Gamer Lingo

Like any industry and profession, there are unique lingo and acronyms. Each game has different terms, but there are generally a number of common terms that overlap. We’ve compiled a list of gamer lingo and industry terms you should get acquainted with as you grow your Esports fandom.

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Gamer Lingo

 

1337 (leet) – leet speak is a language derived from the gaming world where numbers are used in place of a few letters. Using 1337 as an example: 1 = L, 3 = E, 7 = T which spells out LEET in english. Many gamer handles will incorporate a number in place of a letter, i.e. Fatality = Fatal1ty.

Admin – Someone who oversees forums or game channels or sometimes servers which games are hosted on. Duties include deleting undesirable posts and reprimanding troublesome users, and kicking players who are cheating or being destructive to the game. Can also be used intermittently as “mod”. See Mod(2).

Agro – a military term brought to the gaming world. When an AI (non-player) is attacking you – you have the agro. Usually these pre-programmed opponents are much stronger than you and you don’t have a chance to defeat them.

Aimbot – A cheat (in FPS games) that locks onto a player before shooting, usually with headshots. (Someone with four headshots in five seconds is probably using Aimbot.) If someone is aimbotting they’ve found an exploit in the game and will most likely be reprimanded and banned from the game for doing so.

Avatar – The game character’s model or picture used to represent each player. Simple example: when you played Mario on nintendo, Mario was your Avatar.

Beta – (General software term) Usually the second phase of testing software (not just exclusively games) and last development phase prior to release. Most features have been implemented but some of these may be removed during the beta phase if they turn out to be too problematic to fix.

  • Open beta:
      • The beta version of the software is available for anyone to test and report bugs to the company. Game publishers do this to also promote/market the game at the same time.
  • Closed beta:
    • The software is only available to selected people who may be testing for very specific things.

Betting – Placing individual money, or cryptocurrency, on a competitive match. This could consist of the overall winner of a match, down to the intricate details within a game. Most betting requires you to place bets before the match, but there are some mid-match bets that can be placed.

 

Bots – Artificial Intelligence in a game. They are programmed players who you can compete against in a multiplayer game. Think about the question “are you playing against the computer?” and that’s exactly what you’re doing. Players use bots to practice against, or if the internet is out you can play offline with them.

Bug – Issues or discrepancies in the software which cause unintended effects both good and bad – crashes, unintentionally wrong character advancement, pop-up errors, etc.

Camper – Primarily used in online shooters to refer to people who stand, sit, or lie still rather than roam around the map and try to defeat opponents or complete objectives. Camping is frowned upon and considered a very noobish thing to do.

Clan – Most team-based games have clans, which is just a different term for a “team”. They usually consist of groups of friends or strangers who come together to form a team. Clan matches are when two clans face off against each other.

Exploit – Spots on a map where someone can see through a wall, stand on a light post, or have some other unfair advantage.

Frag – The classic term for killing the opposing enemy. Used mostly in FPS games.

Gank – To be ganked is to have your character killed by unfairly overwhelming odds – e.g. four vs one with all players at the same level or one-on-one but one player is twenty levels above the other. Used predominantly in MOBA’s like League of Legends.

Hacks/haxz/Haxz0r – When someone has exploited the code of the game and created software that will assist the player in a variety of ways. It’s the equivalent of being a cheater.

Kill Ratio – Most online shooters rank players according to their kill ratio. It’s the number of opponents you’ve killed, versus the amount of times you’ve died. You’d be ranked higher for ending a game with 6 kills and 0 deaths than you would for 10 kills and 6 deaths.

Lag – If your ping (or latency) is too high then you may experience lag. This is when your real-life actions take too long to translate to the actions on screen, making a game virtually unplayable. The screen will be delayed in moving and the game will sometimes completely stop if it gets bad enough.

Level Up – Most games have some form of level system. Sometimes you need to spend a lot of time completing objectives before you reach a level where you can face a bigger boss or upgrade your weapons, armour, etc. Leveling up is as simple as going from Level 20 to Level 21, most likely unlocking new gear and making your player stronger.

Maps – The physical locations where a match is held between the two competitors/teams. Each map has a different location, layout, and ambiance, but the objective of the game does not change. Each map will garner different strategies that both the offense and defense will come up with. Some might call maps “levels” which is in essence the same thing. 

Mini-Map – A miniature layout of the current map being played, on a player or spectators screen. The mini-map will usually display where your teammates (and enemies, sometimes) are on the map so you can strategize and have an understanding of positioning.

Mod(1) – Short for ‘modification’, are files created for a game to add functionality or change the behaviour of a game, written by people who don’t work for the game developer. Official developer-released modifications are called patches. E.g. Counter-Strike (the original game) was a modification of an existing game, Half-Life. Valve released a developer kit that engineers could use to create their own game, maps, etc.

Mod(2) – Short for ‘moderator’, which is someone who oversees forums or game channels or sometimes servers which games are hosted on. Duties include deleting undesirable posts and reprimanding troublesome users, and kicking players who are cheating or being destructive to the game. Can also be used intermittently as “admin”.

n00b/newb/nub – Short for newbie (or noobie) and refers to new players who lack skill or are otherwise clueless about the game. If you’re an experienced player and you get called a noob for doing something a new person would do, you would take offense.

Nerf/Nerfed – When a game publisher feels a particular weapon or feature is too powerful and wants to balance the game. The gamer has no control over this and has to just accept the fate of the newly weakened weapon.

No Scope – When you, very quickly, click the “zoom in” button while using a sniper weapon to get a closer scope sight, but you don’t take any time to actually setup and aim. No-scoping is what happens when someone kills you without zooming on a sniper rifle. It’s takes a lot of skill to do this.

Patch – Official updates to a game from the game publisher. Patches are usually released to fix new bugs, or new features that the engineers who work for the publisher have fixed.

Ping – In online gaming your ping is the time (in milliseconds) it takes for information to travel to the server and back. The lower the ping the better. You can usually find your ping, which is also called latency, on your dashboard settings at any given time.

Port – When a publisher wants to use the exact same game on a new platform without customizing it for the platform at all. Example: game companies transfer a game to PC (from a PS4 or Xbox) without acknowledging controls or even quality settings and the quality of the game is terrible for the player. Some ports, when done correctly by the publisher, can work out just fine.

Pwned – A misspelling of “owned,” used to refer to the times when someone has thoroughly dominated the opponent. If you beat another player 16-0 in a match, for instance. Being the recipient of the pwnage is embarrassing and not a desirable position to be in.

Rage Quit – When you exit a game completely because it’s not going your way. Most players will play out the match until it finishes, but if you rage quit you stopped before it finished, usually in a fit of anger. Opponents usually laugh at rage-quitters for being pouty and/or temperamental.

Rush – Zerg rush, rush or rushing, is a strategy where every player of a given team will infiltrate a specific location in an attempt to kill the opposing team by sheer force and numbers. The strategy is basically all hands on deck infiltrate and do whatever you have to do to defeat the opponent.

Scrub – A term for someone who is above a noob, and should be better, but is not at the caliber they should be. Used as a derogatory term to a player.

Skins – Skins are cosmetic adjustments to in-game items or weapons. They hold no gameplay differences other than the way they look. The real value comes from their supply. Some skins are very popular and easy to acquire, while others are few and far between which are deemed more valuable. There is a virtual market that’s created an entirely new economy based on these virtual items.

Spammer – Primarily used in online shooters to refer to people who keep their finger pressed down on the trigger button at all time. Any kills they make are more as a result of luck than skill. Can be considered a “button masher” for those who play console or arcade games.

Spawn/Respawning – All players typically start or “spawn” at the beginning of a round. When a player respawns, they generally do so in an earlier point of the level and get sometimes get some kind of penalty.The term “spawning” is used almost exclusively in games where this happens frequently.


Acronyms

 

AFK – Away From Keyboard. When a player is unresponsive during the middle of the game. This usually makes your team mad because they’re counting on you to take action, and you are potentially delaying the game.

DLC – Downloadable Content. This term applies to all additional content that can be purchased online and downloaded onto your system from the game’s publisher. Includes new levels, characters, costumes, etc. This is how publishers make money after you’ve already purchased the game.

FF – Friendly Fire. This is when you give damage to someone on your team. This is not a good thing, usually ever.

FTW – For The Win. Used as a general expression of enthusiasm as if you are going for the win. Whether it’s the round, the match, or just to kill the opponent or complete the objective.

GG – Good Game. Usually said at the end of a match to show sportsmanship with your opponent. If you don’t say GG after an official match, it’s the equivalent of not shaking the opponent’s hand after a game of basketball. Very frowned upon.

HP – Hit Points. Each player has individual hit points, which can be translated to health, starting at 100. Every time a player takes damage, their Hit-Points (HP) goes down. When it hits 0, the player dies and can usually only back the next round, or after a certain amount of time. Analogy: In the game of dodgeball, when you are hit with the ball, you have to sit out until the next round.

HUD – Heads-up display. Easy-reference display that shows the most essential information (health, current weapon, radar, etc) on the screen without blocking your view. Think of this as the main screen for any game that every single player sees. It is a standardized view for all players in the given game.

IGN (gamer handle) aka Alias – In Game Name. Usually just referred to as your “handle” which is the name you go by. Usually unique to the player and can be anything they choose. Think of it as the player’s individual brand, i.e. Fatal1ty, Stewie2k, S1mple, faker. Those are all names of some famous professional gamer handles.

IRL – In Real Life. People use this term if they intend or have met another player in person.

LAN – Local Area Network. This is a technical term from a networking perspective that has morphed into the game world since the internet existed. It is synonymous with an “offline event” meaning all players are gathered in the same physical location and playing against one, usually without the need to have an internet connection.

NPC – Non-Player Character. This term refers to all characters in a game not controlled by the player or a human opponent. The behavior of NPCs is controlled by AI (artificial intelligence). Not to be confused with a bot, as you can control some of the actions of a bot, but not an NPC.

PUG – Pick Up game. A random assortment of players who want to play a competitive match that isn’t with their official team. Most games randomly will assign players who want to play a competitive match based on skill level. This is a way for individual players to get practice outside of their normal practice schedules with their official teams.

RNG – Random Number Generator. There is a gray area in terms of “pure skill based games” and games that are “by chance”, or in this case, the chance has to do with the randomness of the algorithm in the game. Random is the keyword. Poker is not a skill-based game because there is randomness involved. It does take SKILLS (mental, mathematical, psychological) but there is an element of randomness.

XP – Experience Points. Points that are racked up as you progress through a game. Hitting certain levels of XP usually sees your character level up and gain new abilities or weapons. Mostly used in RPGs, MOBAs and MMORPGS.The Teams


Gameplay Types

 

FPS – First-Person Shooter. This term refers to the genre of game in which you see the world through the eyes of your character. They commonly show a weapon floating around in front of you along with a mini-map of the level you’re playing, how much HP you have and your ammo/armour count. FPS are one of the most popular genres in Esports, with Counter-Strike being the longest lasting and most famous title. Battlefield, Call of Duty, and Overwatch are also popular Esports titles.

MMORPG – Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. This term refers to games such as World of Warcraft, Everquest, Star Wars: The Old Republic which see millions of people occupy the same game world at one time. There is no one story, but a combination of objectives in an open-world where players can freely roam about wherever they choose. It’s the closest thing to real life in that individuals can freely go to different locations and experience different sites, individuals, and story-lines. You usually have to buy the game upfront, and pay a monthly fee to play. These games aren’t that popular when it comes to Esports, but they are massively popular and addicting to gamers.

MOBA – Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (or Action Real Time Strategy). This is an offshoot of an RTS, but involves more players working as a team in a defined world/map/level. Each player controls an avatar on one of two teams, as opposed to RTS where one player controls all the avatars on a given world/map/level. The objective is to destroy the opposing team’s main base or structure with the assistance of spawned computer-controlled AI that move along set paths. Player characters typically have various abilities and advantages that improve over the course of a game and that contribute to a team’s overall strategy. It’s a fusion of RTS and RPG in that you’re actively strategizing in real time with your team, while also gaining experience and levels to strengthen your avatar to upgrade weapons/armor.

Online Collectible Card Game – Popularized offline with Magic the Gathering, these games consist of individual players collecting specific cards online, and then playing against one another. All games are one on one and the variations of cards to be played are innumerable and chosen by the player and in some cases, randomized. Hearthstone, created by Blizzard and based off most of the characters in Warcraft, is the most popular Esports title.

PvP – Player vs. Player. This term refers to games (or portions of games) which see one or more human players face off against one or more other human players. This is a term that can be used with most all Esports titles as each competitive game is setup to be one or more players versus one or more other real players.

RPG – Role-Playing Game. A game where the player controls one or more in-game characters in a defined world. There is usually one narrative the user follows, with a number of different side-quests, storylines, and individual decisions that must be made in order to progress through the game. Most of the characters the player controls have to be leveled up throughout the game in order to be strong enough to progress. Final Fantasy is one of the most popular examples of an RPG. This is not a very popular genre in Esports.

RTS – Real Time Strategy. This is a game that is on-going in a defined map/level where you are competing, usually against one other opponent. Usually, each player starts out with an equal amount of support/gear/weapons/warriors and it’s each player’s role to strategize the best way to grow their army and defend their base while also plotting how to attack and take over their opponents base. Gathering resources and completing certain objectives will gain each player levels which makes them stronger and/or gives them more powerful resources. The term “real time” is specific in that once the game starts there are no breaks or pauses as all decisions by both opponents are happening continuously. It only ends when one player is overtaken by the other. Starcraft is the most popular title of RTS in Esports.


Popular Esports Games

 

Call of Duty (CoD) – A gaming franchise that’s been around for a while, that holds the record for the most new titles and variations. What originally started off as a World War 2 FPS has morphed into the present and future, depending on which edition. It can be hard to follow along with which title is currently the most popular, but the premise is usually the same. A team based FPS with the goal of killing all your opponents, destroying their base, or capturing their flag.

> Publisher: Activision Blizzard
> Inception: 2003
> Gametype: FPS
> Format: 4 vs. 4
> Match length: ~25-40 minutes

Counter-Strike (CS) – One of the founding competitive Esports games. It’s a first person shooter where you have an offense (Terrorists) and a defense (Counter-Terrorists). The goal is to kill all members of the opposing team, OR plant the bomb and blow up the defenses base. A match is best of 30 rounds. Players can different buy weapons and gear at the beginning of each round. Each match takes place on a different level (called maps) where each map has a different layout and structure, which is where the real team strategy comes into play.

> Publisher: Valve
> Inception: 1999
> Gametype: FPS
> Format: 5 vs. 5
> Match length: ~30-50 minutes

Defense of the Ancients (DOTA 2) – Considered the founding MOBA game originally an expansion pack off of Blizzard’s Warcraft III. Like all MOBA’s, it consists of two teams of 5 players. Each player controls a “hero” and they all must work together to level up their heroes and acquire gold to purchase stronger items. The ultimate goal is for a team to destroy their opponent’s main structure, called the “Ancient”. Valve hosts an annual tournament called “The International” where the prize money is crowdsourced by a small % of the micro transactions that take place in the game. It’s consistently had the highest payouts to winners of the tournament than any other game.

> Publisher: Valve (previously Blizzard)
> Inception: 2005 (DOTA 2 in 2013)
> Gametype: MOBA
> Format: 5 vs. 5
> Match length: ~30-60 minutes

Hearthstone – A new, and popular online card game that started out as a test, but has become one of the more popular Esports, globally. Each player constructs different card decks with what they believe to be the strongest and most strategic play. There are hundreds of different cards to choose from, with different strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Players gain new cards with in-game purchases of them, or by competing (and winning) against other players to gain gold. Players can use their stocked up gold to purchase more packs of cards to strengthen their various decks. Each player takes turns in an attempt to attack their opponent using the cards the game randomly drew for them, from their deck. The goal of the game is to bring your opponent’s health down to zero.

> Publisher: Activision Blizzard
> Inception: 2014
> Gametype: Online Collectible Card Game
> Format: 1 vs. 1
> Match length: ~5-20 minutes

Heroes of the Storm (HotS) – Blizzard’s version of a MOBA, although they prefer to call it a “Hero Brawler”. It is free-to-play, with the option to purchase in-game items (microtransactions). Each player gets to choose a different hero, all of which have different abilities and strengths. HotS is much more team based than other MOBA’s in that a single player’s experience gained contributes to the whole team, and one player’s actions can affect the entire team. There are also a number of different maps that can be played, each of which has their own unique layout, structure, and objectives.

> Publisher: Activision Blizzard
> Inception: 2015
> Gametype: MOBA
> Format: 5 vs. 5
> Match length: ~10-25 minutes

League of Legends (LoL) –  The most popular Esports title in terms of active players and viewership. It’s a MOBA where each player, aka “summoner” controls an individual “champion”. Each player gets to choose which champion they’d like to be at the beginning of a match. Every champion starts off at a lower level at the beginning of the game, with the goal to kill opposing players, destroy computer generated AI, and mine for gold in an attempt to level up their champions. Team members work together to control the map and destroy the opposing team’s structures, aka “turrets” and ultimately, destroy the opposing team’s main base aka “nexus” to win the match.

> Publisher: Riot Games
> Inception: 2009
> Gametype: MOBA
> Format: 6 vs. 6
> Match length: ~20-60 minutes

Overwatch – A First Person Shooter from Blizzard that is a bit of a hybrid. It consists of different pre-defined characters with a variety of abilities and powers. Each team consists of 6 players and the goal is to put together the right crew to accomplish the multiple objectives within a given map. The two goals are to defend specific parts of the map for a certain amount of time, while also protecting “payloads” (which are important materials that must safely reach their destination) throughout the match. It’s can be described as a “hero based shooter”.

> Publisher: Activision Blizzard
> Inception: 2016
> Gametype: FPS
> Format: 6 vs. 6
> Match length: ~10-20 minutes

SMITE – A MOBA game created by an independent publisher that shares many of the same qualities as it’s competitor League of Legends. The real difference is the third-person view the game is played in. Instead of a bird’s eye view from the sky, each player views and controls their player on their screen, without the ability to view the map as a whole. Each team has 5 individual players, who select their “god” or “goddess” for each match. Each team starts off on level ground with the same amount of gold. Each team starts on the opposite sides of the map. The objective is to level up your characters to buy more powerful weapons and armor with the ultimate goal of destroying your opponents Phoenix’s and Titan (which is the main defenders for both teams).

> Publisher: Hi-Rez Studios
> Inception: 2014
> Gametype: MOBA
> Format: 5 vs. 5
> Match length: ~25-40 minutes

Starcraft – One of the first Esports titles that put Esports on the map. A worldwide success that took Korea by storm and still is being played today with Starcraft II. One player controls an entire army with the goal of building up their base, defense system, and then destroy the opponent’s defensive structure. Each player needs to acquire unique resources to build up their weapons and infrastructure. A majority of the beginning of the game is watching one player just build up their base in a strategic way, while the latter half is the actual battle against the opponent.

> Publisher: Activision Blizzard
> Inception: 1998
> Gametype: RTS
> Format: 1 vs. 1
> Match length: ~15-25 minutes

Super Smash Brothers (Smash) – Smash, like Call of Duty, has had a number of different editions, but the premise stays the same: defeat your opponent in physical combat. With an array of historic Nintendo characters, the object of the game is to put together the right sequence of fighting maneuvers to bring your opponent’s health to zero.

> Publisher: Nintendo
> Inception: 1999
> Gametype: Fighting
> Format: 1 vs. 1
> Match length: ~5-10 minutes

Rocket League – Rocket League is a hybrid of traditional sports, racing games, and player versus player. Ranging from 1 vs 1 to 4 vs 4 two teams are pitted against each other in individual vehicles. There is a large soccer-like ball that the players hit and run into with their car with the object of scoring on the opponent’s goal. It’s action packed and very simple to catch on.

> Publisher: Psyonix
> Inception: 2015
> Gametype: Sports
> Format: 1 vs. 1 – 2 vs. 2
> Match length: ~4-9 minutes


Popular Video Game Publishers & Brands

 

Activision – The oldest game company established in 1979 and the creator of the famous Atari system. They’re known for a lot of older, console and PC, non-esports titles. They’re more famous for being known to acquire more independent gaming companies (Vivendi, Blizzard, Sierra Studios) and bringing them under their corporate umbrella. Activision created the Call of Duty franchise which has a steady Esports following. Activision also bought Major League Gaming, one of the oldest gaming leagues that hosts online and live tournaments.

Blizzard – An iconic gaming company created 1991 with its first hit being Warcraft, an RTS PC game, along with other titles: Diablo, Starcraft (a very popular, and one of the first true Esports titles), Heroes of the Storm, along with newer Esports titles: Hearthstone, and Overwatch. They also created World of Warcraft, an MMORPG with a smaller PvP Esports following. In 2013, Activision and Blizzard merged, publicly known as Activision Blizzard.

EA (Electronic Arts) – Similar to Activision, they’re an older video game publisher established in 1982. They’re known for all of the popular sports titles: Madden, FIFA, NBA Live, along with a FPS Esports title: Battlefield. EA is not as involved in Esports, in the general sense, as the other studios due to their focus on the very popular PC/Console gaming titles geared towards casual gamers.

Riot – Creators of the most popular Esports title: League of Legends, back in 2009. It was one of the first games developed with a main intention being on the Esports aspect. It was also the first of it’s kind to give away the game for free, to anyone who wanted to download it. It’s a free-to-play model, but Riot makes its money with in-app microtransactions. In order for gamers to buy new skins, weapons, etc. you have to use real money to purchase these add-ons.

Twitch – The most popular platform for users to stream live gaming along with videos on demand. Established in 2011, it was bought by Amazon in 2014. Professional and casual gamers can stream themselves playing any video game title while others can watch live, chat, and even donate money to the streamer. Most professional gamers make extra income by streaming and growing their brand. Almost every Esports tournament will always stream live on Twitch. It has three other competitors: Hitbox, Azubu and MLG.tv

Valve – Historic publishing company created by Gabe Newell (gaben as he is popularly called in the gaming community) in 1996. Their first game was Half-life, a first person shooter for PC which spurned popular modifications that became Esports titles: Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, and Team Fortress. They created the popular cloud based PC client, Steam, which gives gamers the ability to purchase new games, buy add-ons, and manage all of their gaming titles, friends network, along with giving independent game creators the opportunity to upload their creations for purchase on their Steam Store.


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