Over time gamers have developed a language of their own. As a new player it can be quite difficult to get into the online gaming scene, with the wealth of abbreviations and made-up words being thrown all over the place. There are even distinct languages for each genre – and usually a wealth of abbreviations unique to a game – as well, which only further complicates things. Not only for newbies, but also for more experienced gamers trying their hands at unfamiliar genres.
Gamers themselves aren’t particularly helpful in explaining all of these quirky little gamer terms either. And you’re generally considered a low-quality gamer until you know the language to talk. So what do you do? You scroll down and read through my extensive dissection of the online gamer’s lingo!
Of course there are far too many different terms used by online gamers for me to ever try and cover them all. Instead you’ll receive a general overview of popular gamer lingo, paired with the most common terms in the three most popular genres of online games. Required reading for noobs!
These are the very basics of words you need to know if you’re to communicate with gamers at all. They’re used by all online gamers and players of every genre. If you don’t know what these words mean, then shape up or pay the price! Few players will bother with a noob who can barely speak ‘gamer’.
- 1337 – Pronounced leet. This is a reference to a specific style of typing which originated from hacker culture and has been picked up by annoying little gaming kiddies all over the planet. Basically it’s the ‘art’ of replacing words with unusual signs and numbers, such as replacing a with 4, e with 3 and 7 with t.
- binds – Your binds are the key mappings you use in games. It can refer to both your controls (for movement, firing, weapon switching, etc.) and the art of mapping actual commands to specific commands, which is generally done by use of configs.
- config – Not an actual gamer word, but common (and unknown) enough to warrant a mention. Config files are your configuration files which determine settings for a specific game. Particularly important in modern games for improving visual quality, changing advanced settings or binding keys.
- clan – Used in reference to a group of players who frequently play together under a common name. Most clans engage in organised competitions against one another.
- dl – Acronym for download.
- eSports – Refers to competitive gaming, usually for prizes or money.
- fps – Acronym for Frames Per Second. Determines your game performance, more frames per second (also known as a higher framerate) is better. Can be measured with in-game commands or 3rd party tools such as FRAPS.
- FPS – Acronym for First Person Shooter. A genre of games in which you gun down opponents in first person (in-character) view.
- gg – Short for Good Game. Commonly used as a courtesy after games, particularly in competitive matches.
- gl – Short for Good Luck. It’s considered to be good sportsmanship to say this prior to a competitive match. (between teams or 1v1)
- guild – Another word for clan, generally used in online role-playing games.
- hax – Refers to hacks, which are cheats people use to gain an unfair advantage in online games. Range from utilities such as aimbots (automated aiming) to wallhacks. (see through walls)
- hf – Short for Have Fun. It’s considered to be good sportsmanship to say this prior to a competitive match. (between teams or 1v1)
- hp – Short for Health Points.
- idd – Short for Indeed.
- lag – Refers to game delays (poor perfromance of sorts) due to a poor internet connection. When you’re experiencing lag it means you have high latency, which is the amount of milliseconds delay you experience during online play. Latency is also known as ping.
- lol – Acronym for Laughing Out Loud. Indicates that something is funny.
- lmao – Acronym for Laughing My Ass Off. Same as above.
- MMOG – Massively Multiplayer Online Game. A genre of games in which you play online with thousands of other players.
- mod – Short for modification. Used to refer to user-made additions to games. Some mods have turned into full-fledged retail games, such as Counter Strike.
- mp – Short for multiplayer. The online or over-LAN component of a game.
- newbie – Refers to unexperienced players.
- noob – A derogatory term used for obnoxious players, but occassionally also used as an alternative to newbie.
- oc – Short for overclocking. The art of tuning your hardware to perform better, which generally voids your warranty. Most gamers don’t engage in this practice.
- omg – Oh My God.
- owning – Used to declare victory. When someone says “I own you” then they’re declaring their superiority.
- pl – Short for Packet Loss. This refers to the phenomenon of losing packets due to a poor connection to the server. When you lose packets you will start teleporting between where you should be and where the server thinks you are. If you experience this then you might as well leave the server.
- pwning – Same as owning, but misspelled. (Gamers like misspelled words)
- rofl - Rolling Over the Floor Laughing.
- RPG - Role-Playing Game. A genre of games in which you take over the role of a specific character and develop it as the game progresses.
- RTFM – Read The Fucking Manual.
- RTS – Real-Time Strategy. A genre of games in which you assume the role of commander for an army and wage war, in real-time.
- sp – Single Player. The offline component of a game.
- strat – Strategy. Your strategy for defeating opponents online, the pre-planned component of your game – if you have any.
- tacs – Tactics. Your tactics for defeating opponents online. The in-the-heat-of-the-moment decisions you make that determine the outcome of battles.
- TBS – Turn-Based Strategy. A genre of games in which you assume the role of commander for an army and wage war, but pause to take turns (like Chess).
- ts – TeamSpeak. A popular program used to talk with fellow gamers over the internet by use of microphones.
- vent – Ventrilo. A similar – albeit superior – program that isn’t quite as often used.
- tweaking – Refers to the act of altering game files or settings. This can range from altering mere menu settings to editing your config files.
- ul - Unlucky.
- WTF – What The Fuck.
- zerg – Masses of players destroying a single person or target, the mass of players itself, or a mass of units taking on a much smaller force.
First Person Shooters
The First Person Shooter scene is commonly considered to be the most competitive environment of all online gaming scenes. So it should come as no surprise that it is especially these gamers who have developed a lingo of their own.
- @mp3 – When a player features this line of text in their name it means they are listening to background music and as such cannot hear in-game sounds very well. It’s usually used as a means of saying ’I'm not playing at my best’ indirectly.
- camping – A term used in reference to players who are setting up camp on a specific location of the map and don’t bother leaving that position, ever. Doing this will make you unpopular, very quickly.
- CTF – Capture the Flag is a popular game mode present in most FPS games. In this game mode each team has a flag and tries to take the other teams flags back to their base to score a point by having it touch their home flag.
- demo – Refers to the recording of a match. These recording are used by players to analyze their own mistakes in a game or to learn from superior players.
- (T)DM – (Team) DeathMatch is a popular game mode present in most FPS games. In DeathMatch players attempt to score the most point by killing more people than anyone else in the server.
- fc – Acronym for Flag Carrier, which refers to a person carrying the flag in the Capture the Flag game mode that is common in FPS games.
- fov – Acronym for Field Of View, which is a commonly altered setting amongst experienced players. Higher fov settings warp your view to be narrower, whereas lower fov settings give you better overview by widening your view.
- gibbing – A term used in reference to making certain someone cannot be revived by pumping their remains full of lead. This is only used in FPS games where people can actually be revived by other players.
- gibs - A term used in reference to gore present after killing someone (flying body parts).
- hitscan – Refers to a specific type of aiming with weaponry that has no delay. This means said weapon is not projectile-based, but impacts instantly upon it’s target, such as most sniper rifles in FPS games.
- hs – Headshot.
- nade – Grenade.
- ns - Nice Shot.
- pcw – Short for Practice Clan War. Refers to a match played between two clans that does not count for any competitions, but is solely intended for practice purposes.
- prediction – Used to refer to a specific type of aiming with weaponry that fires slow-moving projectiles. In some cases these projectiles will bounce of walls or feature a curving fire arc. These weapons require an unusual amount of prediction (of both enemy movement and projectile paths) to use to maximum effect – and include such weapons as Rocket Launchers and Grenade Launchers.
- sens – Sensitivity. Refers to your mouse sensitivity settings.
- spam – A term used in reference to continuous fire without really aiming at any specific target.
- spray and pray – Another means of referring to spam which is specific to weapons that are easily used to spray bullets in quick succession, such as machine guns.
- spree – A term used in reference to several kills in a row, originally started by the Unreal Tournament games which featured announcers who would vocally alert one of these sprees, but it has spread to just about every other shooter since then.
- TK - Acronym for Team Kill, which refers to the act of killing someone on your own team.
- tracking – Refers to a specific type of aiming with weaponry that tends to spew out projectiles at a high rate of fire. When utilizing this type of aiming one tracks their target, unlike hitscan which merely requires one to point for a short instant in the right direction.
(Massively Multiplayer) Online Role-Playing Games
Online Role-Playing Games have become quite popular in recent years, with such landmark titles as Lineage and World of Warcraft. These games are highly dependent on social play, much more so than the other genres. So it should come as no surprise that this genre too has evolved it’s very own form of gaming lingo.
- aggro – Refers to situations in which a computer-controlled monster is drawn to attack you. So when a monster moves in to attack you after you move too close, that’s when you’ve aggroed said monster.
- ah – Auction House. A fairly common shop or NPC in online role-playing games that allows for hassle-free trading of items through an in-game interface.
- dd – An acronym for Damage Dealer. Refers to a player who can deal a lot of damage in a short amount of time. This is usually reserved for magic-based or attack-focused melee classes.
- farming – Refers to the act of continuously killing the same monsters in a certain area to amass wealth and items but not experience (which would be called grinding).
- ganking – Refers to the act of killing people in a cruel manner (e.g.: when they’re in combat with a monster) and continuing to do so over and over again as they find their way back to life.
- gold farmer – Refers to people who grind through areas in order to amass gold and items of value for a company who sells these for real money.
- grind – Refers to repeating the same action over and over again in order to advance your character, but not necessarily it’s wealth. This is a common feature in Asian games, which is usually shunned by Western gamers.
- gvg – Acronym for Guild Versus Guild, which refers to combat between two or more guilds.
- ks – Acronym for Kill Stealing. Refers to the act of landing the final blow on monsters other players are fighting to claim the loot or experience. This has become largely useless in more recent games.
- leeroy – A reference to an extremely popular World of Warcraft player video, which is used when someone pulls a massive amount of computer-controlled monsters on people. It’s also used in other, more random, circumstances as an insane battle-cry of sorts.
- lfg – Looking For Group.
- mp – Mana Points. Your magic pool.
- ninja – A term used in reference to players who steal loot in raids, out of guild storages, or by other means.
- NPC – Acronym for Non-Player Character, which is a character that is controlled by the computer – not a player.
- party – Refers to a group of players who have joined up to explore or kill stuff together.
- PC - Acronym for Player Character, which is a character that is controlled by a human being.
- pk - Short for Player Kill. Refers to killing another player on purpose. Therefore a PKer is someone who kills, usually random, people for fun.
- pulling – The act of trying to single out a monster by attracting it using long-ranged attacks. This is very important in most games, where you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by enemy numbers otherwise.
- p2p – Pay to Play. Refers to the monthly fees required to play most MMORPGs. A game that is p2p requires players to pay monthly fees, whereas a game that is not p2p does not require a monthly fee. (Note: depending on the context this can also mean Peer-to-Peer which is a means of connecting to other users via an internet connection)
- pug – Acronym for Pickup Group. Refers to a random group of players teaming up. In many MMORPGs this is considered to be an inefficient method of grouping, because arranged teams between friends and/or guild members tend to be more experienced and effective.
- pve – Player vs Environment. Refers to combat between players and computer-controller opponents.
- pvm – Player vs Monsters. Another name for pve.
- pvp – Player vs Player. Refers to combat between players.
- raid - Refers to a massive group of players who have teamed up beyond the capacity of a mere adventuring party. It can also refer to a specific encounter which requires an ungodly amount of people to overcome.
- rmt – Short for Real Money Trading/Trader. Refers to trading in-game characters, items and/or gold for real money.
- rp – Acronym for Role-Playing. This refers to actually playing the role of your character in a manner as though you were the character itself. Most RPG players do not engage in role-playing.
- tank - Refers to a player who is in the damage-taking role. These players try to keep the attention of monsters while other members in their party kill them.
- xp – Experience Points. Usually required to advance your character.
Real-Time Strategy Games
Much like the previously mentioned genres, Real-Time Strategy gamers know their fair share of gaming lingo as well. This scene is slightly different, because the amount of lingo is much more game-specific and less generic, which means the following list is comparatively short:
- apm - Acronym for Actions Per Minute. Commonly used to grade a player’s capability, although it’s far from an accurate means of judging skill in RTS games. In general the top players in micro-intensive games do have very high apm rates (think in the region of 200).
- bo - Short for Build Order. Refers to a pre-game plan for the order in which you’ll be creating buildings and ordering units. Most good players have several build orders they can use.
- creeping - Refers to the act of improving ones units by taking out computer-controlled opponents scattered about the map.
- expansion - A reference to a new small base build elsewhere on the map to increase resource gains or military control over an area.
- harassing - Refers to the act of disrupting the opponent’s play by taking small amounts of units in to attack their supply lines and/or damage their base.
- micro - Refers to the act of swiftly commanding all your forces at all times. This can be both the effective management of individual units during battle, as well as effectively swapping between base command and battle micro. It’s also frequently used to refer to a player’s speed with the mouse and keyboard binds.
- macro - Refers to the overall game plan, including economy. Think of it as large-scale whereas micro is small-scale. Supreme Commander is a macro-reliant strategy game.
- replay - Refers to the recording of a game. Replays are often used by players to learn new strategies from other, more experienced, players – or to analyze their own mistakes in a game.
- rush - A term used in reference to attacks very early in the game to try and kill the opponent before the game has even begun.
- teching - Refers to the act of building up only minor forces in the beginning, while researching lots of new technologies in order to advance quickly and produce superior units.
- turtle - A term used in reference to overly defensive play, with players staying nearly exclusively in their own base building up forces until they feel the time is right. Usually involves insane amounts of defensive weapons. Has become decreasingly effective in nearly all recent strategy games.
Hopefully this post has shed some light on the gamer lingo as it is used today. If you’re new to online gaming, then this should’ve helped you off to a good start to understanding the crazy world of online gamers. The rest you should be able to learn as you play.
Most gamers won’t fault you if you don’t know game-specific acronyms, but most of the ones mentioned above are considered common knowledge. You’d do well to know them by heart before engaging in online play.
Also take a peek at GamerDiction for even more translated gamer language.