Sunday, July 26, 2009

Impossible Jargon

The second Death Star in Return of the JediImage via Wikipedia

Wikipedia defines jargon as:

Jargon is terminology which is especially defined in relationship to a specific activity, profession, or group. In other words, the term covers the language used by people who work in a particular area or who have a common interest. Much like slang, it develops as a kind of short-hand, to express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of a group. A standard term may be given a more precise or unique usage among practitioners of a field. In many cases this causes a barrier to communication with those not familiar with the language of the field. As an example, the words RAM, Hard Disk Drive, CPU, and Graphics Card are jargon terms related to computing.

Gamers end up having their own jargon to refer to situations. Not just as a shorthand but sometimes it is necessary to get shades of meaning that one never needs in real life.
This week we're talking about the word impossible.
impossible can have many meanings because when measured against the possible it is a much larger territory. In games and in fantasy the performance of impossible deeds becomes commonplace. Still within the architecture of a well made world some things remain impossible, even when impossible things are being done. As you can see within this paragraph the term is beginning to be ambiguous.

In our gaming group we have three categories of impossible, called category 1 category 2 and category 3. unfortunately although many of our players arr quie inventive in terms of plot, setting, problem solving etc. overall the group is a bit Leonard of Quirm when it comes to naming things.

Category 1 impossible things are things you cannot do but are not actually outlawed by the laws of reality, like jumping to the moon. You can't do that but jumping does cause you to move upward and one can attain escape velocity and aim correctly you may be able to land on the moon, surviving would be a trick but there's nothing in physics that states that if enough power were put behind a jump it wouldn't work.

Category 2 impossible things are things that could not have happened but their current state is ok. Momotoro a boy that grew out of a peach, or the Death Star. A boy is a perfectly reasonable object, a sphere of metal is reasonable. the laws of the universe have no problem with these. A peach is reasonable as are lumps of metal ore. But there are no set of circumstances that could cause a peach to produce a boy, or lumps of ore to become a moon sized space station, several times during the construction it should have collapsed or something. Category 2 impossible things may be here now but there is no possible way to get to where they now are.

Category 3 impossible things are not happening. Pi being made to equal 3, or the moon being made of cheese. Even if someone were to instantaneously turn the moon into cheese it wouldn't be made of cheese in about 5 minutes as it collapses in on itself and is made of compressed carbon and other things.

In short category one impossible things, you can't do, category 2 impossible things did not happen and category 3 things are not happening.

a problem comes with the many logical fallacy that happens in many gamers heads when they see someone perform a category 1 impossible thing and therefore assume they can do category 2 and sometimes 3 impossible things.

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