Like any hobby, gaming has its own set of terminology that will sound foreign to outsiders. If you’ve decided to get into video games and want to learn the jargon 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 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 refers to 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 appear during boss encounters. You typically 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.
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.
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.
6. 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 bullets which ends up taking several magazines to defeat is a bullet sponge.
Camping refers to players who sit in one place (referred to as campers) to get the drop on other players, as opposed to roaming around the map. It’s typically used in online shooters like Call of Duty.
Cheesing something means that you employ a cheap tactic to complete an action. 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 low-key; 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.
DRM, which stands for digital rights management, refers to tools that manage copyright protection for games. Often, DRM measures are overzealous and can affect legitimate users.
14. 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.
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 a 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, whose ammunition immediately hit what they’re aimed at. This contrasts to projectile weapons, where bullets take time to travel to their 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 map.
K/D, or kill-to-death ratio, is a common measure of your performance in online shooters. You’ll have a higher K/D with six kills and one death than 10 kills and five deaths, 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.
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.
MP, which is an acronym for magic points, is the resource you need to use spells and other special abilities in some games (often RPGs).
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 in a game that you don’t control. NPCs usually have preset actions and behaviors.
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.
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 someone that 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.
Ragequitting refers to someone getting extremely upset at a game, after which 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 our full explanation of RNG 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 that you increase through battling monsters and completing quests.
A sandbox game refers to a title that’s extremely open-ended and thus allows the player to do whatever they like.
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 grasp on the most common gaming terms. Chances are, if you get involved in a particular genre or title, it will have its own terms for you to pick up.
If you’re new to games, why not learn more about some of the many game genres available?
Image Credit: Giuseppe Cammino/Shutterstock
What are roguelikes? What are walking simulators? What are visual novels? These niche video game genres are worth playing!
About The Author