MMO Lexicon: Il Cattivo

This is the final part in the series on MMO lexicon. Now, the ugly. The lexicon that carries some baggage. It might be good. It might be bad. Regardless, it carries some heavy prejudices when used. These suckers are the unshaven, motherless bandits that run in to town with a rope around their neck to drink horse water.  The law rarely affects these scum.


mule: a character used for the explicit reason of creating more storage space.  “I have to log in to my mule to get the pots we need for the raid.”

Mule is actually a very descriptive, whimsical term.  Most MMOs give players multiple character slots, which only severe alt(ernate character playing)-aholics use in full.  Players will also fill their limited storage space fairly easily especially in games that require multiple item setups.  It’s ugly, though, because it reminds us of the everlasting battle between devs and players for more storage space

grind: carrying out a repetitive action, or series of repetitive actions, in order to reach a goal, which is usually an artificial timesink.  “I had to grind rep items for hours to get my goat.”

Just about everybody hates grind, and when the word is used it is rarely used in a positive manner.  The interesting thing to note is that MMOs are a game genre absolutely built on timesinks.  In some games the timesinks are very nearly optional (Guild Wars), and in others they are absolutely critical to advancing gameplay (World of Warcraft) or getting “required” buffs (Lord of the Rings Online).  Regardless, no one says “grind” and “I had fun” in the same sentence because if the grind is fun it isn’t grind… it is merely playing the game.

nerf: an update to a skill, item, or other object, which results in a less powerful version.  “They nerfed soul reaping, and now necros are worthless.”

Developers hate the word “nerf,” a term which originated from Nerf brand foam toys.  Nerf foam toys are, of course, a less lethal option to their real world counterparts.  “Balance” is usually the correct term to use, but like “grind,” players throw “nerf” around liberally when something has changed to ruin their personal fun, or ruin someone else’s.  It has become so ridiculously overused that developers using it sarcastically when they balance an encounter (see: nerf the Balrog).  It’s an ugly word because it is a cutting remark anathema to what the developers usually are trying to create, and it is normally accompanying a post with zero constructive comments.

–Ravious
When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk.

4 thoughts on “MMO Lexicon: Il Cattivo”

  1. > Regardless, no one says “grind” and “I had fun” in the same sentence…

    I actually enjoy it sometimes. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I can also imagine deriving some genuine satisfaction from the act of mowing the lawn.

    One of my fondest memories from WoW is spending about six hours killing and skinning scorpids in Tanaris so I could make, with my own hands, an entire set of matching scorpid armor. It wasn’t even particularly good armor for my class and level. But the “grind” was… relaxing. Meditative, almost. And the end goal was just something I wanted, not something I felt like the developers were forcing me to do.

    I suppose it’s possible that hour seven would’ve been a real grind, though.

  2. “The interesting thing to note is that MMOs are a game genre absolutely built on timesinks.”
    Yes, this. Said game design is aided and abetted by the synergistic subscription model. When a game and business model are geared more for addiction than solid gaming, it makes me sad.

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