Grammar in Social Media and Game Dynamics

OK. This is more of a rant than a proper blog post. But it’s too long for twitter, so you get it here. What on Earth is wrong with all of these companies using game dynamics in the context of social media. Specifically, why can’t they tell what gender their users are, and why have they decided to make everyone a plurality?

Facebook social feed from Hidden ChroniclesFacebook social feed from Farmville

Seriously? “Their”? These games already have access to the basic information. How hard is it to use the correct gender? And if for some reason, the game mysteriously doesn’t have access to a given player’s gender, why not default to “his”. Or play the PC game and put “his or her”. Or do something creative like do a statistical analysis (on either or both of the player’s name and the demographics of the game’s players) and make a guess? Or do something differently creative and call him or her “it”? But plural?!.

Now don’t get me wrong. Everyone can make grammatical errors. I even make them occasionally in blog posts here. But when I find them, or they’re pointed out to me, I go back and correct them. The good folk at Zynga have been doing this for long enough that they clearly must know that they’re wrong. And so one must assume that they’re intentionally using the plural in reference to a single person. So … what gives?


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