Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Enchanting Nature of Video Games

A short story aimed directly at my core readership: words trivia buffs nostalgic for old video games.

So years ago, I was writing news articles and blog entries alike on an antiquated version of Microsoft Word whose spell check function didn’t recognize certain modern words. Specifically, it failed to recognize the word pixelated and instead recommended that I use pixilated. Consequently, as far back as 2003, I used the word pixilated to refer to computer images whose basic visual components are large enough to be visible. This usage is incorrect, I have learned, for pixilated refers not to what you see on a screen but to what pixies do to you.
pixilated (PIKS-el-AYT-ed) — adjective: 1. behaving in an eccentric manner, as though led by pixies. 2. whimsical. 3. drunk.
Namely, pixies make you crazy, confused or somehow intoxicated. Pixilated, constructed in the fashion of the word titillated, describes the state of the pixie-addled person, whose encounter with the glitter-adorned segment of the paranormal world would forever render them awkward at parties. The largely obsolete pixilated makes for a surprising footnote, as far as the English language as a whole goes, but it’s especially relevant to people who play in video games or regularly experience any other program that involves animation. The distance between pixie (from the Swedish pyske, “a small fairy”) and pixel (literally pic(ture) el(ement)) is great but perhaps abridged somewhat by the similarity between related pair sprite (again, the fairy type) and sprite (“a two-dimensional image or animation that is integrated into a larger scene”).

Video games have soul, at least etymologically speaking.

Previous words of the week after the jump.
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