WHAT did that being just say? Profanity in SWTOR

We all know what profanity is. None of us were born yesterday. But…what is it exactly? And why does it exist in Star Wars? Star Wars is a fanciful setting, filled with fanciful beings, so why have such a gritty, not very nice aspect to it?

According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Profanity “Profanity are words, expressions, gestures, or other social behaviors that are socially constructed or interpreted as insulting, rude, vulgar, desecrating, or showing disrespect.

The original meaning of the adjective profane (Latin: “in front of”, “outside the temple”) referred to items not belonging to the church, e.g., “The fort is the oldest profane building in the town, but the local monastery is older, and is the oldest building,” or “besides designing churches, he also designed many profane buildings”. Over time, this meaning changed to the current meaning.

Other words commonly used to describe profane language or its use include: cursing, swearing, expletives, dirty words, sentence enhancers, cussing, blasphemy, and irreverent, obscene, foul, indecent, strong, pejorative, choice, bad, or adult language.”

Profanity has most likely existed for as long as long as spoken language has. It is not always a bad thing. Interjections are used in sentences to indicate extreme emotion. Also according to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interjection In grammar, an interjection or exclamation is a lexical category used to express an isolated emotion on the part of the speaker (although most interjections have clear definitions). Filled pauses such as uh, er, um, are also considered interjections. Interjections are typically placed at the beginning of a sentence or in a sentence by themselves.

The word “interjection” literally means “thrown in between” from the Latin inter (“between”) and iacere (“throw”). Interjections are generally uninflected function words and have sometimes been seen as sentence-words, because they can replace or be replaced by a whole sentence (they are holophrastic). Sometimes, however, interjections combine with other words to form sentences, but not with finite verbs. When an exclamation point is not needed, a comma can take the place.

Interjections are used when the speaker encounters events that cause emotions. The emotions are often strong (surprise, disgust, joy, excitement, enthusiasm, etc.), but are not necessarily so (boredom, irritation, mild surprise, etc.). However, several languages have interjections that cannot be related to emotions.

The point of this language lesson is that profanity is probably one of the few things that can be recognized in almost any language. It is almost universal. Now, we might not understand what someone says that is profanity in another language, but likely we can get the gist.

It is worth noting that some of the better known science fiction series had profanity that resonate even today. Battlestar Galactica, both the original series and the newer version, had ‘frak’. Example: ‘That frakking piece of frakking junk just frakking frakked up’. Farscape had ‘frell’ which filled the same role, being profanity that would not anger anyone. It is obviously profanity, but it is not any that anyone would know, and it does not call into question anyone’s ancestry, beliefs or any of the other aspects that are usually impacted by profanity.

Star Trek, as it was originally envisioned, did not have profanity. They were supposed to be beyond that. But then, the Klingons came along and they had to have some form of insults for everyone. Calling someone a ‘P’tak’ who is not a Trekkie will probably just get you an odd look. A Trekkie may or may not reply in Klingon and possibly draw his dagger or Bat’leth. Or they might just laugh, depending on the Trekkie.

But in Star Wars, why would we want profanity? Profanity is not nice. But then again, many of the situations in Star Wars are not nice. But at times, being polite is better than being insulting. After all, would you call the real Darth Vader an ‘***hole’ to his face?

I didn’t think so.

Profanity adds a level of realism to the game. Real people, when they drop a wrench on their foot, generally do not say ‘Oh darn that hurt’. Well, not any of the real construction people I used to work with anyway. What they had to say in that kind of situation was not for any kind of online forum anywhere. Many people react in stressful circumstances with profanity as a stress reliever or a distraction of sorts. Soldiers in particular had a reputation for being profane, and it is one that if fairly well deserved. I once heard a master chief petty officer in the United States Navy curse for three solid minutes, without repeating himself. He had cause, mind you. A lower ranked seaman had done something dumb and put civilian lives in jeopardy, mine included. From the dawn of history, soldiers have used profanity to express displeasure at situations, officers or orders. Only in recent years has there been an attempt to curb the use of profanity in the ranks, a more politically correct military, which is an oxymoron if I have ever read one.

Profanity is seen a lower class thing, but that is not always the case. Anyone can use profanity, but it is not usually accepted in the higher levels of society. For instance, there had better be a very good reason for a President say, so speak something profane during a live TV broadcast.

In some cultures, profanity is more accepted than others. For instance, some parts of the Maritimes of Canada seem to have the F-word as a normal figure of speech. It shocked the heck out of me the first time I heard a six year old talking that way and his mother leaned over to me and said “It’s okay, that is just how we F-ing talk up here.”  You could have knocked me over with a feather. It is not insulting; it is just part of how they talk. That kid had no clue what it meant. It was just part of how he had grown up. My own mother would have literally washed my mouth out with soap at that age for saying that. She did it to my sister for that exact word.

In Star Wars, it is supposed to be a family friendly series and it shows. DarthDerriphan on the TOR forums actually put together a list of profanity that was used in the movies, shows, books, comics, etc. Swearing in a galaxy far, far away… It’s a long list. It helps add character to various beings in the Star Wars universe. They can act like real people.  Real people get emotional, get angry and say things that they sometimes regret. But sometimes not. Jabba the Hutt calling someone an ‘Echutta’ is obviously not a compliment. Boba Fett calling Han Solo ‘Son of a Barve’ likewise.

It adds another level of immersion to the game, to the story, when the characters act like real people. For instance, in Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2, Joker is NOT politically correct, but he more than makes up for it in piloting ability. If he drops profanity all the time, no one minds, because he is the greatest piloting things since sliced bread.

I personally think there should be a language filter for any game that children (Under the age of 13 when they likely know all of the words and more) will play. But I am old fashioned. Or am I?

What do you think? Profanity in Star Wars or no?

Image courtesy of: http://blastmagazine.com/2010/08/04/dj-qbert-joins-dj-hero-2-lineup/

Do We Get Rolled By Character Roles?

Lots of people from all over the place seem to be getting upset about the fact that Bioware ‘seems’ to have followed the pattern many other MMORPGs have over the years. It’s called the holy trinity: healer, tank and damage dealer.

What is wrong with that? For a character to be a jack of all trades usually makes them a master of none. When a person focuses on a certain discipline, it does not necessarily make them utterly useless at anything else.  Case in point: If a person focuses on healing, does that mean he or she can do no damage at all? I don’t know about you, but I loved being a medic in Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142. The shock pads in BF2 were a NICE weapon for up close and personal. One solid shot was almost always a kill. Not to mention, they were quiet. You could sneak in and do a god-awful amount of damage before you were detected.

Let’s take a closer look at Healer, Tank and DPS (damage per second). That is:

– a character specialized only to heal other characters.
– a character designed from the ground up to take damage and hold the enemy’s attention.
– a character designed to actually do lots of damage. 

The whole point is that the tank gets and holds the enemy’s attention. Whether this is a mob of bad guys or one uberly powerful boss, it makes little difference. As soon as the tank holds the attention, the ‘aggro’ in MMO parlance, he will start to take damage. Enter the healer, who keeps the tank on his or her feet and holding the enemy attention. Then the DPSer sneaks around and where possible goes for the throat of the enemy. The reason this combination it is so common is because it works. And not just in games.

What many people do not realize is that there is nothing at all new about these tactics. As far back as the Mongol conquests of much of Europe, these tactics were well known and in general practice. Not just with the Mongols, although they did use them well. Now the healing part is a bit different from historical fighting since no one that we know of had magic to heal their soldiers with at the time, but everything else is the same. You have a tank, someone heavily armored or otherwise protected who can take punishment, get the enemy’s attention and hold it while another force sneaks around to deliver a killing blow. These damaging or killing forces were usually lightly armored, and as fast as people could make them. The whole point was not to fight, but to win. And the easiest way to win? Make sure that no one on the other side survives. Not nice, but hey, all is fair in love and war, right?

But now we get into games. Ever since EverQuest, players have been clamoring for something different, something that did not force them into cookie cutter roles. Now, I never played EverQuest, but I did play World of Warcraft, until I woke up anyway. I almost always played a tank. Occasionally, I played a healer. But to do DPS in those kinds of games, you really need to have better reflexes than I possess. You also have to be willing to get killed a whole lot. In most games, there are tradeoffs. DPS characters do a god-awful amount of damage, but they can’t take it well. Lightly armored characters such as mages and rogues don’t usually deal well with battleaxes swinging at them. Tanks do not do a lot of damage when they fight, but they can take it like nobody’s business. Hitting a tank is easy. Hurting one? Not so easy. And healers… Well… depending on what specialization you chose for your healer you either are immortal, as in nothing in the game can do enough damage to overwhelm your healing, or you are made of glass and depend on everyone else to do everything for you while you keep THEM standing. And pray that nothing bad notices you while you are doing it. Nothing worse than being a healer specced character and all of the sudden, everyone runs off somewhere and leaves you to see that ominous twist of smoke start pouring out of the dragon’s nostrils. AHHHH!!!!! Run AWAY!

So… what do we see in Star Wars: The Old Republic? Not a lot so far. In the E3 group video, we see the Jedi consular character healing while the trooper gets and holds the attention of that big droid. The Jedi Knight and the smuggler work on crowd control, keeping all of the other enemies from attacking while the trooper unleashes hell on that droid. It is very interesting to see the trooper specced as a ranged tank. Tanks don’t usually go that way in video games. Of course tanks in real life are another matter.  Heavy armor, big gun and mucho mobility. Sound familiar? The problem with a tank in real life is similar to the problems for tanks in games. Unsupported, tanks in the real world are easy prey for infantry, mines or artillery. In most games, if a tank does not have some means of damage mitigation, or someone healing him, his lifespan is measured in minutes, if not seconds.

Oh sure, Kick in the door and run into a room filled with bad guys. All of whom are now pointing blasters at… Um… Does this sound like a good plan?

Not to me. I am really looking forward to playing this game, especially after the MAJOR shot in the arm for Trooper esteem everywhere that premiered at E3 this year. I want heavy armor, a big gun and lots and lots of bad guys in front of me. I can and have played as part of a team, and I look forward to seeing what interesting twists Bioware comes up with for this game. And if I have to group to do some content? I have no problem with that. As long as the group isn’t composed of Leroys. And even if it is, well, we will go out with a BIG bang.

Over to you. What roles would you want to see? What roles would you not want to see?