We’ve come a long way from the simple pleasures of coin-op arcades. Today, video gaming is a hugely complex field, with its own sub-genres, communities, even its own terminology and slang. So how well do you know your video game speak? Here are eight terms you might not have come across…
Save-scumming refers to the action of reloading an old save state to avoid suffering a defeat or losing a good position in a game. Titles that feature perma-death or lengthy campaigns are prime targets for save-scumming. Indeed, in games like XCOM it’s almost obligatory (no-one wants to lose their much loved and highly decorated sniper).
Though not technically cheating, this approach does help to alleviate painful choices where a specific action might send you on a different path. Because with save-scumming you get to experience the other pathways too. Shame we can’t save-scum in real life…
2. Face Over IP
You’ve heard of Voice Over IP, but what about Face over IP? Faceware Technologies Inc. has developed the first gaming facial motion sensor, which is getting baked into the newest version of PC space sim, Star Citizen.
The device tracks your facial expressions and translates them onto your in-game avatar, so when other players meet your character, they’ll see your angry/happy/sad/confused face, speaking with your voice. The tech is still in its infancy, with the team adding more phonemes to make the experience a bit less ‘uncanny valley’.
3. Loot box
Popular with publishers, unpopular with gamers, the ‘loot box’ is a method of balancing gameplay difficulty and eeking out extra cash from a video game. Loot boxes offer gaming shortcuts for those prepared to pay for them. When you redeem a loot box you might get assets that improve your character’s stats: XP boosts, better weapons and armour, visual improvements, enhanced powers and so on.
Loot boxes can be bought by using in-game currency, or – as is increasingly the case – with real cash. Although they first appeared in free-to-play mobile games, the ‘in-app purchase’ concept has since infiltrated full-price titles. This has caused consternation among some gamers, who feel they have already paid enough for the privilege of playing and are concerned that the game’s difficulty is set artificially high to promote purchases of the aforementioned loot.
The urban dictionary describes Brainwarp as the feeling you get when experiencing hunger and thus making irrational decisions. However in the gaming world, Brainwarp is a set of new technologies developed by PiMAX for its new 8K VR headset, designed to reduce latency and boost refresh rate for a smoother experience.
The trick to driving two 4K displays is to do it alternately – like active shutter 3D glasses – so your PC renders a single 4K image 120 times a second. Although one eye is ‘blind’ to every other image, the process is so fast that your brain simply doesn’t notice and perceives an 8K image at 120fps.
In the world of video game acronyms – MMO, FPS, MMORPG – you’d be forgiven for wondering what genre a PUBG is. But it’s actually a single PC game: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
This multiplayer shooter was released on Steam Early Access and made $11 million in its first weekend. Within a month, it had more than a million players. The premise is simple: a hundred players are airdropped onto a deserted island where they immediately scramble to find a weapon in the houses, factories and military bases dotted across the landscape. It’s then a case of last man (or woman) standing.
6. Emergent gameplay
This is the term describing gameplay that evolves based on the action of its players and provides complex experiences based on relatively simple gaming mechanics. In adventure games, for example, choosing to save or kill a character can alter the story progression and lead to en entirely different outcome. While in massively multiplayer games, persistent worlds can change over time depending how groups of players choose to act – forming alliances, initiating wars, going on raiding parties, etc.
A recent example of emergent gameplay is Middle Earth: Shadow of War’s Nemesis system (an evolution of the system debuted in Shadow of Mordor), which delivers a custom combat experience for every player.
A portmanteau of ‘masochistic’ and ‘hardcore’, this gaming term pertains to games with a severe difficulty level. Playing the likes of Dark Souls (and its sequel), Cuphead, Super Meat Boy or I Wanna Be The Guy for any length of time takes some serious dedication. However, beating these games comes with a certain level of satisfaction and kudos among your peers.
Derived from the Japanese term for reading, Yomi used to mean ‘reading the mind of the opponent’. Originally used by the Virtua Fighter community it has since grown to encompass other combative games. It’s the ability to second guess your opponent’s move and to react appropriately – or forcing them into move you’re prepared to counter. As you learn your opponent’s preferred moves so your in-built Yomi library expands with possible options.
There you have it. Eight gaming terms that you should know if you’re in any way serious about playing PC games.