A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Z

A

AAA

AAA games (also known as “triple A” games) are large games that typically have major budgeting and marketing behind them. They are expected to become blockbuster titles.

Abandonware

This is an all-purpose term for a game that has been “abandoned” by developers and often forgotten about by many gamers.

AFK

This stands for “away from keyboard.” It indicates someone is not actually playing despite their character still being logged into the game.

Aggro

A shortening for the words “aggression” or “aggravation.” It refers to the attention a player gets from video game enemies. In some games, you must avoid generating too much aggro to avoid too much enemy attention.

Aimbot

A kind of cheat players use to win online first person shooter games. It allows someone to hit other players without actually aiming at them. Such cheats may get players banned from playing a game online.

Aiming Down Sights

This term (also referred to as ADS) means aiming a gun through a scope or sights in a first-person shooter. This usually enhances accuracy at the expense of field of vision (for example, it’s easy to sneak up on someone aiming down sights at another target).

Alpha/Beta Testing

Testing in which players play an early version of a video game before it has been officially released. The goal is to provide feedback about bugs and gameplay to developers so they can improve the game before its official release.

AR

An abbreviation for “augmented reality.” This refers to a game in which your surrounding environment is augmented by digital effects or additions. AR is different from virtual reality in which your surrounding environment is completely replaced by a virtual one.

Area of Effect

This term (also referred to as AOE) means any spells that can affect multiple targets with a specific radius. This may include offensive spells to defeat enemies or even defensive spells to heal fellow players.

ARPG

An abbreviation for “action roleplaying game.” It is a catch-all term for roleplaying games that have no turn-based systems and are instead played in realtime.

Asymmetric play

Play in which different players may have different experiences during a game. In a symmetric game such as a fighter, each player is playing the same kind of game with the same kind of characters. In an asymmetrical game, different players may play as very different characters with very different abilities.

Avatar

A digital representation of the player within a video game or other online space.

B

Battle Pass

This adds a monetization system to games (especially to free games). Players who buy such a pass can earn tiered rewards through both regular gameplay and special game challenges.

Battle Royale

Game type in which players try to find the right gear and items to be the last man standing at the end of the game.

Buff

May refer to an ingame spell or ability that increases one or more character stats. It may also refer to something changed by developers to make a character, item, or ability stronger. The second definition is the opposite of a “nerf.”

Bullet Hell

Games which require players to dodge overwhelming amounts of enemy fire to succeed.

Button mashing

May refer to any repeated button pressing, but this primarily refers to players hitting random buttons to win at competitive games (especially fighting games).

C

Campaign mode

The “story mode” of a video game. This mode is typically a linear journey from the beginning the narrative to the end.

Camping

This refers to staying in the same place (typically with superior weapons and/or position) in order to ambush and kill enemies. When the enemies are computer-controlled mobs, this is typically called “spawn camping” because you are waiting for enemies to respawn in the area.

Chiptune

The type of music created for microchip based video game hardware. It may also refer to modern music that uses the same style and technological limitations as retro game music.

Class

This term (also known as character class) refers to your character’s specific job or profession. These classes have unique strengths and weaknesses (such as mages doing high levels of damage but being physically weak). As in tabletop RPGs, players unlock additional abilities for their class over time.

Clone

A game that attempts to copy the style and/or tone of another game.

CMS

A shortening for “construction and management simulation.” This refers to any game where the primary goal is to build and manage an entire population or civilization instead of controlling individual characters.

Collision detection

This refers to how the software detects two different objects colliding together. Bad collision detection can negatively impact gameplay, especially in multiplayer games.

Consumables

This refers to any items that are meant to be used/consumed and that you have only a limited amount of (such as health potions).

Continue

Allows you to continue playing a game after you have run out of lives. You may have a limited amount of continues in console games. In arcade games, you must insert additional money in order to keep playing.

Cooldown

This refers to how much time you must wait before you use an ability again. In games such as MMORPGs, you must learn how to balance your different abilities, using new ones while others cool down.

Critical hit/Crit

This term (also referred to as a “crit” or a “crit hit”) refers to an attack that does additional damage to the enemy.

Cross-Platform

Any game that may be played across multiple consoles or platforms. It may also refer to online games in which players using one platform can play with others using a different platform.

CTF

An abbreviation for “capture the flag.” This is a competitive multiplayer mode in which players try to steal an objective (the enemy flag) and return it to their own base.

D

Debuff

A spell or ability that reduced the stats of a character or enemy. It is the opposite of a buff.

Development hell

“Development hell” refers to games that have been significantly or even indefinitely delayed but have not been officially canceled.

Dialogue tree

A dialogue tree gives players different dialogue choices when interacting with NPCs. Many adventure and RPG games provide multiple dialogue trees to enhance the roleplay and replay value of a game.

Difficulty

This refers to how hard the game is. This may be a general description of a game’s complexity or a specific difficulty setting such as “easy,” “normal,” and “hard.”

DLC

An abbreviation for downloadable content. This is any additional content that players obtain after the game’s initial release.

DPS

An abbreviation for damage per second. This determines how much damage a player causes over a period of time. In an MMORPG, it may also refer to someone’s general role as a damage dealer rather than a tank or healer.

DRM

An abbreviation for digital rights management. This is any kind of tool or software designed to protect the game from being pirated or used in an unauthorized manner.

Dungeon

This may be any specific area where players are in danger. However, these areas are often enclosed set pieces such as castles or ships (such as the Instances in World of Warcraft).

E

Emergent gameplay

A catch-all term for any gameplay created by players instead of by game developers. This allows players to create their own gaming goals, with creativity as their only limit.

Emulator

Any software designed to copy the software and hardware functions of one console and games on another platform. For example, a computer emulator might allow someone to load ROMs and play old Nintendo Entertainment System games instead of using the original system and cartridges.

Endless

A kind of gameplay mode that measures how long players can last against an endless wave of foes. 

Esports

An abbreviation for electronic sports. It refers to any organized video game competitions, especially those that are broadcast in some fashion.

F

F2P

An abbreviation for free to play. This refers to any games whose base experience is completely free. Many such games are also “freemium” games, meaning that players can optionally pay money for cosmetic items or other ingame perks.

F2P

An abbreviation for free to play. This refers to any games whose base experience is completely free. Many such games are also “freemium” games, meaning that players can optionally pay money for cosmetic items or other ingame perks.

Farming

This refers to completing quests or battles repeatedly in order to gain additional experience, currency, or loot.

Fast travel

Allows players to quickly teleport to game locations they have previously discovered. This saves significant time versus manually traveling back and forth.

First party/Third party

Games made directly by a console maker are first party games whereas third party games are those made by other parties. For example, Super Mario Bros. was a first party NES game and Castlevania (made by Konami) was a third party game.

FOV

An abbreviation for either “field of view” or “field of vision.” It can refer to how much a character can see (especially in a first person game) or how much a player can see (such as in a platformer or RTS game). Some games have FOV sliders that allow players to increase or decrease the FOV.

FPS

An abbreviation for First Person Shooter. In rare cases, it may also refer to frames per second.

Frag

This may refer to any kind of in-game kill. Some players use this term to describe killing their teammates, which echoes the Vietnam-era military definition for killing fellow soldiers.

Frame rate

Refers to how fast a game’s graphics are rendered. This is measured in frames per second, and a higher amount usually provides a better experience.

G

Gank

This refers generally to any kind of surprise attack. This is a derogatory term in online games because it means that an opponent was unprepared, making the fight very unfair.

GG

An abbreviation for “good game.” It can be a sincere expression of a well-played game or a sarcastic prediction that the other player is about to lose.

Ghost/ghost players

In this mode, players can play against ghost players that represent a previous playthrough of a map or track. This ghost playthrough may be of the same player (especially in a time attack mode) or of other players.

God mode

Any mode (temporary or permanent) in which your character is completely invulnerable.

Griefing

This refers to the practice of deliberately annoying and harassing fellow players. While the gameplay may be allowed within the game, the practice of griefing is frowned upon and often explicitly forbidden in online games.

Grinding

This refers to repetitive tasks (such as killing enemies) that have an explicit goal of leveling up or otherwise advancing your character.

H

Hitbox

This can refer to the area around a player in which the game will register a successful enemy hit. Knowing about hitbox limitations can help players succeed in fighting games and first person shooters.

Horde mode

This mode refers to any cooperative online game where players try to survive hordes (or waves) of attacking foes. The goal may be to be the last man standing (as in a timed horde mode) or to see who can last the longest (as in an endless horde mode).

Host

The person whose console or PC is hosting a multiplayer game. Players sometimes complain that the host has an advantage over other players.

HP

An abbreviation for “hit points,” which refer to the overall health of a player or enemy. Such points may be represented by actual numbers or health bars.

I

Indie

An abbreviation for “independent.” This refers to games that are made by small studios or even a single person. Such games are contrasted against games with large development teams and major budgets.

J

JRPG

An abbreviation for “Japanese Roleplaying Game.” This may refer to any RPG that comes from Japan. 

K

Kill Screen

A screen that keeps you from progressing any further. These are typically caused by hardware or software limitations in older games. The most famous kill screen is on level 256 of the original Pac-Man arcade game.

Kill stealing

Killing an enemy that another player was about to kill. While this may happen naturally, “kill stealing” refers to a player deliberately taking points away from another player. This behavior has a negative reputation among online players.

Kill-Death-Ratio

Measures how many kills a player achieved in multiplayer versus how many times they died. This generally serves as a measurement of their overall performance in the game.

Knockback

A type of attack that knocks another player or enemy backwards. In competitive online games, this can be used to knock players out of objectives, out of shields, or off of the map.

Konami Code

A famous code that was featured in many early Konami games. There were variations of this code, but they typically began with inputting “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right.” The most famous example of the Konami code helped players start Contra with 30 lives instead of 3.

L

Lag

A delay between the player’s input on a controller and their character’s onscreen action. This mostly occurs in online games due to connection problems. It may also happen when playing retro game systems on newer TVs due to latency issues.

Last man standing

A multiplayer mode in which players strive to be the last survivor. This is in contrast to typical competitive modes in which players try to get the most kills.

Level editor

A program that allows players to create their own levels. This may be included within the game itself (such as with Super Mario Maker 2) or created by third parties after a game has come out.

Localization

Any edits made to a game to better reflect the culture and interests of another area. Most localization is limited to differences in translation, though it may also involve censorship so that a game abides by the specific laws of a country.

Loot Box

A reward given to players for completing a certain task. The reward is a virtual box of randomly-generated items. Such items are typically cosmetic (such as new skins for player characters). Many games also let players buy loot boxes outright through online microtransactions. 

M

Matchmaking

A system which helps players find other players for competitive or cooperative multiplayer gaming. This system allows players with similar goals, styles, or skill levels to play and progress together. Many competitive matchmaking lists assign a ranking to players based on their skill level.

Mechanic

A catch-all term for different ways that players interact within a game. Mechanics dictate how players move, how they attack, how they manage items, and so on.

Metroidvania

A portmanteau of “Metroid” and “Castlevania.” This refers to any games that emphasize exploration and acquiring new weapons and abilities. In these games, you must often double back after getting something new in order to unlock previously hidden or closed-off areas.

MMORPG

An abbreviation for “Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game.” This brings traditional RPG elements into an online world filled with other players. The most famous example of this kind of game is World of Warcraft.

Mob

An abbreviation for “mobile.” It refers to enemies in a game that move around in a specific area. This term is most commonly associated with MMORPGs.

MOBA

An abbreviation for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. This is a type of game in which rival teams must defend their base from enemy attacks. The most famous example of this kind of game is League of Legends.

Mod

Any third-party alteration to the original game. Mods may change character appearances, game mechanics, or available cheats. Some mods are even total conversions of the original game, creating an entirely new experience.

MP

An abbreviation for either “magic points” or “multiplayer.” In an RPG, magic using characters will have HP for health and MP for magical energy.

MUD

An abbreviation for Multi-User Dungeon. This is any kind of real-time online space, and most are text-based. Such text-based MUDs are the spiritual forerunners to visual MMORPGs.

Multiplayer

Any game or mode that allows players to play competitively, cooperatively, or both.

Multiplier

Mechanic that increases the amount of points you earn for certain actions. This is only found in games with scoring systems (such as pinball tables).

N

Nerf

Any change that weakens characters, items, abilities, or strategies. The opposite of Buff.

New Game +

Allows players to start a new game while retaining the level, powers, abilities, and most of the items of their original game. This term was made famous by the SNES game Chrono Trigger. In that game, players could start a new game and unlock previously-unavailable endings.

Noob

A shortening for “newbie,” which refers to a new player. It may refer to players who are actually new or be used as an insult against players who are not playing well.

Noscope

When a player kills an enemy with a sniper rifle and does not use their scope to do so.

O

OP

An abbreviation for “overpowered.” It may refer to a character, item, or ability. In competitive games, developers often try to nerf overpowered items in order to foster game balance.

Open World

A game which is less linear and allows players to choose their path (such as the order of levels to play or worlds to visit). While this does not offer the full freedom of a sandbox game, it does offer players more freedom than most games.

Origin

Origin is the gaming distribution platform from Electronic Arts. It functions much like Steam in that players can browse, buy, and download (or re-download) games from within Origin.

Overleveled

When a player has leveled up beyond the average difficulty of the enemies they are facing. Some players deliberately grind until they are overleveled, making the subsequent game easier to play and win.

P

Patch

Refers to any change developers make to a game after its release to fix bugs, balance problems, or enhance compatibility with future downloads (such as DLC).

Permadeath

When players do not have multiple lives and must restart entirely after they die. This feature is common in roguelike games.

Power Creep

When a game is no longer balanced thanks to later releases and/or buffs making characters much stronger than they originally were. While this is sometimes part of an effort to lure in new players, the effect of power creep often drives older players away from the game.

Procedurally generated

When a game randomly generates levels, items, and item placement. The ultimate effect is that players never have the same experience twice.

PvE/PvP

Respectively refers to “Player versus Environment” and “Player versus Player.” In PvE, players concentrate on fighting only computer-controlled mobs and bosses. In PvP, players must also fight with enemy players. Some games (such as MMORPGs) offer different servers or different modes to cater to both kinds of play styles.

Pwned

A deliberate misspelling of “owned” that became a popular form of gamer slang. It refers to dramatically beating another opponent in a competitive game.

Q

QTE

Abbreviation for “quick time event.” This is a special event within a game in which you must press certain buttons at the right time to avoid traps or defeat enemies. QTE events are separate from standard gameplay.

Quicksave

When the game has automatically saved as opposed to the player manually saving a game. Players can reload to the quicksave after death or defeat, even if they have not created a permanent save file.

R

Rage Quit

This refers to anytime a player quits in the middle of a game or match instead of completing it. As the name implies, such quitting is usually caused by frustration or extreme anger. Some games punish rage quitting by making players wait additional time before they can enter another game.

Reputation

Refers to the player’s reputation either within the game or as part of the larger gaming community. In some games (such as MMORPGs), characters must gain reputation with a certain faction to unlock certain quests or items. And in some platforms, reputation may be affected by the reviews or reports generated by other players.

Respawn

When an object or enemy comes back to an area after it was claimed or killed.

Rocket jump

When players use an explosive attack (such as rockets or grenades) in order to achieve a bigger jump and access higher areas. This is typically only used in games where a player cannot harm themselves with their own weapons.

ROM hack

When players have modified a game’s rom to change some aspect of the game itself. Changes may include new graphics, new music, new modes, and so on. This is very similar to a mod.

RPG

Abbreviation for “roleplaying game.” While there are many variations, an RPG refers to any game where a player takes on the role of another character and advances their skills and abilities across multiple levels.

RTS

Abbreviation for “real time strategy.” These are games where a player controls one or more units and faces off with human and/or computer opponents in real time combat. One of the most famous examples of an RTS is Starcraft 2.

S

Sandbox

Game mode in which there are no specific objectives. Instead, players may create or change the environment and create or change gameplay modes. The most famous example of a sandbox game is Garry’s Mod.

Save scumming

Refers to players using save states in game emulation to achieve victory or achieve another specific outcome. Such successes are frowned upon when compared to someone doing the same thing without using save states.

SHMUP

Abbreviation for “shoot’em up.” This is a game in which players control a single character who must move and shoot to defeat waves of attacking enemies. Most bullet hell games are SHMUPs.

Sim

Abbreviation for “simulation video game.” These games simulate reality and may not have overt goals beyond a player’s own ambitions. The most famous examples of this game are The Sims series of games.

Singleplayer

Game that can only have one player at a time. The opposite of multiplayer.

Skill Tree

A tiered system with multiple paths that allows players to control character growth. Skill trees are mostly found in RPGs. Such a system encourages replay value because players can create very different characters on subsequent playthroughs.

Smurfing

Refers to creating a new character so that veteran players can play against less experienced players. This is a form of abusing ranked matchmaking modes.

Speedrun

When players try to complete a game as fast as possible. Such players may take advantage of existing game bugs and glitches but may not use computer assistance such as save states.

Steam

A video game distribution service from Valve. It allows players to browse, buy, download, and re-download games from within Steam.

Strafe

Moving sideways to either dodge enemy attacks or attack from an unexpected angle.

T

Tank

A character with a high health level that helps draw enemy aggro from other players. In an MMORPG, the Tank helps to keep the healers and the damage dealers alive.

Trash

A catch-all term for non-boss mobs, especially in the dungeon areas of an MMORPG.

Turn-Based

Game type in which players must wait for others to take their turn before they can go again. This is separate from other systems such as Active Time Battle.

U

Underleveled

When a character is at a lower level than the average enemies they are facing. This is the opposite of overleveled.

Underpowered

When a character, item, or ability is not as strong as it should be. This is the opposite of overpowered.

V

Vaporware/Abandonware

Games that have been announced but are never released are vaporware. Abandonware refers to a game which may have been released but has been abandoned by developers.

Visual novel

Games in which players are given static imagery, a dialogue-driven story, and different paths or endings based on dialogue choices.

W

Walkthrough

A description of a level or game intended to help players triumph. Traditional walkthroughs are text-based, but they are rapidly being replaced with video walkthroughs.

X

XP

Abbreviation for “experience points.” In many games (especially RPGs), players must achieve a certain amount of XP before their character gets to a new level.

Z

Zerging

Game strategy (especially in RTS games) that revolves around using overwhelming amounts of cheaper units to achieve victory. The name comes from the Zerg in Starcraft. In that game, Zerging (or “Zerg Rushing”) was a popular way to win when playing as the Zerg.

Zone

A section of an MMORPG or MUD which features different game mechanics to facilitate certain kinds of gameplay. For example, there may be a PvP zone based around specific objectives that players do not encounter outside of that zone.

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