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'Beating' games around the world
'Beating' games around the world Exclusive
February 10, 2014 | By Leigh Alexander

February 10, 2014 | By Leigh Alexander
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    36 comments
More: Console/PC, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet, Indie, Programming, Art, Design, Exclusive



One of my favorite things about living and visiting abroad is to notice the ways idioms change from place to place, even within the same language. Once I'd been in London for a while, I noticed something interesting: Here, my friends don't say they "beat" games.

It figures, I thought; "beat" is probably an American conceit, rooted in our capitalistic, competitive culture. My English friends say they "finished" a game, or "completed" it. Much more demure and pragmatic, I reckon.

I took to Twitter to test my theory, and ended up delighted by what I learned -- all around the world, people use different ways of saying they've beaten a game. If you're from any of these places, I'll leave it up to you to think about what it says about you.

In Japan, they "clear" games. Ah, that sounds about right -- I remember the STAGE CLEAR screens from the inscrutable Japanese games of my youth.




Canadians "beat" games too, but they are very sorry about it:




Many Australians and New Zealanders reported this one -- interestingly, according to the responses I heard, they share it in common with South Africans and Irish folks:




Sometimes there are idiomatic variations unique to one's own social groups:






I wonder if Swedes have a special interest in vehicles:




Finns seem disinterested in being competitive:




Norwegians are tired of all that running around:




Apparently there are a couple ways to say it in German -- the practical way, and the hoping for luck:






This Dutch term is interesting:






Ecuadorians are good sports:




A few Brazilians told me that "zero" is common phrasing:






Is it true that Argentina's phrasing of "turning" can be read as sexual?






China and Israel also like to beat and win:




There are few different ways to say it in Hindi, it seems:






Possibly Korea would just like to see the ending:




In Egypt, they apparently "close" a game:




"Pass" is a popular way to think of it in Mexico, Venezuela and Croatia:








Malaysia and Indonesia are mostly "finish"-ers:






I'm afraid I don't know how to read this, Russian friends:




And you, Spain. What do you make of this?




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Comments


Ron Dippold
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'@leighalexander in Russia it's usually Прошел — Seductive Barry'

Not a native speaker, but as far as I know that's 'proshel', which is 'passed'. I have no idea about any subtleties of the term.

Anton Temba
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Other ways of interpreting the word Прошел would be:

Cleared, completed, passed, played through.

I'm half russian, just to mention.

Ron Dippold
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Thanks, high school class only goes so far!

Ardney Carter
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Fun read. Thanks for this one.

Katy Smith
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I followed this a little bit on Twitter when it was happening. I found it fascinating, thanks! :)

Luke Quinn
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Surprisingly interesting topic, thanks for posting this instead of keeping it to yourself.
The term 'clocked' is an old slang word for punching someone in the head (specifically) and is now applied to beating video games but not any other activity (at least not here in Australia).
I've had trouble confirming it, but I'm fairly sure that it's from flash language which would explain why it pops up in a lot of the British territories.

Ian Uniacke
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That's not why the term clocked is used for games. Clocked comes from the earliest video games (eg Game & Watch). The term clocked was when you got a sufficiently high score that it wrapped back to zero (like when a clock strikes 12 it goes back to "0" oclock). This happened because there was only enough memory to retain a certain score (eg maybe it was 255 or one bytes worth of score). So to clock a game originally meant being so good at it that you clocked it back to 0. The term just stuck and we kept using it to mean finishing a game, since clocking a game essentially meant "I'm done with this game"/"I've mastered this game".

Luis Guimaraes
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That what "zerar" (Brazil) means too. That you make the score wrap around from 9999999 to zero.

The game's ending is called "zeramento" ("zeroing").

Shane Lee
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As I mentioned in twitter, in Korean, we say "게임을 깨다" (game-eul kaeda; literally broke the game). What Sam said is also acceptable, but I would say most gamers would agree "깨다" is much more popular. I dunno if broke means as in "breaking a horse" or "break through," but I would go with "breaking a horse."

Michael Joseph
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There's perhaps a way to view the phrase "beat the game" as acknowledging a contest between the player and the designer. Some arcade games can be very adversarial toward the player as players are challenged for their money.

Josh Waters
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There could also be something said for the American spirit of independence and pioneering. We often feel the need to "overcome the odds" and "claim victory from the jaws of defeat." That exactly how I feel when I'm playing Galaga, because I feel like I could lose at any moment. Therefore, "beating" or "conquering" creates this sense of accomplishment that "taming the wildlands" and "travelling across the continent" would provide (though, naturally, on a much lower degree of scale).

Diego Cathalifaud
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In Chile we use the same as in Argentina: "Darse vuelta el juego" = "self-turn the game around" or something like that.

Javier San Juan
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I have always thought that the term comes from those older games that would start all over after you completed them, so in that sense it would mean like "looping around the game".

Evan Hartshorn
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One of my friends always "solves" a game. He's American, but I've never, ever heard him use the term "beat", and he's not averse to violent terminology.

Shane Lee
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If it's mystery game he's plays often, I'd understand that.

Evan Hartshorn
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He tends to play RPGs, but he's as likely to solve Halo as KotOR.

Ben Serviss
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I was going to make the same comment! My one friend who says it is the only person I've ever heard phrase it that way.

Justin Speer
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I knew people in elementary school who "solved" Nintendo games. I always thought it was strange but it's also kind of charming.

I feel like this phrase was sometimes used in early Nintendo Power magazines and that might be how it proliferated.

Italo Capasso Ballesteros
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In Colombia, since we speak Spanish, we do say "ganar" (to win), or "pasar" (to pass)... but there is a very unusal word that gets said often, and that is "rescatar" (to rescue).
My guess is that it goes back to very old games with the trope that you always had to rescue soneone. So probably the question was if you already rescued the kidnapped cgaracter.. and it stuck :p.

David Paris
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Now for the next question - at what point do you get to consider the game completed?

I know as an OCD youth, I once kept a list of games that I had completed, but that became impractical over time. Ignoring the fact that my game library grows continuously (curse you Steam!) it has simply become too fuzzy to determine exactly when a game is in fact, done.

Certainly there's the point at which I will not play it any more, but there are many games that I enjoyed so much that I have played them start to finish, and then later picked them up to do it again, that I think would still qualify as 'done'.

When do you get to mark League of Legends as done? If you beat Bayonetta on Normal mode but not Hard does that count? Do you have to get all the achievements? What qualifies?

Maria Jayne
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Well that's a tricky one, notice how the different terms such as "complete" and "done" actually mean different things anyway?

I'm "done" with Civ V for now, I've played over 300 hours across multiple games and have no desire or conviction to play currently. But I haven't played all the possible combinations or difficulties.

I've completed Batman Arkham Asylum twice according to the 100% achievement lists the game records for me. There is literally no statistic I have left to complete.

I've finished Half Life 2 three times but it was finished the first time.

I've never beaten a game though, this may be the "English" in me. I don't associate beating something with a piece of entertainment designed to give me a way of succeeding.

I have beaten an opponent though, in PvP my opponent is trying to beat me and so to me, that is the definition of beating something. The opponent has to be trying to beat me at every opportunity. They never knowingly or intentionally give me a way of winning.

David Klingler
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"I don't associate beating something with a piece of entertainment designed to give me a way of succeeding."

- That's a really interesting way to look at it. Is there any way that you could "beat" a game, then? What if you speedrun it and have the world record, for example, or max out the score (if it doesn't wrap to zero)?

I've seen people play Q*bert for over 50 hours straight, and I would consider that "beating" Q*bert. Perhaps playing without a game over to the point that the machine breaks down (Bill Carlton with Missile Command) multiple times might count as beating it haha, or maybe getting so many extra lives that the machine breaks down (Joel West with Frenzy).

Josh Waters
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Perhaps I'm a bit of a traditionalist, but I tend to think of "seeing all of the story and/or getting to the end credits" as my definition of "beaten." Of course, these don't really apply to fighting games or MOBAs, but I've been trying to really consider them the same way I think about Chess. No one really "beats" chess so much as they study it to get better, and competitive gaming should be considered in much of the same way, I think.

Essentially, it comes down to the person and what they want from a video game. While I'm certain there are some people who won't consider a game like Super Metroid or Portal "beaten" unless they've completed everything, but I'm generally satisfied with "making it through," "overcoming," or "beating" the game and leaving the 100%/Challenges/Achievements/Hard Mode stuff as post-game activities.

Shane Lee
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Hey, fun is defined by how you look at it.
There may be a common standard that we all might agree, but every people has their own opinion on what is fun to them and thus, what does it mean to "beat" the game.
In my standard, beating gaming means seeing all alternative endings but my friend is okay with seeing official or "good" ending. I can understand he doesn't want to go through same thing again to just see different one. I mean, he can simply youtube that up.

Maria Jayne
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@David - That's a really interesting way to look at it. Is there any way that you could "beat" a game, then? What if you speedrun it and have the world record, for example, or max out the score (if it doesn't wrap to zero)?

Well still, by getting the highest score/time you are competing with humans not the game. So you aren't beating the game, you're beating other people. The game just provides you with a way to compete....like a running track. You can't beat a running track, you just use it to compete.

Jeanne Burch
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A friend of mine, who says his idea of when a game is done has "evolved" thanks to leaderboards and the like, doesn't consider it complete/finished until all the achievements (or equivalents) are earned. For example, I've played "Tales of Vesperia" through to the credits four times, but only have 50% of the achievements to that game. According to him, I'm only 50% done with it!

Alfa Etizado
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In Brazil we also close a game. The third more common one is to finish, but that's boring. Zeroing a game is the best one.

Saurian Dash
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Thank you so much for posting this. The term "beat the game" absolutely drives me up the wall, I feel that it stems from the "fast food" gaming culture of today which dictates that you blunder your way through a game once and never play it again because you've somehow "beaten" it. Contrast this with the Japanese expressions where they have established terms for the quality of the run: "No Miss Clear" or "Superplay" for example, these phrases illustrate a clear difference in attitude and suggest that games are something to be savoured and mastered.

All of the best skill-based games out there get better and better as the player's skill increases. The game is not an opponent which you "beat", the opponent you face is your own limits.

Simone Tanzi
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In Italy we use "finire il gioco" To Finish the game.
I think the other side of the medal is funnier though when you lose/die in a game.
In Italy you can be sawed (Segato)
or you can be shaved with a wood plane (Piallato)

Alex Camilleri
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I'm sure you don't say "Segato" or "Piallato" everywhere in Italy, but rather in your area/region ;)

Simone Tanzi
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Well .. my area/region is mainly the internet so it's pretty wide...

David Klingler
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I would definitely say the one I like the most is zeroing the game. I never liked "beat" because anyone can beat a game even though beat makes it sound like you completely demolished it. I don't care if you've beaten a game, but I do care if you're the world champion. If you're the world champion, you totally beat the game into the ground. If not, you probably just barely got through it, and that's not impressive.

I used the term beat when I was younger, but I prefer to say finish or completed now. That's different from 100% completed, though.

Edmund Ching
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In Singapore (where I am located) we usually use the phrase "completing a game". That just means finishing the main portion of the game and does not necessary mean finishing a game with 100% completion for cases of games with collectible components.

As far as I can remember, I remembered in Cantonese (for perhaps the Malaysian Chinese or Hong Kong Chinese), they used "爆機“ to describe completing a game, especially in the video game arcades. That sort of translates as "blasting the system(cabinet)" or "blowing up the system(cabinet)".

Yulian Andonov
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In Bulgarian we say "Превъртя", which literally means to "re-roll"- to complete a circle and start from the beginning.

Daniel Smith
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Funny - I'd noticed people saying they "beat" games in the last few years, but never made the connection that it coincided with me moving from the UK to the US. I will always say "finished" or "completed" (in the rare cases that I actually manage to do that!), and find "beat" to be very violent sounding (maybe not quite the right word) and to me is synonymous with "defeated", which just seems strange in this context - as if each game was an AI opponent trying to confound you.

Titi Naburu
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"Clocking" and "zero" may refer to driving a car so much that the odometer clocks and returns to zero.

In Uruguay we also say "dar vuelta", but I doubt it's a sexual term. ("Voltear" is, but we don't use it.)


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