For outsiders, esports and video games can be confusing to understand or get into, no thanks to a deluge of gaming terms and jargon that probably mean nothing to non-gamers.
Ryan McVean and Dominic Sacco provide a list of commonly used terms to help you better understand the world of gaming.
League of legends casters Deficio and Medic discuss a match (source: Riot Games Flickr)
A carry is a player usually protected by the rest of the team in order to deal the most damage to the opponents.
An auto attack typically costs no resources, it’s enabled by pressing a particular button or mouse click to make the character automatically attack its target over and over again.
Aggro can refer to either a style of play where you play more aggressively, aiming to cause more pressure than your opponents, or the mechanic in some games that causes non player characters to attack players (i.e. to ‘take aggro’).
Stands for Area of Effect. This is usually a spell or attack that hits anyone standing in its vicinity.
A form of attacking the opponent’s base, commonly found in MOBAs or RTS games, where the enemy is not aware of your presence or you have already cause a lot of damage before they can react. A successful backdoor usually results in a win.
A Blink or Flash is a form of movement where a character disappears and reappears a short distance away.
Stands for Bad Manners. Used when players are insulting each other in game.
Sometimes called bushes. These are areas of the map that block vision of a particular area. Players can usually stand in the brush to remain hidden from the enemy, unless there a ward or spell has revealed vision. If an enemy player also steps into the brush, any opposing players in there will be revealed.
This can refer to a power increase given to a character, either temporarily mid-game or permanently as part of a developer content update.
A build is how your character or base is improved through items, abilities or other upgrades. Different builds can focus on different areas, such as attack damage or defense.
When a lot of damage is dealt in a small amount of time.
This has two definitions. In game, it is the period where an ability is being charging up before being used. Secondly, ‘casting’ is a definition that can also be used to describe someone casting (aka commentating) an esports match.
CC (Crowd Control)
These are abilities that limit control of a character. Some common CCs are:
- Knockback – the character is pushed back or moved somehow.
- Root – when a character cannot move but can still use abilities.
- Stun – when a character is unable to act or move.
- Blind/Silence – the character cannot attack or use abilities respectively.
An ability where the character casting it cannot perform any other actions during the spell’s casting animation.
A playstyle that revolves around using unknown, ‘cheap’ or ‘non meta’ mechanics or characters to gain an edge over the opposition.
This is the period after using an ability in which the ability can not be activated again.
A composition is simply a specific group of in-game characters chosen to form a team. This can be specialised with certain goals in mind.
CS (Creep score)
Creep score is the amount of non-player characters players have defeated in the game. These are usually weak easy-to-kill ‘minions’.
Denying is when you use your character to stop your opponent from attacking non-player characters, or when your character protects friendly characters so your opponent cannot. For example, you can ‘deny’ the enemy a kill.
Diving is when a character moves aggressively into an unsafe position, such as where they are outnumbered or where the enemy is heavily defended, usually to pick up a kill or score.
Stands for ‘Damage Per Second’. It’s used to describe a character that is predominantly a damage-dealer.
Drafting/Picks and Bans
The period before a game where both teams will decide which characters they will play and which characters they will ban from the game.
stands for disqualified.
Farming is the act of acquiring virtual money throughout the game, normally by killing neutral targets to amass a high creep score.
Feeding is when a character dies repeatedly to the same enemy or team. This normally results in the enemy being more powerful than the rest of the players in the game, and can result in them being labelled ‘fed’.
Stands for Finish Fast, a way to tell the other players in the game that you think you can finish the game now. Also can be used as a way of admitting defeat by asking the opponents to finish fast.
The act of harassing other players, usually via in-game chat.
Fog of war
Fog of war is a term used to describe an area of the map which is hidden from view. This is normally due to your character being too far away or if their view is obstructed.
This stands for First Person Shooter, a genre of games which include the likes of Overwatch, Call of Duty, CSGO and Battlefield.
An alternative term for picking up a kill in-game.
Ganking is the act of surprising an opponent, typically from behind, and aiming to take advantage of them while they are unprepared.
GG (Good Game)
This is a message normally sent when the game is ending to show sportsmanship. It can also be used to show you concede, an act that is popular in Dota 2 and StarCraft. Salty players may often say ‘BG’ instead.
A type of character who provides a large amount of damage while being fragile.
Stands for ‘Good Luck Have Fun’ and is sometimes said before a game begins.
Commonly used to show which team has the most gold in a game, casters will refer to this after teamfights or objectives to give the viewers an idea of how important they were. In certain games, gold can be spent on acquiring new items or powers.
Playing with the intent to annoy or anger other players.
A strategy which involves staying at range and dealing small amounts of damage to your opponent over time, forcing them into a disadvantage.
The act of starting a fight/gank.
Short form for intentional. Used when somebody is intentionally feeding the enemy players or intentionally trying to lose the game. The verb is to ‘int’.
Juking is when you trick your opponent to move or attack in a direction away from yourself. It can also be used to describe baiting someone into an attack or move that misses.
A character who focuses on attacking neutral NPCs and providing support for their team. Jungling is the act of clearing an area (or jungle) of NPCs, while occasionally ganking the enemy players.
A popular emoticon on the Twitch streaming platform, usually used to convey sarcasm or a joviality. Other Twitch emotes can be found here: https://twitchemotes.com/
Stands for Kills, Deaths and Assists. A typical in-game scoreboard.
Kiting is when a character is moving away from a character who is chasing them while staying at a relatively safe distance.
This is a term used in MOBA games to describe the process of moving down a particular ‘lane’ in order to farm, push and engage with the enemy players. It’s usually in the early and middle portions of the game where characters are focused on gaining gold/experience for later on in the game.
When your character deals the killing blow. In some games this provides a bonus to the gold and experience acquired from an NPC.
Meta is short for metagame. This describes the way a game can be played in a certain way, usually in a particularly effective style. This can be applied to characters, play styles and team compositions. For example, it might become the norm to pick two particular characters in a certain game, simply because they are currently strong together in the recent meta.
A common term for non-player characters.
Stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. It’s a type of game that the likes of Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Vainglory and Smite fall under.
When a character or item is weakened by the developers in a content update, usually for being too strong.
Stands for Non Player Character. These are characters in a game who are not controlled by humans.
Objectives can refer to certain goals or targets in a game which provide an advantage to your team, such as a destination, a tower to destroy or a large neutral monster that provides a buff or other benefit to your team.
Stands for ‘Out Of Mana’ amd is used to tell other players that you cannot use your abilities.
Peeling is when you are aiming to save one of your teammates. This is usually done when a character stops fighting their current target and instead uses their abilities to help their teammate.
A proc is when an ability/item with a random chance activates.
Split pushing is the act of focusing on dealing damage to your opponent’s base/towers. Normally this is used to split your opponent’s resources between your character and the rest of your team. Pushing is also a term used to command a team or players to attack or move forward to a particular area.
Meaning either “go quit” or “go cry”. On Blizzard’s Battlenet platform, you could press ALT+Q+Q to exit. This is normally used as an insult against angry players. It’s commonly mistook as a pair of crying eyes.
When a character uses an item/ability to teleport to their base/another part of the map.
Stands for random number generation. This is used when a game has an element of randomness included in it, for example Hearthstone.
Rotation can be used to describe a team’s movement from one area of the map to another. It can also be used as the optimal order in which abilities should be used.
This is short for ‘Real Time Strategy’, a game genre that includes titles like StarCraft, Warcraft III and Command and Conquer.
An action or style of play where you or your team attack the opponents quickly before they can defend.
This is a term used to describe a player who is particularly agitated, upset or annoyed at something.
Refers to the player who decides what tactics will be used during the game. In short, they call the shots.
When a team prevents the opposing team from scoring or winning a round.
An ability which follows a path manually directed by the player.
An ability/item which limits the opponent’s vision.
When a player or team has become more powerful than their opponents can deal with at that time.
A group of players playing together, or the act of keeping your team/units very close together to hide from your opponent better. It can also be used to describe a particular effect stacking multiple times, for example if an item proc increases your attack speed by 2% and can stack, after five stacks your attack speed will have risen by 10%.
A character archetype that is distinguished by its survivability.
When a player is playing badly or without confidence, usually due to anger or frustration, they are ‘on tilt’ or ‘tilted’. This term comes from the ‘tilt’ feature in pinball.
A character’s most powerful ability. It’s normally on a long cooldown and is often referred to as an ‘ulti’.
How much of the map your character or team can see.
Consumable items that are used in the fog of war to gain vision of a particular area.
A method of play involving early and cheap aggression.
When your character uses aggressive tactics to force an opponent to leave an area. Normally this is used to give your team an advantage by holding a more safe area.
This list is designed to offer a basic insight into competitive gaming terminology, which can vary greatly depending on the game in question.
On that note, here are some other links to game-specific glossaries:
Have we missed anything? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org