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A guide to gaming lingo for parents

You might be thinking the kids are talking in a different language sometimes when they chat about their games. Use this updated glossary to get to grips with gaming terminology and get sorted on the lingo. And remember, you don’t need to be a tech expert, you just need to know enough to be able to have some great conversations! If you are really concerned about the amount of time your child spends gaming, why not take the Game Quitters addiction test by clicking here.


Gaming Types / Modes


  • App gaming – gaming applications on mobile phones
  • Browser games – game played using a web browser such as Google Chrome, Safari, Internet explorer
  • Cloud gaming – refers to playing a game remotely from the cloud, i.e. games are run on remote servers and streamed to your device, reducing your hardware needs. Playstation Now is one example of a cloud gaming subscription service. Cloud gaming is gaining momentum as more large industry players move into cloud gaming services, e.g. Google Stadia, Project xCloud

  • Console games –gaming device such as PS4

  • MUD (multi user dimension) – multiplayer real time virtual world
  • Player versus environment -online role playing games in a progressive virtual environment, can be played alone, versus other players or versus artificial intelligence
  • Player versus player – players against other players where the players can ambush and kill each other (multiplayer interactive conflict)

Gaming Genres (some games fall into several of these)


  • Augmented reality – interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are enhanced by the computer – can be on mobile device (Pokemon Go)
  • First-person shooter game(FPS) – multiple players –show the game played from the characters point of view (Fortnite)
  • Massively multiplayer online game (MMO) – 100’s to 1000’s of players, players can compete with other players around the world (friends and strangers)
  • MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game) – role play in a virtual world
  • MMORTS (Massively multiplayer online real-time strategy) – large number of players interact with others in a virtual world
  • MMOFPS (Massively multiplayer online first-person shooter) - large number of players interact with others in a virtual world
  • MMOSG (Massively multiplayer online social game) - social games focus on socialisation instead of objective-based gameplay
  • Multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA) – player is part of a team battling another team (Apex legends
  • Real-time strategy game (RTS) – players take turns when playing
  • Social casino games (SCG): games that closely simulate monetary gambling games, such as slots, poker, blackjack, lotto, and bingo, but use virtual currency in place of real money when placing bets and earning winnings. They are not classified as gambling because it is not possible to cash out your winnings, although you do spend real money purchasing chips/tokens in the game. In response to the popularity of social casino apps games manufacturers are now incorporating social casino functionality to larger console games, e.g. GTA V.
  • Third-person shooter games – camera behind the character so the character is visible on the screen


Monetisation Models


  • Pay to Play (P2P) refers to the purchase of a video game for a set retail price before you can download/install and begin gameplay. Purchases could be made in a land based game store or online via the Steam Community Marketplace, PlayStation store, etc. 
  • Free-to-play (F2P) means that there is no upfront cost associated with the game/app before installing and beginning gameplay. Revenues are usually generated from microtransactions and advertising when this “freemium” model is used. 
  • Microtransactions (MTX) refer to small purchases of virtual items in video games and apps. They are often referred to as in-app or in-game purchases and are used to provide an ongoing revenue stream for games manufacturers. A purchase could provide either cosmetic, e.g. skin, or functional enhancements, e.g. power up. These items are consumed within the game so they can be bought any number of times. Both F2P and P2P games feature microtransactions.  
  • Downloaded content (DLC) is additional functionality, such as extra missions/challenges, offered as an extension to a game already purchased. It is a once off purchase for the gamer. 
  • In-game advertising is usually present in F2P games and may take different forms, from display advertising, to video pre-rolls, to rewarded video advertising, where gamers opt-in in exchange for receiving in-game items. 
  • Pay-to-win (P2W) refers to the practice of offering functional purchases in game that improve your chance of success, such as clues, skipping a level, power-ups etc. These purchases allow you to progress more quickly than would be possible through gameplay alone. There are concerns that P2W games exploit children in particular, encouraging them to spend too much money, especially in games where purchases are aggressively promoted and the game is virtually unplayable without spending money. 
  • Subscription gaming refers to the payment of a fee to gain access to game titles for a set time period, e.g. PlayStation Now, EA Access, Origin Access, and Nintendo Switch Online. Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass are newer examples of app subscription services, providing access to apps, without any adverts or in-app purchases, for a monthly subscription fee. 


Features of Gaming


Computerised graphical representation of the player’s character in the game, they can be 2D or 3D and are created and edited by the players

Digital currency

In gaming, this is a currency that can be used within a certain game, e.g. VBucks in Fortnite. Sometimes it can be bought with ‘real money’, sometimes it is earned within the game.


A free text and voice chat app that is popular among gamers so that they can chat as they play games

Esports (or electronic sports)

Refer to multiplayer video games played competitively by professional gamers and watched by spectators. Depending on the game a professional gamer could be playing solo or as part of a team. Certain types of games lend themselves more to this kind of competition, such as first-person shooter, battle arena, strategy and sports games.

Loot boxes

A loot box is a random selection of virtual items, such as weapons, armour or customisation options for a player's avatar. The unknown element of the purchase have raised concerns that it is encouraging a form of gambling for sometimes very young players.

Microphone and headphone

Allow users to chat with other players


A cosmetic item used to change the appearance of a character, weapon or piece of equipment in a game. Skins are a very popular in-game purchase and are sometimes obtained through a loot box mechanic. In some games, e.g. CS:GO, skins can be extracted via the Steam Community Marketplace, and subsequently traded, sold for cash or used to gamble.

Skin gambling

Refers to the practise of placing bets using video game skins, in place of real money. Skin gambling websites allow gamblers, some of whom are underage, to bet on real world esports events or to play high frequency games of chance, such as roulette. While unlicensed and unregulated skin gambling websites are frequently shutdown, more continue to pop up in their place.


Some games will have text options or text only for chat with other players


A live streaming platform on which you can watch other people play your favourite video games

Read our blog to find out more

Virtual economy

An economy in a virtual world where virtual goods can be bought and traded using in game digital currencies (these could have been purchased with real money or earned).

Virtual goods

Objects such as weapons that can be bought to use within the virtual world of the games

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) allows individuals to put on a special headset and step into a virtual world. Read our blog to find out more

 Virtual world

Environments in games where the players play, this can be alone or against other players



Image: "Tesseract: Game System" by Ryan Pedersen is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0