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Decoding the Language of Gamers

Video games have been an entertainment staple since their inception, bringing all types of people together to enjoy a common interest. However, it wasn’t until multiplayer and online gaming reached popularity that a new way of communicating began. From simple acronyms to the re-imagining of previously established words, there now exists a separate language that was once used almost exclusively by gamers, but has now found its way into the vocabulary of nearly anyone that enjoys pop culture.

Chances are, you probably use common gaming phrases in your everyday life without even recognizing it. As we look more deeply into the origin of some of the phrases, you will understand the initial need this sub-culture had for the development of its own method of conversing amongst its players and the current role it plays in modern competitive gaming.

 

The Social Network

Before mobile games and other mass media helped propel gaming into an activity enjoyed by practically everyone with a smart device, gaming language was used to help gamers identify others of similar interest and give them a common ground for communication. Once games like World of Warcraft spawned gaming communities filled with millions of players, it was only a matter of time before the members would create their own words and spread them like wildfire to other users.

Plus, adapting and learning the lingo was almost a necessity for being able to become a full-fledged member of some of these communities, similar to needing to understand football terminology to fit in with a group of sports fans. Gaming language also grew in leaps and bounds with the crazy popularity of modern FPS (first person shooter) games like Call of Duty and Counter Strike, which lead to the emergence of such now common words such as camper, pwned and noob. By that point, critical mass was reached and there was no turning back.

 

In-Game Communication

Gaming language isn’t just a passive form of communication either, it’s now mandatory to be successful in competitive multiplayer games. In practically all forms of team sports, the coaches and players have shorthand ways of communicating with one other, from nicknames, codewords, etc. that they use to convey the most amount of information in the least amount of words. In fast paced gaming sessions where split second decisions are needed, gamers need to be able to convey information as quickly as possible.

With eSports (professional competitive gaming) on a huge uptick around the globe, we can expect to see gaming words become even more refined and more widely used. If you need a refresher course, we’ve prepared a list of the 10 most popular gaming words or phrases.

 

6 Popular Gaming Words & Phrases
– Noob: Meaning newbie, someone who is either inexperienced at a game or plays unskilfully.

– Easter Egg: A special object or item hidden (or at least not openly referenced) in the game that normally has cultural relevance outside of the game itself.

– Frag: Originally referred to throwing an explosive of some kind in a game. Later went on to infer the elimination of a player.

– Grind: To perform tasks repeatedly for the purpose of advancing your level or overall game progress. Normally refers to MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games.

– NPC: Stands for “Non-Player Character”, a game character controlled by the computer.

– Four-of-a-Kind: Otherwise known as ‘Quadds’, this hand is very rare in poker, and is when the player holds four cards of the same value. This is the second highest ranking you can obtain in poker, and just one of the many showdown hands in the popular game of Texas Hold’em.

 

Gaming Language Beyond the Screen

Video games aren’t the only type of game with its own language. Many types of gambling, especially poker, have a vast list of lingo and terms used to communicate with other players and to describe the game in general. Just amongst ‘Texas Hold’em’ alone, there are unique words to describe nearly all parts of the action. For example, the two cards dealt directly to you are your “hole cards”. The first three community cards dealt face up are “the flop”, and when you bet all your chips, you’re “all in”. Learning these key words is critical to table success, especially when playing at elite online card rooms like 888 Poker. Otherwise, you’ll quickly find yourself in over your head.
As new types of games and gaming formats are invented, we can expect the language of gamers to continue to grow. As long as the medium itself remains popular, it will always have its unique form of communication.

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The Yorker is York's best outlet for student journalism independent of the University of York Student Union and the largest student-run business in the city. For editorial queries please contact the Editor at editor@theyorker.co.uk.
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  • GenericName

    “we’ve prepared a list of the 10 most popular gaming words or phrases” -> “6 Popular Gaming Words & Phrases” ?????
    Feels kind of shoddy, also outdated