Jun 18, 2010

The Language of Online Games

Additions to the English Language Courtesy of Online Games

"Own" and "ownage." These are two words that developed entirely through the community involved with online games. It's hard to say where "own" came from, but it is constantly used to describe a humiliating defeat in an online game, whether it's a first-person shooter (FPS) or massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). Own in the online sense is still a verb, and used in the context of master and subject; for example, the victor of a fight can say of the loser, "I owned him." Ownage is the noun form, describing massive amounts of power, as in: "There was a lot of ownage going on there."

Massive Win, Epic Fail

Theories suggest that many additions to English that come from online games actually come from the use of incorrect English by foreign players. The weird usages become catchy, and then influence English speakers. "Win" simply means "to win," but instead of using subjects or pronouns, upon victory the winner just says, "Win." Fail definitely comes from around 2000, and was popularized by the poor translation of a Japanese game called "Zero Wing," in which the game says, "You failed it!" upon the loss of a mission.

Today, fail is an insult, and describes all things horrid, wrong, and anything or anyone that loses. It's transmogrified into a noun, as in, "This is fail." The word epic is used to signify anything grand or awesome, and comes directly from the endless use of the word by advertisers to play up every single MMORPG ever marketed, as in, "An epic experience." Epic was originally a sarcastic descriptor, but is now common vernacular for anything massive or impressive, as in, "That was an epic fight" or "An epic fail." These are just a few of the words generated by the players of online games.


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