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Video Game Glossary

Video games are for everyone.
Video games are for everyone. / Ann Larie Valentine

Video games are one of the leading sources of entertainment worldwide. Gamers of all stripes enjoy titles ranging from Wii Fit to Left 4 Dead and their sequels. This broad market has developed its own terms to help speed along the understanding and focus the marketing of the games. These can be bewildering to those who are just entering the hobby and gaming market for the first time.

The ABCs of Video Games

Adventure Game – A game designed around finding clues and exploring a mysterious location or event.

Beta – The final stage of development before a game is released to the public. Online games often open their beta for public playtesting near the release date.

Console – Gaming systems dedicated specifically to that purpose. The most popular manufacturers of consoles are Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

D-Pad – The directional pad is part of a controller which guides movement through the use of four to eight directional buttons.

ESRB – The Entertainment Software Review Board sets the ratings of video games ranging from E for everyone to AO for Adults Only.

FPS – First Person Shooters are games in which the main character wields a variety of weapons and hunts opponents from an eye-level perspective.

Genre – Genres dictate the general feel and setting of the game. Sports, fantasy, spy, science fiction and steampunk are all popular genres.

Hardcore – A hardcore player is one who devotes a large amount of time to understanding and perfecting their game play. A hardcore game features stiff penalties for failure.

Isometric – A camera view between the first person and third person which allows you to see farther afield. Very common in sports titles and older roleplaying games.

Joystick – A peripheral commonly used to control flight simulators or fighting games. The D-Pad is usually replaced with a stick for a fuller range of movement.

Kills – The number of enemies or opposing players defeated in a given game scenario. Many games reward kills with experience or rankings.

Lag – The unfortunate event of briefly losing connection in a multiplayer game. This results in a vulnerable character and possible death.

MMO – A Massively Multiplayer Online game. These range from text-based MUDs to graphically intensive RPGs and shooters.

Newbie – A new player to a video game. Often misspelled as a derogatory term to indicate that the player should be experienced but fails in some form of play.

Over-the-Shoulder – A camera view that allows a wider view of the area by placing the camera just behind and above the main character.

Platformer – A video game characterized by challenges that involve moving quickly and jumping to avoid traps or pitfalls.

QWERTY – The designation for a full keyboard. Games requiring a QWERTY keyboard are usually not available for many consoles or mobile devices.

RTS – Real time strategy games. These games focus on empire or army build and play takes place simultaneously, without waiting for each player to take their turn.

Sim – Simulations are games that emulate some other function of life. Cooking games and family simulators are very popular.

Turn-Based – The opposite of Real Time, turn based games wait for each player to make their decisions and take actions before passing control to the next.

User – The player of the video game. Many single player games allow multiple users to save their data in the same file.

Vid – Vids are video cutscenes that do not make use of the game’s engine. These cinematics often help explain important backstory elements of the game.

Windowed – Games played in windowed mode allow you to interact with other programs on a computer or console desktop as you play.

X-Ray Vision – One of the most common cheats in shooting games. X-ray vision allows players to see through walls and pinpoint enemy positions.

YMMV – Your Mileage May Vary. This term very common in video game reviews for games that offer a wide variety of play styles or other options.

Zerg – Originally the name for a race of aliens in Starcraft, Zerg has come to mean any battle in which one side uses a large number of expendable troops.


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