Just curious as to where "for the win" (commonly abbreviated FTW) originated?
Numerous internet sources, including a hotforwords video, claim that FTW, "for the win", originated with Hollywood Squares, a 1966-1981 US television show. It's likely that Hollywood Squares popularized the phrase, using it in show after show for 15 years, but I believe the true origin of it is in football or rugby. For example, after making a touchdown in football, a team faces the choice of kicking for 1 extra point (PAT) or running the ball in for 2 points. This can make the difference between tieing the game, vs. winning it; in the latter case, the team is said to "go for the win" (or to go for broke), both usages which far predates Hollywood Squares.
For the win originates in the Hollywood Squares television show. But how did this take off as FTW on the internet, and actually gather momentum? Let's trace the origins of FTW on the net.
FTW appears to have started in FPS (first-person shooter) computer games such as Half-Life just after or around the turn of the millenium, then spread to MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) such as Dark Age of Camelot ("DAoC") and on to World of Warcraft around 2003-2005, and from there to the rest of the net at large.
2006 DAoC and Half-Life
Here's a post on a 25th January 2006 that claims FTW pre-dated Dark Age of Camelot and came from a Half-Life modification:
2005 definitions and Usenet
The earliest definition in Google Books is in Scott Jennings' 2005 Massively Multiplayer Games for Dummies:
Its earliest mention in the alt.games.warcraft Usenet group is from 2nd May 2005:
It is later explained in alt.games.warcraft on 2nd September 2005:
The earliest archive of this internet slang page from 26th October 2005 says:
2004 Usenet and DAoC
It was used in novell.community.chat on 5th August 2004:
Again, DAoC is the Dark Age of Camelot game, and the following appeared in a forum for the game discussing "VN Cliches (Or just DAOC in general)" in June 2004. One poster claims the term had been in use in "every single FPS [first-person shooter, such as Half-Life] on the net for the past four or five years or so":
2003 DAoC, Urban Dictionary and Half-Life
Here's some early posts in DAoC forums. 14th December 2003:
And 15th October 2003:
The first Urban Dictionary definition with this meaning is from 27th November 2003, again referencing Half-Life:
1999 red herring
Finally, here's the earliest FTW I could find in Half-Life Usenet groups, posted 27th August 1999 in alt.games.half-life.tfclassic:
Unfortunately, I suspect this may be the older alternate meaning "fuck the world" and not our "for the win".
I am unsure as to whether or not FTW originated with Football or Rugby, but as someone who watched Hollywood Squares in the late 70s and early 80s, and then again in the late 80s (I mostly skipped the Whoopi version in the late 90s, early 00s), I can guarantee you that "For the Win" was used long before the times of MMORPGs and FPS. If you are not familiar with the show, 9 celebrities would sit in small booths 3 stacked on the left, 3 in the middle, and 3 on the right. 2 contestants, 1 playing as X and one as O, would choose what booth or celebrity they wanted and the celebrity would be asked a trivia question. If the celebrity got the question right, that celebrity would be award the X or the O. The goal would be to get a straight line of 3 celebrities to all have Xs or all have Os. If the contestant chose a celebrity that would win the game f they got the question right, they would say "(Celebrity name) for the Win".