On the Term “Mook”
June 13, 2012
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Mooks were one of the new races introduced to the Wizardry series in Bane of the Cosmic Forge. In their outward appearance, they are shaped on the wookiees in Star Wars, otherwise they are a highly intelligent, technically advanced, curious and gentle race.
The term “mook” was not invented by the Wizardry team. It seems to have entered American vernacular with the Martin Scorsese movie Mean Streets in 1973, roughly with the meaning loser, someone who doesn’t count.
According to the Wikipedia disambiguation page, the term is used in game development for a group of enemy characters that are insignificant to the plot and simply there to be killed by the player. The difference to “mob” would be that mooks are specifically after the player, while mobs are often just roaming monsters. I’m not sure if this is true. In Daggerfall, for example, such groups of monsters are a side effect of many quests, but they are always referred to as “mobs” in the game data.
In Earthbound, the American SNES localization of Mother 2, there are monsters named mooks. They are stereotype 50s aliens with tentacles and eyestalks. This is a direct transcription of the original ムーク and may be unrelated to the American slang term.
In the year the Wizardry series came to a close, 2001, the term was somewhat revived by Douglas Rushkoff in an episode of the TV series Frontline entitled The Merchants of Cool for self centered simpletons in their teens or early 20s who live a drunken frat-boy lifestyle. The female equivalent is midriff. It seems that the term has been used more often since then.