Video Game Terminology

Gaming has complex terminology that can seem like a foreign language. Many of the acronyms that are widely used today came from videogaming – lol, wtf, omg to name a few. This is due to pc gaming having text chat functions, yet your character is also controlled by the keyboard so you need short, sharp ways of conveying information.  The use of acronyms has spread to the game genres as well and this post will hopefully help you to understand what on Earth people are talking about when they use them! I will update this post over time as well as I write posts about games and the individual genres. The genres are in no particular order – just as I think of them.

Destiny, one of my favourite FPS games

Shooter, a game where the object is to shoot at things.

First Person Shooter (FPS), a game where the object is to shoot things and the camera is in the same or a similar position to our eyes so you can see hands and a gun.  Not to be confused with fps which is frames per second – usually with a number beforehand e.g. 30fps, 60fps.

Third Person Shooter, as above but the camera angle is fixed a distance behind the shoulder.

Overwatch, the most famous hero shooter

Hero shooter, a shooter where you pick from different characters each of which has their own unique play style.

Cover based shooter, a game where your character has to take advantage of objects in the world to protect themselves from enemy fire often having to move from object to object.

Top-down shooter, the perspective is from above the player looking down on them. Shooting is often controlled by the right stick whilst moving is controlled with the left.

Shoot’em ups, games where the character moves around the screen shooting multiple waves of enemies, often piloting vehicles.

Bullet-hell game, as above but often with the screen filling with effects and only small margins for error in your movement.

Fortnite, a staple in all teen’s game collections at the moment

Battle Royal, a relatively new form of game that sees multiple (usually 100) players dropped into a world where they must find weapons and resources and survive to be number 1.  The term winner winner chicken dinner is associated with this after player unknowns battleground rewards the sole winner with a roast chicken.



Super Mario, one of the classic platformers

Platform/Platformer, a game that involves precise movements and jumps to make your way through a level.

Metroidvania, a Platformer set in one large continuous world with locked doors that open as play progresses similar to the old games metroid and castlevania. Always 2D or 2.5D with the camera scrolling to the side as you move.


Dragon Ball FighterZ one of the most popular fighting games at the moment

Fighting, usually 2 player games with a wide variety of characters with individual movesets.

Beat-em up/brawlers, usually a side scrolling game where your character progresses through and beats large numbers of enemies through punches, kicks and melee weapons.

Metal Gear Solid, a brilliant stealth game.

Stealth, you have to get to the objective or objectives without being detected.



Role Playing Game (Rpg) – a game where you take on the role of a character or a party and progress through a story as them.  Usually involving the ability to level up and choose how to specialise creating a character tailor made to you. Roughly split into Western and Japanese styles.

Skyrim, possibly the most well known WRPG,

Western Rpgs (WRPG) , often following a non-linear story with various paths you can take. Most likely to be in real time and fully voiced. Often plays as a power fantasy. They often have realistic graphics and a large ‘open world’ you can explore as you wish.


Persona 5, note the more ‘anime’ art style.

Japanese Rpgs (JRPG), often following a linear story, with lots of text and large parties. Used to favour turn based but more often than not are real time or an amalgamation on both. Often has a deep undertones.

Tactical Rpg (TRPG), turn based combat where the placement of your units is important. Similar to strategy games but you                                                             have a party to lead.

Action rpg (ARPG), you lead one or more characters around activating skills in real time and finding randomised treasures. There is often a story to follow but that isn’t necessarily as important as finding new equipment to make your character more powerful.

One of the biggest MMOs, having had over 12 million subscribers at one point

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMORPGS sometimes pronounced mumorpegers) these are role playing games where you play a single character levelling up but have to team up with other players characters in order to progress. Often has a long, constantly evolving story which can mostly be completed single player, then large repetitive fights requiring multiple players as ‘end-game’.

‘End-game’ – often seen as the meat of a game, what you’ll be doing most of once you have reached the maximum level or have completed the story (usually both).

Side-quests – any mission in a game that isn’t necessary to the main story.

Starcraft, a RTS where you build a base, then make an army to destroy the opposing players base before they get you

Strategy, games where you have to plan ahead and manage resources and armies in order to win. Usually you start with a small army and build it into a large one.

Real Time strategy (RTS), decisions on what you do next need to be made instantly, there is no pause.

Turn based strategy, there is a pause in between decisions, or the ability to pause whilst you make decisions.

Minecraft – the most popular survival game out there

Survival, you have to keep your character alive in the wilderness, often with little to no starting equipment.

Survival horror, you have to keep the character alive whilst trying to solve puzzles in horror scenarios.

Visual Novels, a type of choose your own adventure story popular in Japan.

Roguelikes, games with an infinite or almost infinite dungeon to explore, with randomly generating rooms.

Grand Theft Auto 5 is a sprawling sandbox where you can explore San Andreas to your hearts content.

Open world/Sandbox, games with a massive explorable world and no limitations on where you go or necessarily what you do. There may be a story alongside which unlocks new abilities as you go.

Racing, trying to get a vehicle around tracks as fast as possible.

Simulation, games emulating life. You may have to build and manage a city, create a home and manage the daily life of your characters, drive photorealistic vehicles, or even control a goat.   Often used as training aids for industry, these games can be the most expensive.

Vehicular combat, vehicles fitted with weapons racing and shooting each other.

Sid Meier’s Civilization, build your Civilization from scratch and win through being the best economically, scientifically, militarily or religiously.

4X, explore, expand, exploit and exterminate. A sub genre of strategy games where you can win by being the best at any one of the 4 ‘x’s. Building the best civilization, conquering the world, exploring more than others, or gaining the most resources through exploiting the land.

Tower defense, building turrets or towers to stop waves of enemies from teaching their goal. Enemies get progressively harder as the game advances.

League of Legends, 5 versus 5, each team trying to get to the others base and destroy it.

MOBA, the opposite of tower defence games.  You control a hero trying to get through the enemy teams defenses, destroying their towers to reach and destroy their base. Usually 5 players versus 5 players, games can take around an hour to complete.

Sports, you control teams in sports. Often you control whichever player has control of or is closest to the ball, with the ability to switch to any team mate. Or you are the main athlete and you have to input precise controls to achieve your goal.

D-pad, the directional buttons on a controller.

Analogue stick, the sticks that controllers have.

Shoulder buttons, the buttons on top of a controller.

Frantics, a new party game for the PS4 where players compete in fun minigames using their phones.

Party games, designed to be funny with short mini games for lots of people to play at once.

Casual gamer, someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to game and plays games for occasional fun.

Hardcore gamer, someone who has a lot of time for playing games and usually wants to try completing every part of a game.

Trophies/achievements – virtual rewards given for completing set tasks in games.

Elite gamer, often used in a derogatory sense for people who are very good at a game and make sure everyone else playing it knows they are