Years ago (in 2007 ish) the Defense of the Ancients (Dota) community and Heroes of Newerth (HON) community were at odds because it’s essentially the same game. Players knew that one would eventually triumph over the other as the popular game of the genre and the loser would be discontinued—like a fight for survival. Dota eventually won and HON players switched over, so “hontrash” became an insult for people who switched over. Eventually the community moved on from insulting that group of players, and the phrase instead shifted its meaning to become an insult targeting anyone who demonstrated a clear lack of skill in the game.
Informant & Context:
My informant for this piece is a member of the Dota community who has been active since approximately 2007 during the time at which this phrase occurred. He was exposed to this folk speech in online matches in which players around him used the phrase to insult others.
I became active in the Dota community around fall of 2012 and have never witnessed this insult in my time as part of the community. As a result, I would reason that the lifespan of this folk speech was a band of time in-between 2007 and 2012.
Insults in the online gaming community are quite common at the non-professional level. I would reason that this is an affordance of the nature of anonymity with the games—each player speaks from behind a computer screen.
N00b and nub are corruptions of “noob”, itself a corruption of “newb”, short for “newbie”. “Newbie” was in use at least as far back as the BBS era of the 1980s and early 1990s, where it referred to a user who was new to BBSs. It was less of an insult and more friendly than “noob”, which was popularized by Counterstrike players in a context where a poor player can ruin the game for others.
Newbie itself is modern slang, where according to Wikipedia it referred to new soldiers in Vietnam. The word’s origin before this is unclear, but it appears to be a word created to turn the adjective “new” into a noun, perhaps as a diminutive (Barbara -> Barbie, for example).
Informant & Context:
My informant is a commenter on the website Stack Exchange, who goes by the username Joe Dovakhiin, a popular message board website in the online gaming community. The comment was in response to a forum question about the origins of the word Noob. I believe the comment was legitimized by the more than twelve thousand thumbs ups it received by other forum users.
Link to forum: http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/10420/how-did-the-term-noob-originate
This is one of the most classic or conventional gaming insults in my opinion. It is a phrase that has continued to be used throughout my lifetime, and has a life span almost as large as the video game industry itself. This phrase is especially interested because it has maintained popularity in the entire gaming community whereas other phrases have gone in and out of style like fads.