Learn The Lingo: Common Gaming Terms You Should Know

gaming termsFor those who don’t play video games, the world of Call of Duty and Final Fantasy must seem totally alien. This is fine, so long as you remain disinterested in video games. But what if you suddenly decide gaming might be for you? Or decide that you’ve had enough of being a casual gamer filling the pockets of Nintendo and opt instead to progress up to being a core gamer filling the pockets of Sony or Microsoft?

All hobbies have their own terminology; sets of words and phrases that are only known to those actively involved. Gaming is no exception. What follows are 20 of the most common gaming terms, along with short, easy-to-understand definitions. Think of this as a crash course in gaming lingo that will prevent you looking like a n00b in front of your fellow clan members. If that sentence makes no sense then you’ve come to the right place.

General Gaming Terms

gaming terms

Easter Eggs — Easter eggs are hidden features such as a new character or secret level. They don’t just appear in video games, with Google particularly known for hiding them in plain view.

Triple-A (AAA) — A game is described as being a triple-AAA title if it has a big budget, a lot of backing, and receives almost universal praise from fans and critics alike.

Grinding — This is the act of plugging away at a certain element of a game, for example, raising your experience level in an RPG by continually getting into random fights with monsters.

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Glitching — Despite being subjected to QA testing, most games ship with bugs intact. Encountering one could lead to you glitching; getting stuck in a wall, for example.

Clan — Most team-based games have clans, which are disparate groups of friends or strangers who come together to form a team. Clan matches are when two clans face off against each other.

Common Acronyms

gaming terminology

DLC — Or Downloadable Content. This term applies to all additional content that can be purchased online and downloaded onto your system. Includes new levels, characters, costumes, etc.

FPS — Or 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.

MMORPG — Or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. This term refers to games such as World of Warcraft which see millions of people occupy the same game world at one time.

PvP — Or 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.

NPC — Or Non-Player Character. This gaming 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).

Online Utterances

gaming terminology

n00b — Short for newbie, refers to new players who clearly possess no skill or are otherwise clueless about the game. Can also be used to disparage veterans who are exhibiting n00bish behavior.

FTW! — For The Win! The exclamation point is optional but preferred. Used as a general expression of enthusiasm – example: MakeUseOf FTW! – on the Internet as well as in video games.

Pwned — A corruption of “owned,” used to refer to those times when someone has dominated or been dominated. If you beat another player 10-0 in a one-on-one match, for instance. Teabagging said player to celebrate the pwning is optional.

Camper — Primarily used in online shooters to refer to people who stand, sit, or lie still rather than rove around the map. Camping is frowned upon, and taking a camper out of the game is very satisfying.

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.

Technical Jargon

gaming terms

Kill Ratio — Most online shooters rank players according to their kill ratio. You’d be ranked higher for ending a game with 6 kills and 0 deaths than you would for 10 kills and 6 deaths.

XP — A shortened version of Experience Points, which 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.

Bots — Multiplayer gaming doesn’t always require you to have real friends, as bots (AI players) can take their place instead. You can usually choose the difficulty of bot you want to face off against.

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.

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.


You should now be much better versed in the gaming terms used in and around games, though these are only a fraction of the phrases freely bandied about between players competing online. These should at least stand you in good stead the first time you head online to play against real people in (virtual) fights to the death.

What do you think of the terminology that has arisen around video games? Are there are words, phrases, or acronyms you think should have been included in this list but weren’t? Have you ever called anyone a n00b? Or been caught camping in an online shooter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image Credits: Katherine McAdoo, Jackie, John Trainor, Trochim, Joriel Jimenez

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