A Friendly Gamer Glossary

We understand that not everybody knows the ins and outs of gaming lingo. Not only have we had to learn what stuff means through trial and error ourselves, but none of us are really sure what TimeToPunt is ever saying at any given time (including TimeToPunt).

To that end we're going to give you nice, friendly definitions for a range of gaming terms that you can reference when you need a bit of context for a review, when you are trying to communicate with somebody deep in "the zone," or when you want to figure out what that 13-year-old was screaming at you over the internet.

Agro - The abbreviation for Agronomy, or the science of soil management and crop production. This field of study has nothing to do with video games, so I'm not really sure why... Oh, I'm just being told that agro actually has to do with the word aggression, which makes zero sense but whatever. To agro an enemy is to draw their attention and make them attack you. This applies most directly in MMORPGs, where characters that take damage well will be expected to draw all the enemy attacks to keep the weaker characters from dying. This all has to do with "teamwork," so I hear, but I'm still trying to work out exactly what that mysterious word means.

Beta - When developers release unfinished games into the wild, either to a small group of selected players (closed beta), or to the public at large (open beta). Betas are characterized by free access to the game, as well as a game that is obviously unfinished, potentially buggy, and sparsely populated in multiplayer terms. This is basically crowd-sourced game testing, which might be why "beta" is technically short for "beta test." Also: a type of fish.

FPS - An initialism for "first-person shooter." This is a game genre in which you view the world from behind the dead, lifeless eyes of a computer rendered mannequin. Also in which you shoot stuff. Notable games in this genre include the Call of Duty games, Bioshock, DOOM, and Getting Out of Bed Every Morning.

Freemium - Freemium games are sentient festering piles of dog vomit that will stop at nothing to sell you and your family into... Wait, really? Okay, looks like I've been confusing "Bond villain" and "freemium game" for quite some time now. Freemium games are actually games which are free to download, but then charge real money inside the games (through micro transactions or in-app purchases) for various aspects of the gameplay, such as speeding things up, unlocking pay-only items, or advancing to new portions of the game.

LAN - An acronym for "local area network." A LAN is technically any kind of network on which computers can talk to each other without having to go through the internet. If you have more than one computer or device attached to your wifi, you've got a LAN right there. Did you know that? It doesn't look like you knew that. Have you even been feeding that thing?

MMO - An acronym for "massively multiplayer online game." "But wait," you say, "Where's the 'g'?" I don't know, lost? They're just referred to as MMOs. Tons of players, an immersive world, and hours of time spent farming. Think World of Warcraft. MMO can be added to any of a number of abbreviations to create MMORTS, MMOFPS, and (most famously) MMORPG (oh, found the 'g'!).

MOBA - An acronym for "multiplayer online battle arena." This is a genre in which you control one of an indistinguishable mass of characters from above, God-like, commanding them to travel down one of three "lanes" toward enemy-held territory, sacrificing expendable minions in the quest to blow some stuff up. This genre's long and storied history began as maps for Blizzard's top-down real-time strategy games Starcraft and Just Warcraft 3. Valve thought it looked like a pretty good idea and bought the rights to the property called Defense of the Ancients (DOTA), which was cloned by other companies (League of Legends, Vainglory), until it was finally cloned again by Blizzard. Who cloned the clone of the clone of a community map for their game. Let it never be said Blizzard does anything hastily.

Multiplayer - From the Latin for "many" and the Old English for "to busy oneself." Whenever you are playing a game with other humans, you're participating in multiplayer. Board games and non-sad card games are, by default, multiplayer (sorry, solitaire). Multiplayer in video games can take the form of several computers all in the same place networked together for a LAN party (see: LAN), or online through a company's servers, which will automagically match you with an opponent most likely to virtually suplex you into submission.

PC - An initialism for "personal computer." This is a... well, computer, used for personal stuff, like... look if I really need to define this for you, we might have unrelated problems. The thing you're looking at right now. There's a good chance that's a PC.

Rando - Despite its audible similarity to a popular 80's action flick, a rando in the wild typically has very little in common with Sylvester Stallone. Rando is the nouned form of random (nouned is the verbed form of noun, and verbed is the verbed form of ow my head), and is shorthand to refer to a randomly assigned teammate in online co-op or multiplayer games. This includes multiplayer shooters (Overwatch, Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead), MOBAs and RTSs (League of Legends, Starcraft), and some online RPGs (Grand Theft Auto Online).

RPG - An acronym for "role playing game." Once relegated to tabletops, RPGs made their way to the computer in the late 80's. They're characterized by large worlds, immersive story lines, and heavily customizable player characters who usually save the world. And let's face it: who doesn't want to save the world? Titles in this genre include World of Warcraft, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, The Witcher, Final Fantasy, etc.

RTS - An acronym for "real-time strategy." Everything happens in this genre in real time, not through turns (sorry, Civ, you don't belong here). RTS games are often war games where players position their units and resources and then battle it out. Starcraft and Warcraft fit in this category.

Turn-Based Strategy - A genre of games that wish they were RTS, but just aren't that cool. Early strategy games, so called because winning involved more than just "point explode-y bit here," were essentially required to be turn based, like a game of chess, due to the technical limitations of the computer hardware of the time. Later advancements in technology made RTS feasible, leading to the messy demise of most turn-based strategy franchises. Except for Civilization, which just won't die. You're a glorified board game, Civ. Take the hint.