder if MMOs are going to see a resurgence or actually drop off, as you suggest. I do think that there are more ways to do it, but it's that whole bottleneck you get when a lot of money is invested in a game, where people are often afraid to take risks. 
 
Like any human sub-group, you tend to build up specialized terms over time. It's one of the reasons MMORPGs are still largely incomprehensible to me, since they're an even more specialized branch where you have to learn a bunch of skills to keep things together. Of the things you said, I understood these:
 
  • Kite the mobs
  • Watch your DPS, you are pulling too much Aggro
  • How many Epic's have you got
I've kited in Everquest, but I was equally guilty of sending trains of monsters after people. DPS, a term I tend to loathe as becoming too ubiquitous from a DESIGN standpoint at least, and Aggro I learned about through MMOs specifically. Epics I can guess is epic loot, which, even if I don't understand the specifics, is fairly self-explanatory. The rest is closer to gibberish for me. :)
Posted by Brodehouse

Mob makes more sense than monsters, because you're not always fighting monsters. Bandits are not monsters, they're mobile enemies or mobs.

Also, I've always felt boss is how it is because of Japan's insane hierarchal structure in every level in life. Of course, the boss is stronger and more powerful, because the boss is also better than you because he's higher up the foodchain. The problem with the traditional boss structure is that it paints a villain who avoids the protagonist until he's out of options. This makes the villain seem weak. Look at what something like Mass Effect 2 did, which is paint a narrative excuse for the boss to constantly fight you, giving him a much more active role.