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When Dwarves And Sailors Unite As One

posted on October 21st, 2007 by tyson

The other day while traipsing about the internet, I stumbled upon a trailer for Atari’s upcoming game, The Witcher. Having not heard of this game before and having always wanted to yell, “She’s a witch!! Burn her!” and then be able to light said witch aflame, I decided to watch the video. What followed was a long and drawn out tour of this medieval looking city being conducted by some white-haired guy that needs to eat a sandwich and stop talking like Max Payne. Still, I had nothing better to do so I continued to watch the trailer. That is when it happened.

My leather-clad tour guide dropped the “F-bomb” as he casually meandered through the scene.

At first, I didn’t think much of it. The “F-word” so what? I have heard it millions of times in movies, music, and my daily life, so why should it bother me now? Lord knows, I have said it a few times myself and have found the experience to be somewhat pleasurable when the word is used at the precise moment and in the proper context of events. Still, the fact that I heard the mother of all swear words in this one instance stuck with me, gnawing at my mind. I imagine this is what it feels like when Tyler Durden splices a frame of porn into the Disney movie you are watching. You know something happened and you know that whatever happened isn’t quite on the level but for the life of you, you can’t figure out what it is.

Last night, I finally figured out why that instance of the “Big F” bothered me. It was not the word itself that was the problem, it was the context in which it was used. Here you have a game with a guy carrying two menacing swords strapped to his back; he is wandering around some fantastical world with dwarfs and elves and all of the other hoopla that accompanies such a scene, and then out of nowhere he uses a word from MY world. People can fornicate under consent of the king (though the word doesn’t actually mean that) all they want in games like Grand Theft Auto, Fallout, and any other world that tries to recreate the reality that I presently live in or one that I may someday. But when you throw magic and mythical creatures into the fray, it turns into a whole different story.

I have read a ton of fantasy books in my time and I am used to hearing words like “arse” or “harpy” and phrases like “slag off ye sea hag” and have always found such terms to be a comical way to adapt modern word usage into a fantastic setting. I enjoy seeing the creativity that authors and game designers employ when dealing with such situations in a fantasy setting and I feel that in the case of, The Witcher, I was robbed of that enjoyment thanks to the lazy scriptwriting of whoever churned out the drivel that my white-haired, Alice Cooper wannabe was spewing. The solitary use of THAT word ruined what would have been an otherwise mediocre experience. Am I alone in my thinking that fantasy games should try to keep realistic words and phrases out so that gamers can better immerse themselves into the world that the developers have created for them? Where was I when the powers that be held the meeting to decide to start incorporating the words I hear in 2007 AD into worlds and times that are closer to 1100 AD? I know that the “F-word” has been around for probably that long but why start including it into fantasy games now?


  1. GoldenJew said on October 21, 2007:

    This comment would be strengthened if I could remember what fantasy series it was, but I recently read a fantasy book series where the F bomb was dropped. I recall it also bothered me initially as well, but I got used to it… eventually.

  2. don said on October 22, 2007:

    Wikipedia tells me that the use of the f-bomb may, in fact, be entirely justified in your dark-ages text and games.

  3. jay said on October 22, 2007:

    Frag off, chummer.

    I think that’s Sahdowrun speak. It’s been a while since I played the game and I was never lame enough to pen and paper it.

  4. chris said on October 22, 2007:

    I loved Shadowrun speak. I think that’s how all fantasy/sci-fi games should do it. Crazy random words like “frag” and “drek” instead of swear words.

    Games and books that use their own vocabulary for swear words seem much more engaging to me, and it’s a good opportunity for comedy too.

    Unfortunately, then you get into the sci-fi subgenre that reinvents language (“The klothyep gurdled rumblingly. Now a klothyep is sort of like a cross between an elephant and a rhino, and gurdling is a movement much like…”). So far I haven’t found any video games like that, thankfully.

  5. Tyson said on October 23, 2007:

    As far as I am concerned, Jay hit the nail on the head with bringing up the Shadowrun series. They kept the mood and feel of their world without resorting to our profanities.

    And Don, you are correct in mentioning that the F-word has been around since the dark ages. I was looking into that as well when I wrote this blurb and was amazed to find out how old the word possibly is. It is crazy that is has survived so long considering how many other words used then did not make it to present day in their original form.

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