What counts as insults or extreme dialogue, and in what context?

BreakerZero

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I don't know if there's anything that's ever been asked about this but I was thinking about getting some clarification on the matter of insults or extreme dialogue. Obviously we all know the simple insults (fool, ingrate), the moderate jabs (s**t, jacka**), the context-specific (b***h, n*****) and the most extreme of all possible zingers (f***, c***). That leaves one massive gray area: either with the elevation of any of the above to extreme levels for cultural reasons pertaining to the context of a given racial populace, or something entirely unique that exists solely for the purpose of character development in your game project.

Any thoughts?
 

Philosophus Vagus

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Realistically, the context itself should be the determining factor. There is a big difference say, in the context of actively disparaging someone with a racial epithet and speaking the same racial epithet in the context of say, a seminar discussing such subject matter from a historic/academic standpoint, driven with the need to understand and disarm such bad actors rather than to propagate said bile. Likewise such language, utilized in the character development or storytelling of a game, movie or book should not by itself be judged maliciously, rather the entirety of the point said medium seeks to make should be considered.

Unfortunately, in practicality, (at least as far as I've seen) context and intent take a back seat to weather or not the audience itself gets offended. So in said seminar, if someone of the wrong skin color or gender or whatever utters the wrong insult, and someone else decides it was done in malice than more often than not said professor will be fired. Regardless of the fact that if you go back and look at the context of what he was saying when he said it it will be clear that he was not disparaging anyone and was clearly speaking in a strictly academic context. It does not matter, in the social politics of 2020 the mere fact that someone deigns to take offense is often enough to ruin someone's career indefinitely. It should not work that way, but it does, my example is pulled from a real world situation, it is something that has happened multiple times on college campuses and in "diversity" board meetings in recent years.

In other words, using "extreme dialogue" as you put it is a gamble that you won't necessarily know how will play out until after you see how it is received. Small indie game creators have found themselves with a national spotlight shown on them (and not in a beneficial way) for the cultural points they choose to make in games, because some yahoo twitter journalist happened to stumble across it and thought taking whatever offending controversy exists within said game completely out of context and demonizing the developer with it instead. These taboos likewise are ever changing, and often hypocritically applied.

TL;DR it probably isn't the best of ideas to make cultural commentary using "extreme" dialogue within any medium currently. If you are a AAA company, part of hollywood etc you can get away with virtually anything, for the rest of us, to many unhinged speech zealots running around acting irratically along weird and often nonsensical ideological lines who actively tend to seek out such offenders to punish, as if stifling commentary on the known human frictions within our society, be they racial, gendered or what have you, is somehow equivalent to softening said frictions. At least, a lot of these adherents certainly pat themselves on the back acting as if they think they've softened them. If anything I think such stifling only adds to such divides, but I'm either a minority opinion in thinking so or else the majority are to afraid of being labeled themselves to say as much.

If you feel whatever cultural or philosophical point you have to make is worth making, by all means. But understand that all it takes is one nutter looking for the next "viral" story to suddenly and decisively put you and your work before the court of public opinion, a cold and unfeeling court more interested in validating themselves by and large than in giving you justice.
 

BreakerZero

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Gamergate, basically. But the other part of my question is still unanswered, because I was also curious as to how one would apply this logic to something that's completely original but in the same or similar context as to what's already been established.
 

Tai_MT

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Honestly, words are only "bad words" because we've erroneously deemed them to be "bad words". If they weren't seen as "bad words", they'd have no power what-so-ever. A curse word is no more demeaning or harmful than any other insult.

With that being said...

If you wish to conform to specific guidelines (like ESRB or Movie Guidelines like PG-13) you can just go to their websites to see how they determine the ratings.

Personally speaking...

I tend not to write curse words for my characters or "insults". As a writer, it feels less effective to write "You dolt!" than it is to write, "That word doesn't mean what you think it means". If you're writing insults, it's often far more memorable and effective to for the characters to say something clever rather than throw out "moron", "idiot", "jerk", or harsher language. The reason for this is because such insults are "overused" and don't have all that much impact or memorability.

Let's put it this way:

Barret from FFVII. Why is his cursing so memorable? Because nobody else in the game really curses... Nobody else in the Final Fantasy series really curses... It stands out.

But, here's what you don't remember: Which curse words does he use? When? Any of those lines memorable at all? Do you remember them? I don't.

If you're looking for memorable character traits, "Curses like a sailor" isn't usually one players will remember. Unless they're like... 6. Or, all they'll remember about that character is that they curse like a sailor.

Hope you find it helpful.
 

Ellie Jane

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I like how Star Wars and Red Dwarf dealt with it. Nerf Herder and Smeghead are clearly meant as deep insults but not to us the watcher.

Maybe come up with some local, tough sounding words. Perhaps throw in some races. Have Orks in the game? Then maybe calling someone an Ork is equivalent to a four letter word.

You Elf-lover. Dragonfodder. Spritchetmuncher. Your mother bred whimpets and your father was a bushwhacker, you good for nothing Dracophile.
 

QuantumCapybara

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I have too many thoughts and opinions about this topic. Words have been my business like all my life.

OP: first off, the N-word, and the six letter F-word also called the "other F-word" and its abbreviation are the most unacceptable of the words you mentioned in Western society but the most important thing to understand is context. For instance, in the United States, the C-word is generally considered to be as extremely unacceptable, a harder swear than the F-word, but in the UK, it's much less of a big deal and more like just calling someone an a-hole. Calling a man a b**ch has completely different connotations from using that gendered insult to a woman (and is still misogynistic even when used to insult a man).

Look for instance at the FF7 swearing that I've guessed at "Translations" for below. Technically, Cid calling Palmer a "fat f**ker" is a harder swear than when he calls Shera a b**tch, but the thing is, Palmer more or less deserves it--he's a comedic relief antagonist and is a terrible person--but hearing him use that language towards his wife is shocking. I laugh when he uses that language against Palmer. I cringe when he talks to his wife that way.

Context is everything.

But, here's what you don't remember: Which curse words does he use? When? Any of those lines memorable at all? Do you remember them? I don't.
Actually, I do.

Sh*t is the one curse word Barrett says in the game that they don't actually censor and I think it's only one instance of that. All of the rest of the curses are censored Marvel comics style (y'know, !@#$%^&*) but based on the lengths of those you can get it. For instance, in Tifa's slap-fight with Scarlet, it's five characters of nonsense, not four, so you know she called her a "b-i-t-c-h" not a "see you next tuesday".

Final-Fantasy-VII-Barrett-you-lucky.jpg
Guess Translation: "SH*T! You lucky f***er!
Final-Fantasy-VII-Barrett-wheres-its-head.jpg
Guess Translation: "Where's its' f***in' head?"

maxresdefault.jpg
Guess Translation: "Sh*t! Good for nothing fat f***er!"

Now as you can see, in refreshing my memory of the above, I was reminded that, in fact, Cid curses much more, and much worse, than Barrett. Why didn't I remember that?

That's what I want to know. It was Barrett I remembered being the potty mouth, not Cid, but compared to Cid, Barrett is practically child friendly. But it was Barrett I remembered as the sweary one.

In hindsight, I don't think instances of Cid cussing should have been censored in the original release, but I understand why they were--the world was just barely beginning to contemplate the idea that videogames could be for everyone, including adults, not just children. But since I was a teenager playing FFVII I've learned a thing or two about abusive relationships and Cid is being hideously abusive towards his wife and censoring the cursing really downplays it, making it more comedic than painfully awkward and comfortable, like it would be IRL.

13-C42_013.jpg
ff7_cid.jpg

That "translates" as "Sh*t, Shera, what're you, blind!? We got guests!! GET SOME TEA! B**CH!

That is some serious verbal abuse going on in that relationship... : /

>>><<<

On @Amy Pond 's fantasy slurs & cusses:

More fantasy slurs: "tusker" for orks, "dandelion eater" or "knife ears" for Elves. I like "knife ears", there's something about it that feels genuinely obscene and offensive, although it obviously isn't. "Smeghead" is not necessarily as innocent/harmless as it seems: I'm pretty sure it's derived from smegma. Drekhead is used as a bowdlerized version of sh*thead but also isn't as innocent as it seems if you know any Yiddish: drek literally means sh*t in Yiddish. I like Frack/Fracking/Fracker in Battlestar Galactica. Milksop is a good medievalism, as is calling someone the rude word for an illegitimate or fatherless child (which is still technically a swear but has a completely different meaning in a medieval context).
 
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BreakerZero

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Over a month later and I have a really big calamity in one of my scenes following a concept restart, and I now require a context-specific issue resolution involving the D-word. Specifically, I'm wondering how to handle the phrase "that was a dick move!" and in particular by terms of how extreme it would be given the other context for using that word. In my case, it's in response to a very stupid attack plan (meaning in this case that I'm referring to a complete idiot).

(Side note: if the above is somewhat masked by the bomb shelter mechanism, a quick urban dictionary search with the intended phrasing will explain this further. I won't actually link to the page for caution of context in relation to forum rules because of posting limitations regarding mature content, however this should be enough information to at least give you an idea of what I'm referring to.)
 

Ninjakillzu

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In the context of my cyberpunk game, the main character doesn't really curse at all, but those you meet, such as gang members, tend to curse a lot. I do use many variances of sh*t and f*ck because they fit within the context of my world, being cyberpunk and all. Swearing is also very common in literature that depicts a cyberpunk setting, especially from the 80s and 90s.

On the other hand, in my fantasy game, swearing is pretty much reduced to "damn" and "b*st*rd" being the worst that's said. It's not a "dark" fantasy setting like The Witcher, so severe swearing doesn't fit the context of the world.

What it really boils down to is context in my opinion. Does it fit within the culture of your game? How "realistic" and "mature" are you trying to portray it?
 

BreakerZero

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Before I started over I actually didn't have it in me to go back and pull out all the f-bombs that I originally had. But now that I'm basically working off a clean slate that gives me a bit more incentive to determine how far I'm actually willing to go. I do still have my "hell no" and "s***!" and "damn it!" moments (and one party member is even a freakin' cop!) but I'm simply taking inventory of which phrases I'm going to use this time and "dick move" is the one where I'm really stumped in terms of its severity. And for classification purposes, I obviously want to get this s*** done right.
 

Kupotepo

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@Ellie Jane, I agree with her that game relating insult is funny and creative. It is not offensive 99.99% to a person.

@BreakerZero
"A group of researchers from Wright State University studied why people swear in the online world by collecting tweets posted on Twitter. They found that cursing is associated with negative emotions such as sadness (21.83%) and anger (16.79%) thus showing people in the online world mainly use curse words to express their sadness and anger towards others." It might limit your market to teen or adults depend on what country's jurisdiction. It is a way to express emotion, but you can water down those profanities.

I think of something. I think verbal threats would do a job similar to insult or dirty talk if you would like to convey anger or hate toward another character. You will see I do not need to swear words to cause anger or fear.
"I am going to get you, wait and see."
"If this person wanted to, this person could hurt anyone of this location."
"A command said to his lower rank; "I hope something does not happen with your position." "

It depends on what you would like to convey. Is threatening insult, joking insult, or frustration insult? What tone/voice you would like to set for a character at a given moment?
 
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BreakerZero

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@Kupotepo You raise some interesting points. But that's beyond the context of my question regarding the phrase "dick move" - that is, someone playing a rather crude attack strategy or otherwise being a complete idiot. Now compare that to the other possible uses of the word (stuff like "Tricky Dick" Nixon, or even the one which is not exactly fit for print) and you'll begin to understand why this is bugging me in terms of how extreme it would be in actual use.

(Side note: I only brought up Nixon as an example - there is nothing political about the reference even in regard to Donald Trump. That being said, I am well aware of the fact that some of you may have comparative positions so if you do then please don't go breaking policy - and that also includes any possible comments that could spin the conversation out from my intended request.)
 

Kupotepo

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@BreakerZero, ok I understand better now. If you would like a dick move insult, first I will define what I get
"An action by one male to another male friend which violates understood social expectations, especially where the transgressor obtains a slight advantage in comparison with a relatively large inconvenience imposed upon the aggrieved party."
It is from a dictionary website: "It was a dick move when Tom encouraged several dancers at the strip club to order drinks, then left his friend Bill to pick up the tab." Sorry if it feels offensive. Another example would be to leave a restaurant and let your friends pay for all dinings.
Another appropriate example for this website: Your housemate pushing down the raised red flag on your residential mailbox shortly after you leave for the day, and well before the mailman makes his round.
"Hey can I borrow the keys to your car?" (1 hour later) "Hey man… there's something wrong with your car."



I think it is more of an action like being an inconsiderate jerk or being selfish.
I think you refer to derogatory name-calling, right. I am not political science, linguistics, debate, or rhetoric course, so I am not an expert but just learned the internet. Please forgive me for this topic if you are specialized in this. It is not a swear word but it is that elicit a strong emotional response from the reader or listener. It called loaded language.
These kinds of words are often used by antagonists in RPG. For an example of the words: an infidel, an idolater, a traitor/an enemy of the state, and an invader. It is not culture or regional focused, but it still hurt if anyone is on another side.:LZSsmile: It is easy to understand without or little context.
:wink:Yeah, those type of emotional binding words makes villains look eviler and hated by a player if a player knows that villains are being dishonest. I think. I hope it would help somehow.

The current trend, that you probably hear instant of call a training expert/professional, some people demonize them and called them an elitist.

@BreakerZero, from what I learned your character to a good cop and a bad cop. I think it is a badass action and you could create praking if your character is just a jokester.
 
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BreakerZero

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That's what I was referring to - being a complete idiot to other people, especially between grown men. (Though in my case it's actually a woman who makes the reference, and probably because she's a freakin' cop!) So from a vernacular standpoint I guess that puts it in a slight parallel with the n-word in a strange sort of way. I'll update the maturity survey to reflect this comparison.

Thanks again for helping to sort things out! And because I don't go any further in that context (as I actually draw the line at stuff like the n-word as it is) I believe a rare occurrence fits the situation, or correct me otherwise.

EDIT: Not completely related to my original intentions, but I have one more question before I can move on. In terms of suspense, I'm not sure about how to classify the prospect of scary or horrifying situations in terms of mass arson. There's no actual blood or serious damage for this, but it relates to a very important scene at the beginning of the game where you basically have to fight your way out of a building and township which have been intentionally and literally set on fire in a mad attempt to basically kill your entire party (along with the entire community as a whole due to how it sets the plot for what's coming). And for the sake of record, this is also the first part of the story where the phrase "dick move" is used as a description of what sets things up for what's coming.
 
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YoraeRasante

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@QuantumCapybara
Cid sticks less in your mind for two reasons: one, he only joins you much later, and his story relevance is not much bigger at that point. He curses more, but Barret curses for longer.

And yeah, he is... really abusive to her. Not to his wife, though, not yet.
He is lashing out at her because she ruined his dream, and she lets him because she blames herself too.
Of course, it happened because she decided to give one last check for his safety, and that ended up breaking it and had to stop it to save her life. If they were rational about it they would see that if that did not happen it would happen in space with no way to keep him alive, but he is too crushed and she is too blaming herself.
It is not a justification, of course. But they do not even try to justify. When he gets his head out, he is clearly angry at himself for how he acted and wants to make amends, even if she still does not see his actions as wrong too.
Final Fantasy 7, as you said, does not pull the punches. It was abusive, he was being unfair, and she was blaming herself. At the end he is able to see it, and will try to fix this. Even if he is the only one of the two that sees it for how it was he is still making clear he will change. It is not ignored as just a personality trait like being a pervert like Kame's perversions in Dragon Ball.
 

BreakerZero

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@Kupotepo That's actually not 100% decided yet, but she also happens to be the first to sense that "your day is shaping up to be rather.... interesting, to say the least." Obviously as one who enforces order she has to be a little more serious about certain matters, but that doesn't mean she can't goof off with her approach if it helps to make the other person understand the consequence a bit more. And she has more than enough reasons for this: she and her sister also happen to have some rather serious provisional limitations which are mitigated only by the presence of a neural control system. In other words, not only do their proper functions at the physical level need an extra boost, but they can't physically control their minds either. That means the integration of thought-interpretation modules and a communication echo sensor to both formulate conversations and provide for their sensory interpretation are a major part of their backstory, and why her description of this as having "two sides of myself" is a running joke from the very beginning.

This also gives her a unique perspective for the purpose of her job, as she can be as blunt as she is with a more "calm and collective" approach - and it's a strategy that has paid off in nearly all of her major case files to this point.

EDIT: I forgot to mention this, but after the initial attack sequence has been fully played out your party is assumed to be out of commission and no longer a threat to what amounts to false destiny. But as fate would have it, a close associate (who is also the aforementioned officer's sister) finds them laid out and left for dead, and she responds by trading enough jabs to convince the responsible parties to back off. Ultimately this ends up giving your party enough time to sufficiently recover for transport to the dominion infirmary hall (which also has its own sense of dread along with the obvious audio cues that you'd probably be expecting at this point).
 
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Elissiaro

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About the phrase "dick move"...
I feel like that's a pretty casual swear?
It's not insulting a person. It's insulting an action. And that by default makes it way less harsh.
In fact, I can't really think of any situation that could make it sound really bad?
I think it's more something you say between friends when joking around, or like, to call someone out that actually does something mean and uncalled for?
You wouldn't call a guy kidnapping or murdering someone a dick move, unless you didn't care at all about the victim. And then it's more of a dark humor joke than swearing imo.

Pushing someone in the hallway, or taking the last pizza slice after you said you wanted it: Dick move.
Burning down a town, or conquering the world with your army of evil: Pretty higher on the evil scale than most dick moves.

Of course I'm not a native english speaker so I guess take my opinion with a grain of salt.
 

Kupotepo

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@Elissiaro, I am not a native English speaker, too. It doesn't mean your comment is not helpful. It is fine. Some people think in term of who native or not in order to use a language properly. I think it has more to do with experience and knowledge that makes someone uses a language properly. My opinion should be taken with a grain of salt. Languages are tools for communication and for getting to know more people, not badges of superiority and mystified. That is what I think agree to disagree to some.
 
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