Compared to any other kind of art, video games are relatively new. They were born in the 1950s thanks to the experiments of some engineers, but a long time was needed before they could become what they are nowadays. Sure enough, in the last 10 to 15 years, they became a very appreciated typology of entertainment and more and more people started to play with them. Online communities were created to share progress and advice between gamers and the creation and the development of a certain kind of products, entirely based on the competition between players, gave an additional boost to the growth of a language that people use in relation to their favourite software. The gaming terms became the perfect way to communicate in this kind of field.
“AFK”, “rage quit”, “crafting” are only some of the terms that gamers regularly use in order to communicate fastly. What’s interesting about this kind of language is that it was created by the gamers themselves, in some cases by taking some words and adapting them to a new context, in others they made up these words through contractions and acronyms.
#1 English as the lingua franca for video games
Being English the lingua franca of everything concerning information technology, it is also the lingua franca of video games and internet. This kind of language started to become very popular in the last five to six years and it spread at an incredibly fast rate. Nowadays, every keen gamer in the world uses it to have an easy way to communicate with other gamers. An English-speaking internet helped this spread, but the players of other countries tried to develop some sort of “amatorial localisation”. Being an Italian, I can say that, while nouns are simply taken as loans, Italian gamers take the English verbs used in this context and adapt them to the morphological structure of the Italian language. For example, the verb to spawn becomes spawnare.
During the years, video games became an important phenomenon in the field of entertainment, so much that many tournaments and conventions are organised every year. In this context too this kind of language is used above the official one. In fact, it is important to say that these terms invented by gamers themselves are not often used by video game development houses. It is a way of speaking related to the internet world and to its inhabitants.
#2 Terms formation through shortening
Some of these terms are incredibly clever. Let’s take the example of inting. As the Urban Dictionary defines it, “it stands for “INTentional feeding” and it is used in videogames (mainly League of Legends). Most possibly started from the League of Legends banned toxic streamer tyler1 because of his ”INT list” where he was writing down players who were playing bad, intentionally feed, intentionally ruin the game and so on”. Basically, it refers to somebody who intentionally gets himself or herself killed by the enemy, so to upset the allies. We can detect two interesting features about this term: first and foremost, it was probably invented in an extremely particular context, in which a streamer of a particular video game did something particular to overcome a problem. Secondly, we can see that this is shortening. Gamers contracted the term in order to let it be fast enough to be used in a rapid context such as the one of online gaming. The term fragging went through the same process: it is the shortening of the expression fragmentation grenade but, in this case, it was not invented in the context of gaming, because it had already been used in war-related conversations. Here, we can see how gamers brought particular terms from other contexts to the one within their competence, applying it to video games which are closely related to the one from which they took said term, probably Call of Duty and others. A similar situation can be found in the term aggro. This term refers to the moment when your avatar gets close enough to an enemy, so that said enemy focuses on you. Aggro is possibly another shortening and it comes from aggression. Another interesting contraction is the one of gank. Even if it is a term that was already used in other contexts with other meanings, in the case of video games it comes from gang kill and it refers to “when a group of people kill a single opponent in an MMORPG”.
#3 Terms related to specific video games
Some other terms come from one game and then spread to others, more or less like inting. The next cases, though, are about terms which, even if related to a particular game, were already used in other contexts. Carting, for example, is a term related to the game Monster Hunter and it refers to when a player loses a battle against a monster without dying yet. In that case, a group of characters resembling cats and called Palicos bring the player outside the arena carrying him or her on a cart. This term was already used in other informal contexts, though, some of which are not very elegant. No, I’m not saying which ones. Go check on the Urban Dictionary. Same thing happens with the term crafting, which refers to everything related to manufacture, basically, but in the video games, context is extremely related to the term Minecraft. Here you can see the avatar of the gamer.
Minecraft is also related to another word, griefer, which refers to someone “who goes into Minecraft servers for the purpose of destroying structures that took hours to build, which usually requires you to rebuild from scratch”. Even in this case, the term spread so much that it started to be attributed to other games too, accompanied by a generalisation of the definition. A griefer became “someone, usually in an online game, who intentionally, and usually repeatedly, attempts to degrade others’ experience or torment them”. Both these definitions come from the Urban Dictionary. The term overpowered has probably had the same faith, starting from an external context and then used in gaming, in particular in relation to Role-playing games and First Person Shooters.
Another linguistics feature somewhat used in gaming context is the creation of acronyms. One of the most used is certainly AFK, which means Away From Keyboard. As it is easily guessed, it was created to tell the other people involved in the gaming session that the user would not play in that particular moment because he had to do something else. In this case, too, it started in a particular context and then spread. Nowadays it is also used by console gamers, who obviously don’t use a keyboard.
To conclude, here’s another expression used only in this context: rage quit. This is fun. It refers to the moment when a frustrating situation in a video game makes the gamer so upset that he cannot go on playing and just shuts everything down in a fit of rage. It’s a very common action. On YouTube, there are tons of videos of people doing that.
These are only some of the words and expressions that are used only in this context. As I said before, some languages have their own “amatorial localisation”, but this way of speaking evolved so fast that it has been extremely difficult to think about a proper localisation. If you want to master this kind of language we can help you learn English Gaming Terms very fast. Thanks to the mobile VocApp, you can learn gaming vocabulary anywhere and anytime. And if you enjoy learning with VocApp, take a look at the other numerous language courses. With VocApp, learning is fun, it’s free, and if you learn just a few minutes a day, you’ll remember the new vocabulary forever.