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Dropping the F-Bomb

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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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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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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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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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Swearing. Shunned upon by polite society and intelligent people
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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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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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
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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Well, Puciek, intelligent people can usually come up with a better word to describe the situation at hand without having to resort to swearing.



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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[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.



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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[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.

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 appear 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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