Learn to Speak Gamer

Image 3Do you have a friend/relative/significant other who would be considered a gamer? Do you sometimes feel they’re speaking a different language than you? That’s because they are. The same way social media and text messaging have developed their own languages, the world of gamers has a lingo all its own. I’m not just talking about console (Playstation, Wii, Xbox, etc.) gamers. I am a gamer of the table-top variety, meaning I like to play games that one generally plays around a table like pen-and-paper RPGs (role playing games), and my husband enjoys first-person shooter console games; we each have a versions of gamer speak specific to our interests. If I’m being honest, whenever we slip into gaming conversations it feels like we’re speaking different dialects of the same language. Most things translate, but every now and then there’s a word—more often than not it’s an acronym—that doesn’t really compute.

For two people who exist in different areas of the gaming world to sometimes have trouble communicating speaks untold volumes about how frustrating it must be for you, a non-gamer, to try and share the interests of your friend/relative/significant other who is elbow deep in gaming. Fear not, there are tons of online resources for learning game slang and l33t (a.k.a. leet is a term derived from the word elite that has come to be synonymous with leetspeak: using an alternative alphabet for the English language used primarily on the internet). In fact, the better part of these “what did that last text you sent me mean” conversations I have with my husband often end up with me learning a new way to write a word in l33t.

Pen-and-paper RPGs have their own set of abbreviated and shorthand words to simplify gameplay that are unique to the format. Others are just used as humorous slang terms like alien eyes. Since the majority of table-top RPGs are played with dice to randomize gameplay, rolling 3 on 3 six sided dice is sometimes called rolling alien eyes—as opposed to snake eyes on 2 six sided dice. If you are rolling what seems to be a lot of dice all at once one might say you are boggling (named after the game Boggle where players roll 16 letter-covered dice).  If you are getting nothing but bad dice rolls on your dungeon crawl (simple dungeon adventure) you might consider doing a dice cleanse, a superstitious practice where the player keeps rolling their dice until each one has rolled the highest number it can reach in order to clear them of their “bad mojo”. That is if your GM (game master: the person responsible for running the game) gives you a long enough break to do so.

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Where table-top RPG lingo matches with computer and console gaming depends on the game being played. Pen-and-paper games, like Dungeons and Dragons, have much in common with computer and console RPG games like World of Warcraft and Skyrim. General gameplay is similar, like chargen (the act of character generation), so much of the slang has migrated from one form to the other. The main difference attributed to online RPGs is the inclusion of leetspeak and words used for specific computer or console purposes. There’s no need to say bio (short for biological) when playing at a table top, one simply excuses themselves to use the restroom like normal. AFK is used to alert other players that one is away from the keyboard.

First person shooter games, like my husband’s favorite game Call of Duty, have their own set of game specific terms that sometimes coincide with my games like NPCs (non-player characters, characters that are generated from the game rather than the players). Other times we find ourselves misinterpreting the other. It can be like dealing with false-friends between two languages, just take the word camping; for me this means a period of rest taken to recover health or other resources, and for him it means staying in one spot in order to act as a sniper on any enemy players passing through.

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Whether your friend/relative/significant other is LARPing (live action role playing) in RL (real life) or spending their time playing an MMO (massive multi-player online, usually refers to RPGs) game, learning to speak their lingo will not only help you understand their untranslated text messages, but also bring you closer together. And who knows, you might take a liking to gaming yourself.

This is only a few of the MANY slang terms and acronyms used in the gaming world, feel free to add your own in the comments. Do you feel like you need an English-to-Gamer dictionary sometimes? Shed your game shame and learn the language!