I hate puns. But I don’t do a lot of crying about how knitters have
to turn every damn thing into a pun, and how it’s going to singlehandedly kill the English language. And now that we know online
gaming is not just about thirteen year old boys in basements, people who are pissed about w00t need to get over themselves.
I don’t think some of them have bothered to read Merriam-Webster’s site. Once you get past the explanation of the word’s origin (which may or may not be accurate, but is written in a predictably stilted "we don’t really get you people" tone), you’ll find this phrase: based on votes from visitors to our Web site. Installing open voting on a website is the fastest way to become the Internet equivalent of a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop. In other words, the point at which they began to care? Really should have been the point where they stopped caring.
But, for laughs, let’s assume that some Merriam-Webster executive has been playing a lot of Xbox lately. Let’s further assume he also had a time machine, because "w00t" has been around a lot longer than anyone who’s upset by it seems to think it has.
In my PvE carebear (look them up) gaming neighborhood, players generally don’t kill other players. Most of what we talk about in the chat box are instances of Bad Things Happening (failed quest, someone else gets the sword you wanted, connection sucks, bad day at the real job) and Good Things Happening (monster dead, new armor, leveled up, got a promotion). An age-old discussion in the MMO (look it up) world is whether the person who announces all 70 of his level progressions to everyone deserves a response every single time. And you’ll always find at least one person who says yes. The polite thing to do, in both real and fake worlds, is to acknowledge. "W00t" (in the interest of full disclosure, I use "woot") allows me to do this and not say the same damn thing every single time. It is also useful as a self-referential. In a text-based world, "I broke up with my girlfriend" isn’t Good Things Happening until you see a "w00t" on the end of it.
And if you think "w00t" is bad? Wait until you hear about "gj." Or ./creating fake emotes. Or "orly." Or trying to be a polite comrade in an environment where your conduct and your gaming matters, often at the exact same time.
I really have to wonder — if a word that belonged to a bunch of self-admitted stalkers who labor under significantly fewer inaccurate stereotypes had been selected, would there be the same outrage?