millennial writing (thumbnail from the youtube video that coined the term)

Millennial Writing

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Updated Sep 06, 2023 at 04:44PM EDT by Zach.

Added Sep 06, 2023 at 11:03AM EDT by Philipp.

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Millennial Writing is a slang term that refers to a type of writing, primarily in video games, that is distinguished by an unnecessary abundance of sarcasm, meme and pop culture references and cliché quips such as Marvel One-Liners. The most recognized example of "millennial writing" is the Borderlands video game series, High on Life and the 2022 reboot of Saints Row, while screenwriter Joss Whedon is generally considered a major influence. Following a 2023 YouTube video that popularized the term, millennial writing became a viral subject of discourse on X (Twitter) and 4chan's /v/ board.



On May 14th, 2016, an anonymous 4chan user made a post in which they parodied the quippy, rambling writing style in the video games Borderlands 2 and Battleborn (developed by Gearbox Software), comparing it against succinct writing. The comment, posted in a /v/[1] thread about Battleborn, gained six replies in roughly seven years (shown below) and was widely circulated online in the following years.[2]

Anonymous Sat 14 May 2016 21:23:41 No.337630843 Report Quoted By: >>337632282 >>337632768 >>337633565 >>337644653 >>337644907 >>337645150 >>337623732 I can't stand the writing, it feels like it gets worse with every Gearbox game. They can't go ONE LINE without stuffing it full of "ironic" observation as their form of 'jokes'. Like they have an insecure 12 year-old filter for everything >Normal line: "If you can get some fuel canisters, then I can reactive the main generator and get our shields back up. I marked the objective on your map" >Gearbox line: "Heyyyy buddy, great job killing all those mutants and all. You're really good at that! Shooting things, that is. One problemo though, as it turns out a bunch of monsters on the planet are gonna tear our eyes out if we don't get the shield back up. And this is just my opinion, but that's gonna suck. Not having eyes sounds terrible! Like, how am I supposed to read my collection of "Bodacious Space Babes" without any flippin' eyeballs? So here's my brilliant plan that I got written on this here napkin. There's this generator-thing. You following me? And it needs GAS! Who knew? So mayyybe, you can go out and fetch some canisters. And then we can get the generator running, and then the shield will go back up, and we won't get horribly viciously murdered! Doesn't that sound great? I know, right? So, since I did most of the work coming up with the plan, I was thinking you can do the last step and get the cannisters. If you see any monsters, shoot them in the face or something. Oh and one more tip: try not to get killed. That'll put a wrench in this plan- metaphorically that is. Not literally. I hate people who misuse the term "literally", it drives me FIGURATIVELY insane. Anyway I'll just be here, cowering in my bunker while you go do that. Go team badass!"

On August 14th, 2018, comic book writer Chuck Wendig made a tweet[3] in which he humorously described human life as being a "magic skeleton packed with meat and animated with electricity and imagination." The tweet (shown below) gained over 11,400 reposts and 31,300 likes on X in five years and has since been circulated as a prime example of "millennial writing."

Chuck Wendig @ChuckWendig TUESDAY. The day you realize that nothing can stop you, because you are a MAGIC SKELETON packed with MEAT and animated with ELECTRICITY and IMAGINATION. You have a cave in your face full of sharp bones and five tentacles at the end of each arm. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, MAGIC SKELETON 8:34 AM Aug 14, 2018

The style of writing in Borderlands 2 and Borderlands 3 remained a topic of discussion in /v/ and other video game communities online through the late 2010s and early 2020s. For example, on March 25th, 2022, X[4] user @Googleygareth made a tweet about a way to mod all audio lines from Borderland 3, which received over 3,600 reposts, 29,100 likes and 1,400 bookmarks in one year.

Marvel One-Liners / So That Just Happened

On March 4th, 2022, the superhero film The Batman (based on the DC Comics of the same name) was released. Shortly prior to the film's release, jokes about fans of Marvel Comics and movies (a more lighthearted universe compared to DC Comics) being angry at the film not having many quips in it gained popularity on TikTok.

Following the release and the initial complaints, Fans When memes about Marvel fans not finding any such one-liners in the film became popularized (examples shown below), with the style of humor in Marvel films becoming a subject of ridicule.

Ollie @TheQuiver_ URGH. The Batman would've been WAYYY better if it had lines like: "He's right behind me isn't he?" "Oh, did I just say that out loud? "Take a chill pill Riddler" "Orphans do it best "I'm The Batman, I like bats..ok?" 8:12 AM - Mar 6, 2022 Twitter for iPhone 99 : MCU fans when The batman doesn't say "Lets Scooby Doo this s---" after entering a crime scene in the new batman movie. KAPWING

"Millennial Writing" Term Coined

On January 23rd, 2023, YouTuber[5] ShreddedNerd made a video titled "Millennial Writing," a video essay with critical analysis of writing in Borderlands 2, the 2022 remake of Saints Row, High on Life and other video games. The video (shown below) received over 1.1 million views in seven months.

I've noticed a trend in writing. It seems to be getting more common over time. It's a certain type of writing I'm trying to describe, the best term I can of to call it is Millennial Writing. You'll find out why.
Okay, imagine this: you know those tweets that are like, "capitalism kow key killed our vibe and gaslit us into being okay with our bosses and landlords taking our excess value," and then it has like 260,000 likes? I'm more so just referring to the Twitter style of speaking, the tone and affectation and vocabulary. Now, have you noticed this style of writing in modern games?


Starting on January 26th, 2023, the term started spreading online. On that day, an anonymous 4chan user posted a thumbnail from the ShreddedNerd video and wrote "How do we stop the problem of millennial writing in games," starting a /v/[6] thread that garnered over 110 replies in eight months (shown below, left). On February 5th, Twitch streamer Asmongold reacted to the video essay, with the reaction video gaining over 1.8 million views on YouTube[7] in seven months (shown below, right).

MILLENNIAL WRITING 91KiB, 1280x720, maxresdefault.jpg View Same Google ImgOps SauceNAO Fo Anonymou [117/8/56] s Thu 26 Jan 2023 21:58:32 No.625638 164 Deleted View Orig inal Report Quoted By: >>625639459 >>625639737 >>625640381 >>625641069 >>625641359 >>625641649 >>625641928 >>625642192 >>625643135 How do we stop the problem of millennial writing in games?

Throughout 2023, the term achieved more recognition on 4chan's /v/ and on X, seeing increased use following the releases of Forspoken, Viewfinder, Baldur's Gate 3 and Starfield. For example, on July 19th, 2023, X[8] account @VinesauceClips posted a clip of Vinesauce Vinny reacting to "millennial writing" in the indie game Viewfinder by immediately setting speech volume to zero. The clip (shown below) received over 13,000 reposts and 89,200 likes on X in two months.

Various Examples

Bizabizow / Ty @ItsBizabizow Flirting vs Harassment 10:33 PM Dec 30, 2022 3.7M Views . 17 S Q ... Mandalore @Lord_Mandalore I decided to #jointhepack and try Hyenas yesterday and it was one of the most absolutely cynical games I've played in my life, which is one hell of a bar. It makes the tone of something like Borderlands seem utterly sincere. Ⓒ10,000 14 405,000 5,000 100/1000 AMEA 1:15 PM . Sep 4, 2023 · 312.4K Views MERCH BACK A HERCH VAULT 03000 Tob Baldur's Gate 167KiB, 1200x630, capsule_616x353-3e91.jpg View Same Google ImgOps SauceNAO >>646576867 >>646577218 >>646579918 Anonymous [9 / 3 / 7] Mon 07 Aug 2023 06:55:27 No.646576 389 View Origi nal Report Quoted By: >>646576821 This is pretty fun so far but the Marvel tier quipfest millennial writing is the only thing breaking my immersion. I thought were were past the Claptrap era. Do you think we will be able to mod it out with A.I eventually?

BORDERLANDS PANDORA'S BOX 13KiB, 300x168, descarga.jpg View Same Google ImgOps SauceNAO Anonymo[14/5/11] us Sun 03 Sep 2023 16:37:00 No.6495 11549 View O riginal Re port Quoted By: >>649511764 >>649512802 >>649512902 >>649513218 >>649513252 is anybody getting more tired of milenial writing in video games? >normal writing:turn on the generator by fliping on the switches so we can get out of here ill mark it on your map >millenial writing:hey dudeeeeeeeeeeee good job killing those badies now we need to get out of here so turn on those flipin' switches or those mutants will poke our eyes out! and I could not see my space babe magazine! so my guy i marked it on this napkin so if you are a decent human being turn them on FABINO @KinoFabino > Boot up new Duke game > Borderlands dialogue 2:17 PM Feb 9, 2023 · 86.5K Views : Laughterhouse Five @Discourse Stu i just realized how much bad millennial-genx writing (ie - chuck wending) is coming from guys who are doing cargo cult douglas adams. hitchiker's was HUGE for nerds like my parents generation and a bit younger, which is most the guys getting published or doing tv shows now 4:43 AM Feb 11, 2023 57.6K Views .

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Top Comments


Here's the main issue I've noticed, not exclusive to "millennial writing" but I think it refers to roughly the same thing.

New movie comes out
Does exceptionally well
Breaks the mold in terms of writing
Studio execs push to imitate
Next decade filled with copycats
Writers who are inferior or can't write outside their style overuse it
Writing style falls out of favor
Repeat every 10 years

Case in point, I've heard a lot of complaints about "Joss Whedon dialogue" but I suspect most don't realize he only* wrote and directed the first two Avengers movies. Shrek was another example a decade prior, which led to a deluge of Hollywood imitations over the following years.

*I believe he also did some script work for some other movies and a TV show, but that's harder to quantify and credit/blame him for.

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in reply to MCC1701

it's not just hollywood cash grabs that do this, communities do it too. Reddit, 4chan, even this site all take jokes and phrases and run them straight into the ground.

And yes, while things wearing themselves out is not a new phenomenon, it used to take potentially a decade for a trend to spread and kill itself, now it only takes a week of being plastered all over the internet.


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