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The Importance of Trash Talk (and Originality in Trash Talk)

As long as there has been multiplayer gaming, there has been trash talk; we can shout and swear at computer-controlled enemies on pixellated screens all day, but it’s nowhere near as satisfying as knowing you’re shouting at an identical series of pixels that can actually understand what you’re saying. Trash talking is also a vicious cycle: it’s difficult not to respond to vulgarity with more vulgarity, attempting to one-up your opponent’s “meaningless” insults and jibes, which are really serving as both an aggravation and motivation to keep playing. In a sense, the industry loves trash talking. One more annoying player pissing you off is one more reason to keep playing; if you can show that bastard that you deserve his respect, it’ll propel you to levels of self-fulfilment most likely not experienced before the advent of the computer game.

Of course, this is a double-edged sword, as poorly-educated fools with a thin grasp of the English language can in some cases serve as an annoyance so powerful, not even disembowelling their virtual avatar can appease the recipient of their whiny pleas. It’s ridiculous to even assume that such poor players can disrespect your playing ability with a straight face. They’re lying to themselves, and no matter how many times you kill them or explain to them the farce that is their ability to suck, they’ll continue to rub in your face that time they barely killed you because you went to make a sandwich and left yourself in a vulnerable position. Damn them.

And the language, too; trash talk begs originality, as an over-use of the F word bounces off most targets in very much the same way a rubber-coated bullet doesn’t. Terms like “faggot” and “bastard” get thrown around almost as frequently, as does the more British and surprisingly potent combination “faggot bastard”, whereas “arsebag shitehook” is somewhat more rare. Adjectives are equally important in trash talk, with adjectives describing actions second most prevalent, behind “fucking” and its millions of potential uses. Consider how many times players online have called you a “fucking noob”. It gets dull, doesn’t it? Now consider how many times you’ve been called a “cow-fingering arsebag shitehook”. It’s a significantly lower number, isn’t it?

Like I’ve said, trash talk is important for keeping players in the game. A careful balance is required in order to keep the player determined to prove himself to the other players – after all, true gamers don’t game to prove themselves to friends or family, they game to prove themselves to absolute strangers – while not frustrated enough to ragequit. Originality in trash talk helps: more original slurs can be more entertaining than aggravating, helping both sides of the balance, whereas the more vulgar and “traditional” comments tend to be seen more as bad sportsmanship and the mark of a sore loser, ruining a game experience for all involved.

Post sponsored by zConnection.

Written by Connor Beaton

Because Connor’s so awesome, and prone to doing things without getting prior permission from his superiors, he’s the only person on this blog with a biography. Isn’t that awesome? So, uh… Connor’s this cool, racist and sexist Scottish kid who lives in a cottage and probably eats stovies and haggis all day. Hey, it’s straight from the horse’s mouth so it must be true, right? He’s also incredibly sexy and has three girlfriends, all of whom love him for his long locks of blonde hair. That and his big junk. Can’t forget the big junk.

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