Skip to main content

Your Guide to Video Game Terms

By May 21, 2018Spotlights6 min read

As high consumers in the video game industry, we are constantly exposed to lingo associated with different games and the terminology in gaming. But we understand that a lot of our audience may not know what we’re talking about a lot of the time. In almost every article we write, or that is written by the dozen other platforms focused on video games, there is always language that’s shortened or made specifically for gamers, and they aren’t used in everyday conversation. The team here at Sooner Esports decided to make that audience a dictionary around the most commonly used terms and phrases in the video game industry.

Aimbot:first-person shooter cheat that lets players shoot other player-characters without aiming.

AAA: Also, triple-A. A high-budget game with a large development team, or game studios that make them.

Action Role-Playing Game (ARPG): A genre of role-playing video game where battle actions are performed in real-time instead of a turn-based mechanic.

Avatar: The player’s representation in the game world.

Beta Release: An early release of a video game, following its alpha release, where the game developer seeks feedback from players and testers to remove bugs prior to the product’s commercial release

Boss: An opponent non-player character in a video game that is typically much more difficult to defeat compared to normal enemies, often at the end of a level or a game.

Campaign Mode: A series of game levels intended to tell a linear story; some campaigns feature multiple ‘paths’, with the player’s actions deciding which path the story will follow and affecting which choices are available to the player at a later point.

Console: A video game hardware unit that typically connects to a video screen and controllers, along with other hardware.

DLC: Downloadable Content (DLC) is additional content created for a released video game. It is distributed through the Internet by the game’s official publisher. Downloadable content can be of several types, ranging from aesthetic outfit changes to a new, extensive storyline, similar to an expansion pack.

Electronic Sports (Esports): Organized competitions around competitive video games, typically using games from the first-person shooter and multiplayer online battle arena genres, and often played for prize money and recognition.

Farming: Repeating a battle, quest, or other parts of a game in order to receive more or duplicates of specific reward items that can be gained through that battle or quest, such as experience points, game money, or specific reward items.

First person shooter: A genre of video games where the player experiences the game from the first person perspective, and where the primary mechanic is the use of guns and other ranged weapons to defeat enemies.

Health: A numerical property showing how much damage a character can take before being incapacitated. Getting hurt lowers this meter and if it reaches zero that character can no longer continue.

Interface: Graphic elements that communicate information to the player and aid interaction with the game, such as health bars, ammo meters, and maps

Inventory: A menu or area of the screen where items collected by the player-character during the game can be selected. This interface allows the player to retrieve single-use items as an instant effect or to equip the player-character with the item.

Japanese role-playing game: Japanese role-playing video game, typically referring to a subgenre of RPGs that originated from Japan.

Lag: The delay between an action and its corresponding result, most commonly in an online environment. This is often the result of delayed network traffic.

Loot Boxes: In video games, a loot box is an in-game purchase or an earned reward consisting of a virtual container that awards players with items and modifications based on chance.

Main: To focus on playing a certain character in a game, sometimes exclusively.

Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO): A game that involves a large community of players co-existing in an online world, in cooperation or competition with one another.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG): An MMO that incorporates traditional role-playing game mechanics.

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA): A genre of real-time strategy games popularized by Defense of the Ancients that pits teams of players to defend their home base from enemy onslaughts.

Multiplayer Video Game: A game that allows multiple players to play at once.

Nerf: A change intended to weaken a particular item, tactic, ability, or character, ostensibly for balancing purposes.

NPC: A computer-controlled character or any character that is not under the player’s direct control.

Open World: A game world that the player may freely traverse, rather than being restricted to certain pre-defined areas. While ‘open world’ and ‘sandbox‘ are sometimes used interchangeably, the terms refer to different concepts and are not synonymous.

Patch: The process by which a developer of a video game creates an update to an already released game with the intention of possibly adding new content, fixing any bugs in the current game, balancing character issues, or updating the game to be compatible with DLC releases.

Permadeath: When a player must restart the game from the beginning when his character dies, instead of from a saved game or save point.

Platformer: A video game genre which involves heavy use of jumping, climbing, and other acrobatic maneuvers to guide the character between suspended platforms and over obstacles in the game environment.

Role-playing game (RPG): An RPG is a game in which the human player takes on the role of a specific character “class” and advances the skills and abilities of that character within the game environment.

Skins: is a graphic used to change the appearance of the user interface for a character.

Skirmish Mode: A game mode in which players can fight immediate battles without having to go through the linear, story-based campaign mode. It is popular in real-time strategy games.

Smurf: In online multiplayer games that use matchmaking, when an experienced player creates a new account to appear inexperienced, so they are matched with relatively new players who they can easily beat.

Walkthrough: A description of the gameplay experience for a level or playthrough.

Wave: In game genres or modes where players are to defend a point or stay alive as long as possible, as enemies are commonly grouped into “waves.”

Of course, there are thousands of other terms that are exclusive to the world of video games, but these are the most common terms you will read in our articles. Feel free to refer back to this list of terms whenever you’re unsure of what we’re talking about.

Bailey Brown

Bailey is an advertising major, nonprofit studies minor in her third year at the University of Oklahoma. She was given her first gaming device at the age of 9 and hasn't put it down since. She enjoys the exploration and puzzle solving of The Legend of Zelda and claims she can "beat anyone" in Mario Kart or Super Smash Brothers. Follow her on Twitter @MissBaileyKay

Leave a Reply