Ultimate list of popular, gaming-related terms

Discover the definitions of some of gaming's most popular words, terminology and slang phases.

A

  • Aggro - Refers to attention from in-game enemies, often relating to the distance at which an enemy will notice the player character and engage in combat, or - in a multiplayer setting - the player being targeted by an enemy. See also: 'Tanking'
  • ARPG - An acronym for 'action role-playing game', ARPG is a sub-genre of RPG that focuses primarily on combat, exploration and character development. Typically involving lengthy dungeons and tough boss fights, ARPGs are popular with min-max playstyles.
  • ADS - Short for 'Aim Down Sights', ADS is the action of raising a ranged weapon to eye-level and aiming along the sights.
  • AoE - Short for 'Area of Effect', AoE refers to attacks which cover a certain area with a damaging effect.

B

  • Bots - A bot is a computer-controlled character playing alongside regular players in a multiplayer setting. It may also refer to an inexperienced or poor player, whose ability is no greater than an AI bot.
  • Backwards compatibility - The ability of a games console to run software created for prior consoles in the series. The PS5, for example, is backwards compatible with PS4 and is able to run the overwhelming majority of software created for that console.
  • Bug - An unexpected glitch that arises in a game due to programming errors. These can range from amusing and trivial oddities to game-breaking issues that prevent player progress or corrupt save data.
  • Balancing - A process, typically carried out by a developer, of creating an even, consistent and fair level of challenge within a game setting. See also: 'Nerfing', 'OP'
  • Bullet sponge - A somewhat derogatory term that refers to an enemy with a very high pool of health which can absorb large amounts of damage.
  • Buff - A temporary boost to a player's, enemy's or group of players' attributes or abilities. Typically applied with an item or player action. See also: 'De-buff''Nerfing'
  • Boss-rush - A style of game, or game mode, in which the player must challenge a succession of unique and powerful enemies.

C

  • Cheesing - Refers to an exploit or tactic in a game which either avoids or significantly reduces the challenge of certain enemies or situations.
  • CPU - An acronym for 'central processing unit', a CPU is the core computational part of a computer, responsible for carrying out complex calculations at a rate of many thousands a second. While older CPUs were based on a single cluster of transistors, known as a 'core', modern, more powerful CPUs will comprise several cores working in parallel. 
  • CRPG - An acronym for 'classic role-playing game', CRPG is a sub-genre of RPG with roots in traditional western RPGs, taking heavy influence from table-top gaming. These often focus on party-based adventures and turn-based combat encounters. 
  • Camping - Holding to or hiding at a certain strategic location (typically in a multiplayer setting) within a map. Depending on the game setting or game style this may include specifics, such as 'spawn camping' or 'bush camping'.
  • Crafting - Using basic materials found within a game world to construct useful items, weapons, ammunition or buildings.
  • Combo - Executing attacks in rapid succession to deal additional damage before an opponent can respond - most commonly in hand-to-hand or melee combat. Often associated with building damage or score multipliers that reward players for skilful execution.

Area of Effect

Area of Effect attacks are frequently used in Elden Ring's boss design, with terrifying enemies like Godrick the Grafted filling areas of the arena with beds of fire or battering whirlwinds.

D

  • DPS - An acronym for 'damage per second', DPS can literally be a measure of damage output, or shorthand for a character class that focuses on offensive play.
  • Drops - Refers to the weapons, armour or other items which are 'dropped' by fallen enemies. Dropped items typically have a 'drop-rate' associated with them dictating how often they can drop. See also: 'Loot', 'RNG'
  • Dungeon - A carefully-designed, sometimes themed series of challenges set in a single area or location. Dungeons normally comprise puzzle and combat elements and are often associated with procuring items and rewards.
  • Dialogue tree - Most common in adventure and RPG games, a 'dialogue tree' is a network of conversation options that your player has with a non-playable character.
  • De-buff - Significantly reducing the abilities of an enemy or another player character using an item or player action, typically to reduce offensive or defensive capabilities. Not to be confused with 'nerfing'. See also: 'Buff'

E

  • Easter egg - A type of secret hidden within a game by the developers that is there as an amusing aside rather than part of the gameplay or story.  
  • Exploit - A way of breaking the usual constraints of a game by finding gaps within the programming or logic that allow you to manipulate the game in unintended ways. Also known as 'glitching'.
  • Escort mission - A classic style of quest design in which the player must guide a (normally defenceless) non-player character through a hazardous environment. 
  • End-game - A period of extended play that follows a game's main campaign, typically building upon the mechanics of the main quests with additional - more challenging - content.

F

  • Finisher - An often flashy, specially-animated 'killing blow' attack that can be deployed against already weakened enemies. These are sometimes triggered by quick-time events.
  • Fetch-quest - A type of quest in which the player is asked to visit a specific location by a quest giver and bring back a particular item.
  • FF - an acronym meaning 'friendly fire', FF refers to any situation in which players are vulnerable to attacks from their own allies (especially in multiplayer settings), or to describe the act of being attacked by an ally.
  • Frame-rate - Much like motion picture, games are made up of a rapid succession of still images played back at high speed to create the illusion of motion. Frame-rate dictates the number of unique still images - or 'frames' - created by a computer system each second. In modern games it's common for a system to output 30, 60 or even 120 frames per second (FPS), with apparent motion clarity improving in proportion to the number of frames.
  • Fast travel - Travelling between two fixed points in a game world instantly without traversal. This is typically done via a loading screen as a quality-of-life improvement that saves players from traversing the same parts of the game world over and over, but in most cases is limited to specific areas or points on the map. 
  • Frame-buffer - the height and width, in pixels, of the image output by a console, such as 1920 x 1080 (also know as '1080p' or 'HD') or 2160 x 3840 (also known as '2160p' or '4K'). See also: 'Resolution'
  • FPS - an acronym for either 'first-person shooter' or 'frames per second', FPS can either refer to a style of game in which the action is viewed through the eyes of the main character, or a measure of hardware performance. See also: 'Frame-rate'
  • Farming - The act of gathering valuable items or materials for crafting or in-game progress by repeatedly playing through areas rich in those resources. See also: 'Grinding'
  • F2P - A shorthand for 'free-to-play', a type of game which is free to download and play and which often has optional purchase opportunities included in-game.

End-game

Destiny 2 is well-known for its end-game play, providing hours of extra content that will keep players entertained long after the main story missions have been completed.

G

  • Ganking - A portmanteau of 'Gang' and 'Kill', a 'Gank' refers to any in-game death caused by a group of assailants. See also: 'Mobs'
  • GPU - An acronym of 'graphics processing unit', a GPU (or 'graphics card') is a specialist computer component dedicated to drawing, shading and processing 3D graphics. Modern GPUs are incredibly powerful, comprising dozens of compute units working in parallel to render visuals.
  • GDDR - An acronym for 'graphics double data rate', GDDR is a special type of RAM used in dedicated gaming hardware specialised for rendering 3D graphics. See also: 'GPU'
  • Grinding - Repeating a set task, quest or set of actions for the benefit of gathering points, currency, items or crafting materials. See also: 'Farming'
  • Git gud - A deliberate misspelling of 'Get Good', 'git gud' is an injunction to raise one's own skill level in response to a particularly difficult challenge. Players complaining of unreasonable difficulty in a game are often encouraged to 'git gud', persevering with the game and overcoming the challenge through patience and learning.
  • Griefing - The harassing of other players in an online setting. See also: 'Kicking'

H

  • HP - An acronym for 'hit points' or some times 'health points', HP refers to the total amount of damage a player's character can take before they are either knocked unconscious or killed.
  • Haptic feedback - A special type of sensory feedback that uses voice coil actuators to create a range of pitched sensory vibrations that can move across the surface of an object. A key feature of the PS5's DualSense wireless controller
  • HUD - An acronym for 'heads-up display', HUD generally refers to the text or graphical overlay visible during gameplay that displays key information like remaining HP, ammunition, available items or abilities.
  • HDR - An acronym for 'high dynamic range', HDR is an increasingly common display technology which improves image quality by adding greater colour depth and more realistic representations of light and dark.
  • Hit box - An invisible 'box' created by an enemy or player attack used to determine if that attack lands. These boxes are sometimes larger than the visible weapon or enemy making the attack, which may lead to players being 'hit' by an attack, even if the blow did not appear to make contact.

I

  • I-frames - Short for 'invincibility frames', i-frames are a set number of frames within an animation during which it is impossible for the player to take damage. This is most commonly found in dodge or sidestep moves, but can also be found in more generalized animations for opening doors or operating switches.
  • Integrated I/O - A computer hardware design approach in which the data storage solution (such as an SSD) is integrated directly into the main processing board, allowing for rapid transfer of data storage into RAM
  • Invasion - A style of multiplayer in which players can invade the otherwise single-player game worlds of one another to engage in combat.
  • Invisible walls - Often found at the far edges of levels or maps, 'invisible walls' are impassable boundaries at the edge of the playspace which stop the player venturing further, even when there is nothing to stop them. See also: 'Out-of-bounds'

Hit points

Hit points have been a mainstay of the RPG genre for decades now, with long-running series like Final Fantasy keeping the concept largely unchanged since the mid-'80s.

J

  • JRPG - An acronym for 'Japanese role-playing game', JRPGs are a specific genre of JRPG produced predominantly in Japan, typically focusing on party-based adventures over solo and quite often exhibiting a visual style influenced by Japan's Anime and Manga scene. See also: 'RPG'
  • Juggling - Common to fighting games and other stylized action games, 'Juggling' is the art of knocking an opponent into the air and keeping them aloft with repeated blows.
  • Judder - An inconsistent in-game motion often caused by uneven frame-pacing, in which some frames persist longer than than others and camera motion in particular exhibits a perceptible 'stutter'.

K

  • Kicking - Forcibly removing a player from an online multiplayer session - to 'kick' them from the game.
  • K/D ratio - A player's ratio of in-game 'kills' to 'deaths'. Common to multiplayer shooters, K/D ratio is generally considered to be a measure of overall performance.
  • Kiting - A tactic of leading an enemy away from their initial location to a more suitable area for combat, often drawing them away from particular hazards, or other enemies.

L

  • Lobby - A sort of in-game waiting room where players in a multiplayer game session assemble prior to launching into a match or quest. See also: 'Matchmaking'
  • Loadout - Refers to the weapons, armour, items and abilities with which a player launches into a match or a combat scenario. In most cases, a 'loadout' will need to be balanced against the scenario itself and against the player's preferred playstyle.
  • Loot - Typically refers to in-game rewards granted to the player for completing certain tasks and is often associated with a certain amount of chance. See also: 'Drops', 'RNG'

Loadout

Loadouts have become a large part of the tactical play for mutliplayer-focused online shooters like the Call of Duty series, where a smart loadout can be the difference between winning and losing.  

M

  • Min-maxing - An approach common in role-playing games where players aim for perfect optimisation of the player character, by maximising their offensive and defensive capabilities. See also: 'OP'
  • Mobs - Groups of enemy characters, either roaming or static, who may overwhelm or ambush the player character.
  • Mount - A ridable companion creature which the main player can use to traverse the game world, often more quickly, or in a manner that will allow them to reach areas that would be inaccessible on foot. 
  • Matchmaking - A process of being matched with other, unknown players during an online multiplayer session. See also: 'Lobby'

N

  • NPC - An acronym for 'non-player character', an NPC is any non-combative character within a game that a player might encounter. It will often be possible to interact with these characters, to purchase goods for example, or engage in conversation. 
  • Noob - Often stylised as 'n00b', 'newb' or 'newbie', 'noob' is a shorthand for 'newcomer' and is often used as a derogatory term to mock inexperienced players, often in a multiplayer setting.
  • Noob-tube - Originally referring to grenade launchers, a 'noob-tube' typically refers to powerful, easy-to-use weapons that are popular with inexperienced players, particularly in competitive multiplayer.
  • Nades - A shorthand slang for hand grenades, nades is a general term used for all thrown explosive projectiles.
  • Nerfing - The act, often by a developer, of significantly reducing the efficacy of a certain item, weapon or other element in a game, often in response to it being considered 'OP'. Not to be confused with 'de-buff'
  • NG+ / New Game + - A special mode in which a game can be played over from the beginning whilst keeping the majority of progress from the initial playthrough. Difficulty will normally be increased, or new elements potentially added as part of NG+.

O

  • OP - A shorthand for 'overpowered', 'OP' refers to particular in-game abilities, weapons or playstyles which are considerably more effective than others. It may also refer to a player who is far more powerful than the enemies they're up against.
  • OHK - An acronym for 'one-hit kill', an 'OHK' is any attack which can deplete a player character's entire HP in a single blow.
  • Out-of-bounds - Refers to any area of a game outside of the intended play-space. Such areas are typically accessed through exploits and are sometimes used in speedrunning to skip parts of a game. 

New Game +

God of War's New Game + mode allows players to carry over their progress into a new playthrough and collect new armour, talismans, skins and more, pushing Kratos' power far beyond anything possible in the first playthrough.

P

  • Procedural generation - A technique wherein elements of a game are generated in real-time from a fixed set of variables, in-game assets and parameters that allows a near-limitless amount of unique content variations. See also: 'RNG'
  • Permadeath - A normally optional game mode which limits the player to a single attempt, deleting all progress should the player character die.
  • Pixel - A single coloured point in a digital image. Modern video game frames are typically made up of several million pixels - 4K images contain over eight million.  
  • Party - A group of player characters, either individually controlled by separate players in a multiplayer setting, or by one player and sometimes the computer in single-player settings.
  • PVP / PVE - Shorthand for 'player versus player' and 'player versus enemy', PVP and PVE defines with whom the player will be competing: against one another in 'PVP' or against computer controlled enemies in 'PVE'. 

Q

  • Quick-time event (QTE) - A gameplay scenario in which the player is challenged to respond to a number of on-screen prompts, entering the correct button presses to trigger specific on-screen actions.
  • Quest-giver - A special type of non-player character whose primary function is to provide quests and story-related information to the player.

R

  • RPG - An acronym for 'role-playing game', an RPG has very broad definitions in modern gaming, but usually refers to any story-driven game that centres around the development and definition of a central main character or party of characters. See also 'ARPG', 'CRPG' and 'JRPG'.
  • Res - Short for 'ressurection', res is used both as verb and noun to describe the action of one player aiding another downed player, allowing them to return to the action.
  • Ray-tracing - a rendering technique used in game development to simulate the real-world behaviour of light. Sometimes referred to as 'RT', it is most often used to render shadows, reflections, ambient shading and 'bounce lighting' in real-time. Ray-tracing is very computationally expensive and is typically reserved for more powerful hardware.
  • Resolution - Refers to the effective density of pixels in a digital image: the higher the resolution, the more dense, detailed and clear the image. See also: 'Frame-buffer
  • RP - An acronym for 'role-playing', RP refers to the act of playing an in-game character within the strict bounds of a personality or back-story you've assigned to them. Deciding, for example, that your character has a fear of spiders and therefore running from all spider-like enemies.
  • RAM - An acronym for 'random access memory', RAM is special type of fast, flexible storage which is crucial in computer processing. In software design, processing normally requires data to transferred from storage into RAM before being processed by the CPU.
  • RNG - An acronym for 'random number generator', RNG refers to the weighted elements of chance within game design that can significantly impact rewards and experiences. See also: 'Procedural generation', 'Loot'
  • Ragequit - Terminating a play session due to frustration.
  • Raid - A common end-game challenge in which a team of players must work together to overcome an often lengthy and challenging dungeon, often comprising complex puzzles and numerous, high-level bosses.

Procedural generation

No Man's Sky represents one of the most ambitious uses of procedural generation in gaming to date, with entire galaxies, teeming with plant and animal life being generated entirely through an sophisticated algorithm.

S

  • Speed-run - A dedicated competitive field in which players attempt to complete a game in the shortest possible time. Speed-running typically comes with certain parameters, or requirements and often makes use of glitches and exploits.
  • SSD - An acronym for 'solid-state drive', an SSD is a modern type of digital storage solution that alleviates many of the technical limitations of mechanical hard-disk drives. SSDs are much faster than previous storage solutions, allowing for drastic improvements in loading times and data transfer speed.
  • Spamming - A player or enemy repeatedly deploying the same attack, manoeuvre or strategy over and over.
  • Skins - A purely cosmetic variant of a player character, item, weapon or NPC - often as rewards or unlocks.
  • Stun-lock - Using a rapid flurry of attacks to lock an opponent into a 'stunned' or 'staggered' state from which they're unable to escape or defend themselves.
  • Status effects - A condition applied to a character which causes certain desirable or undesirable effects, sometimes referred to as 'buffs' or 'de-buffs'.
  • Skill-check - An enemy encounter or specific challenge designed to test a player's abilities or level of progression at a point in the game, often for the purposes of balancing.

T

  • Tanking - A style of play that focuses on very high damage resistance and large amounts of HP. 'Tanking' is a common role in raid-style team play, where the tank character is responsible for focusing and absorbing enemy aggro while other team members focus on healing allies or damaging opponents.  
  • Turn-based - A style of combat in which players and adversaries take it in turns to take actions in a manner similar to traditional table-top games.
  • Telegraph - A deliberate lengthening or accentuation of an enemy's attack animation to signal to the player the nature of an upcoming attack, giving them time to respond.
  • Time-attack - A game mode where players compete against the clock for places on a leaderboard.
  • T-pose - A type of bug in which a humanoid character appears in-game completely static with both feet locked together and both arms extended perpendicular to the body, forming the shape of the capital letter 'T'. 

U

  • Under-levelled - A situation where challenge is significantly increased due a player being under-powered for the part of the game they are attempting. 
  • Unlocks - Special items, game modes or skins made available by completing specific in-game challenges, often associated to beating the game within set parameters. 

Tanking

Tanking is a common - and quite often crucial - role in massive online multiplayer games like Final Fantasy XIV Online; no raiding team is complete without a tank to lead the charge. 

V

  • Visual novel - A style of game focused particularly on story elements and dialogue exchange, with few - if any - action elements such as exploration or combat.
  • VR - An acronym for 'virtual reality', VR is a unique hardware feature that involves immersing oneself within the game world, typically by means of a dedicated headset and/or controllers.

W

  • Whiff - Most common to fighting games, a 'whiff' is an attempted melee attack which misses the opponent only very narrowly due to misjudgement by the attacker. 
  • Wrecked - Often stylised as 'rekt' or 'recked', to be wrecked or to wreck another is to best or be bested easily, typically in a one-on-one encounter. 'Get Rekt' is a common victory put-down when overcoming a difficult or tenacious enemy. 
  • Walking sim - An exploration-focused style of narrative adventure in which the player is encouraged to explore the environment on foot, examining objects to progress the story. 

X

  • XP - A shorthand for 'experience' or 'experience points', XP refers to a gradually accrued reserve of points that typically manifest as a level or set of attribute gains awarded to the main character. 

Z

  • Zoning - a play strategy that involves controlling a specific area of a map or arena, forcing opponents to retreat.