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Gaming terminology glossary: 160 video gaming terms, words and slang

Don't feel overwhelmed, there are a lot of gaming terms and abbreviations that you might not recognise if you're new to the world of gaming. We've got you covered with 160 of the most commonly used gaming terminology.
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These are some of the most-used gaming terms that you may or may not have heard of. Our gaming glossary will help make you a better gamer, and check out our broadband for gaming hub for more tips on what you can do to up your game.

8, 16, 32, 64-bit

Hardware and software from the third, fourth, and fifth generation of consoles, using 8, 16, 32, and 64-bit architecture.

2D

Two-dimensional games can only be viewed from one angle. Platformers like Super Mario Bros are 2D, as are older RPGs like Zelda. Classically, 2D games are composed of 2D images, often called sprites, though nowadays they might be created from 3D graphics, in which case they’re sometimes called 2.5D.

3D

Three-dimensional games present game worlds that can be viewed from any angle. Most modern games are 3D, eg, Grand Theft Auto 5.

4K and 8K resolution

In gaming terms, 4K refers either to an ultra-high-definition display, one whose resolution is roughly 4,000 pixels or to a game outputting at that resolution.

8K is the same, except we’re talking 8,000 pixels now.

AA / Auto-attack

In MOBAs and RTSes, an auto-attack is one that repeats at fixed intervals. AAs are a unit's bread-and-butter attack, unlike spells, which usually cost mana and must be explicitly triggered each time.

AAA

Pronounced “triple-A”, AAA publishers are those with big budgets, like Square Enix and Nintendo, in contrast with indie game publishers.

Achievements

Awards given to the player for achieving arbitrary things set by the developers. Sometimes these can be as trivial as “watched the intro”. Sometimes they have nothing to do with the main game and getting them takes a lot of skill and time.

Different platforms call their achievements different things, eg, trophies or missions.

Adventure game

An immersive story-focused genre that involves playing as a protagonist through different challenges and/or solving puzzles.

AFK

“Away from keyboard”. Perhaps you’re in the loo; perhaps you’re making tea. Regardless, hopefully, your friends won’t start a game without you.

Aggro

A term widely used in MMOs, aggro is attention from the enemy. “Drawing aggro” means to attract damage to yourself, perhaps by using special spells, perhaps just by becoming a big enough nuisance. Classically, this is the job of the tank.

AI

In gaming, Artificial Intelligence refers to the behaviour of computer-controlled characters. Simulation games like The Sims make extensive use of complex AI, but “AI” can be used to refer to simpler behaviours, like the movement of NPCs in a town.

Aimbot

In shooters, a hack that aims for you.

Alpha

An early version of a game, not usually accessible by the public.

Animation cancelling

Stopping your character from completing the full animation of an attack, often by issuing another command. If that attack is firing a gun, you might cancel it just after the projectile leaves the barrel. With a punch, you might do it the moment you’ve inflicted damage. A great way to increase DPS or escape attacks, and also a lot of fun.

AOE

An area of effect ability is one whose effects are felt over an area. An example would be a healing spell that heals anyone within its bounds. Not to be confused with AoE, Age of Empires.

Assist

Taking part in takedown of a player but not getting the kill.

Avatar

An optional profile picture used on a gaming account or in game. Avatars are usually characters within a game. They can also be original characters or ideas by an artist.

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Ban

A ban from joining the game or playing games. Some last mere hours, and some are permanent; these are called “permabans”.

Battle Royale

A game in which you win by being the last one standing. Usually, there exists some mechanism to force players together as the game goes on. The most famous battle royale game is Fortnite.

Beat ’em up

A genre that involves fighting enemies in a brawl-style hand-to-hand combat game. Notable beat ’em games up include Streets of Rage, Treachery in Beatdown City, and River City Girls.

Beta

A version of an upcoming game, released to build hype and provide feedback to the developers. It will be more complete than the alpha, but will still have bugs and gameplay issues that can be ironed out.

Biome

Usually used when talking about procedurally-generated games like Minecraft, a biome refers to the elements that make up an area. These elements might include the tileset, music, enemies, terrain, plants, and animals.

BM

“Bad manner”, or “bad manners”. Used to indicate another player was being disrespectful.

Boosting

Playing games on a lower-ranked player’s account in order to raise their ranking. It’s usually a bannable offence; regardless, many high-ranking players, even professionals, have done it as a paid service.

Boss

A powerful monster you must defeat in order to progress. Sometimes a level will consist of only a boss; while other times a boss lies at the end of a level.

Bots

A computer-controlled enemy or competitor.

The term is also used to refer to fake players controlled by user scripts, made for fun or for other reasons, for example, to level up characters.

BRB

“Be right back”: the user has gone AFK, but hopefully not for long.

Buff

Any kind of boost to a character’s power, usually to stats, like HP or MP. Usually, these are temporary; sometimes they’re permanent. A character might be able to buff themselves. “Support” characters are often able to buff multiple characters.

A buff also refers to a balance adjustment that makes a character more powerful.

Bullet sponge

An enemy that takes a lot of hits to kill.

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Campaign

A usually-singleplayer mode in a game which has the player traverse through a series of levels, and which usually tells a story.

Camping

A strategy in which a player holds a static position that provides them with an advantage over their opponent. In an FPS this might be somewhere up high, or behind a door.

Casual

A game that is simple, easy, and not targeted at hardcore gamers. One that doesn’t require too much investment.

CC

Crowd control, or CC, describes abilities that restrict the damage output and movement of a unit. The term is used mostly in MOBAs and MMORPGs.

Cheat

Cheats give you advantages you don’t ordinarily have, eg, infinite lives. They’re usually accessed by entering codes at specific times. In some PC games, they’re entered into an in-game command line. Many old console game cheats existed to help developers debug their games.

Checkpoint

A place where you can save your progress in-game.

Cheese/cheesing

Simple tactics that are difficult to beat by all but the most experienced players. These aren’t the most honourable ways to win a match and can be pretty mean-spirited. Tragically, this makes them pretty fun when you’re the one doing them.

Clan

A clan (or guild) refers to a community of players that play games together, often tackling challenges that require multiple players, or engaging in clan-to-clan combat. In MMORPGs, some clans compete in professional games.

Class

A “type” of character, different for each game. Some classes might be geared towards dealing damage, some for taking it, and some for supporting other teammates.

Closed beta

A beta that's only accessible to those with invites. Often, these invites are given out at events or in Twitch streams.

Co-op

A PVE game or game mode in which two or more players cooperate to beat a level, or win a round. A famous co-op game is Left 4 Dead.

COD

Call of Duty is one of the biggest FPS franchises ever released.

Combo

Loosely, any combination of attacks. In a 1-on-1 fighting game, these attacks will be consecutive. In team-based games, they might be simultaneous, a coordinated effort between team members.

Complete/clock/beat

To finish a game from beginning to end.

Console

A computer whose primary purpose is playing games. Also, another name for a command prompt in PC games like Quake.

Cooldown

A period after the use of a skill during which the skill can’t be used again.

CPU

Central processing unit, the computer component that executes programs. A CPU character is one controlled by the game, ie, a bot.

Crafting

A mechanism whereby items are created by combining other ones.

Critical hit

An attack that deals a considerably higher amount of damage than a normal attack. Crits usually have a percentage chance of triggering and can feel quite satisfying.

Cross-platform

A game that is released on more than one platform.

CTF

“Capture the flag”, a game mode, usually in team-based FPS games, in which your team must capture a “flag”, which spans between your and the enemy’s bases. You must then get the flag back to your base and hold it for a certain amount of time to score.

Cutscene

A non-interactive scene in a video game for the purpose of story progression.

D-pad

The directional buttons (up, down, left, right) on a controller.

Deathmatch

A simple game mode in which the winner is the player who gets the most kills. It is mostly seen in shooters.

Debuff

Any effect that makes a player or character weaker. Debuffs can be applied to you by an enemy character’s skill, or by an item or region in the game.

Demo

A short taster of a game, a bait for players who might buy the full game. There are playable demos, or demos consisting of in-game gameplay, interviews and other relevant media for a new and upcoming release.

Developer

An individual or team that creates games.

DLC

Downloadable content is extra content created for a game after release. It can contain anything from extra game modes to character stories to horse armour. It differs from a patch in that it’s optional.

DPS

Damage per second is the amount of damage a character will ideally do per second. Usually, DPS is used to describe sustained damage, that is, damage that can be outputted indefinitely. If the damage is done all at once, it’s referred to as “burst damage”.

Draw distance

In a 3D game, the amount of the world that’s drawn. Beyond the draw distance, nothing will be seen except the background. A fog effect was once common to hide “pop-in”, the sudden appearance of objects as they came within the draw distance. Nowadays fog is uncommon: draw distances are very long.

Driving simulator

A driving game, usually a racer, which tries to present an accurate depiction of driving. The popular Forza games are driving simulators.

DRM

Digital rights management refers to various strategies employed by developers to prevent digital content from being copied, an attempt to prohibit piracy.

Dual wield

Simply put, the ability to carry and use two weapons.

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Easter egg

Any hidden thing in a game that serves no purpose; usually they’re jokes.

Emulator

In gaming terms, a program that lets you play games designed for other consoles.

Esports

Electronic Sports is the name given to the competitive gaming scene. Professional esports players compete in regional, national, and international circuits, potentially winning a large prize at the end.

Expansion pack

An addition to a game more substantial than DLC.

F2P

Free to play. The game, or some portion of it, can be played for free. Usually, however, there will be many things for sale, like maps, modes, and costumes.

Faceroll character

A character that's considered to be overpowered and requires no skill to dominate in-game.

Farming

Repeatedly carrying out some task in a given area in a game for the purpose of acquiring XP, money, or another in-game currency. Also called grinding.

Feeding

In games which reward players for kills with experience, feeding is repeatedly dying, thus making the recipient of your XP more powerful (“fed”).

Fighting game

A genre of game that, you guessed it, involves fighting. The quintessential fighting games are those in the style of Street Fighter, but more unusual games like Smash Bros are also fighters.

Flying simulator

A game that mimics the real-life flying of an aircraft. The most famous example is Microsoft’s Flight Simulator.

Fog of war

In strategy games, enemy units are only shown to you if your own units are close enough to “see” them. Everything else is shrouded beneath the “fog of war”.

FOV

In a 3D game, your Field of View influences how much of the world you can see at once. A higher FOV can be helpful for people who suffer from motion sickness in 3D games.

FPS (Frames per second)

The number of times the game world is simulated per second. Higher = smoother, smoother = better.

FPS (First-person shooter)

A genre in which you look through the eyes of your character, and that features gun-based combat. Famous FPSes include Call of Duty (COD), Doom, and Halo.

Frag

A frag has two meanings in gaming. A frag is a grenade, or “frag grenade”. The other meaning is mainly used in FPS games to mean a first kill or killing someone with a frag grenade.

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G2G

“Go to go”.

Game over

In old games, a game over meant you’d run out of lives and continue, and would have to restart completely. Nowadays it means you respawn just around the corner. Unless the game features permadeath.

Gank

In MOBAs, an ambush before the team-fighting stage.

GG

“Good game”. A term used at the end of a game to show good sportsmanship. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the game was “good”. When said first by the winner it can be pretty BM.

GG EZ

A way of rubbing your opponent’s face in your victory, and also declaring you’re ten.

GG no re

“Good game no rematch”. A way of really rubbing your opponent’s face in your victory.

Glitch

A bug in the game, though not usually a game-breaking one. Some glitches can be exploited, and are used in speedrunning.

GLHF

“Good luck, have fun” is a sportsmanlike greeting at the start of a game.

GPU

Graphics processing unit. A piece of hardware dedicated to doing the kinds of maths used in 3D games.

GOAT

Greatest of all time usually describes a great player.

Griefing

A bannable offence in most games. Griefers are players who try to make their allies miserable. In team-based games, they might try to make their team lose. In building games like Minecraft they might destroy their fellow players’ builds.

Grinding

In one sense, identical to farming. Grinding also refers to repeatedly playing a game’s ranked mode in order to get better – “grinding the ladder”.

Guild

See clan.

Hacker

A player that uses cheat software to gain an advantage in an online game.

Headshot

In a shooter, a shot to the head. Headshots are harder to land but cause more damage.

Healer

A character that heals other allied members who are low on or missing health.

Hitscan

Guns that do damage instantly, as opposed to ones that fire a projectile that can be avoided. Doom’s shotgun is a hitscan weapon, unlike its rocket launcher.

HP

Hit points: The amount of damage a player can take without dying. Usually, games use green to show the health bar, but it's not a hard and fast rule.

HUD

The heads-up display is the name given to the bars and icons drawn above the game world. The HUD will contain information a player will want to check at any time, eg, their HP.

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Indie

An independent studio is usually made up of a small team of developers. Some receive backing from larger publishers; others use crowdfunding or attract investors. Some do all three at once.

JRPG

"Japanese role-playing game": a genre of games that, like other RPGs, involves large open-world exploration, and levelling. Unlike those, they tend to tell a more linear story. Many use an anime art style.

K/D

K/D stands for Kills/Deaths. The number of kills you got and the number of times you were killed.

Kick

Being removed from a game or lobby, perhaps by vote, perhaps by the lobby host. There are a number of reasons why a player could be kicked from a game/server or lobby.

KO

KO stands for knockout. This literally means a player was knocked out of the game, in other words, lost. The word is commonly used in fighting and beat 'em games.

KS

A “kill steal”: getting the last hit in a kill (and thereby the credit), when the majority of the damage was done by another player – at least in the opinion of said player.

Ladder / ranked mode

Ladder or ranked mode refers to serious play in a video game. Players will be matched against players of similar skill, and placed into what is often called “leagues”. As you win, your matchmaking rating goes up, and you will climb the ladder. As you lose, you cry salty tears.

Lag

In an online game, a delay between your input and the server registering the input, usually caused by high latency or packet loss in your Internet. If you’re lagging heavily, you’re at a serious disadvantage.

Level

See XP.

Loot

Items that can be found in-game of various values and range in quality from high to rare. Loot can be weapons, spells, or equipment.

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MP

“Magic points”. In RPGs, this is a stat that influences the power of your magical attacks. Sometimes it’s used interchangeably with mana.

Mana

A generic name for the number that limits the number of spells you can use.

Map

The level, or the world that you play in, particularly in a multiplayer game.

Matchmaking

Any system that matches players with similarly-skilled players. The score it assigns players is sometimes called Elo, and is usually called MMR (matchmaking rating).

Mechanics

The way a game functions, its rules.

Meta

A game’s player base’s current idea of the most optimal way to play the game.

For example, in League of Legends, the meta might be a bruiser/tank in the top lane, mage/caster mid, a bruiser in the jungle and ADC/marksman and support in bot lane.

Metas evolve over time naturally. Often developers will attempt to influence the meta with patches.

MMORPG

MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online RPG. A genre of video games that involves many people playing on an online open-world server.

Mob

A mob can refer to a hostile non-playable character that usually attacks the player and the player must fight it off. Mobs are common in MMORPGs and similar genres.

MOBA

“Multiplayer Online Battle Arena” is a type of strategy game where two teams face each other in a battle.

Mod

A downloadable script/add-on to a video game created by fans and players of a game. Sometimes mods are small, adding, say, a new weapon; sometimes, like “total conversion mods”, they’re very elaborate.

Mute

A chat feature that prevents you from seeing a player’s messages or hearing their voice. Useful if they’re harassing you; also useful if you just want to focus.

noob

“Neophyte” is an insult. Generally, it’s thrown at people playing badly, or who are playing well but who you just really, really, really hate.

Nerf

A balance adjustment that makes a character less powerful.

NPC

A “non-playable character”, like a shopkeeper or townsperson. Unlike bots, they’re usually neutral.

OP

“Overpowered”. A character that is considered too powerful.

Open Beta

A beta that’s open to all, unlike a closed beta.

Open world

A type of game that has a vast map and environment, and is “open” in the sense that you can go (mostly) anywhere. Many MMORPGs are open-world, as are survival and survival craft games, but mostly when people talk about open-world games, they’re thinking of games like Far Cry.

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Party game

A game intended to be played with a group of people which involves fun and party-like challenges for all to partake in. Mario Party is one of the most popular and longest-running party video games.

Patch

A change to the game which is usually delivered automatically and over the Internet. A patch may add features, tweak maps, or buff or nerf characters.

Peel

To direct damage away from a team member so they can continue to attack. The role of peeling is usually left to the defensive members of the team. The roles they’re peeling for are the damage dealers.

Permadeath

This means your character cannot be revived once they lose all lives/HP.

Ping

A measurement of your latency. If your ping’s high, you’re lagging.

Platformer

A game that involves a lot of jumping, optionally on enemies’ heads. The most famous 2D platformer is Super Mario Bros. The most famous 3D platformer is surely Mario 64.

Point-and-click

An adventure game in which you navigate the world by "pointing and clicking" with the mouse. It remains a point-and-click game if you're using a touch screen. Famous example: Secret of Monkey Island.

PVE

“Player versus environment”. Any kind of game in which the player plays against the computer.

PVP

“Player versus player”. Any kind of game in which players play against other players..

Pwn

To beat someone in a game, to dominate them.

QQ

“Crying”. The two q’s look like teary eyes.

QTE

Quick-time event. A moment in a cut-scene in which you are suddenly prompted for input. An attempt to make cut-scenes more interactive. Nobody likes them.

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Ragequit, rq

Where you leave a game before it’s over, defeated by unbearable frustrated rage.

Rekt

“Wrecked”, destroyed, pwned.

Respawn

Reviving after a death.

RNG

Random number generator. If something is RNG-based, it means its behaviour depends on some random chance. Crits are RNG-based.

RPG

Role-playing game. A game in which you journey through a world, fighting monsters, levelling up, buying and selling gear. Famous RPGs include Final Fantasy, Zelda, and Skyrim.

RTS

Real-time strategy: a genre in which you fight with an army. Similar is turn-based strategy. The difference between the two is in the names: In turn-based, each player takes turns; in RTS both go, frenetically, at once. Famous RTSes include Age of Empires and Command and Conquer.

Rush

An early all-out attack. Also an attempt to claim a game objective early.

Sandbox

Sandbox games can be very diverse but all focus on creating a world that can be played with freely. Famous sandbox titles include the GTA series, the Hitman series, Minecraft, and Kerbal Space Program.

Scrub

An offensive word used in games to antagonise or insult another player, meaning that they are bottom-of-the-barrel bad.

Sidequest

A separate challenge or mission outside of the main quest line of a game.

Skin

A character outfit or look, nowadays usually bought with real money, which can be worn in-game in order to make you look cool.

Smurf

A player’s alternate account, usually much lower-rated than their primary one. The act of playing on a smurf account is called smurfing and is usually frowned upon because the smurfing player’s skill will be higher than that of the players they’re matched against.

Speedrun

Speeding through a game as fast as possible. Speedrunning is a pretty big scene.

Spells, skills

A character’s special abilities.

Strafing

In a shooter, moving side to side in order to dodge while keeping your guns trained on your enemy.

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Tank

A role on a team, usually played by a character whose class is also called “tank”. Tanks have high defence stats and strong defensive spells. They “tank” damage, thereby shielding their “squishier” teammates, whose job is often dealing damage to the enemy.

Troll

A player who isn’t taking a game seriously. They might do something that is perceived as throwing the game, “for the lols”.

Tryhard

Someone who is perceived to be going over the top in order to win a game that was clearly theirs to win.

Unit

A single soldier in your army in a strategy game.

Vanilla

Vanilla refers to games in their original untouched form, free of mods or tweaks. In contrast, when games are played with mods, they might be called “modded”, eg, “modded Minecraft”.

Wombo combo

A big and really cool cooperative combo attack.

WOW

The abbreviation of the legendary MMORPG series by Blizzard, World of Warcraft.

XP

Experience, XP for short, is a unit of measurement for experience in a game. When your XP increases, your skills and strength in the game increase with it.

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