Thursday, January 12, 2017

Public Space Ganked

So now that flatscreen monitors are cheap, advertisers are finding ever more places in which they can use them to grind us further under the boot of industrial capitalism inform us of more delightful products.* So here in Taipei, there are ad-delivering screens in places like the back of taxis, elevators, and doctor's office waiting rooms.

We got two new ones in our office building last week. Not in the elevators, but above the elevator floor indicators** on the first floor. They are advertising an online game. The game doesn't look very interesting, but what is interesting is the text in the frame above the screen:

上班十分鐘打一場 也能讓你Gank老闆

"Play one round in ten minutes at work, and you can also gank your boss."

It's interesting because of the use of the word "gank.". I learned this word back in the nineties. We used it to mean "steal," but with a connotation less like shoplifting, and more like borrowing your friend's Urge OverKill CD and not ever giving it back. When online games got serious, the meaning shifted to "egregiously kill." Example: if you and your enemy were running around shooting at each other and you finally go the upper hand, then you had killed him. But if he took one shot at you and in response you popped him with a rocket launcher, then you had ganked him.  

But I'm still surprised to see this word being used by Taiwan marketers. I showed five coworkers this picture and asked them if they knew what the English work "gank" meant. Four didn't know, the fifth said "kill in an online game." So I showed it to 14 year-old nephew and asked him. He said that gank means 偷襲 (tōuxí), or "sneak attack." So either the marketing is missing it's mark, or my company has an usually low percentage of gamers.

*Seriously, didn’t William Gibson predict this exact thing like 30 years ago? 

**That's probably not the right way to say that. You know what I mean though - the digital dislay that tells you what floor the elevator is currently on, and which direction it's going. 

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