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Video Game Jargon…

There are words in the English language that I like and others I try to use sparingly. Jargon is one of those words I don't really like and try to never use. Unfortunately, sometimes it's just appropriate and must be used. Oh sure, I could use terminology or lingo as a suitable replacement, but terminology sounds too scientific and lingo ranks up there with slang. So jargon it is.

Jargon, as it's defined by Dictionary.com translates to mean:

jar·gon

noun 

1. The language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group.

2. Unintelligible or meaningless talk or writing; gibberish.

Am I the only one who finds it a little funny that it can be the language associated with a trade, profession, or group OR be unintelligible or meaningless talk? Maybe. But I suppose if you overheard a bunch of doctors talking about their latest surgical procedure amongst themselves, there would be a lot of terms that sound like gibberish to you, but clearly intelligible to them. The same can probably be said of the military, scientists...and even gamers.

Today was my first real day back at work since the holidays, and as I went about my business playing catch up, I was surprised how many times a colleague would say something that made me think about video games. Perhaps it was all the gaming I got in during the holidays or maybe it always happens and I just happened to dwell on it today, but sometimes the simplest word can have this affect, and it got me thinking about how often this really happens.

For example, I work in communications and we often talk about satellite links and channels, but every time I heard the word link, I wasn't really thinking of the connection between terminals and end users. No, I kept thinking of the land of Hyrule and Princess Zelda. Don't even get me started on pipes, stars and flowers. These words probably mean something different to plumbers, astronomers, botanists...and gamers. When I was a kid one of my favorite past times (besides video games) was camping. Do kids camp anymore? Well, if you're playing Call of Duty they sure do.

Now let's take it one step further and consider the titles to a few of our favorite video games, just off the top of my head.

Halo has all sorts of definitions. At some point in my life if you had asked me what a Halo was I would've told you it's the circular metal ring that angels wear, because that's what the angel on top of our Christmas tree had. Later in life, I might've said it was what Rip Cord did. Rip Cord was a character from G.I. Joe, a HALO jumper - High Altitude Low Opening. I was a big fan of the G.I. Joe cartoons and toys. Obviously I don't need to tell you what I think of now when I hear the word Halo, pretty much in any context.

Half Life released in 1998, and about 10 years prior to that I was a young man in high school, not really paying attention to my science teacher explaining the concept of a half-life, or the time required for one half the atoms of a given amount of a radioactive substance to disintegrate. I assure you if someone asked me if I knew what a half-life was, I might not be able to give them a text book definition, but I could certainly provide a basic plot overview and all the characters involved in the story, starting with one Gordon Freeman.

I had the equivalent of a board room meeting earlier today where the boss went around the table asking each of his representatives to brief their subject matter. When he got to the guy who handles our Knowledge Management (KM), the guy started talking about the monthly figures for customers who visited our portal. Did somebody say Portal? Because I noticed there were a couple hundred people on Steam playing Portal 2 last night and that doesn't really check with the numbers you're briefing. Oh, you meant web portal...my apologies...different Portal. My bad. I'll just shut up now.

Did you know there is a medical term for an actual or potential cavity remaining after the closure of an incision and not obliterated by operative technique, and it just so happens to be the same term used to describe a breathing apparatus and the excess space which the flow of air or breathing gas must pass through and back again as the user breathes in and out, increasing the necessary respiratory effort to get the same amount of usable air or breathing gas, and risking accumulation of carbon dioxide from shallow breaths. Well, that certainly isn't what I think of when I think about Dead Space. I think of a Sci-Fi thriller in the horror genre of video games that will likely scare the pee water out of you if you play it late and night in the dark with headphones on, but hey...that's me.

I guess since we're talking medical jargon, it seems appropriate albeit gross to mention a mass effect is the effect of a growing mass which results in secondary pathological effects. In oncology, the mass typically refers to a tumor but in neurology, mass effect is a general term applied to the effects exerted by any mass, including, for example, an evolving intracerebral hemorrhage (a bleeding within the skull) presenting with a clinically significant hematoma. The hematoma can exert a mass effect on the brain, increasing intracranial pressure and potentially causing midline shift or deadly brain herniation. Sounds like gibberish to me, what about you? Come on, everybody knows what Mass Effect really means.

What's really bad is when you see a word, you think is spelled wrong and means something else, because you've seen it in the realm of video games so often, and when you see it spelled correctly it almost draws you back into reality...like when I was reading this message on the Syrian crisis...and paused, "Wow, crisis, not Crysis. Yeah, I suppose that is the right way to spell it." Sheesh, what if it had been a Crysis with the North Koreans...we'd really be concerned then.

I probably shouldn't even share this next one with you...you're going to think I'm just making it up. This happened on Friday, when my office co-worker was slightly disgruntled over an issue where a subordinate from another unit essentially tasked him with figuring out how to acquire two emergency radios for a submarine getting underway for sea trials. So he says to me, "Hey do you remember the PRC-96s?" And I respond, "Yeah, those little portable radios with all the D batteries that come in the orange box."

I kid you not. I said the orange box in a non-video game related sentence, but of course as soon as I said it, I chuckled to myself - "Hah, he said orange box."

Now, the only reason I decided to share this little story with you is because after an exhaustive search on the Internet, lo and behold but what did I find...somebody actually selling a PRC-96, and if you look close enough, you can see it is indeed in an orange box. See for yourself. You can also read up on the old PRC-96 and confirm that it was indeed a portable radio used on lifeboats and on submarines. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

Well, I should wrap this up...I could've sworn the weatherman just said to expect thunderstorms and a heavy rain tonight, and I want to get this posted in case I lose power.

Did you know?

id - the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains a human's basic, instinctual drives.

Have a great night, and sleep tight.

Cheers.

 

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