Popular Gaming Terms Explained

Nerfs, MMORPGs, and who the final boss really is
  1. aggro

    aggression directed toward a player (or players) by combatants in a video game.

    Taunt is an Ice spell that draws enemy aggro~ meaning that you'll be seen as a bigger threat by the enemy you're fighting, and they'll attack you instead of the others in your group.
    — (comment on Wizard101.com), 17 Jul. 2012

  2. AoE

    abbreviation of area of effect, referring to the distance and scope that something (such as a weapon or an ability) may be effective. (Note: AoE can also refer to the popular game Age of Empires)

    Your weapon arsenal isn’t the only thing that has been upgraded. You will now also find the SHOCKWAVE HACK. Shockwave is a powerful AOE blast that can be used to push away rival Contenders and give you some extra breathing room while you secure the Crown.
    Express (London, Eng.), 12 Jul. 2020

  3. arena mode

    a mode of play within a game, in which a character engages in combat with an enemy (or succession of enemies), typically in a setting that is separate from the main mode of the game.

    This update also adds a new Arena mode, Challenge Levels, and a new Alien Species player customization option.
    The Times of India (New Delhi, Ind.), 11 Nov. 2022

  4. AR

    Augmented reality; an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera).

    It is necessary to first understand what AR is all about. In a nutshell, AR superimposes a computer-generated photo of the user’s real-world to offer him/her an improved or better version of this reality.
    — Sharma Chetan, Financial Express (New Delhi, Ind.), 12 Feb. 2023

  5. avatar

    an electronic image that represents and may be manipulated by a computer user (as in a game).

    He falls in love with his online gaming buddy whom he knows only as his gaming avatar, MagePants69, but when he discovers he also lives in Ballarat and is in rehearsals for the local production of Chicago, Noah signs up to be in the cast.
    The Daily Telegraph (Surry Hills, Aus.), 11 Feb. 2023

  6. badge

    a visual representation of an achievement earned, or mission fulfilled, in a game.

    Once you’ve beaten eight gym leaders and received their badges, you’ll be allowed to challenge the Pokémon League. It’s all very standard stuff all the way from the beginning of the series.
    — Sisi Jiang, _kotaku.com, 7 Dec. 2022

  7. banhammer

    the expulsion of a player from a game

    This season, the ladder meta has been dominated by Milloween + Dragon's Nest decks, but with the power of the TEAM MANA FRENZY rules giving the competitors the power of The BanHammer, we saw a variety of other decks ascend throughout the competition.
    — Dow Jones Institutional News (New York, NY), 18 Jan. 2022

  8. battle royale

    a game in which players compete until only one remains; a last-person-standing game.

    Krafton, whose portfolio includes the smash battle royale title "PUBG: Battlegrounds," has studios around the world.
    — Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press (Toronto, Can.), 8 Feb. 2023

  9. bonus stage

    a special level in a game, one in which players can gain extra rewards.

    Everynow and then you just gotta play the street fighter bonus stage and punch cars in a private city match.
    — (comment on Valorant channel on Discord server), 8 May 2022

  10. boss

    a usually formidable antagonist (one that is a non-player character) in a game.

    Should I grind out that sabotage mission, and over-level myself for the boss fight? Because if I lose that grind mission, oh yes, I am going to lose my Epic revolver and Legendary, one-hit kill marksman rifle, and start over with Common crap. And that’s going to require even more grind. So, really, when should I take on this boss?
    — Owen S. Good, Polygon, 16 Feb. 2023

    Ik when i was on the task before the boss there were husks i killed them all but didnt count so the boss came and i killed him then after i did the husks came again and the quest of the husks counted but when the quest of the boss came he was no longer there as i killed him
    – (comment on Discord server) 12 Feb. 2023

  11. BrB

    keyboard abbreviation for ‘be right back.’

  12. camping

    a tactic in which a player remains stationary in a game, typically in order to ambush enemies or other players.

    Take it from someone who’s clocked countless hours in Rainbow Six: Siege. The more noise an enemy can make when nearing your camping spot, the sooner you’ll know when and where they are.
    — Claire Jackson, Kotaku, 19 Nov. 2022

  13. cheat

    a loophole, enabled by entering a code, that gives a player advantages not intended in normal game play.

    It's no different in the modern era of online and console gaming -- some of the most iconic cheats in videogame history were put there by the person making the game itself. The Konami Code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start) is perhaps the most well known cheat code in gaming history. It was added to 1985's Gradius for the NES by the game's developer, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who found the game to be too difficult during its debugging phase.
    — Andrew Tarantola, Engadget, 15 Jun. 2019

  14. console

    an electronic system that connects to a display (such as a television set) and is used primarily to play video games.

    The Nintendo Switch—lauded on release for its unique ability to render games on-the-go that you could usually play only with a beefy console—is now available in three versions.
    — Just Lunning, The Wall Street Journal, 10 Feb. 2023

  15. controller

    a device, such as a joystick used in a video game to control a character or play the game.

    While the Edge can decently run the streaming games I've played on the Xbox so far, it doesn't feel as impressive as I'd hoped for. The controller seems a step below normal game console controls.
    — Scott Stein, CNET, 13 Feb. 2023

  16. cooperative gameplay

    gaming in which multiple players work together in pursuit of a common goal.

    Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is apparently set in the same universe as Rocksteady’s uber-popular Arkham series, eschewing that previous franchise’s solo, Batman-focused structure for four-player, cooperative gameplay.
    — Ian Walker, Kotaku, 9 Dec. 2021

  17. CPU

    Central processing unit; the component of a computer system that performs the basic operations (such as processing data) of the system, that exchanges data with the system's memory or peripherals, and that manages the system's other components. Also, a player in a game who is controlled by the computer.

    I locked my frames to 60. Saves me from pushing the CPU to its limits
    — (comment in Rocket League channel on Discord), 4 Feb, 2023

  18. crafting

    the construction of weapons or supplies by using materials found within a game.

    Additionally, players have the ability to find materials. They can then use these materials to craft items. These include weapon upgrades or modifications, such as a flaming sword or poisoned hammer. Different materials can also be used to craft grenades and Molotov cocktails.
    — Connor Rousseau, University Wire, 21 Feb. 2022

  19. cutscene

    a scene in a game (which may or may not be interactive) that occurs in order to provide plot development to the game.

    Each mission begins with an animated cutscene just like the arcade games, with retro charm and an art style closer to the 1987 Ninja Turtles cartoon than anything that's come since.
    — Ted Lichfield, PC Gamer, Jun. 2022

  20. debuff

    making a character, weapon, or attribute less powerful.

    The one complaint that remains from the open beta — agents who lurk on the subreddit for "The Division" will know what I'm talking about — are the weapon mods. Many of them still apply a damage debuff in exchange for improved handling. It's an awful design that will end up discouraging players from using mods at all, particularly at higher levels when extra damage to elite enemies becomes vital.
    — Brian Fung, The Washington Post (online), 14 Mar. 2019

  21. dialogue tree

    a series of possible dialogues a player may have with non-player characters in a specific conversation in the game.

    Dialogue trees as game mechanics are commonly used in both basic and advanced RPGs since their introduction, and draw their name from the branching options players have as a conversation progresses, similar in appearance to a genealogical tree.
    — Stephanie Caskenette, Tips of Fingers, Tips of Tongues: Emulating authentic dialogue in roleplaying video games, PhD Diss., 2018

  22. DPS

    damage per second.

    A group may, for example, involve a tank, as a character who absorbs enemy blows and protects other members of the team; a healer, as a character responsible for keeping up the health of the party; characters which inflict damage (often referred to as DPS, meaning Damage Per Second); and those who temporarily control the mobs and make them lose control of actions and abilities (Crowd Control, or CC, characters).
    — Mirko Suznjevic et al., Multimedia Tools and Applications, Oct. 2009

  23. dual wield

    the ability to wield two weapons at once.

    Fixed a bug when dual wielding Axe and Greataxe which caused additional effects from Spells, Weapon Skills and Items to not be applied correctly.
    — Patricia Hernandez, Kotaku, 9 Aug. 2022

  24. easter egg

    a hidden feature (such as a secret room) added by a developer to a game that may be unlocked by a series of key strokes that would not typically be part of game play.

    Kids and kids at heart will fall for the charm of this polished and fun (and funny) game, which also features hidden collectibles and Easter eggs.
    — Marc Saltzman, USA Today, 4 Dec. 2022

  25. farming

    performing actions or quests again and again in a game, in order to continue gaining rewards.

    Mechanically, this serves as a way to nerf the Straw Hats and encourage farming XP in a battle to recover their abilities.
    — Isaiah Colbert, Kotaku, 18 Jan. 2023

  26. final boss

    the last, and usually most difficult to defeat, opponent in a game.

    This is the one without Digicel animation, but who cares? It’s got smooth moves, tons of personality, and a final boss that’s better than the Genesis version.
    Game Players Sega Nintendo, 1 Mar. 1994

  27. FPS

    abbreviation of frames per second (the frequency at which images are refreshed on a screen) and first person shooter (a type of game in which the player observes play from the perspective of a person who is shooting at things).

    OptiFine is a mod for Minecraft that helps improve the performance of the game. It can be installed just like any other Minecraft mod, and once installed, it provides players with a range of performance-enhancing options that can help boost the game's FPS (frames per second).
    The Hindustan Times (New Delhi, Ind.), 10 Feb. 2023

     The online gaming frequency varied between countries and was higher in Germany, Finland, and the US, comprising first person shooter (FPS) games, multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).
    — Olatz Lopez-Fernandez et al., Problematic Internet Use among Adults: A Cross-Cultural Study in 15 Countries, in Journal of Clinical Medicine (Basel, Sw.), 2023

  28. gameplay

    the experience, interaction, and reaction a player has while playing a video game.

    It was slightly behind schedule, but the promised gameplay reveal of the upcoming zombie survival game actually happened today, and as a guy who's played a lot of videogames, I can tell you that this definitely looks like one.
    — Andy Chalk, PC Gamer, 2 Feb. 2023

  29. GG

    'good game'; said to an opponent after completion of a game. (Note: there are a number of variations of this, including GG no re (‘good game no rematch’) and GG EZ (‘good game; easy,’ said dismissively to a player one has thrashed).

  30. god mode

    a mode of playing in some games (typically through using some form of cheat code) which confers a temporary invulnerability and omnipotence.

    He spent endless hours on gaming sites looking for cheat codes for his favorite games, Doom and Quake. There’s a thing in gaming known as “god-mode,” where, temporarily, you can play invisibly and even invincibly. But god-mode conjures something more, a way of being outside the game, above the game.
    — Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, 23 Sept. 2019

  31. grind

    to perform repetitive tasks in a game as a means of accumulating supplies, experience, or some other desirable objective.

    The reset means that players who have yet to complete all current content before season 2 begins will lose out on being able to access those unlockables. It will also potentially force players to grind out tedious low-level faction quests all over again.
    — Ethan Gach, Kotaku, 26 Jan. 2023

  32. headshot

    an attack that hits an opponent’s head, and is often fatal. (Note: headshot can be both noun and verb)

    its faster for you to headshot them once than for them to hit you four times
    comment from Valorant server on Discord, 13 Feb. 2023

  33. HF

    ‘have fun’; often said just prior to a game.

  34. inventory

    the supplies, weapons, and goods that a player has accumulated in a game.

    Instead of toting around “ol’ reliable” throughout the entirety of the RE4 remake to open wooden boxes, chip away at zombies, and conserve ammo, Leon’s knife will deteriorate over time, but players can have multiple knives in their inventory, which still takes the form of Leon’s iconic attache case.
    — Isaiah Colbert, Kotaku, 1 Feb. 2023

  35. k/d ratio

    kill/death ratio; the ratio between the number of opponents a player has killed in a game, and the number of times they themselves have been killed.

    My valorant tracker K/D ratio is 1.01 lets gooooooo
    —comment from Valorant server on Discord
    , 11 Feb. 2023

  36. lag

    the unintentional delay between when a player acts (as by using a controller) and when the actions occur in the game.

    The Amstrad version of Saboteur II runs at a slower speed and uses a benefits from having alternate colours, but the game’s lag does cause issues with flying kicks.
    Retro Gamer, 1 Sept. 2017

  37. MMO

    abbreviation of massively multiplayer online game; such platforms may host up to thousands of individual players simultaneously.

    Along with World Of Warcraft, The Elder Scrolls Online – or ESO to its thousands of fans – is one of the few A-List MMO titles that still supports the Mac (sadly, we lost Guild Wars 2 a couple of years ago…)
    — Joseph Cliff, Macworld, 2 Feb. 2023

  38. MMORPG

    abbreviation of massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

    The year is 2134. The setting is Liberty City. A massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) serves as a source of distraction and side gig income for the dispossessed and marginalized. A handful of non-player characters (NPCs) – known as SecOps – are heroes in-game and on the real-life battlefield in their physical, proprietary iterations.
    — Davod Moscrop, The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Can.), 28 Jan. 2023

  39. mob

    a hostile NPC (non-player character), one that attacks players in a game.

    Imagine crying about leveling up 10 times in 2 hours when a freaking oldschool MMORPG player is here... Grinding 2 weeks for 1 single level, killing the same mobs 8 hours a day is the real grind. So don't complain about some quick 10 levels in 2 hours
    — (comment on Apex Legends Discord channel), 27 Jan. 2023

  40. nerf

    an adjustment, often by a game’s developer, to make a player, a weapon, or an attribute, less effective. (Note: nerf can be both verb and noun)

    I understand why my main got nerfed, but the pain is real … In short: Riot is about to implement a big nerf on the Valorant agent Chamber.
    — Imogen Mellor, PC Gamer, 2 Aug. 2022

  41. noob

    a person who has recently started a particular activity; one who is inexperienced.

    I always feel really bad for killing noobs
    — (title of thread) Reddit.com, 14 Jul. 2021

  42. NPC

    abbreviation for ‘non-player character,’ a character in a game whose actions are dictated by the game.

    The first ever The Sims was released in 2000 for PCs and became a massive hit for EA. In the game, players create virtual people called Sims and control them as they go about their lives in a neighborhood full of AI non-player characters (NPCs).
    — Shannon O’Connor, The Daily Beast, 2 Feb. 2023

  43. OP

    over powered; used to refer to either players or weapons that are sufficiently powerful to be considered unfair to other players.

    whatever is op in wz2 is also op in wzm
    — (comment in Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile Discord channel), 26 Jan. 2023

  44. POV

    abbreviation for point of view.

    Most of the POV characters in The Last of Us have no expectations of their lives, let alone a sense of purpose; Joel’s patronage of Ellie’s mission doesn’t make him more optimistic.
    — Ana Yorke, PopMatters, 31 Jan. 2023

  45. PVE & PVP

    abbreviations for player versus environment and player versus player; modes of gameplay in which a player contends with either a computer-generated environment or against other players.

  46. QTE

    abbreviation for quick time event, a scenario within a game in which a player is forced to respond (quickly!) to a series of prompts in order to avoid harm.

    While my knowledge about Lord of Arcana is limited, I was still surprised to find out that the game will be so reliant on God of War-style QTEs during the boss fights.
    — Phil Kollar, Game Informer, 21 Dec. 2010

  47. quest

    a specific objective or enterprise a player must achieve within a game.

    Tysm I finally completed the stupid desert quests and can finally collect the dendroculuses now
    — (comment on Genshin Impact channel on Discord), 29 Nov. 2022

  48. ragequit

    to quit a game in frustration over its difficulty level.

    Sadly, the game has an infamous mission -- Doppelganger -- that forces you to endure all of the most obdurate cliches of stealth games. Like crawling, on hands-and-knees, behind a guard as they wander about on their patrol and timing your moves to perfection. It's the sort of challenge that I despise, especially since it's so inflexible, so I ragequit the game and never played again.
    — Daniel Cooper, Engadget, 31 Mar. 2019

  49. respawn

    similar to spawn (see below), but refers to a player or character coming back to life after having been killed.

    I have recently started playing Java edition again and I've noticed after I kill animals in an area it becomes barren and the mobs dont respawn. Also after clearing out the Nether Fortress nothing is respawning except the blazes from their spawners. Does anyone know why this is happening?
    — comment from minecraftforum.net, 28 Jul. 2019

  50. RPG

    role-playing game; an RPG is populated by players who inhabit specific characters, and often (although not always) will have a story-based format.

    Hogwarts Legary is the upcoming gaming under the Harry Potter franchise. It's an open-world RPG game based on the Harry Potter universe by the developer Avalanche Software.
    The Times of India (New Delhi, Ind.), 7 Feb. 2023

  51. sandbox

    a style of game in which players are allowed considerable freedom to create and fashion the world in which the game is set; some sandbox games may not have a plot or objectives for a player to fulfill.

    If you're a Minecraft fan looking for new worlds in which to gather resources and build complex structures, these are the best sandbox creation games to scratch your voxel art itch.
    PC Mag, 8 Jul. 2020

  52. side quest

    a separate (often shorter) option to play through in a game, one that is independent of the main quest in a game.

    Archon quest is the main quest in which you progress through nations, and story quests are just side quests that also let you try characters
    — (comment on Genshin Impact Discord channel), 11 Feb. 2023

  53. skin

    something that changes the appearance of a player, or that changes the appearance of some possession (such as clothing or weapons), but which typically has no effect on the player’s abilities.

    While there are character and weapon skins you can buy in the store, you can get the Mokoko Witcher skin for free.
    — Sean Martin, PC Gamer, 18 Jan. 2023

  54. spawn

    the act of a character in a video game coming into existence at the beginning of a new episode of the game.

    Instead of parachuting to a point of their choosing, players spawn at random points around the map at the start of each round.
    — Mike Hume, The Washington Post, 25 Nov. 2022

  55. speedrun

    playing a complete game, or portion of a game, as fast as possible. (Note: Speedrun functions both as a verb and as a noun. Speedrunning also refers to an instance of playing a game as fast as possible and one who does this is called a speedrunner.)

    Ever wanted a nice documentary to just sit you down and introduce you to the world of speedrunning? Well, wish fulfilled, because Running With Speed has just released, a documentary that dives into story of what speedrunning is, who speedrunners are, and how their culture has developed. It follows some notable and famous speedrunners, telling their stories both past and present.
    — Jonathan Bolding, PC Gamer, 8 Jan. 2023

  56. survival mode

    in many games, a mode of playing in which players must contend against a series of increasingly difficult challenges.

    Inspired by the battles you encounter in survival mode in this players discover exciting biomes in this Minecraft Builders & Biomes board game by Ravensburger.
    — Janelle Randazza, USA Today, 30 Nov. 2022

  57. tank

    the player on a team who absorbs most of the attacks from enemy combatants

    A group may, for example, involve a tank, as a character who absorbs enemy blows and protects other members of the team; a healer, as a character responsible for keeping up the health of the party; characters which inflict damage (often referred to as DPS, meaning Damage Per Second); and those who temporarily control the mobs and make them lose control of actions and abilities (Crowd Control, or CC, characters).
    — Mirko Suznjevic et al., Multimedia Tools and Applications, Oct. 2009

  58. unlock

    gaining certain tools, abilities, or access to new levels of gameplay by completing a task or portion of a game.

    He advanced to the second stage facing off with Kid (Kevin Durst). The first battle was a steal for Chux. Having acquired the dexterity to manoeuvre the character Akira effortlessly to unlock certain features, he gained quick points from punishing and inflicting damage on Kid's Karin (his frequently used character).
    This Day (Lagos, Ni.), 9 Feb. 2023

  59. walkthrough

    a guide, often in video form, showing players how to play a particular game.

     For more wellknown titles, I might get an hours-long walkthrough of the full game, executed perfectly, ready to be watched like a movie.
    — Ming Wong, The Globe and Mail, 31 Dec. 2022