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'Beating' games around the world

Turns out "beating" games is a mostly a North American phrasing. Leigh Alexander wondered what that said about us -- and ended up learning a fascinating variety of global phrases for finishing games.

Leigh Alexander, Contributor

February 10, 2014

6 Min Read

One of my favorite things about living and visiting abroad is to notice the ways idioms change from place to place, even within the same language. Once I'd been in London for a while, I noticed something interesting: Here, my friends don't say they "beat" games. It figures, I thought; "beat" is probably an American conceit, rooted in our capitalistic, competitive culture. My English friends say they "finished" a game, or "completed" it. Much more demure and pragmatic, I reckon. I took to Twitter to test my theory, and ended up delighted by what I learned -- all around the world, people use different ways of saying they've beaten a game. If you're from any of these places, I'll leave it up to you to think about what it says about you. In Japan, they "clear" games. Ah, that sounds about right -- I remember the STAGE CLEAR screens from the inscrutable Japanese games of my youth.

Canadians "beat" games too, but they are very sorry about it:

Many Australians and New Zealanders reported this one -- interestingly, according to the responses I heard, they share it in common with South Africans and Irish folks:

Sometimes there are idiomatic variations unique to one's own social groups:

I wonder if Swedes have a special interest in vehicles:

Finns seem disinterested in being competitive:

Norwegians are tired of all that running around:

Apparently there are a couple ways to say it in German -- the practical way, and the hoping for luck:

This Dutch term is interesting:

Ecuadorians are good sports:

A few Brazilians told me that "zero" is common phrasing:

Is it true that Argentina's phrasing of "turning" can be read as sexual?

China and Israel also like to beat and win:

There are few different ways to say it in Hindi, it seems:

Possibly Korea would just like to see the ending:

In Egypt, they apparently "close" a game:

"Pass" is a popular way to think of it in Mexico, Venezuela and Croatia:

Malaysia and Indonesia are mostly "finish"-ers:

I'm afraid I don't know how to read this, Russian friends:

And you, Spain. What do you make of this?

About the Author(s)

Leigh Alexander


Leigh Alexander is Editor At Large for Gamasutra and the site's former News Director. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Slate, Paste, Kill Screen, GamePro and numerous other publications. She also blogs regularly about gaming and internet culture at her Sexy Videogameland site. [NOTE: Edited 10/02/2014, this feature-linked bio was outdated.]

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