The essence of good post design…

Movies… games… movies… games… I think sometimes we need to break things up here. Today let’s talk about the awful jargon and buzzwords that we fall into using when talking about movies, games, and a few other things. Sometimes these are words we use incorrectly, but often they are ones we stumble into.


First… “design”. People tend to throw this one around when they aren’t sure about using a more detailed term. You also encounter this from people who have seen way too many TED talks. Somehow, “design” has morphed to mean any aspect of anything, whether it was actually designed or not.
“This is not good website design!”
“Well, how would you improve on it?”
“It should be more animated… and it should display on my weird resolution”
“Oh, and how would you do that?”
“Through better design!”


Next up… “mechanic”. This one applies more directly to gaming. I see it in board gaming more than anywhere else. “Mechanic” refers to the underlying concepts that make a game work. It does NOT refer to a nifty little feature that you can find in a game. It’s kind of hard to avoid this one in discussion sometimes. I don’t know why this one bugs me, because there really isn’t a better word for it… it just seems to come up more often than it should.
“This ‘stuff leaves blood on the screen when it blows up’ gameplay mechanic rules!”


“Elegant” is another one that pops up in game reviews. It isn’t so much used incorrectly as it is overused. We should save that word and use it to refer to something really special. It should also be used to refer to when every aspect of the game comes together in an elegant way, not to one piece that works particularly smoothly.
“The menus are elegantly configured, but the battle system is muddy and the control is sub-elegant at best.”


Let’s talk about “gritty”. This word sneaks its way into almost every piece of media that I see reviewed. It’s shown up in plenty of recent superhero film reviews, with Watchmen and The Dark Knight. I see it in video game reviews as well, particularly in first person shooters that have an emphasis on grime. The worst is when you see it in the promos for magic tricks. “Gritty” has become a sort of catchphrase to rope in street magicians.
Example: “The dark and gritty underworld of New York city”


“Purple prose” is a term that really bothers me. I’m an English student, so maybe I encounter this one a little more than most people, but it’s an awful cliche. Without getting into the various discussions about writing styles and hue angles… just don’t use the term unless you really know what you’re trying to say. I also don’t know how “purple” became the negative word of choice and “flowery” became the positive one.
Example : “His prose was more purple than a Chrysanthemum in the moonlight on All Hallow’s Eve. It lacks the rich floweriness that mine so skillfully exhibits.”


Okay… I might finally get around to seeing and commenting on the first three episodes of Dollhouse next post. We’ll see!


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