Like any hobby, gaming has its own terms, phrases, and various jargon that will sound foreign to outsiders. If you’ve decided to get into video games and want to learn the lingo so you aren’t confused by it anymore, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll explain common gaming terms to you in simple language. While many games and genres have their own lingo (some of these gaming terms can even have different meanings depending on context), these general definitions will get you up to speed with essential gaming terms.
1. AAA (Triple-A)
AAA games are titles produced by large studios, such as Ubisoft or EA. They typically have large budgets and a lot of marketing surrounding them. AAA games contrast with “indie” titles, which are made by small development teams.
This term refers to “additional enemies” that typically appear during boss encounters. You often have to balance taking care of adds and doing damage to the boss.
AFK stands for “away from keyboard.” This means that a player is temporarily unavailable.
AoE, or “area of effect,” refers to attacks or abilities that affect a certain area. This contrasts to abilities that only hit one target. Usually, you’ll see a circle or other indication of where the ability is current in effect.
Bots, CPUs, and “computers” all refer to non-human opponents in multiplayer games. Some multiplayer titles let you play the game modes by yourself or with friends in local multiplayer against bots.
Alternatively, calling another player a “bot” is an insult. You might say that someone a bot when they are playing extremely poorly.
A buff refers to a change that makes a character more powerful in some way. Conversely, a nerf is a change that reduces the character’s power. These are typically used to refer to the balance among characters or weapons in online games that receive frequent updates.
7. Bullet Sponge
A bullet sponge refers to an enemy that takes an excessive amount of damage to kill (because it “sucks up” damage like a sponge). For instance, an enemy that you expect to go down with a few shots, which actually ends up taking several magazines to defeat, is a bullet sponge.
Camping refers to sitting in one place, as opposed to continually roaming around the map. People who do this are referred to as campers, and they do it to get the drop on other players. It’s typically used in online shooters like Call of Duty.
Cheesing something in a video game means that you employ a cheap tactic to complete a task without much trouble. For example, you might repeat a certain powerful combo against your opponent over and over to beat them. You can also cheese something in a single-player game by finding an easy workaround to a challenge.
In many team-based multiplayer games, clans are groups of players who play together. Titles like Call of Duty allow you to add a clan tag to your username and join a clan. Typically, these are informal; they aren’t properly organized professional teams.
In many games, once you use an ability, you have to wait a certain amount of time before using it again. This is called a cooldown period.
Crafting refers to using materials gathered in a game to make other useful items, like weapons or healing potions.
DLC stands for downloadable content. It refers to any extra elements that you can download separately from the main game, including characters, levels, cosmetics, and similar. DLC sometimes, but not always, comes at an additional cost.
DPS, which is short for “damage per second,” is a measurement for how much damage a particular weapon or attack outputs. “DPS” can also refer to a class of characters that is primarily meant to deal damage, as opposed to other classes like tank or healer.
DRM, which stands for digital rights management, refers to tools that manage copyright protection for games. It includes everything from anti-piracy measures in games to needing to check in with Steam to play games on PC.
Sometimes, DRM measures are overzealous and can affect legitimate users.
16. Easter Eggs
Easter eggs, like their real-life counterparts, are hidden messages or features in games. This can include a small nod to another title in the series, a funny message hidden by the developers, or similar.
An FPS is a first-person shooter game. This refers to a genre where you see the world through your character’s eyes. Shooters usually show you a weapon in your floating hands, as if you’re the character.
FPS can also refer to “frames per second,” which is a measure of how smoothly a game runs. See the differences between frame rate and refresh rate for more.
GG is common gaming lingo online. It’s short for “good game” and is usually typed or spoken at the end of a match to show sportsmanship.
“GGEZ” adds “easy” onto the end of the term, which mocks the other team by saying it was an easy win.
A glitch, or bug, is an unintended issue in a game’s coding. Glitches could cause your character to get stuck in a wall, make enemies behave in strange ways, or even freeze the game entirely. Check out the best video game glitches for examples.
Grinding is the act of taking repetitive actions in a game to achieve some desired outcome. For example, a player might fight monsters over and over in an RPG to level up or earn materials to upgrade their weapons.
Hitscan refers to weapons, usually in first-person shooter games, that immediately hit what they’re aimed at when fired. This contrasts to projectile weapons (like a bow and arrow), where the shot takes time to travel to its target.
HP, which means health points or hit points, measures the vitality of your character. Usually, when your HP drops to zero, your character dies.
HUD stands for heads-up display. It refers to graphical elements in front of the gameplay screen, like a health bar, money count, or minimap. In some games, the HUD elements are actually viewable by the character in the game’s world, such as a map that they hold up in their hands. These are known as “diagetic” elements.
K/D, or kill-to-death ratio, is a common measure of your performance in online shooters. It simply divides the number of eliminations you had by the number of times you were eliminated.
You’ll have a higher K/D with six kills and one death (6.0) than 10 kills and five deaths (2.0), for example.
A common online gaming term, lag is a delay between your input and that action happening in the game. This typically refers to online lag caused by excessive ping, where the game server takes too long to respond to your actions.
Another kind, input lag, occurs when the game doesn’t respond to the buttons you press quickly enough.
This acronym stands for massively multiplayer online role-playing game. It refers to a game with RPG elements where thousands of players all exist in the same game world simultaneously. World of Warcraft is a great example.
A mod (“modification”) is any kind of player-made change to a game. Mods can range from small tweaks that fix bugs, to entirely new games built on the original’s core. Some developers don’t like mods, while others cherish them and even include ways to browse mods in their games.
MP, which is an acronym for magic points or mana points, is the resource you need to use spells and other special abilities in some games (often RPGs). When you run out of MP, you can’t use special abilities anymore.
MP can also be an abbreviation for “multiplayer.”
A noob (sometimes spelled as n00b or newb) refers to someone who is clearly new at a game. It can be used as an insult (such as when someone makes basic mistakes) but it’s not necessarily a pejorative.
Standing for non-player character (or non-playable character), NPC refers to any character that you don’t control in a game. NPCs usually have preset actions and behaviors.
OP, or “overpowered,” is used in reference to anything in a game that the player feels is too strong. If there’s one weapon that everyone picks because it’s clearly better than all others, it’s OP.
Ping is a measure (in milliseconds) of how long it takes for information from your system to travel to the game’s server and back. Low ping is better, as high numbers will result in noticeable lag in online games.
PvP means player versus player. It refers to games (or modes) where human players compete against each other. This contrasts with PvE (player versus environment) modes, where you play against computer-controlled opponents instead.
Pwned (rhymes with “loaned” and pronounced “poned”) is a derivate of “owned” used to express superiority over another player. You could say that someone you crushed in an online match was pwned.
This acronym stands for quick-time events. These are segments in games where you have to suddenly press a button or some other input to avoid damage or a game over. Most gamers dislike these because they don’t require much skill and can come out of nowhere.
Ragequitting refers to someone getting extremely upset at a game to the point that they immediately stop playing.
RNG stands for random number generator. This refers to elements in games that aren’t the same every time you play. See a full explanation of RNG in gaming for more info on this.
An RPG, or role-playing game, is a broad genre. Typically, they are story-rich games with immersive worlds, where your character has a variety of stats and items that you increase through battling monsters and completing quests.
RPGs can be surprisingly difficult to define. Read our introduction to RPGs to get an idea of what makes a game an RPG.
A sandbox game refers to a title that’s extremely open-ended and thus allows the player to do whatever they like. Titles like Minecraft are perfect examples, though even games like Grand Theft Auto V with a good amount of player freedom are sometimes considered sandboxes too.
A “smurf” account in an online game refers to a skilled player making a secondary account to play against lower-ranked players. Smurfs manipulate the ranking system in order to keep their account at the desired skill level.
XP is short for experience points, a common measure of your progress in lots of genres. When you gain enough XP, you typically advance to the next level, which brings new abilities, stat increases, better weapons, or similar.
Now You Know Your Video Game Lingo
With a field as wide as video games, it’s impossible to cover all gaming terminology in one list. But now you have a grasp on some of the most common gaming terms, along with some more specific jargon.
Chances are, if you get involved in a particular genre or title, it will have its own terms for you to pick up. There are tons of genres to explore to discover something you’ll like.
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