A Glossary of Gaming Slang That Every Serious Player Should Know

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The global gaming market is a huge international industry. Statistics from 2020 showed revenue generation of $159.3 billion, representing a 9.3% year-on-year increase. There are an estimated 2.7 billion gamers worldwide today. While many people take advantage of free to play games via mobile, around 38% regularly pay for games.

The first arcade games launched in the late 1960s and since that time, technology has revolutionized the industry. During the 1990s, the introduction of the World Wide Web ushered in a whole new era of gaming which has been attracting new players year after year. More recently, mobile gaming has dominated the industry, with many seeing the appeal in having games ready to hand at any time of day and night.

Over the years, gamers have developed their own words, terms and phrases that are universally recognized among others in the gaming community. For new players, this can become confusing, particularly in multi-player online games, or MMOs, where people are using chat features and peppering that chat with colloquialisms. Learning how to understand the lingo can make gaming a more enjoyable experience for players both new and old and ensure everyone is able to communicate effectively even during periods of heightened stress within the games.

AAA Games: Pronounced “triple-A games”, this phrase refers to titles that have large promotional and marketing budgets. These games are typically big-name market leaders which almost every gamer will have heard of. Examples include the Final Fantasy series, Grand Theft Auto and Mass Effect.

RTP: RTP is a term you’ll see every time you play online slots. It stands for Return to Player and shows the percentage chance of winning. The RTP of any particular game denotes the average achieved over multiple games, typically at least 10,000, and not the individual statistical chance of winning a single game. 

AFK/BAK: AFK and BAK are acronyms used by players who wish to let others know that they are away from keyboard or back at keyboard. These acronyms can be used to let players in team events know who is currently available to participate without having to physically exit the game.

PvE/PvP: PvE and PvP stand for player versus environment and player versus player. These acronyms are used to describe the style of gameplay, letting new users know if they are going to be facing AI opponents or other real-life players during the game. Some games combine the two styles, with PvP gameplay for certain types of combat and PvE gameplay for other types of quest.

AP/HP/XP: AP might mean attack points or ability points, depending on the style of the game. HP may stand for hit points, health points or heart points and denotes the current health rating of the character, with points being lost for being hit in battle. XP stands for experience points and track the progression of the character as they move through the game. 

N00b: N00b is used to describe players who are relatively new to a game and therefore not as skilled as other players. It is often used derogatively to describe players who are not performing to the desired standard in team games.

Avatar: A player’s avatar is their on-screen character. Many games allow players to customize their avatar, including options to purchase items of clothing or weapons in-game that can add new dimensions to the character or unlock special skills.

Closed Beta: A closed beta is a short period of time in which developers of new games allow a certain number of fans to test the game before wider release. The idea behind closed beta is that hardcore fans will discover any glitches or issues with the game which the developers can then fix before the general release.

Freemium: A model of game in which players can access the basic structure completely free but are encouraged in various ways to make in-app purchases. These might include having an in-game currency that can only be topped up using cash, or the option to unlock new levels or skills through making purchases.

Influencer: An influencer is an individual who plays games online for an audience, often as a type of walk-through tutorial.

RPG: The acronym RPG stands for role-playing game. It can be prefixed by numerous other letters to classify the specific type of roleplay game involved, such as JRPG (Japanese role-playing game) or MMORPG (massive multi-player online role-playing game).

Grinding: Grinding refers to repetitively completing simple tasks in order to boost experience points, level up or proceed in the game.

Real-Time Strategy/Turn-Based Strategy: Real-time strategy means characters on screen will attack unless the game is paused, meaning players must think on their feet and input their moves quickly. Turn-based strategy allows the players more thinking time, although there are often limits to how much time is allowed before their turn is forfeited.

Multiplatform: A multiplatform game is one which has been designed to be compatible with more than one operating system, such as a game that can be played on both a PC and a mobile phone.

Knowing the terminology can help new players to limit the amount of time they spend with “N00b” status and understand what other players are doing and what is expected of them. However, gaming language is continually evolving, so regular players need to keep up with the development of the lingo.

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