Ok, i will come to terms with the idea that neither "prefab" and the word it abbreviates, "prefabricated" have been noded yet. Something prefab has been assembled (or mostly assembled) before purchase, and is pretty much explicitly associated with modern (industrial and post-) consumerism. Prefab smacks of artificiality, as prefab things are inescapably manufactured, as opposed to organic in any way. Prefab items are generally ready to use, right out of the box (so to speak); prefab homes became popular when the suburban aesthetic came in and are still, if not popular, common in economically depressed areas, where they are a step up from mobile homes (also prefab, actually). You can get log-cabin-style prefab houses, or ranch style (unlike the dressing, more like the ticky tacky).

Prefab also becomes a metaphor for something which could be built by hand or developed organically, but is produced by an industry to suit a market: see the Monkees' nickname The Prefab Four. Like so many bubblegum pop bands, they were assembled by players in the industry (in this instance, the music industry) in order to compete in the market exemplified by the Beatles' popularity. People who fall into stereotypes, especially ones common in media, could be said to have prefab personalities. You get the idea. It's more or less pejorative, these days. But it is really cool to see big sections of prefab houses rolling down the highways on Wide Load trailers.

I've been using Worldcraft, trying to make any kind of worthwhile map for Half-Life, and I've discovered another use of the word prefab. It's a lot like what's outlined above, except they're prefabricated items in levels -- like houses, planes, stairs, elevators, explosive gorillas; Want a gazebo but don't wanna build it yourself? Look online for the prefab! Too lazy to make that 4000-polygon F-15? Import the prefab! You too can be lazy and have a gimmick-filled map!

It should be noted that a lot of the prefabs are things such as doors and ceiling lights -- those are included so that you don't have to create four dozen doors, then link them to thefunc_door entity, add a rotating point or trigger to open it if you must, et cetera. These can actually save a lot of time. The gun turret (referred to in the game as "TANK"s and controls) saves a crapload of time, too, unless you need to rotate the gun 180 degrees, and the bullets fire AT the player using the tank... not like I do that intentionally or anything *grin*.

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