2005 | 2012
While playing computer games, gamers are usually very busy with pressing buttons on their mouse and keyboard to move their game character, to fight and perform various other actions. As online games require people to play together and therefore communicate, this communication has to be as succinct as possible without drawing too many resources away from playing towards typing. At the same time, games often use language terms that are not found in everyday life. A specialist language of abbreviations and unique jargon has developed.
Additionally to the general gamer language, every online game and game genre has its own sub-culture of terms that are used to describe things that are unique for that particular game. This frequently includes lots of abbrevations for game-specific items, places and other.
A lot has changed since the How to Speak Gamer Entry of 2005. This Entry is an update and should show how the language of gamers developed during the last seven years. It also is a little dictionary for all those who feel lost in a game and have no idea what everyone else is talking about.
1337spk, txtspk and General Internet Slang
Leetspeak is a way of writing that uses numbers and symbols instead of, and in addition to, usual letters with the intention being that this makes typing faster and more efficient. The symbols and numbers always stand for the letters that they look similar to. A 3, for instance, would be an E while 4 represents an A. This way of talking is not as widely used in games as it once was and excessive ltspk is uncommon and often meant ironically.
Txtspk, or textspeak, looks similar to leetspeak at first glance because it also uses numbers along with letters, but unlike in ltspk these are used phonetically. 1 stays 'one' but can be used to replace letters in a word, for instance no1 (no one) or any1 (anyone). 4 on the other hand can be used in b4 (before), which shows that letters are also often used to represent their 'sound' when spelling a word. This way of writing is still widely used in many places, not only in games. As opposed to ltspk, txtsp really does shorten the time spent typing.
Here are some terms that are generally used:
bb: bye bye
cu or cya: see you
l8r: later (often meaning 'see you later')
n8: night (good night)
Additionally a lot of acronyms and abbreviations are used, which can maybe be considered to be a different type of txtspk, but mostly without the phonetic character.
afk: away from keyboard
atm: at the moment
bk: back (indicating that you are not afk anymore)
btw: by the way
gl: good luck
hf: have fun
lol: laugh out loud
nm: never mind
nn: night, night (good night)
np: no problem
omg: oh my god
rofl: rolling over floor laughing
ty: thank you
yw: you're welcome
Types of Games
The following terms describe particular types of games.
FPS: First Person Shooter; a game where the player sees everything from the perspective of their character
MMO: Massively Multiplayer Online Game; a game which is played with lots of other players online as opposed to just a group of friends
MMORPG : Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game; adds the aspect of role playing to an MMO, meaning that players experience the story of their character
mod: Modification; a modification of a game that has been made not by the company that created the game, but by players, resulting in the game having a different look, and adding various things with the original code of the game as foundation
RPG: Role-Playing Game; an offline game where the player takes on the personality of a character and experiences their story, influencing it with their decisions
RTS: Real Time Strategy; is usually offline but with an online multiplayer option, every player controls an army of different troop types and fights against the armies of the other players – or the computer
Describing the World the Players Live in
There are plenty of game-specific terms; this section tries to give you an overview of the common universal gaming terms. As noted above, every single game has its own additional vocabulary. Terms used in games often resemble ordinary words, but give them a different meaning. Others are only found in game environments but are necessary to define relevant things.
This first part of actual gamer talk will have a look at the 'worlds' that players encounter.
dungeon: usually indoor area that leads the player on a given path further and further inside with more and more difficult enemies and a boss (see below) waiting at the end - sometimes also side bosses in between
instance: an area that is created as a private playfield for only one team or other set number of players with reset monsters and NPCs. If another group of players enters the same area they get a different instance
playfield: see zone
raid: an instance with powerful boss monster at the end that is conquered by a large group of players or name for the group itself
realm: a name that some games use for their servers
server: often one server is not enough to handle the number of players who play a game, therefore they have to play on different servers; all servers usually have names
zone: as the game cannot handle the creation of the whole world at once in your computer, games are divided into different zones and this way, the game world is broken into manageable pieces
Of course a game world is not an empty place – lots of creatures live in it and they need to be named too.
AI: artificial intelligence; the bits of the game program that control how NPCs (see below) and monsters behave
boss: a boss is an enemy that usually waits at the end of a task, it's harder to kill than usual enemies and gives better rewards for killing
mob: (mobile object block) a monster or NPC, not a player character (see PC below)
NPC: non player character; a character (not monster but human, alien, elf, dwarf or similar) that is controlled by the AI of the game and not by a player
PC: Player Character; a game character that is completely controled by a player
side boss: not the boss of a whole area but a tough enemy that waits on the way to the boss and gives better reward than usual enemies
toon: see PC
Describing Game Mechanics
The biggest part of special gamer terms are to do with defining how a game actually works. Although every game tries to simulate either reality or at least a more or less familiar fantasy world, the game is a simplified version of this, if you look at its mechanics. All the things that explain to a player what is going on around them have special names.
adds: additional enemies that appear in a fight
aggro: aggressive, the state of an enemy when it is in attack mode
aoe: area of effect, an aoe is for instance a skill that affects a certain area and not for instance a single character or NPC
balancing: the balancing of a game should make sure that all players have the same chances in competing against each other
content: all things there are to do in a game
cooldown(cd): the time until an action or spell can be used again after using it
damage (dmg): what a player does with their weapon or with skills, reduces the hitpoints (see below) of the opponent
dps: damage per second; a purely statistical number to show off with
drop: see loot
energy: a resource that is usually needed for using skills
experience (xp): players gain a certain amount of experience for things they do in the game
gui: graphical user interface (see UI)
hatelist: an imagined list that rates every action that a player does to an enemy; if more than one person hits an enemy, this one will attack the person with the highest score on the hatelist - who is hopefully the tank (see below)
hitpoints (hp): also simply called 'health'; every being in the game has a certain amount of it and every hit with a weapon or attack skill takes a certain amount of it away
level(lvl): a new level is reached after gaining a certain amount of experience, the level indicates the power of a character
loot: items and in-game currency that is acquired from a mob after its death
loot table: all possible items that a mob can drop after its death
massdrop: a worthless item that is looted all the time
mana: name for Energy in some fantasy games
melee combat: close combat, everything done with 'melee weapons' like swords, axes and hammers; the opposite of ranged combat
mission: sometimes the same as a quest
nerf: a change in the game that makes a certain aspect weaker to ensure balancing (see above)
off: offense; everything that has to do with attacking
OP: over powered; an item, skill or enemy that is too strong
PvE/PvM: Player versus Environment/Monster; everything that is not PvP
PvP: Player versus Player; fighting against other players, some games have special playfields where this is possible, other allow it everywhere or have servers where it is possible everywhere
quest: a task that the player has to do to get a reward
quest chain: a series of quests that belong together, often with a great reward if finished completely and smaller rewards for each step
quest log: a list of quests that the player has accepted to do
ranged combat: combat that is done while keeping a certain distance between the player and the enemy, done for instance with bows, pistols, rifles or magical attacks; opposite of melee combat
respawn: if a monster returns some minutes (or sometimes hours) after it has been killed to give other players the chance to kill it again
spawn: the materialisation of something
UI: User Interface; this is often customisable and has a map, quest log, chat, counters for HP and Energy, buttons for activating actions and more
Describing What You Do
to assist: several players 'assist' the 'caller' (person who calls which target is attacked next) by hitting the same enemy instead of spreading their damage around various enemies
to camp: to wait at one place for the respawn of a mob over and over again, often to acquire a certain object from the loot
to cast: to activate a skill
casting time: the time it takes from pressing the button to activate an action until actually gets activated, this time is often filled with hand movements of the character and sparkles
to equip: to put on a piece of armor, take a weapon or anything of this kind in your hand; once this is done the item is 'equipped'
to farm: collecting specific items by killing and looting certain types of mobs; a bit like camping but less static
to gank: to kill somebody without much effort, without giving the other a chance (mostly used in PvP)
grind: doing the same boring gameplay over and over again without a different option
to heal: recharging the hitpoints of oneself or other players, often done by healer classes
to kite: killing mobs by running away from them (probably in circles) and hitting them with nukes at the same time
to leech: let others do the work but get reward
to level: doing things to get experience and earn a higher level
to loot: take money and items from a dead opponent
ott: over the top
to outdamage: doing more damage than somebody else, maybe to this way get loot from a mob
to pull: the art of getting a certain number or type of enemies out of a crowd to kill them in a distance, without being overrun by the whole group
to rezz: resurrect; to get a killed player or NPC back to life
to roll an item: the act of rolling is used (often automatically) to decide who will get a valuable item in the game, it basically is the rolling of virtual dice, with the most lucky player getting the item
to rp: to roleplay; pretending to really be that warrior on the screen
to be in sneak: to be invisible for others
to team up: the action of forming a team with other players
to train: running away from a whole bunch of monsters who all follow you, risking that other players who stand in the way are killed (the whole group therefore is a train)
to wipe: the unfortunate event in which a whole group of people dies while trying to do something together
to zone: going from one zone to another, which usually requires a (hopefully) short loading time
Describing Yourself and Others
When players meet each other, they do not only talk about what they do, but also about what they are and what they think of others. Many of the words that describe what people do are also used as nouns to describe the people themselves and vice versa. Someone who ganks others for instance is therefore a ganker. Not all of these words are repeated in this section.
alt: an alternative game character of a player, meaning any character but his main (see below)
dd: damage dealer, someone whose main purpose at the time is to inflict as much damage as possible
gamemaster (GM): an employee of the company which provides the game, who helps players with solving problems
gimp: person who plays badly and/or has bad equipment
group: other name for team (see below)
guild: in many games the name for a larger group of players that play together over a longer time, forming an official group
leecher: somebody who leeches or is accused of doing so
main (character): the 'main' character of a player usually has the highest level (preferably the maximum level of a game), the best equipment and and the player is most skilled in playing this character
mule: a character that is only created to store items which have no available space in the storage of other characters; 'to mule' is the act of putting items from one character to another
ninjalooter: somebody who steals other people's loot
noob: somebody who is new to a game or plays as if they are
party: other name for team (see below)
tank: a player whose job in the game is to keep the attention of a mob so it does not attack other players; what this player then does is called 'tanking'
team: a certain number of players that temporarily play together for a certain goal; members of the same team can usually see each other's HP and energy, which makes playing easier
twink: a character of a player that does not have priority standard but is often made to serve a certain purpose and 'twinked' to fulfill it
uber: super, very good, better than anything else
Skills are all the things that a player can actively do in a game apart from just running and jumping. Skills can be magic spells, heals, transformations to animals, the ability to throw a grenade, shoot a small rocket from a wrist-mounted missile launcher or summon a demon who helps in a fight. A skill is not just a skill. Everything can be categorised by effect, so even if a gamer is new to a game and does not know the game-specific terms for every action, others can explain to them in only a word what a skill does.
buff: a skill that has a positive effect over a certain amount of time, for instance a shield that keeps off damage or buffs that increase your chances of hitting a target
blind: makes the target unable to see for a certain time
calm: keeps the target from attacking if it is not attacked first
charm: makes the target fight for the caster
debuff: has negative effects on the target, opposite to a buff
dot: damage over time, something that takes little portions of hitpoints from a target over a certain time instead of one big chunk
drain: a skill that weakens the enemy while at the same time boosting the player by the same amount
hot: heal over time, the reverse of a dot, something that gives little portions of hitpoints over a certain time
nuke: a powerful spell that does lots of damage
root: makes the target unable to run
snare: makes the target completely unable to move
taunt: makes the target angry so it attacks the caster (person who has cast the spell)
Describing Technological Aspects
No technology is without fails, so players have to talk about the troubles they experience. This also helps them to justify why they suddenly disappeared in the middle of an important event.
downtime: a time in which no player has access to the game because the company that owns it has important things to do
fps: frames per second; a great concern for many players that defines how many pictures per second they see; too low a frame rate means that the game seems to flicker
lag: problems with the response time of the game, causing belated reaction and a feeling of 'stickyness' which can result in falling off high places or suddenly standing in the middle of a group of enemies
linkdead (ld): the loss of connection to the server
patch: an update of the game that has to be downloaded before a player can go on playing; this update can either fix bugs or bring new content
to be stuck: a character who is caught in a piece of terrain that is badly constructed by the game designers, and so can't get out, is 'stuck'
While most of the above-mentioned terms are used in longer conversations, there are also very short interactions between players that don't require much talk. These usually happen in meeting places in the game, between players who don't know each other. By and large they have to do with in-game economy or at least finding somebody who can lend a helping hand.
ffa: free for all; to indicate that anybody can take part in an activity
lf: looking for
lfm: looking for members; a team is looking for more people, often the number of people needed is added, for example: lf2m
lft / lfg: looking for team / group, a player searches for others so they can do something together
gj/gg: good job / good game; a way to congratulate oneself and others after a difficult task has been done
mc: mixed chat; this player has posted to the wrong chat and is therefore slightly embarrassed and apologises
ninjainvite: an invitation to a team or a guild that comes without warning and without ever having spoken to the person who sent it
omw: on my way
wtb: want to buy, this player wants to buy an item for in-game currency
wts: want to sell, this player wants to sell an item
wtt: want to trade, this player wants to trade one item against another
Typical chats in towns are not more than 'lf tank, dd for raid' or 'wtb high lvl sword'. Although these are not even full sentences everything important is said. People who want to know more will get in contact, often in a private chat.
In cases where words are not enough gamers may even rely solely on punctuation.
???: mostly something like 'are you serious?' or 'what's going on here?'
...: words are not enough to express this feeling
!!!: something stronger than both of the above
In a Conversation
Now that you know the most common gaming terms, it is time to have a look at what a conversation could look like.
Player1: Hi m8
Player1: watcha doing?
Player2: camping a boss, searching some armor
Player2: just massdrop so far
Player1: whole raid just wiped because the tank got stuck in a rock and people didn't assist
Player1: healer was pretty bad too, reached the end but then the boss spawned some adds..
Player1: ganking some noobs now
Player1: gl with farming
If you have paid attention, you should know that the following has happened: while Player2 has a relaxing but probably boring time hitting an enemy again and again in the hope that the reward will be a special piece of armor, Player1 had a more exciting time. Together with, probably, a large group of people, Player1 went to defeat a powerful enemy and its helpers, fighting their way through a special area of the game. On their way the person who was intended attract the enemies got caught in a badly-designed piece of terrain and could not move at all, anywhere, for a while. This would of course mean that other people then got attacked and probably died. Additionally, Player1 complains that people did not play well together and that the person who was responsible for keeping everyone alive was not a good player either - which is a rather traditional complaint. Player1 and their companions then reached the end of their journey, where the most powerful enemy was waiting. This enemy killed the whole group when it summoned other enemies from nowhere. Because all this took quite a fair bit of time and brought no rewards in the end, Player1 is angry. He retaliates by killing people who he describes as bad players.
(some time passes)
Player2: ****ing ninjalooter!
Player2: that noob guild again
Player1: leecher guild
Player1: call a gm
Player1: got to lvl my alt, wanna come tank with your main while you wait for the gm?
Player2: sure, logging
Player1: thx m8
What happened now? Player2 was still trying to get this piece of armor. He once again killed the enemy but before he could press the button to see what he could get from the corpse somebody else came and quickly took it before him. Player1 is shocked; he and Player2 obviously know and dislike the group of people this person belongs to. Player1 advises Player2 to call one of the staff of the game company to get the item that is rightfully his and hope for punishment for the one who stole it. As he knows it can take a while until a member of staff arrives, he asks Player2 if he would be so kind as to help with the progression of one of his in-game personas by protecting him from being hit. Player2 agrees, he will log out of the game with his current character and log in on his main character shortly.
You are now able to understand most gaming talk, as it is used in 2012.
gl and hf m8!