Get in the Game: 10 Gaming Terms Decoded


Gaming terms can be as foreign to non-gamers as technical jargon and quantum mechanics, but a closer look at the gamer’s glossary reveals many of the words to be intuitive extensions of words and concepts familiar to the non-gamer. Here are some gaming terms defined and explained for the gamer in all of us.

Roguelike refers to a type of video game that tends to include random level generation, where players will experience a different layout each time they play, and permadeath, or no regeneration after defeat. The name comes from the game Rogue released in 1980, which popularized the dungeon crawl scenario in video games. Outside of gaming, the word rogue has been historically used to describe thieves and mischievous types. Its more modern definition speaks of unpredictability and an uncontrollable nature, much like the randomness of roguelike games.

In gaming, a tank is a character that draws attackers away from other players. Outside of gaming, this term carries the weight of being both a verb and a noun: to tank is to fail, and a tank can either refer to a large vessel that contains liquid or gas or an armored vehicle. In boxing, going into the tank can also mean rigging a fight or losing on purpose. This meaning jibes with the gaming sense of tank, as these characters are designed to sacrifice their own health in order to let other players succeed.

For many of us the word camping conjures s’mores and singalongs, but in gaming, camping can hold a negative connotation. The term refers to a tactic involving hiding in a safe area for extended periods of time in order to get easy kills without risking death. This reflects one sense of the word camp outside of gaming: “to take up a position stubbornly,” as in protest or occupation of an area.

A mob refers to any living and moving entity in a game. This can mean playable and non-playable characters, animals or monsters. In games such as Minecraft, mobs are affected by the physics of the game and can be hurt, just like the player’s character. The term is short for mobile, although players have also reimagined it as an acronym for such phrases as “monster or beast.”

One type of aggressive mob in Minecraft is the Ghast, a ghostlike monster that makes high-pitched screeches, has red eyes and floats. Ghasts are also a type of monster in Dungeons & Dragons, where they are characterized by a nauseating stench and a paralyzing touch. HP Lovecraft’s series of works Love Cycle also features a creature called a ghast that dwells in the underworld. The word itself is related to ghastly, which means “shockingly frightful or dreadful” or “resembling a ghost.”

In gaming, the term sandbox refers to a kind of level design in which players can explore freely, with limited structure, if any. Sandbox games typically lack invisible walls and linear levels, which allows the player to decide how and when to pursue objectives. This type of game play echoes the creative freedom that children enjoy in sandboxes of the non-digital variety.

Biomes in Minecraft (as well as other similarly open-ended video games) are regions within the game that display different characteristics, such as vegetation, temperature and resources. This is a literal interpretation of the scientific term biome, which is used in ecology to describe a “biotic community” with distinctive animal and plant life.

The Nether is a type of biome in Minecraft. Hell-like, it is home to a variety of hazards such as lava and monsters exclusive to The Nether. It can only be reached through a Nether Portal, and can be used as a shortcut to Overworld destinations. Outside of gaming, the word nether is used as an adjective meaning “lying beneath the earth’s surface.”

Grinding is particularly common in role-playing games and refers to when a player engages in a repetitive activity, usually to gain character progression. This sense reflects several definitions of grind, including “to smooth or wear down,” an inherently repetitive task, the more informal sense of “to labor or study,” and even the more negative sense of “to oppress or torment.”

Metroidvania (sometimes called Castleroid) is a genre of game that combines a 2D side-scrolling world with the nonlinear characteristics of sandbox and role-playing games. This style of gaming was made popular by the immensely successful Nintendo series “Metroid,” a name that is a portmanteau of metro (mass transit systems) and android (a robot designed to look and behave like a human). The terms Metroidvania and Castleroid are themselves portmanteaus of the games Metroid and Castlevania, another game that had significant impact of this type of game play. Both of these games require the player to explore each level in a nonlinear fashion in order to determine the key to moving forward in the game.

Share your favorite gaming term and its definition with us in the comments!


  1. cherie -  August 5, 2015 - 6:42 pm

    Help h0w 2 play here

  2. cherie -  August 5, 2015 - 6:40 pm

    I’ll never play here
    So i d0 n0t have any idea ab0ut this..

  3. Paula -  May 14, 2015 - 4:45 am

    Built by a veteran development team and the original creators of Defense of
    the Ancients, one. First-person and third person shooters are some
    of the most fun types of games to play. No one likes playing with
    a foul-mouthed troll who just ruins the game.

    • markeisha -  May 23, 2016 - 10:48 am

      that’s nice.

  4. A dude -  April 1, 2014 - 7:25 pm

    I agree with wolf tamer and iron miner. It would be pretty cool to have a gaming dictionary. If you do, remember to add memes and more gaming terms like gank.

  5. wolf tamer and iron miner -  March 15, 2014 - 4:53 am

    Dictionary.com, please add a gaming dictionary to this website, with definitions (and maybe etymologies) of various gaming terms. (I’d appreciate a comment section for each word – there have been tons of times I’ve wanted to comment on a word!)

    wolf tamer & iron miner

  6. Tobi -  March 11, 2014 - 4:08 pm

    People who play minecraft are losers with no life.

    • That One Person -  February 29, 2016 - 2:30 pm

      @Tobi: Not necessarily. That’s called overgeneralization, which you’d know if you went to school.

  7. wolf tamer and iron miner -  March 5, 2014 - 5:01 am

    Also, can anyone tell me how to hatch the dragon egg in the Overworld, and how to tame the dragon?

    (My sad secret – I’m not sure I count as a true Minecrafter because I play Creative Mode, and almost never Survival. But that WILL change, starting Saturday!)

  8. wolf tamer and iron miner -  March 5, 2014 - 4:57 am

    @annoymus the second:
    Yes, I’d like some help on how to defend myself from Blazes. Hate those fireballs they throw! :|


    Also, Dictionary.com, I can’t believe you left out “troll.” A troll is a person who antagonizes others for the fun of it. It can also be a verb, meaning “to antagonize others just for fun.” They are found anywhere on the Internet where you can post stuff, not just in games.

    Add “creeper” (the most famous hostile mob in Minecraft) as well. They’re green, have four legs, and explode when attacked.

  9. Singed -  March 2, 2014 - 9:51 am

    Gank Gank Gank

    To kill/defeat according to my sis.

  10. Singed -  March 2, 2014 - 9:50 am


    To kill/attack basically.

  11. Luciano -  February 28, 2014 - 5:26 am


    • Troller -  April 11, 2014 - 8:25 am


  12. Random Girl Assassin -  February 27, 2014 - 10:23 pm

    Griefer: noun. People who kill you then takes EVERYTHING.

  13. Random Girl Assassin -  February 27, 2014 - 10:21 pm

    MINECRAFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BEST. GAME EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. annoymus the second -  February 27, 2014 - 5:52 pm

    even though i am not a extremely experienced player, i can also teach you a few tips. if need to defend yourself from blaze, sceleton, or anything far-range
    you can put a ghast in a minecart and go inside of him. he’ll become your “fortress”

    if need to defend from close range mobs read annoymus

    if anyone knows about spawning the ender egg in the 1.4.0 offline version, tell me

  15. Ragen -  February 27, 2014 - 9:35 am

    MINECRAFT RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Miles -  February 26, 2014 - 4:20 pm


    No matter how hard you try, if a game has any kind of multiplayer, there is a chance you will come across this term.This term means “to annoy someone for personal humor or pleasure at the expense of the recipient.” A troller is “someone who annoys others for personal humor or pleasure at the expense of the recipient.”
    In Norwegian mythology, it was believed that troll lived under bridges. These creatures loathed that anyone cross their bridges.When someone tried, the troll would try to stop them, human or not. Speculatively, because the living thing crossing the bridge had to deal with the troll every single time, this could have gotten annoying, which is, possibly, where the term “troll”, in gaming, was derived.

  17. Hammy -  February 26, 2014 - 3:08 pm


  18. brandon -  February 26, 2014 - 2:23 pm

    Team killer- games like COD a team killer just goes around and makes his teammates kill him

    Trolling- also in COD when someone traps another person against a wall or starts shooting their gun to give off your position

  19. Urist -  February 26, 2014 - 2:18 pm

    Vanilla: The state of an unmodified game, without any user-made addons.

  20. Stan -  February 25, 2014 - 6:35 pm

    Also the End has End Stone. It is hard to break but not as hard as obsidian(Learn about obsidian later). You can use that to build a shelter in the end to fight the Dragon. HAPPY DRAGON KILLING!

    P.S. The ender dragon (when killed) drops a TON of experience so try to get it before any of it gets into the portal

  21. Stan -  February 25, 2014 - 6:32 pm

    End: a 3rd dimension which contains the Ender Dragon and all of the endermen! The only way to get out of the end is to kill the ender dragon or die a painful death! You need to visit the nether first to get to the end because you need blaze powder in the recipe to make ender eyes. Ender eyes will go to the nearest stronghold(Ender Portal). Be prepared to fight the dragon and knock out the healing towers! Those towers heal the Ender Dragon when it passes by them. Take them out first then deal with the dragon.

  22. Terry -  February 25, 2014 - 12:22 pm

    Kite: To lead a character (usually a mob) to or from a specific place or path. “Kite the boss away from the anti-magic zone or you won’t be able to cast spells on it.”

    Aggro: The aggressive attention of a mob to have it attack you. (sometimes sarcastically applied to a gamers real life as in “I’ll be right back I have baby/wife aggro.”)

    Endgame: The last scenario(s) in a game’s (usually MMO) current story arc that drops the best equipment a character can get and brings about the climax to the story.

  23. League of Legends guy -  February 25, 2014 - 12:16 pm

    League of Legends Terms
    ADC: A person who has massive physical attack damage and is a ranged attacker
    APC: A person who uses spells as their main damage
    Jungler: A person who farms in the jungle
    Creeps: Little minions; jungle monsters

    Other Terms
    Mage: A person who casts spells

  24. Rebecca -  February 25, 2014 - 8:42 am

    I loved the 1st pic it waz really cool!!!!!!

  25. Rickedy Rick -  February 25, 2014 - 8:04 am

    Let’s see, there’s also:

    OP – Abbreviation for Over Powered – usually someone who has spend a ton of real money in game to have uber powerful gear.

    PKer – Player Killeer – one who camps out and kills weaker players for fun.

  26. Espen -  February 24, 2014 - 5:57 pm

    Me, being as far out there as I am, never knew what any of these meant. Or that some of them even existed.

  27. annoymus -  February 24, 2014 - 5:47 pm

    if you ever play minecraft, i have found a extremely elaborate trap for zombies: if you build a barrier of minecarts on a powered track, the zombies will get stuck. then once all are rounded up, activate the rail, and they will spin off track, allowing you to escape! i tried this when i was in survival vs 64 zombies it’s fun to play live target practice with them later or watch em’ all burn in the sun.

  28. Joshua -  February 24, 2014 - 5:42 pm

    MInecraft is ausome, but the picture you have at the top is a texture pack. BTW screw creepers, go mayfoul!

  29. annoymus -  February 24, 2014 - 5:36 pm

    it would be better if you also added the End, what creepers are, but i found the part about the nether was helpful. Though techicnally in Minecraft gasts dont look like gohsts and most of the time do not have red eyes until it gets angry at you. wonder what a ghast in a minecart looks like? he’ll cover the minecart and enable you to go inside him. very good protection sheild.

  30. Leigh -  February 24, 2014 - 1:48 pm

    Ganking: verb, a (usually successful) attack on a player characterised by its unanticipated nature.

    Newb or Newbie: noun, a new player of a game, less proficient than a regular player due to lack of experience.

    Noob: noun, an unskilled player. A derogatory term distinct from ‘Newb’ as it is irrespective of game time, meant as an insult highlighting inept play.

    Reroll: verb, to make a new player character. Originating in the practice of using dice rolls to randomly determine a new character’s attributes, now also used simply to refer to creation of a new character.

    Buff: noun, 1: a bonus applied to a character’s attributes, abilities or equipment. 2: an increase of the effectiveness of an element of gameplay by the game’s designers.
    Buff: verb, the act of applying an in game bonus, ‘to buff up’.

    Debuff: noun, a negative effect applied to a character’s attributes, abilities or equipment.

    Nerf: noun, a decrease of the effectiveness of an element of gameplay by the game’s designers.

  31. Aidmo -  February 24, 2014 - 1:42 pm

    I’m surprised nobody mentioned “noob.” It can describe a newb, a person who doesn’t fully understand a game yet, or a person who doesn’t play the game right on purpose. It’s usually spelled with zeroes: n00b.

  32. James -  February 24, 2014 - 1:14 pm

    I did not know that ghasts had red eyes. i thought that they were ike creepers eyes

  33. Troller -  February 24, 2014 - 12:34 pm

    Feeder, Noun: a person who dies a lot a give the other team EXP
    Smurf, Noun: a blue person, a person who plays on a bad account and is very good.
    Noob, Noun: a very bad gamer.

  34. Scia -  February 24, 2014 - 11:27 am

    A common one is ‘drop,’ which can be both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to an item that a monster or enemy carries the the player can obtain after defeating them. As a verb, it refers to when those items become available after the enemy’s defeat.

    Another one is ‘farm,’ which basically means killing certain monsters, doing certain quests, or doing some other task repeatedly, in order to collect more of a specific item, often a drop. As a noun, it can refer to a setup made by a player designed to obtain such items more easily.

  35. Aidmo -  February 24, 2014 - 11:26 am

    Ghasts have black eyes UNTIL they attack. If you look at the texture for the face, there is a bit of red even in its less hostile form.

  36. Dairyk Johnson -  February 24, 2014 - 9:59 am

    Another great one is Farming

    For many people, farming is a lifestyle and a job but, the gaming meaning for farm is to repeatedly complete an objective or quest trying to get better gear and equipment.

  37. Essy K -  February 24, 2014 - 9:10 am

    “hacker”: a person who cheats by messing with a game system by means of benefiting one’s self. An example would be: “hacking” a gun game to give one’s self unlimited ammo for his/her gun whilst others play by the system already arranged by the game.

  38. Rickedy Rick -  February 24, 2014 - 8:38 am

    Couple of clarifications:

    Tanks don’t draw attackers away, that’s called aggroing, and other characters can easily do that. A tank’s job is to keep aggro, so weaker characters don’t get attacked, and they also have a lot of health and high defense so they have high survivability.

    Also, mobs are never “playable characters” as stated above. They are always AI, and “mob” is actually derived from the programming term “mobile object”.

  39. wolf tamer and iron miner -  February 24, 2014 - 6:40 am

    Ghasts have black eyes, not red.

    Another biome in Minecraft is “The End” – a place where tall, mysterious black Endermen patrol a world of ghostly green End Stone; where the majestic, purple-eyed Ender Dragon soars through an indigo sky, roaring and growling; where tall obsidian towers, topped with beacons that regenerate the Ender Dragon’s health, stretch up into the perpetual night. The object of the End is to kill the Ender Dragon by destroying the beacons and then attacking it. It can only be reached through the End Portal. When you kill the Ender Dragon, xp will rain down all around, and the bedrock End Portal will appear with the dragon egg on top to take you back to the Overworld. (You can collect the dragon egg by covering up the portal, breaking the egg on Survival mode, finding it – it teleports to someplace nearby – and digging a 2-block-deep hole around it. Break the block under the block of End Stone the egg is resting on and replace it with a torch. Then break the block the dragon egg is on; the egg will fall and become a collectible item, which you can take back to the Overworld, hatch, and possibly tame & ride.)

  40. Tom -  February 23, 2014 - 6:02 am

    NOP most of the terms used are not popular and a long time gamer like myself wont know them…

  41. Bob -  February 22, 2014 - 11:19 am

    the title is ridiculous. All theses are MINECRAFT terms, and only a small majority used in general gamin. If the title were to be Minecraft terms and what they mean, sure, but no, these terms can be used in general gaming. Use these n a battle campaign or anything, and see how many people laugh at you.

  42. Vincent McNelis -  February 22, 2014 - 7:55 am

    Griefing in Minecraft is a word used to describe the action of taking something form a different player on the same server that isn’t yours, (i.e. stealing).

  43. Alf the Red -  February 22, 2014 - 6:36 am

    “Fetch Quest”: To progress in a game, your character is required to find a specific item and bring it to someone that will grant you the key to the next section of the game (or, in a “side quest,” some other reward that is not necessary to finish the game, though it may help).
    The term has usually a negative connotation, since these are often used to make a game longer, and don’t quite make sense in the context of the game (you may be a superpowerful being trying to save the world from annihilation, but you can’t go through a regular door unless you first go shopping for a lazy bartender…)

  44. David Carson -  February 22, 2014 - 6:17 am

    I’d also add the term “griefing.” When logging on to your game and finding your based “griefed” (raided) by another player, a greifer has griefed your base.

  45. doc955 -  February 22, 2014 - 6:16 am


    An MMO term where a player character that can do ranged damage can defeat another player or AI character that does mainly melee or short range damage. The kiting player moves around keeping out of the short range of the other, while utilising it’s longer range to damage the opponent.

  46. doc955 -  February 22, 2014 - 6:10 am

    Leet or 1337

    Elite. Highly skilled.

  47. doc955 -  February 22, 2014 - 6:02 am

    Zerg (also zerging and zerg rush)

    Popularised in the game Starcraft where a successful tactic of one of the races (The Zerg) is to swarm the enemy with a large number of weak units.

  48. wolf tamer and coal miner -  February 22, 2014 - 2:43 am

    1st comment!

    Ghasts do not have red eyes. They have black eyes.

    Nether Fortresses can be found in the Nether. They are made of Nether Brick. Magma Cubes, Blazes, and Wither Skeletons spawn only in Nether Fortresses.

    Another biome in Minecraft is The End. To get to it, you make an End Portal. This biome is made of green End Stone, with obsidian towers, each of which has a beacon on top. The beacons regenerate the Ender Dragon’s energy. The object of The End is to kill the Ender Dragon by breaking all the beacons and attacking it as it flies by. Another hazard of The End is the many Endermen walking around.

    Three cheers for Minecrafters!

  49. Chris -  February 21, 2014 - 4:08 pm

    You left out troll?!


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