Thursday, August 15, 2013

Terminology aside: "shmup"

at 4:35 PM
Y'know, there was a day and age when I refused to use the, ahem, word "shmup". I insisted on calling them "scrolling shooters", which I still find to be the more appropriate and descriptive term. "Shoot-'em-up" is vague, incredibly broad (it's used liberally for everything from Space Invaders to first-person shooters to Jason Statham movies), and has an almost condescending connotation. The shortened form, "shmup", has the added bonus of sounding moronic and being indecipherable to newcomers - describe a game as a shooter or an adventure and most people will be able to do the mental gymnastics to get at least a foothold on the concept (hey, that mixed metaphor kinda worked), but drop a term like "shmup" and you're talking a different language. But eventually I got tired of typing "scrolling shooter", and "shooter" alone is obviously insufficient, so I Caved and started using "shmup". 

I'm still conflicted though. I want you to know that every time I type "shmup", a little part of me cries out in anguish, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. On one hand, we could conclude that anyone unaware of or unable to decode the meaning of the term probably wouldn't get anything out of my commentary anyway. On the other hand, perpetuating stupid terms heaps even more dirt onto the perceived wall between "gamers" and "non-gamers". Our community is insular enough as it is; it certainly isn't the right attitude (or my attitude at least) to say "if outsiders don't understand, then they don't deserve to understand". It still grates on me every time I hear someone say "I don't play video games", as if the medium could be summarily assessed. How often do you hear "I don't watch movies" or "I don't listen to music". Then again, "I don't read" is pretty much the calling card of the 21st century. Still, video games don't suck like books. Don't say that.

Anyway. Capcom. Arcade games. Some good. Some bad. Most unremarkable. Tomorrow.

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