Vernacular’s Vernacular

Hey there Vernacular Faithful,

Got a new cast for you. This time we’re taking a look at the words that we use internally to analyze and describe games. We tried to take an academic approach, emphasizing flexibility and provocation of thought.

For your convenience I’ve listed them below if you want a more detailed examination check out the links at the bottom of the post:

Game Object: Anything that appears in a video game
Examples: enemies, items, player stats, menus
Is it in a video game? Then it’s a Game Object!

Player Objects: Objects that are attached to or controlled by a player.
Examples: Player Character, Player Menus, Player Stats
It’s a player object if the player considers it to be an extension of themselves during play

Non-Player Objects: Objects that are not attached to or controlled by a player.
Examples: Enemies, boss health bars, Non-Player Characters
Are you controlling it? No? Then it’s a Non-Player Object!

Objective: Something the player is trying to achieve (not necessarily developer imposed)
Examples: Cross the finish line, Get a key, Die 1000 deaths,
If you’re trying to do it it’s an objective.

Progress: How far the player is from completing an objective.
Examples: distance from the finish line, closeness to the key, nearness to 1000 death quota
Near or far, your progress is still your progress.

Obstacle: An Object that impedes the player’s efforts to complete their objective.
Examples:  Doors, Walls, Immovable Objects
If it’s stopping you, it’s probably an obstacle

Tense Obstacle: An obstacle that increases player tension
Examples: Spikes, Bottomless Pits, Unstoppable Forces
Does it paint a picture of trepidation? Does it annoy you? Then it’s gotta be a tense obstacle

Relaxed Obstacle: An obstacle the does not increase player tension
Examples: Invisible Walls, Long Distances, Indestructible Trees
The door that doesn’t hit you on the way out is a relaxed obstacle

Trap: A game object that becomes an obstacle in reaction to another object’s action.
Examples: Trap Doors, Trip Wire Traps, Sleeping Dogs
If you touch it and it magically transforms into an explosion its probably a trap.

Agent: Non-Player Object that has agency.
Examples: Non-Player Characters, Keys that hide from their owners, Aimless Cars
Did it run away for reasons you can’t and probably shouldn’t understand? It probably has agency

Agency: The ability to make decisions.
Examples: Your ability to choose to read this article.
You have chosen wisely…

Foe: An Agent that is also an obstacle.
Examples: Enemy Robots, Sentient Forcefields, Agent Smith
It made the decision to stand in your way. What will you do in response?

Asset: An object that augments or expands the capabilities of its possessor.
Examples: Hi jump boots, Armor,  weapons of mass destruction,
If it opens up new worlds of possibility, it may just be an asset.

Resource: An object that is depletable.
Examples:  Health Points, Gun Ammo, Sanity
Can you lower its amount somehow? That makes it a resource!

Currency: A Resource that can be repeatedly exchanged for other game objects.
Examples: Money, Raw Materials, Appreciably valued weapons and gear
If you can trade multiple of it for other things (like teleporting steam rollers) it’s a currency.
Consumable: An object that is a resource that its possessor can deplete to create an asset.
Examples: Health Potions, Edible Shoes, Mana Potions
If you can eat it to ease your troubled HP bar, its probably a consumable

Tool: An object that reduces or removes an obstacle’s ability to impede the player.
Examples: Hover Boots, weapons of minor destruction, keys
If it clears the path to victory, then it is a tool (the good kind).

Collectibles: a non-asset, non-resource game object that can be increased.
Examples: Trophies, Medals, Points
If it’s made of gold and does (absolutely) nothing, its probably a collectible

Collectible Part: A collectible that becomes an asset when a specified amount or  set of collectibles that include it have been acquired.
Examples: Heart Pieces, Weapon Parts, Armor parts
Does it become something when you put the pieces together? Then its…well you know.

If you want to hear more about our examinations check out the casts:

On Soundcloud 

On Youtube


About Red Coat

Just a Mascot on a Mission
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