Spelling and grammar are the bane of the online gamer. You’d think that because we all speak English, everything would be fine, but I for one, can’t diagram a sentence anymore (if I ever could), and not all MUSHers speak English natively. So what now?
I’m a huge proponent of spellcheck. I love it. But online gaming and spellcheck aren’t the best of friends. I grew up with raw telnet, which meant there was no spellcheck. In fact, there was really no good editing at all. It was always a cluster fuck. When I got to TF, at least I could separate input from output, but again, it’s telnet. Not a lot of room for spellchecking.
It’s now 2008. I use Atlantis and SimpleMU. Atlantis has Macintosh’s spellcheck built in. SimpleMU requires you to purchase it to get a spellcheck. Now, really I consider this a fatal flaw of the operating system, not of the program (though if Shae would wake up and tell anyone the status of version 4.5, I think that might be nice, k’thnx).
Macintosh went ahead and integrated spellcheck for any application that plugs into their system API. This is a good thing. I get the same spellcheck dictionary on Safari as I do on Atlantis, Pages … you get the idea. On Windows, however, I only have spellcheck on applications with their own spellcheck tool. This means a word I add into Word isn’t on Firefox, and forget about Wordpad having spellcheck.
This leaves a MUSHer in an unenviable situation. How do you type coherent, understandable sentences and avoid typos like ‘becuase’ so as not to seem like a prat? By the way, I had 3 typos in that sentence. I also have a spellcheck so you can only see the one I intended to have. MUSHing is text based, and if you can’t communicate what you mean clearly and directly, you’re going to piss people off.
You should try and use complete sentences. Sure, once in a while you might not use them for a dramatic purpose, but if every sentence is a partial thought, you need to get kicked. Please, use ellipses (…’s folks) sparingly. Don’t end every sentence in them (yes, Brice, I mean you). You should also learn the difference between it’s and its, and your and you’re: it’s means ‘it is’, its means ‘of it’, your means ‘of you’ and you’re means ‘you are.’ While this is confusing, it’s also basic English. Punctuation is also very important. If you’ve not figured that out with the difference between its and it’s, go back and re-read to understand why.
I don’t think people should need to be Strunk and White experts, but the very basics of communication are important when you’re existing in a text based medium. Spelling can be helped by spellcheck software, and everyone needs to use it. Period. End of story.
And before you tell me that WoW and other such online games aren’t text based, let me point this out: The internet, as a whole, is a text based medium. Until online video conferencing becomes ‘standard’, we’re going to be using text in email, IM, IRC, or what have you to communicate. Again, you don’t need to be Shakespeare, but you do need to learn to effectively get your point across.
This has nothing to do with my hate-on for l33t/chatspeak. Saying ‘lulz’ and ‘woot’ a lot rarely endears me to you, but I’m willing to let it go if you’re sane the rest of the time. I’ve been known to whip out ‘Exsqueeze me?’ on occasion (yes, I am that old), but I also know how to spell. I am eternally calling Arnold Schwarzenegger either Ah-nuld Schwartzenhooven or Herr Groppenfuhrer, but I do know how to spell his name. It’s not efficient to use ‘u’ instead of you and @ instead of at in the long run, since the other person will glower at you across the keyboard and take longer to reply.