A Gamer’s Glossary of Terms and Acronyms

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Once you start gaming, you’ll realize there’s a lot of jargon, slang, and acronyms floating around that you may have never heard before. You may wonder, are these actual words? Are they speaking Orcish or some other fantasy nerd language? Instead of widely known and easily digestible phrases like “Idk my bff Jill,” you’ll be tasked with deciphering sayings like “DL addons like HealBot and ElvUI,” “watch out for the AoE,” and “that dude got rekt!” If none of that made sense and you’re already rolling your eyes, then you’re in luck: we have a little guide to help you tackle the linguistics of ever-changing gaming lingo.

First, let’s cover ESRB ratings. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), as its name suggests, rates video games as a means of regulating the industry. You’ll often see a little section on the game’s front cover with its logo and a rating with a letter. This tells you the target audience for said video game. Kid-friendly platformers and the like are usually rated E for Everyone. Violent action games depicting blood and gore, on the other hand, tend to be M (for Mature). Here is a basic breakdown.

ESRB Rating Guide

EC

Early childhood, intended for young children

E

Everyone, for all ages

E10+

Everyone 10+, for ages 10 and up

T

Teen, for ages 13 and up

M

Mature, for ages 17 and up

AO

Adults Only, for ages 18 and up

RP

Rating Pending, not yet assigned a final rating

ESRB Ratings

With that out of the way, let’s go over game genres. We’ll be skipping things like sports, action, adventure, racing, and fighting because they’re self-explanatory, but we’ll help you figure out all those acronyms you’ve been hearing.

Genres

3PS / TPS / OTS

Third-Person Shooter / Over the Shoulder. These games include titles like Gears of War, The Division, Mass Effect, and more.

4X

“eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate” games are a very popular subgenre of strategy games. Think the Civilization series.

CCG

Collectible Card Game. Most popular one out there right now? Hearthstone.

FPS

First Person Shooter. With such a large audience, you should know what these are by now: Battlefield, Call of Duty, Halo, CounterStrike, etc.

MMO

Massively Multiplayer Online. This is more of a general term regarding online games intended for a large player base. It can cover a variety of genres, such as FPS, RPG, and more. The most well-known, World of Warcraft, is an MMORPG (see below).

MOBA

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. A recent genre that has gained serious momentum and involves controlling a single hero/champion in a team-based game that looks a bit like an RTS. Top contenders (with large eSports prize pools, too!) include League of Legends and Dota 2.

RPG

Role-Playing Game. Put on your robe and wizard hat and go on an adventure. Or don your armor and sharpen your swords. Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, etc. (You know, those games that take way too long to finish.)

RTS

Real-Time Strategy. A strategy game that plays out without pausing, usually tasking you to build structures and armies to take out opponents before they can do the same.

SIM

Simulation. Includes everything from Farming Simulator and Flight Simulator to Job Simulator in VR.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Once you’re finished installing and have gotten into your game, there are going to be a lot of things thrown at you very quickly. If you’re playing a single-player game, you can progress at your own speed and look things over. On the other hand, multiplayer experiences tend to be more hectic, and when you end up Googling things, you’re going to want to have at least some entry-level knowledge.

In-Game Terms

1-Up

Everyone should know this. Ever since Mario, the 1-Up stands for an extra life.

Adds

“Additional Monsters.” When fighting a boss monster, it will sometimes summon additional things for you to fight.

Aggro

“Aggravated” or “Aggravation.” When you have aggro, that means the monster is focused only on hitting you and no other players.

AoE

“Area of Effect.” Refers to spells and abilities that work within a certain area rather than just against a single foe. Usually these are shown as green circles (while casting) and red circles when they inflict damage. Long story short: if you’re standing in a red circle and your health is going down, you’re doing it wrong.

BoA

“Bind on Account.” Usually found in MMOs, BoA items are things that once are picked up, cannot be transferred to another player; however, they can be moved or used on another character from the same account.

BoE

“Bind on Equip.” Whereas BoA allows items to be shared among characters, BoE means the item is bound to one specific character once it’s been equipped and cannot be transferred.

Buff / Debuff

Beneficial / harmful effect on target. These are caused by spells, potions, and the like. Buffs and Debuffs can last for seconds, minutes, or even indefinitely, depending on the game and effect.

Camp

To stay in one spot. Commonly used in FPS when players hide around a corner or hallway to get the surprise drop on others.

CB / OB

“Closed / Open Beta.” Terms used to refer to games that are still under development and are running tests before its final release. Closed means private or invite-only, and open means available to the public.

CD

“Cooldown.” Some abilities and items have cooldowns. After using it, you’ll have to wait a set time before you can use it again.

DPS

“Damage Per Second.” A measurement of damage done by a weapon or spell. “DPS” is also used—not as an acronym—to refer to certain, damage-focused classes in MMOs, such as rogues, mages, and hunters.

Dungeon

A separate, closed-off area with its own bosses and monsters. Dungeons often have their own name, such as World of Warcraft’s “Ragefire Chasm.”

EXP / XP

“Experience Points.” The more points you have, the closer you are to reaching your next level. These can be used to measure character levels, faction reputations levels, skill levels, and more.

FoV

“Field of View.” The area of the world around you that is being displayed at once. A higher FoV means you’ll have more peripheral vision, but can result in distortion effects when set too high.

Grind

To do something repetitively. You can grind quests, monsters, and even crafting. (e.g. leveling up leatherworking is going to take a lot of grinding.)

HP

“Health / Hit Points.” The measurement of how much damage you can take. Lose too much and you’ll end up dying.

HUD / UI

“Heads-Up Display” / “User Interface.” These are the things on the screen that display your character’s status: health, mana, equipped items, position in a race, and so on.

KDR / KR

“Kill-to-Death Ratio.” On average, how many enemies you take out before being taken out yourself. A lot of players are obsessed with their KDR, as if it portrays how good they are. It may be relevant, but they can focus on this to the detriment of a team by forgetting about the game’s objective.

Lag

A technical problem that delays the game’s reaction to your input. If you pressed left-click to shoot and your character does it two seconds later, take a break from gaming until the problem has been fixed. Sticking with it will only lead to frustration.

Loot

Items and drops. Loot can be found in defeated monsters, chests, and boss monsters. Usually harder monsters and bosses drop better loot.

Mod

Modification. Some games, such as Skyrim, support mods. Mods can range from a variety of content from bug fixes to new items to entirely new quest lines and game types.

MP

“Mana / Magic Points.” MP measures how much resource or casting ability you have. Spells will cost a certain amount per cast, and once you run out, you’ll have to replenish your meter before you can cast again.

NPC

“Non-Player Character.” Characters that aren’t controlled by another living person. They can be quest givers, shop keepers, or just a random person sitting in town. They don’t always have to serve a narrative function.

Ping

Time in milliseconds for information to travel to the server and back. Lower ping is better. When people have high ping, commands and overall gameplay can be delayed, causing lag and leading to an unpleasant experience.

PvE

“Player vs Environment.” A game type that focuses on fighting monsters or other non-player enemies. Games are usually either PvE-focused, PvP-focused (see below), or a mix of both.

PvP

“Player vs Player.” Fighting against other live players, whether it’s done in arenas, battlegrounds, or even in the open world. Online FPS are usually PvP in nature.

QTE

“Quick-Time Event.” Simon Says in video game form. To give the appearance of interaction, games will occasionally require a certain series of button presses to make a cool or important onscreen thing happen (e.g. make a character avoid falling boulders or stop them from tumbling down a cliff).

Raid

A large-scale dungeon with multiple players. Whereas dungeons can be done solo or with a small group, raids usually consist of more than ten players fighting through a dungeon to get loot. Some old World of Warcraft raids took as many as 40 players working together to complete.

Roll

Randomly generated number from within set bounds defining a certain value or attribute, such as damage or power.

Skin

An aesthetic change to an item or player. Generally, this doesn’t serve any other function other than to make your character look better (or worse). Games like CounterStrike offer skins in loot boxes, which can be sold for IRL (in-real-life) money.

Tag

A player’s online handle, or the act of aggro-ing a mob. Players tag multiple monsters and use AoE abilities on them to save time.

Mass Effect: Andromeda

Chat Terms

Cheese

An underhanded strategy. Can also be used as a verb.

He’s cheesing his way to victory.

DC

“Disconnect.” Often, players will disconnect and reconnect. Sometimes, it’s not their fault.

Sorry about that, I dced.

EZ

“Easy.” A term that’s used derogatorily, denoting that a player had an easy time this match because their opposition was barely any competition.

GG ez.

Feeder / Feeding / Fed

Someone who dies to the other team repeatedly, either intentionally or not. A player who benefitted from the feeder is referred to as “fed.”

- That Lucian is so fed.

- Why is our Vayne such a feeder?

FF

“Friendly Fire” or “Forfeit.” If your teammate shoots you and you take damage, that’s Friendly Fire. When it gets bad, your teammates may drop the FF (forfeit), so they can end the game.

- Hey! Watch the FF.

- Guys there’s no way we can win. Let’s ff.

FTW

“For the Win.” Normally used at the end of a comment after something happens such as killing an opponent before they kill you.

Lol deagle FTW.

Griefer

A person who harasses or provokes other players on purpose to ruin their fun. (Don’t be a griefer.)

Can you ban this griefer? He keeps setting my house on fire.

GG / BG

“Good Game” / “Bad Game.” Usually written at the end of a game. People who show good sportsmanship usually write GG. Salty players will blame others and write BG.

GG all.

GG no re

“Good Game, no remake / replay.” When you have a good game and you’re not going to play another round with the same people again.

GG no re.

Hacks / Hackz / Hax

Cheating. If someone’s landing headshots left and right, he’s either very good or hacking. This can also refer to cheating software itself.

That guy killed me through a wall. Hax!

HF

“Have Fun.” Friendly term usually written at the start of a match.

Gl hf everyone.

IGN

“In-Game Name.” The part of self-identification that’s equally hard as designing your character’s appearances and is frequently taken, so you need to add numbers to the end of it, making it look dumb.

Let’s play WoW. What’s your ign?

INC

“Incoming.” Used as a warning for incoming monsters or players like “heads-up!”

Hey, adds inc.

LEET / 1337

Short for “elite” and is also an alternative alphabet using symbols (leetspeak). Can be used as an adjective.

This gun is leet.

LFG / LFM / LFP

“Looking for Group / More / Party.” Commonly found in online multiplayer games when players are trying to run a dungeon or raid. Sometimes LFM includes a number denoting how many players are needed.

- LFG Deadmines.

- LF3M Scarlet Monastery.

Noob / n00b / newb

A player who is new at a game. Sometimes used to describe players who are performing poorly, regardless of their experience level.

Stop being such a noob and get out of the fire.

OHKO

“One-Hit Knock-Out.” A term often used in fighting games, which refers to a single attack that entirely depletes an opponent’s health.

If you can perfect it, Jigglypuff’s pound is OP. OHKO city.

OOM / OOR

“Out of Mana / Resource.” When your mana or primary resource is depleted so you can’t cast abilities. Much faster to type during intense boss fights.

Wait up, I’m oom.

OP / Imba

“Over Powered” / “Imbalanced.” Used to refer to items or characters that are too strong compared to other things in the game.

Miss Fortune is OP atm.

OTW

“On the Way.” Save some time typing with these three letters.

OTW, wait for me.

PK

“Player Kill.” To kill another character controlled by a player. Used as a verb.

Let’s go PK some noobs.

PUG

“Pick-Up Group.” A group composed of random strangers looking to complete the same objective, such as a dungeon.

PUGs are so frustrating. No one knows how to play!

QQ

How you type the crying emoji without emojis. The circular part of the Q resembles eyes and the dash, tears.

Stop QQing and git gud (get good).

Rekt / Owned / Pwned

“Wrecked.” Players usually drop this one after a one-sided match. It can also be used when you outplay another player.

Ya’ll just got rekt.

Rez

“Resurrect.” Request a rez if the healer doesn’t realize that someone has died.

Hey… rez plz?

Salty

“Upset” or “bitter.” Dying too much or having someone complain the whole game can make you salty. Don’t let your saltiness evolve into toxic behavior.

You salty bruh?

Smurf

An experienced player who makes a new character or account to play against lower-leveled players.

Why’re you smurfing in Bronze?

Toxic

Used to describe a person’s attitude and behavior. When a player starts complaining and cursing at others, he or she is being toxic.

Keep being toxic and you’ll get banned.

WTB / WTT / WTS

“Wants to Buy / Trade / Sell.” In trade chat, users will use these to denote their intentions followed by an item or service.

[WTB] 10 x Gold Ingots. [WTT] Potato for Tomato.

Xpac

“Expansion Pack.” A substantial package of new content for a game that wasn’t part of the initial release and usually costs money. As of 2017, World of Warcraft has released seven expansion packs.

Are you picking up the new xpac?

World of Warcraft

Miscellaneous Terms

Triple-A (AAA)

Games that have a big budget, a lot of backing, and generally get a lot of praise from fans and critics. Your CoDs Battlefields, and such.

Bug

Coding error with unintended results. Can be good or bad. Some bugs let you duplicate items, while others can break the game.

DLC

“Downloadable Content.” Ranges from small updates like a few new weapons to a full-blown campaign. Sometimes sold in groups as “Season Passes,” which are purchased in expectation of future content rather than after all of it is available.

DRM

“Digital Rights Management.” When a game has some form of DRM, that means there is software built into it that is intended to protect it from pirates.

Easter Egg

Hidden feature within the game left by a developer that usually takes effort to find. (E.g. Diablo II’s Secret Cow Level.)

F2P

“Free to Play.” Refers to games that are free to play and make money off ads, micro-transactions, or other means.

LAN

“Local Area Network.” Your home network. Some games will have the option for LAN play, so you can play with whoever’s connected to your home network.

P2P

“Pay to Play.” Games that you need to purchase to play. Can also include micro-transactions.

P2W

“Pay to Win.” Games with micro-transactions that give buyers an upper hand over regular players. (e.g. the ability to buy stronger weapons, additional stat points, etc.)

VOIP

“Voice Over IP.” A program that lets you chat with others online. Some games have VOIP built-in. Players may also opt to use alternatives, like Discord, Ventrillo, Mumble, TeamSpeak, etc.

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