Raiding Research Online

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Archive for the ‘raider lingo’

Defining aspects of the raiding culture: starting with language

July 18, 2010 By: Ladan Category: raider lingo, raiding culture, subculture, World of Warcraft

Let’s look at language, as it’s used and exists in the raiding culture.

Language. Many subculture researchers (studying things like biker culture or the goth movement) often point out that subcultures have their own language–their own ‘lingo’. I’d say that we have one. We’ve partly created it for ease and efficiency (our love of acronyms [WoW, MMO, FTW, BRB, AFK....] for one!)  and we’ve partly created it from other influences (people using English as a second language, for example, or FPS videogamers bringing their lingo with them into an MMO).

The lingo of raiders permeates the game environment. This is primarily due to the nature of our in-game communication and game mechanics. I don’t think I’ve had a day in my life as a WoW player where, even before I became a raider in late 2006, raiding-influenced lingo wasn’t cropping up around me. This most often cropped up on the general chat and (before the in-game group search mechanics exist) the LFM channel. There, our first piece of lingo, LFM: “Looking for more.” For the unfamiliar, as WoW (like most MMOs) is often group-activity based, it’s often the case that MMO gamers will group up to perform certain tasks or activities. It’s often that pre-set social groups like guilds will do group activities together, but other times, people are trying to PUG–pick up group. Yes, I’ve turned an acronym, which is a noun, into a verb. This happens a lot in games like WoW. We live in acronyms. Here are some good examples:

[This excerpt is picked up directly from the passive collecting program that I use, called Elephant. I have X'ed out the players' names.]

5/9 10:23:17.138  [2. Trade] Zxxxx: war dps lfg ICC10 / heroes 2773

5/9 10:23:28.372  [2. Trade] Exxxx: WTS Primordial Saronite 2k

5/9 10:23:56.985  [2. Trade] Fxxxx: any Jcers

5/9 10:24:00.525  [2. Trade] Dxxxx: LFM 2 healers and ranged dps icc fresh run

These are trade comments and took place over a 43 second period. To the initiated this means nothing because it is intuitively understood. To the uninitiated it means nothing because it’s a jumble of abbreviations and acronyms and game words (like “primordial saronite”), combining to leave the reader wondering if they’ve left a game and opened up the pages of an obscure technical manual. And we don’t just have lingo in this culture. We have lingo within lingo. But let’s deconstruct them a bit.

DPS: damage per second. This is so familiar to the WoW raider culture that we use it to describe damage dealers in the game. A mage is not a “wizard-like caster of spells” anymore but is now a “ranged dps”. And DPS is not just a noun. It’s a verb. “I’m DPSing.” “You need more DPS.”

WTS: want to sell. This one has a mirror acronym: WTB (want to buy). I often find it humorous that we rarely see any actual selling and buying call outs on the trade channel. People just use it for universal announcements because it’s our only universal channel. Logical, really.

JCers: jewelcrafters. A profession in the game.

I think what we see here in the examples above is a tendency, in the raider culture lingo/language, toward the efficient. We don’t want to waste time typing out “want to sell” every time we want to sell something. Our orientation is toward making the most of our time to move us more efficiently toward the more important reasons for being in the game: raiding. Language and therefore communication are often a means to an end.

Not to say that that’s the only reason we use this kind of abbreviated language; it’s also influenced by mobile texting (GTG, U, etc) and–on the EU servers at least–restricted language abilities.

While the language and its use has many functions in the raiding culture, I would say that there is enough distinctiveness that we can see it comprising an important role. A few commonly used terms and expressions are also distinctive and unique to the raiding culture (even unique to WoW, I’d dare say):

  • Grind. Ahh the grind. We have a concept of this is in English already (the daily grind, etc), but in WoW lingo terms it gets a broader meaning. We use it to refer to something we have to do repeatedly in order to get something. Maybe for reputation points, for gear, for money. Generally we do this unwillingly but we do it with purpose. The Grind is an important aspect in the life of a raider–particularly at key junctures in game development (like when we have a patch or new release).
  • Achievements. This is an interesting one. We–the raider culture–did not make this word, but it permeates us. The very word seems to suggest our identity and sense of meaning in the game. And even though quite a few achievements have nothing to do with raiding itself, many raiders (particularly those looking to form PUG raids) will demand certain raid-related “achievements” in order to let strangers join them in groups. We can be identified by this word and its placement in the culture. Often having a low achievement score–or the lack of particular achievements–can dictate how someone views us. This word is also an example of how the raiding culture changes. Before the introduction of achievements around the release of WotLK (yes, another acronym! :) ) we had no overt way of judging someone. How we formed groups and the language we used for it was somewhat different. So, again, we have adopted a more efficient way (thanks to the game designers at least!) of assessing each other and defining value in each other–achievements.

And then we have gamer-speak that’s been integrated into raider-speak: n00b, l33t, boss, etc.

So, this is an extremely brief and very limited discussion (much more to come on this one as I go back through my year’s worth of collected notes) that suggests that language and its unique features definitely play a role in the raiding culture.

What other words/phrases/acronyms stand out for you in the raiding culture?