If you hang around a place long enough, you’ll begin to notice certain vocabulary quirks that are particular to its inhabitants. Citizens of Norrath, for example, use KoS as shorthand for Kill on Sight, referring to any NPC faction member that will attack and attempt to kill you if you come within sight of their aggro range (which often does not coincide with how far they can actually “see”). Some vocabulary items find purchase within a broader context, such as the acronym OOM (out of mana) used by spellcasters in many different types of MMOs and RPGs. More broadly, one finds phrases like AFK which are used by players of pretty much every type of game and may even be used outside of gaming; I have seen the phrase AFK used derogatorily to describe people who collect unemployment income while not actively seeking employment.
On the topic of pejoratives, I’d like to take a look at some of the lexical items I’ve encountered while playing Smite that are fun to describe and much less fun to use in context. Most of these quite understandably underscore the player combat experience and are thus terms which describe both the quality of these engagements and the relationship between the owner and the owned. There is a certain element of fascination in play which is typically reserved for events like watching an old building being imploded to make way for new construction. It must be said, however, that while many of these elementary school-grade put-downs are playful when used among friends, their use between strangers often ends up feeding that old eSports bugbear, toxicity. I wouldn’t recommend actually using any of these when playing with people you don’t know, but then again I have this pie-in-the-sky vision of non-toxic competitive gaming communities.
We’ll start with the title of this post: dumpstering shitlords. I hadn’t been familiar with either of these terms until I heard them in context for the first time, but having done so their meaning was fairly easy to ascertain. A shitlord is simply a more direct and more scatological way of saying the cream of the crap: in other words, the best of the worst players. This in turn is a play on the cream of the crop, i.e. the best of the best players. A shitlord is therefore someone who is the best of what the worst has to offer, probably in the bottom bracket of the bottom tier when it comes to ranked play. By extension, a shitlord is also anyone who is winning despite the fact that you are clearly strategically and mechanically superior but have suffered the misfortune of having one of your teammates disconnect.
Dumpstering took a bit more thought, but not much, which is great because it’s not something I want to spend a whole lot of brain cells on. It refers to dominating an opponent to the point where you’re tossing them into a dumpster figuratively. If you remember the scene at the end of that 80s classic movie The Neverending Story where the kids who were bullying Bastian dive into a dumpster in order to avoid the wrath of Falcor the flying white cloud dragon, that’s pretty much dumpstering in a nutshell.
Lit was a new expression to me that seems to be unique to Smite, but perhaps MOBA veterans can clarify whether this is the case. Lit can be used in reference to a player who is making poor or strange plays that have no reasonable explanation based on their apparent skill level. For example, an opponent who “dives” an enemy tower in order kill a full-health, super-tanky player and promptly explodes after a couple of tower shots might cause both teammates and opponents alike to wonder, “Are you high? Are you drunk? Are you lit?”
The use of the word in this context is, of course, nothing new: being lit up was as relevant to Eric Clapton as it is to Buckcherry. There seems to be a trend of dropping the appended part of phrasal collocations among some gamers (I’m not going to posit a specific subset): for non-linguists, this means that lit up becomes lit and worth it becomes worth. Those darn kids have been doing weird things with language from the days of Socrates to Calvin & Hobbes and beyond. I find it fascinating to observe in the wild.
One final item of note is a word that has gained traction in the gaming community in general. Much like pwnt (owned misspelled as pwned and stylistically simplified to pwnt), rekt is a simplified form of wrecked which implies that you have destroyed your opponent completely. This has given rise to playful rhyming forms such as shrekt, a reference to the ogre named Shrek voiced by Mike Myers. Oddly enough, I first encountered the use of shrekt in Edge of the Mists in GW2 which itself is a sort of breeding ground for lowest common denominator behavior, if you will, due to its competing mixture of PvE and PvP elements.
Someone who has been completely wrecked would therefore have been top rekt or perhaps even top shrekt. Would you expect anything less? Having completely dominated an opponent, one would naturally want to boast and laugh about it. Players of World of Warcraft have long been subject to cross-faction language restrictions. When an Alliance player types the phrase lol in public chat, Horde players see it as bur. Reversed, Alliance players see the Horde version of lol as kek. Naturally, top rekt therefore begets top kekt.
Somehow the phrase kek has retained its meaning and traveled through not only games but also other media. Reddit forums abound with the phrase top kek to indicate an item one found to be the funniest, while top kekt is the verb form. In playing through Life is Strange, one frequently has the opportunity to read through the text messages on protagonist Max Caulfield’s phone. Max, being a video game nerd, advises her friend to bubble-hearth out of a difficult situation and follows it up with kek. Even if you’ve never played WoW or are only familiar with it in passing, you might be curious enough to follow up and find out what those things mean. Such is the pervasive nature of gaming vocabulary.
In conclusion, I don’t have a conclusion. I’d like everyone to be excellent to each other, but not everyone can be as righteous as Bill & Ted. Besides, dumpstering – ahem, talking trash and taking the piss are time-honored traditions that have given rise to wonderfully creative language innovation. Just, you know, don’t be a shitlord and inflict it on other people for sport. Your community will thank you.
Animated gif taken from Dorkly.