People new to online gaming often find themselves in a situation where they don’t understand what the other gamers are talking about. This has nothing to do with their mastery of the English language, but the fact that gamer slang is the language of choice for most gamers. Hearing (or reading) that you got “pwned” or that somebody got “rekt” even though they are playing a character that is “OP” may sound confusing at first, but there is a method to this madness. The increased popularity of gaming has given rise to a new subculture – gamers. And just like any other subculture, gamers have developed their own language. From the early days of the Internet to modern online gaming, that slang has played a prominent role in gaming culture and has even seeped into mainstream communication. Fortunately, mastering this lingo isn’t hard and in no time, even the new players can be quite proficient in it.
The History of Gamer Slang
Gamer slang is intangibly tied to the Internet. The other name for it is online slang because it was created for use on the Internet. As such, it is much older than people think, going back to 1979 and the first attempt to create a computer network, called Usenet. Originally, people used it in online chat rooms, as a form of shorthand. Over time, it adopted some other uses and gamers embraced it wholeheartedly. Today, it is widely used on all gaming platforms and will most likely remain popular even on new cloud gaming platforms in the future. The vocabulary of gaming slang now contains several hundred words and expressions, many of them designed for a very specific use. Some expressions fade away, but many more are being added every year, so that number will continue to grow.
Gamer Slang Dialects
For the most part, there are no major differences between gamer slang in different types of gaming. Whether you are playing first-person shooters or strategies, for the most part, the expressions are the same. Still, some words are simply unusable outside their original context. For instance, the term high roller is specific to iGaming and you won’t see it much outside it. There is simply no need for it in League of Legends or Dota2. Other than such examples, gamers can easily understand each other, even if they are new to a game in question. Which makes sense, since a vast majority of gamer vocabulary is designed for gaming in general, and not any particular game. Still, before starting a new online game, it would be wise to do some digging and see if there are some expressions that you need to know.
The first examples of gaming slang were abbreviations. They were sued to save time and type the message after. Over time, some became standard, like AFK (away from keyboard), announcing that you will step away from the computer for a while. BTW (by the way), CU (see you) and LOL (laughing out loud) are also among the first expressions to be adopted in the early days. Often, these abbreviations contain numbers as well, like CU8ER, short for “see you later”. As you can see, the main theme is efficiency, expressing as much info as possible with the smallest number of typed characters.
Popular Examples of Gamer Slang
Over the years, many expressions have achieved cult status among gamers. The etymology of some of them isn’t always clear, so we have taken it upon ourselves to explain them.
One of the most popular memes on the Internet, Leroy Jenkins has attracted almost a cult following and gave birth to the expression “He went Leroy Jenkins on us”. As you can see from the video, it describes a player who manages to single handedly destroy a careful attack plan his teammates created, leading to usually disastrous and hilarious outcomes. And that is how legends are born.
All Your Base Are Belong to Us
The meaning of the phrase “all your bases belong to us” is rather clear, although English teachers start twitching when they see it. The etymology of it is, however, lost in the darkness of the early Internet days. It came from the Japanese video game called Zero Wing and it is a poor translation of the original Japanese phrase used in the game. Regardless, it is a perfect farewell message to the opposing team after you have thoroughly trashed them.
Tilting describes a situation when you make a mistake while playing, which frustrates you and lead to another mistake, which frustrates you even more, leading to another mistake… You get the point. Unfortunately, this expression isn’t limited to gaming only, as many of us have experienced it in real life as well. The best way to deal with tilting is to just walk away and take a break. If you don’t, you will just speed up this annoying spiral, often resulting in a ragequit, another widely used term.
For some people, forcing an opponent into a rage quit is the ultimate victory, regardless of the status of the scoreboard. Created by joining two words, rage and quit, the expression is self-explanatory, describing a situation when a player quits the game in a fit of rage. It is often accompanied by the destruction of the keyboard, monitor, and/or computer itself. Some of the most epic rage quits include demolishing the entire office. It is a constant source of amusement for people who tend to take their gaming far less seriously.
Other Uses of Gamer Slang
Today, even people who never played a game in their life (yes, such people exist) often use gamer slang in their communication. How many times have you seen your non-gamer friends use “lol” or other internet speak expressions in SMS or other forms of instant messaging? The reason people use it is the same early gamers adopted the slang in the first place. It is convenient and saves keystrokes and time. This is especially important when using smartphones since typing is considerably more difficult compared to a computer keyboard.
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