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Terminology, Gaming, and YOU!

Posted by Andrew on

I think it's a relatively safe assumption that just about anyone reading this will be a fan of tabletop games. Everyone here at Angry Mojo Games plays avidly, we're passionate enough about our hobby to bring it to a professional level and open up a company after all. With that said, I've noticed that a lot of times our beloved hobby lacks a unified lexicon even if it sprinkles jargon like sprinkles from an enthusiastic five-year-old making a cupcake.


I like terminology. I like formalized, definitive terminology even more. Wargamers wind up getting very accustomed to this, especially fans of the more technically-written games like Warmachine and Malifaux. Ask a Privateer Press enthusiast about the difference between a movement and an advance and they can give you a very precise definition, just as my own beloved Malifaux clearly defines the difference between a walk and a walk action. When dealing with a competitive format this becomes a very important aspect of gaming.

Roleplaying games seem to lose a lot of this firmness with their mechanical definitions. This probably winds up happening due to the presence of the GM, but I've always thought the overall attitude of roleplayers differs from wargamers enough that terminology with a more ephemeral nature is not only acceptable, it can even lend a greater sense of wonder to the world and game if implemented well.

While the level of terminology varies from game to game and genre to genre, I've always found it strange that the overall language of the hobby becomes very odd under any close scrutiny. Take Battletech, for example. Is Battletech a wargame, a board game, a miniatures game, or all three? It simulates a war, although there are plenty of games often categorized as wargames that don't really do such. Malifaux, I'm looking at you. Future blog post incoming on that particular topic, no intent on my part to begin a flame war by stating Malifaux doesn't simulate war. Battletech also contains a board, but I highly doubt anyone is going to compare it to Settlers of Catan any time soon. It also contains miniatures, but technically Monopoly does the same thing and that's where the similarities end. That and the board.

In my opinion, and I promise you this is nothing but an opinion, we as gamers quantify and define our games with far too superficial categories. We label a game based on components, and not the basic method of interaction and engagement. Which is more important in a game of Warhammer 40k, the figures moving around with a tape measure on a tabletop and shooting each other, or the tactical and strategic interactions between the two players? Is Magic: The Gathering defined more by its deck construction or organized play structure? These are all complicated and rewarding games, even hardcore video gamers will rarely put the number of hours into the latest release that a typical Dungeon Master puts into a campaign that weaves a comparable narrative.

Think about this for a while, over the next few weeks I'll be exploring and hopefully distilling some good, clear definitions for our beloved hobby.

So tell me, what is the defining form of interaction in your game of choice?