Gamasutra has an excellent collection of the specialist words and phrases that circulate in game development studios. Many of them (“cabal”) are simply applications of perfectly well-known words to the specific circumstances of a studio, but there are plenty that pop with the unique pressures of the games industry. Without knowing it intimately, I can imagine quite a strange world: publishing executives forced together with a mixture of straightforward creative types, creative geeks and pure technologists, all of them with a buzzing enthusiasm for a teenage medium that is growing into a still-conflicted adulthood. In fact, something of the style of the developers themselves is transmitted by the earnest literalness with which the article’s author transcribes and paraphrases the definitions. So for example:

TARDIS: Verb that means to make something up to 40 percent larger on the interior than on the exterior.

I love “TARDIS” as a verb – you can just hear someone suggesting that they can solve a level design problem by tardising the fortress – but the specificity of “up to 40 percent larger” gets me – and of courseĀ reminds me of The Office series 1 episode 6 (yes):

Jennifer: I’ve been made a partner.

Brent: You’ve been made a partner? That’s mental, “Wernham Hogg Taylor-Clark.” We’ll have to change all the stationery.

Jennifer (quipping, what with Wernham Hogg being a paper merchant): I imagine we’ll get a discount.

Brent (earnest, to camera): Up to 40 percent, in the industry.

Yup so and, here are some more.

Pushing Buttons to Make Rainbows: Refers to a neighborhood of game mechanics and/or interactions where the psychological reward given to the player is disproportionately larger than the effort required on the player’s part.

Meat Shield: When middle management protects subordinates from the whims of upper management. [NB: I understand programmers often use “meat” to refer to people, with the world outside computers being designated “meatspace.” As opposed to, I guess, cyberspace]

Seagull: Used as a verb to describe when a high level executive swoops in and craps all over a decision made in the trenches.

Cobra Venom: The distilled-down, core coolness of an idea or a project. You just need a little bit of this to make a big impact.

OK I think that’s enough. I’m off to score some cobra venom.

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