Definitions and Key Concepts
- Video Game
Acronyms and Terms from Video Game Culture (sampler)
Any time groups of humans get together in order to do something unusual, they develop specialized language. Here are just some of the acronyms you might find when you read about video games.
- AI (artificial intelligence) -- computer-based emulation of thought; used to control the actions of non-player characters (NPCs)
- GAG (graphic adventure game) -- a game that usually focuses on story and puzzles, requiring the player to point and click
- IF (interactive fiction) -- a game that usually focuses on story and puzzles, requiring the player to type commands such as "open grate"
- MUD (multiple user dungeon) -- text-based gmae for multiple players, named after an early mainframe adventure game called "Dungeon" (later released commercially as Zork).
- NPC (non-player character) -- the computer-controlled characters
- PC (player charater) -- the in-game representation of a human player sitting at the controls. Depending on context, may instead mean "personal computer," as opposed to a console (such as Wii) or a hand-held device.
- RPG (role-playing game) -- combat-based, resource-management games, dealing with extended campaigns, numerous variables, and a PC whose powers grow steadily over time. Dungeons and Dragons and J.R.R. Tolkien are big influences on this genre.
- Review -- A news feature, usually rushed into print, designed mostly to help consumers decide whether they want to buy, rent, or pass on a product. Reviewers play an important part in the economics of indsutries such as publishing, the movies, and games, but a game review covers only a subset of the kinds of issues we will discuss in this class. Reviewers work on a tight deadline, and may have time to play a game for only a few hours before they have to start churning out their article (if they want to beat their competition). Reviewers help consumers decide what games to buy. (Very different from "peer review," which is the process by which academics check each other's work before publishing it in scholarly journals.)
- Criticism -- An essay, written after sufficient time has passed so that a thoughtful author can consider the effect of a work, the ways in which the work has changed the field, the ways in which the field affected the way the target audience reacted to the work. Critics help publishers decide what to publish, and provide depth, context, terminology, and analysis that reviewers can draw on when their next pressing deadline looms.
- Theory -- A body of knowledge that helps critics determine what criteria to use when evaluating whole categories of works. For example, a critic may draw on feminist literary theory when evaluating the way women are depicted in video games, literary theory when evaluating the emotional impact of the story, and film theory to critique the cut scenes.
- Critical Thinking. Lower levels are Knowledge, Comprehension and Application. Higher levels are Analysis, Synthesis and Evaluation. See "Writing that Demonstrates Thinking Ability."
Other Games-Related Glossaries
- Dictionary of Video Game Theory
- Interactive Fiction Wiki
- If you know Wikipedia's limitations, it can be a very useful resource. Rather than quoting from the Wikipedia article itself, look at the sources cited by the article. Find a credible source, and quote from that instead. But if you're writing a reflection paper or you're just curious what the Battle of Waterloo has to do with dental history, Wikipedia can be an excellent starting place.
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