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Arcfusiongames

Dropping the F-Bomb

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Arcfusiongames    140
Swearing. Shunned upon by polite society and intelligent people but is embraced by action games to add some spice to dialogue. When is swearing useful in dialogue and when is it just too much? Some games have just crossed the line and drifted into stupid town where nobody can complete a sentence without throwing in one or two curse words. So when do you think that swearing is appropriate in a games dialogue and when is it just a completely unnecessary part of a character's vocabulary?

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SuperVGA    1132
I think swearing used in games can help defining participating characters. Like in Mafia II, where, although the swearing is excessive, it gives an impression of a wiseguy dialogue.
-Why those two can be associated in the first place is a different thing, obviously.

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Haps    1331
Somehow an idea took hold a while back that excessive swearing makes a game more "edgy" or "real." That's the same thought process that goes on in the heads of immature kids and quite frankly, it gives your work the same credibility.

That's not to say the words don't have their role, but excessive swearing is hardly breaking a social norm anymore, it's not going to shock anyone or make the gentry faint, so what's your motivation for using it? It's all still just part of the art of writing: There's a few different philosophies about how much is acceptable, ranging from "zero" to "as long as you can justify it," and varies according to taste, but it's no different for video games - a weak writer relying on a weak method won't be churning out a classic any time soon, whether for a novel, script, or cutscene.

Look to TV, film, and books, you know when it sounds like terrible dialogue. You also know when it fits the scene. Sometimes less is more, and sometimes a character just needs to convey their message in a string of expletives. But it should always feel natural, never forced. Just because a character is stressed, or macho, or aggressive, doesn't mean you have to rely on swearing as your only way to convey that. It works the same as any other one-dimensional attribute.

Can a character be an excessive swearer and still fit into a game? Absolutely, if it fits them and the setting, but there should be more to the character than a potty mouth.

Can a character still use it frivolously? "**** yeah!" says I, it can be a great tension cutter at an appropriate point.

I think one of the most glaring problems with swearing in games is when it's sourced into randomly-occurring comments. It may seem epic in the writer's mind to add gritty expletives as a part of flavor phrases, but since there's never a way to measure the player's real tension level, it quickly loses out through repetition or inappropriateness. After all, it just sounds silly when when your space marine yells, "**** you all!" for the fiftieth time, triggered by blasting a single helpless enemy all alone in a deserted hallway. At that point, it has all the impact of taunting a bottle of ketchup for getting the cap off.

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Khaiy    2148
Swearing is appropriate in a game where it suits the character speaking and the situation at hand. If I would accept it as dialogue in a book, or be unsurprised by it and its juxtaposition in real life, it would probably be fine in a game.

In action games, the situation tends to be appropriate (I'd curse if fighting off seemingly endless hordes of monsters), and the characters tend to by the kind that I would believe swear pretty liberally. "Bad" words are an arbitrary set of words that, like any others, have their own meanings and connotations. When all of the words a character says are written carefully, any words so included (including curse words) will fit. If written poorly, then the specific words used are broadly irrelevant. The dialoge will suck, and the presence or absence of bad words will neither save nor doom it.

Dialogue in games tends to be pretty low quality in general, and with the modern ubiquity of voice acting (often poor acting) I often find swear words to be the least offensive part of the whole mess.

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[quote name='Arc Fusion Games' timestamp='1306313937' post='4815503']
Swearing. Shunned upon by polite society and intelligent people[/quote]Wait what ? Why would swearing be shunned upon by intelligent people (society I understand because for most part they are biggest hypocrite around) ?

On topic, cursing is fine as long as it's there for a reason, not just forced into (the set-up must be right).

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Arcfusiongames    140
Well, Puciek, intelligent people can usually come up with a better word to describe the situation at hand without having to resort to swearing. Your right though,swearing is ok if there is a good reason for it, like spilling coke on your new keyboard :D

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[quote name='Arc Fusion Games' timestamp='1306359070' post='4815779']
Well, Puciek, intelligent people can usually come up with a better word to describe the situation at hand without having to resort to swearing. Your right though,swearing is ok if there is a good reason for it, like spilling coke on your new keyboard :D
[/quote]There is no substitute for swear, that's why we have them. Granted that people who are more likely to be eaten by zombies don't use frack as a comma, but they still swear if they hit a night stand with their little finger.

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Khaiy    2148
[quote name='Arc Fusion Games' timestamp='1306359070' post='4815779']
Well, Puciek, intelligent people can usually come up with a better word to describe the situation at hand without having to resort to swearing.[/quote]


Unless a swear is the best word to describe a situation at hand. Intelligent people may also reach the conclusion that there's no reason to bar an arbitrary set of words from their vocabularies because they are amorphously declared bad for no particular reason.

It's dangerous to start judging people's intelligence based on something which is a combination of cultural and stylistic factors and is subjective besides, like word choice. Especially when you yourself use the direct object of a verb as though it were the object of a meaningless preposition in your opening line.

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inavat    317
[quote name='Khaiy' timestamp='1306364020' post='4815811']
[quote name='Arc Fusion Games' timestamp='1306359070' post='4815779']
Well, Puciek, intelligent people can usually come up with a better word to describe the situation at hand without having to resort to swearing.[/quote]


Unless a swear is the best word to describe a situation at hand. Intelligent people may also reach the conclusion that there's no reason to bar an arbitrary set of words from their vocabularies because they are amorphously declared bad for no particular reason.

It's dangerous to start judging people's intelligence based on something which is a combination of cultural and stylistic factors and is subjective besides, like word choice. Especially when you yourself use the direct object of a verb as though it were the object of a meaningless preposition in your opening line.
[/quote]

Precisely. The concept of "swearing" is completely arbitrary and based upon cultural norms of politeness. Is an intelligent person less likely to put his elbows on the table when eating? I put my elbows wherever I please, and I am much more likely to use the word "shit" than "poop" or "feces". Why? Because word choice is to a large degree completely arbitrary and not everyone conforms to the pointless rules the rest of society chooses to conform to. If that implies anything about a person's intelligence it's that he's smart enough to not blindly accept that certain words are taboo.

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Haps    1331
[quote name='A Brain in a Vat' timestamp='1306364436' post='4815818']
[quote name='Khaiy']It's dangerous to start judging people's intelligence based on something which is a combination of cultural and stylistic factors and is subjective besides, like word choice.[/quote]
If that implies anything about a person's intelligence it's that he's smart enough to not blindly accept that certain words are taboo.
[/quote]


I think you've completely missed what Khaiy was saying, it doesn't 'imply' anything about their intelligence whatsoever, whether high or low.

Someone who swears indiscriminately isn't showing they're intelligent or openminded at all, although they can come across as inconsiderate. People who choose to censor themselves aren't necessarily weakminded, either.

If you're going to make sweeping generalizations about someone's intelligence based on use of profanity, you should realize it's a lot more subjective than just bool Cursing = true;

For starters, there's a difference between casual swearing, and that in response to tension. Then learn their motivation for suppression/expression - Someone can still believe it makes them [i]appear[/i] less knowledgeable to others, even if they don't apply that standard themselves. Someone else might believe expletives convey authority. Who's 'smarter'?

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jbadams    25676
I'd like to briefly mention an example from the film [url="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1250777/"]Kick Ass[/url]:

One of the main characters in the film is an 11-year-old female superhero who goes by the name of "Hit Girl", and there was quite a bit of controversy over the fact that this 11-year-old character (played by an actor the same age) "dropped the C-bomb". In my opinion however that particular line of dialogue was an example of very clever writing, as the choice of that particular curse-word -- which for no apparent logical reason is currently generally considered more taboo than others -- in a few seconds established the same effect as an hour or more of "lesser" curse-words might have needed.


That being said, in my personal opinion an occasional swear-word is fine as long as
[list=1][*]It's either in character for the speaker, or the situation in question is extreme enough to warrant an out-of-character curse; in some cases the fact that such an out-of-character piece of language is used may highlight the seriousness of a particular situation.[*]It isn't used excessively. It's difficult to draw a line as to what constitutes excessive, but I generally feel that the majority of dialogue should probably not consist of curse words in most cases.[/list]

If every other word is a curse word it starts to seem rather abrasive; to me personally that isn't particularly because the words are "curse words", but rather that the writing simply seems lazy and perhaps repetitive, and it annoys me no worse than a teenager constantly inserting "like" as every other word; at some point any repetition -- especially if out of place or technically incorrect -- will become annoying.

It should also be taken into account when writing dialogue that there are people who [i]will[/i] be offended if you use even one "mild" curse word, and from there you have a sliding scale where more and more people will take offence.

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Khaiy    2148
[quote name='Arc Fusion Games' timestamp='1306371784' post='4815864']
Probably should have not said that intelligent people would rather not swear. Intelligent people swear, just alot less than the less educated.
[/quote]

Are you basing that on anything other than assumption and elitism?

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Arcfusiongames    140
Argh! Almost everything I say is eventually nit picked to death! This is a discussion on swearing in games and NOT a dissection of my words, so if you would all kindly stay on the subject at hand.

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inavat    317
[i]Sorry, I'm editing this post since it was argumentative and not on topic.[/i]

In my opinion an NPC in a game should use whatever language style he or she would in real life. Give your NPCs a personality -- whether or not someone swears, and how he swears, is one aspect of his personality. I think it's as simple as that. Edited by A Brain in a Vat

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tehgamemaker    100
Try to make a sergeant that doesn't swear in a game. Not too easy.
Creating tough/macho cliche characters in a game that don't swear can create some pretty interesting characters.

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Haps    1331
[quote name='tehgamemaker' timestamp='1306542768' post='4816632']
Try to make a sergeant that doesn't swear in a game. Not too easy.
[/quote]

Built off the definitive stereotype, I think [url="http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Avery_Junior_Johnson"]Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson[/url] would disagree with you ;)

[quote name='tehgamemaker' timestamp='1306542768' post='4816632']
Creating tough/macho [u][i][b]cliche[/b][/i][/u] characters in a game that don't swear can create some pretty[i][b] [u]interesting[/u][/b][/i] characters.
[/quote]

Cliché is practically the opposite of interesting. If a writer was developing a character to be 'interesting', cussing wouldn't need to be a defining attribute in the first place.

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jbadams    25676
[quote name='Haps' timestamp='1306545829' post='4816639']
[quote name='tehgamemaker' timestamp='1306542768' post='4816632']
Try to make a sergeant that doesn't swear in a game. Not too easy.
[/quote]
Built off the definitive stereotype, I think [url="http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Avery_Junior_Johnson"]Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson[/url] would disagree with you ;)
[/quote]
I'd classify his swearing as very mild, but there are plenty of people who would consider some of the Sergeant's dialogue to be cursing. Just from the short samples of dialogue at the top of the page you linked we have "bastards", "raggedy-ass" "anti-son-of-a-bitch". A good reminder perhaps, that there's always someone you can offend no matter how tame you try to keep your language; I think your example still stands though as a character who fits the hard-ass sergeant stereotype with only very mild language and without curse-words making up the majority (or even a particularly sizeable portion) of what his dialogue.[size="2"][color="#3a3a3a"][/color][/size]



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Haps    1331
[quote name='jbadams' timestamp='1306575196' post='4816731']
I'd classify his swearing as very mild, but there are plenty of people who would consider some of the Sergeant's dialogue to be cursing. Just from the short samples of dialogue at the top of the page you linked we have "bastards", "raggedy-ass" "anti-son-of-a-bitch". A good reminder perhaps, that there's always someone you can offend no matter how tame you try to keep your language; I think your example still stands though as a character who fits the hard-ass sergeant stereotype with only very mild language and without curse-words making up the majority (or even a particularly sizeable portion) of what his dialogue.[size="2"] [/size]
[/quote]

I'd hoped someone would call me out on that. ;) Movie-wise, I'd peg his language myself as a little over PG and a little under PG-13. The ESRB seems pretty forgiving, allowing infrequent use of those words in E-Everyone titles and more regular use in E-10+, while T tolerates infrequent use of even the strong invectives. (Even more reason for parents to do some homework and not take the rating's face value.) And you're absolutely right about the possibility of offending "someone," even if the writer thinks nothing of the content. There's a few places where even the mundane blasphemes are viewed strongly.

I guess it all comes down to asking yourself if [b]you[/b] think it's appropriate and if you're comfortable with the risk - The further you head down the scale, the more likely you'll offend someone.

Not to worry though, as Sergeant Johnson shows us, a good writer can always work around the words themselves while keeping the original message intact.

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Haps    1331
[quote name='BrioCyrain' timestamp='1306618150' post='4816926']
I tend to use the words "Freaking", "Crud", "Darn-it", "What the Freak?!", etc.
[/quote]

Just make sure it still sounds natural! We don't need any more [url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4t6zNZ-b0A"]monkey-fighting snakes on this monday-to-friday plane![/url]

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DarklyDreaming    367
People people, there are all kinds of levels of swearing and, yes, there certainly is [i]that[/i] level which is just plain stupid - you know, [i]that[/i] guy who can say nothing but repeatedly spout out 'fuck' until you are as bored of him as looking out a window on a Friday afternoon; it's not 'edgy', unless you are talking about pushing me towards pulling that trigger to avoid hearing one more cringe inducing word coming out from your mouth.

Then there is that other level of swearing. That level of swearing that almost seems an art form in it's fluidity and form - something that is incomprehensibly easy to understand but very [i]very [/i]hard to replicate (and even harder to reciprocate, which is probably why very few ever come up with any smarter response than 'shit' or 'fuck me'). This is the mark of an intelligent character playing an intelligent game. That doesn't make any other form of swearing [i]less[/i] useful and certainly doesn't belittle it when an intelligent character gets caught in the moment and goes with 'FUCK!' instead. It's just [i]different, [/i]which is a great blessing in games where you don't want to hear [i]that [/i]army sergeant go on and on with his five-second swear bar before he spouts out the next curse which comes into his mind only to repeat [i]ad nausea[/i]...

Then there are those curse words just put in so they can have an effect on people. In other words, [i]maximum offending pejorative[/i]. That's just marketing - after all, any kind of offence is bound to create headlines.
Headlines = free publicity = free marketing = profit + ??? = win.

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XDaWNeDX    113
Cursing is acceptable in areas a NORMAL person would swear. (Just imagine whoever you want swearing in real life.)

Things such as "shit", "damnit", etc... The less powerful curse words can be thrown in a bit more often.
Racist words are NOT acceptable. PERIOD.
The "F-Bomb" could be dropped in some areas, where things go absolutely horrible.


But all-in-all, it depends on how YOUR game is. Who your character is.
EG: A 2 year old character shouldn't be swearing, nor should an old woman.

It's accepted whenever it would come up in real life. While writing the game's script, don't think of it as a script. Think of it as your watching two people talk (or however many people there are) and you're just writing down what they say.

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UltimaX    468
There's a few factors that weigh in on this and one of them is perception. Have you ever watched Casino unedited versus the TV version? Not the same and not as realistic. When I play a game I want to feel the story and be involved. If I'm talking to a mobster, drill instructor, or whatever and they're saying things like "oh fudge I just stubbed my darn finger" then I can't play into the story and it ruins it for me.

I recently worked on a hardware/software based project with some Italians from Florida. It took me a little bit to get used to them because it was exactly as one would expect it to be "hey how is da f**king project comin along?", "it's coming along great!", "that's my boys... see what da f**k did I tell yous? They're getting done! You let us know if you need a f**kin thang k?" Or detectives and cops? They are real bad too. Pull a mug shot up and be like "Hey Frankie! Check this $5 crack hoe out LOL", "Oh that's [so and so]... that b**ch has had every f**king guy on this god d**m block..." You get the point; rude and crude. Stereotypes are usually spot on when it comes to certain things.

Also, I think it also depends on what you have been exposed to as well, which goes back to the second paragraph. If you work in the private sector you're probably used to everyone being hush hush. This may make you feel more on the defensive side of the spectrum. When you work in the public sector (not a non-profit; more along the lines of government) it's different. You can walk down the hall and ask someone how they are doing and they just blurt out "Can't complain... Beautiful f**king day out there!" and that's just how it is. So, of course, that may make you to lean on the other end of the spectrum and not be so defensive about it.

So the whole argument lays in the gray area. Perception, Stereotypes, and Exposure all play major roles in peoples reactions to character dialogs.

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