Parents’ guide to gamer speak: It’s a brand-new lexicon…Ya Noobs!
The joys of the English language: It constantly evolves
One of the things I love about the English language is that it is constantly evolving. It is one of the hallmarks that linguists ascribe to a language being alive (as opposed to a dead and largely unspoken language, such as ancient Greek).
The English language is certainly alive and well. I have a keen appreciation for this as a lawyer. Words and language are such an integral part of our profession. Whilst some may think that we do our level best to make documents as complex, convoluted, and non-user friendly as possible (in part to keep our profession alive). There may be a grain of truth to that in some respects. But once you can unlock the key, you can easily navigate legal documents.
Any decent contract will have a definitions and interpretations clause. That is where lawyers will set out definitions of key terms in the contract. This helps to provide greater clarity to the reader and draftsmen alike. Defined terms provide you with pithy shorthand to easily refer to more complex concepts or sets of words.
Having kids: trying to bridge the generation gap
It is the preserve of each generation to leave its indelible mark on the English language. I look back at my university days in England and cringe at the then in-vogue slang. There were lots of buzz words that freshers would drop into every other sentence. There was a time when every anecdote was punctuated with the word “random”.
“Oh my God, I went out last night and got smashed with my classmates. Random.”
Similarly, it was common to use a denigration noting that something was below standard would be to refer to it as “average”. “Blimey, this pint is a bit average.” Also, if something was perceived to be parochial it would be described as a bit “village”. This could be applied to people too. I once heard someone on a hockey pitch (field hockey rather than the ice variety) shout: “Wilson! Stop being such a villager!”
Now, all that slang invariably naff. But what I find interesting is that if you were unfamiliar with it you would be able to make a fair guess at the intended meaning.
Gaming lexicon: get up to speed – Ya Noobs!
Buckle up. As a parent, the same cannot be said for the gamer chat that your kids are having with you or their friends. In a short space of time, they have developed their own, and I think, brilliant language.
I had to learn the hard way; by asking lots of questions. Much to the incredulity, frustration, and eye-rolling of my kid. Parents can be so "really" annoying sometimes. I remember saying the same thing about my parents. It is with a wry smile that I acknowledge how funny it is to see history repeating itself.
So, without further ado, I want to help all you old fogeys out there and share the fruits of my research.
Welcome to gamer speak: here we go
Here are some definitions to the most common gaming terms that you might come across:
AFK: I must admit that this one had me scratching my head for a while. It means “Away From Keys”, i.e. I will be away from my keyboard, controller or will mute my mic for a moment. Dah!
Bot: this is the ultimate gamer slur. To be described as a “bot” means that you are a rubbish player. You are so bad that you are taken to be a “robot” or virtual avatar added by the game developer to make up the numbers in Battle Royal games. Sometimes can be used disparagingly about oneself, “oh my God, I’m playing like such a Bot!”.
Buff: rather than meaning being muscular or fit; a “Buff” in gaming refers to a positive enhancement to a particular character, ability, or weapon.
Clutch or clutch-up: I wondered what driving a manual car had to do with gaming, but this is used in a different context. It is used as in “you have to clutch-up now”, meaning that you must step-up, raise your game and throw caution to the wind. Go for the bold attack and try to win or save a teammate.
Crank: to crank is to quickly build a structure, mainly in a Fortnite. The design would normally have a vertical zig-zag pattern helping players to climb up the structure and fight.
COD: far from the delicious fish that we batter, deep-fry and serve with chips in the UK; COD stands for "Call of Duty" franchise with its myriad of games.
Elim: is short for an “elimination” or a kill in the game. This is commonly used in streaming first-person shooter games.
Hitbox: this one is usually accompanied with a wry smile or giggle from my kid about my own middle-aged “spread” but refers to the size of the physical outline of a character or avatar in a game. A character with a large “hitbox” or outline might be easier to aim at or hit in a shootout.
Hot drop: in a Battle Royal game, where multiple players play the same game a hot drop is a location on the map where lots of players land. It will be a bloodbath.
HP: not the delicious condiment for a bacon sandwich, but it stands for “Health Points”. This is mainly relevant in multiplayer first-person shooter games. We should have guessed.
Mats: this is short for “materials”, a common reference in Fortnite to building “mats” or materials.
Main, Maining or Mained: if you hear your kids talking about “main”, “maining” or having “mained” a character, it refers to them preferring to play with a certain character, avatar or game who they "main" as their primary choice.
Microtransactions: the dread of any parent, the in-game purchases made in the “item shop” or “store”. This should be called “daylight robbery”. Your kids will want the latest skins (see below) for the characters, weapons, or other features. You have to cough up extra for those otherwise “free” games. That’s right, I’m looking at you Epic Games (makers of Fortnite).
NPC: means a non-playable character. Of course, parents, I’m sure we all knew that one.
Noob or Noobie: this is possibly my favorite gamer term. It is widely used to refer to a newbie, rookie or otherwise new gamer or new player to a game. It can also work as a an adverb, by making a Noobish move or play.
Nurf: this is the opposite of “Buff” and applies when a game developer has made a negative change or reduction of the power of a particular character, ability, or weapon.
OP: which stands for something being “Overpowered” such as an overpowered character, ability, or weapon in a game.
Skins: don’t worry, your kids are not looking to skin-up a rollie or a splif; “skins” refers to the design of a character, avatar or weapon.
Sweat: another term which makes no sense to the uninitiated. To be a “sweat” player or to make a “sweaty” move, means that you are an elite or very skilled player. I have no idea about the genesis of this term. I can only think of a sweaty teenager playing too many hours on COD with a slimy controller. Sorry for sharing that mental image with you. Enjoy.
Twitch: in case, like me, you have been living under a rock for several years Twitch was launched back in 2011. It is the go-to live streaming platform for gamers and YouTubers. Yes parents, your kids not only want to play video games, but they also want to watch someone else, streaming online, play videogames.
Well, I hope that you find this helpful for the next time you play Fortnite with your kids. I’m sure you will do us parents proud and not disgrace the family by asking tons of “embarrassing” questions…Ya Noobs!