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Tabletalk for Gamers

When you're away from your gaming PC, do you ever feel like a fish out of water? When you sit down at the dinner table with non-gaming friends and relatives, do they look at you like you've got three heads? Does it feel like others don't quite "get" your love of gaming or understand? Well, they won't understand unless you help educate them!

It’s no secret: gamers speak their own distinct language, and non-gamers are completely lost and disconnected when they engage in conversation with gaming geeks. While you feel non-gamers may be giving you the hairy eyeball, in reality, they just may not understand what you're talking about. 

You may be saying, “Yeah, dude, we almost downed that raid boss, but our DPS wasn’t high enough. How are we going to get epic loot with this guild?!”

What they're hearing is the equivalent of the Peanuts gang listening to their teacher talk: "Wah-womp-wah-wah. Womp-womp-wah-wah-wah."

Fear not! Digital Storm is here to help ensure you’ll never walk unprepared into a situation such as those mentioned here. Below is a short list of some of the more popular acronyms and terms used today by gamers, along with some helpful (albeit slightly tongue-in-cheek) tips and examples for integrating them into your conversation and bringing non-gamers into the fold!

Adds: Additional enemies that appear during boss fights; typical during high-end battles in MMORPGs.

Example: I couldn't believe my manager brought in the regional manager and HR into my annual review. Way too many adds in the mix!

Aggro: This refers to the “hate” enemies in video games have toward a player. The higher the aggro, the more likely an enemy is to attack you.

Example: My professor demonstrated some serious agro in the comments he made on my term paper.

Bio: This typically is short for “bathroom break.”

Example: This is a lovely meal, Aunt Frieda! I need to take a bio. Should I use the upstairs bathroom or the one down the hall?

Boss: An enemy much stronger than those leading up to its encounter. Typically ends with the player receiving a reward, such as an item and/or story progress, upon victory over a boss.

Tip: This is one term that even the most unaware non-gamers can relate to. Just be sure to differentiate whether you're talking about your employer or that hard-to-defeat enemy in your favorite game!

BRB: A classic; stands for be right back.

Example: (Cell phone rings.)  Please excuse me for a moment. I have to take this call. BRB!

Casual game: A game that generally appeals to the masses. Think Candy Crush Saga here.

Example: Aunt Frieda! I didn't know you were such a casual gamer! Acing Level 182 in Candy Crush? You go, girl!

Cel-shaded graphics: An artistic graphical style with bright, cartoon/comic book-like colors. Games like Borderlands and The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker are excellent examples of cel-shaded games.

Tip: This is a wonderful conversation point to bring up when discussing art. Cousin Ethel may extol the virtues of Thomas Kincade's paintings, but perhaps you can convince her of the beauty found in the design and coloring of certain games. Painter of light, schmainter of light!

Cutscene: This term refers to a video sequence within a game, in which the player has no control over the events.

Example: Big layoffs at the office last quarter. Lots of cutscenes of co-workers carrying out cardboard boxes of office tchotchkes. Bummer.

E3: Electronics Entertainment Expo. This is basically the video game geek mecca. Every year at E3, all of the big video game companies announce new games, show off demos, and reveal new products relevant to gaming.

Tip: When Uncle Waldo mentions he's planning a winter getaway to Bermuda, join in the conversation and let him know about your great escape to E3.

FFA: Free for all. This is a game mode where it is every man for himself. Kill, or be killed.

Example: The younger cousins seated at the kids' table stand up and yell: "Food fight!" You respond with "FFA!" and lob a dinner roll in their direction.

Guild: A group of players who play/chat together in online video games. In MMORPGs, they typically complete high-level dungeons as a group.

Example: My guild and I were discussing how to best plan our campaign against the orcs, Aunt Frieda. My guild is actually kind of like you and your Thursday night bridge club friends.

Hack/Hax/Hax0r: A modification/cheat that gives one player an advantage over the others.

Example: If professional baseball were a video game, Barry Bonds would have been a hacker.

Multiplayer: A game that allows more than one player to participate.

Example: Technically, Aunt Frieda, bingo *is* a multiplayer. And so is Scrabble.

Noob/n00b: A term that is used to insult a player that lacks skill in a particular game.

Tip: Maybe Uncle Waldo wants to join you in playing Torchlight 2. Applaud his efforts, even he hasn't mastered the controls just yet. In this instance, it's totally appropriate to say, "Oh, Uncle Waldo! You're such a n00b! But I love ya anyway!"

RTS: Real-time strategy. A game that challenges players to think strategically, controlling a number of units at any given time. These games are difficult, as they do not pause to allow players to plan strategic moves.


TBS: Turn-based strategy. A game that challenges players to make strategic decisions on combat, economics, and diplomacy. Unlike RTS games, TBS games pause, giving players ample time to make decisions.

Tip: Although politics is typically one of those subjects that shouldn't be brought up at the dinner table, there's always that one relative who insists upon "going there." If you feel like chiming in and posing a more philosophical debate, ponder aloud this witty, gamer-inspired bon mot: "I can't quite figure out whether Congress involves more RTS or TBS?" Your question just might encourage some thoughtful – and polite – tableside discourse!


This is just a short list of some of the many terms gamers use in conversation. Now that you have some background information, here are a few ways you can start incorporating your new vocabulary into conversation with gamers!

Try to have some fun with your new vocabulary!

Did someone get a higher grade than you on a test? Maybe someone is outperforming you at work? Start referring to them as a “hax0r;” we know they couldn’t have done so without cheating!

This should be enough to get you started for now. It’s all about sharing the love of gaming and encouraging others to have fun with their newly discovered knowledge. If you have any other suggestions or situations to add to the list, let us know in the comments below!

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